Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wrongful Conviction Overturned For Woman Whose Report Of Rape Disbelieved By Police

From the Standard (via):

A WARRNAMBOOL [Australia] woman has won a five-year battle to clear her name after being wrongfully convicted of making a false report to police. Belinda Howe, 36, made a report to police in 2003 alleging a former partner had committed sex offences.

Police charged Ms Howe with making a false report to police and she appeared in the Warrnambool County Court during 2004. A judge questioned the state of Ms Howe's mental health before she was given a three-month jail sentence, suspended for two years.
The exoneration came only after her former partner was tried and convicted for sex crimes against another victim. What this indicates is that the police had no truly credible evidence of her guilt and instead relied on stereotypes about who files false rape reports and what real rapists look like.

This case highlights how much bigotry can influence a case and why the word alleged must always be used when the police announce they have charged someone with filing a fraudulent police report.

While most stories about rape arrests now use the word alleged most of the stories I've read about arrests of those who reported rape continue to lack that word. Cases where the police announce that a report of rape was false while also announcing that no charges will be filed tend to be the worst at assuming the alleged rape victim's guilt.

Often those who repeat, "Innocent until proven guilty," when responding to a man being charged with rape are the quickest to forget or abandon this concept when a girl or woman is charged with lying about rape.

Just as rape convictions don't guarantee that all those found guilty are guilty as charged a conviction of someone who reported rape doesn't guarantee that all those found guilty of filing a false police report are guilty as charged.

Competent and thorough investigations are needed to protect all who are innocent whether they are crime victims or crime suspects. Sloppy investigations cause harm across the board.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:06 AM   0 comments links to this post


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