Monday, April 19, 2010

Presumptively Innocent vs Actually Innocent

In a comment on a post titled Myth Busting: False Rape Reports about claims made by Alex Knepper in American University college newspaper article Harlan Pierce of False Rape Society wrote after having some of his claims and citations about the rate of fraudulent reporting challenged:

"Our website is adamant in our opposition to rape, and any suggestion to the
contrary might just be met with a libel lawsuit. Got it? Our defense is not of
rapists but of the presumptively innocent who too often turn out to be falsely
I responded with the following comment (with links added):

The defense of the presumptively innocent sounds more admirable that the actual meaning of this claim since the presumptively innocent includes all rapists who have not been convicted. HP himself acknowledges that not all who are presumptively innocent are falsely accused.

People accused of making false rape reports but who have not been convicted are also presumptively innocent.

People charged with crimes over their reports of rape have been exonerated. One of those cases was described in the book Cry Rape: The True Story of One Woman's Harrowing Quest for Justice. Another woman was awaiting trial when her rapist was caught in another county committing a similar crime and confessed to the crime police said never happened.

People who reported rape and who were not charged with a crime but had their reports labeled internally as false have been proven to be truthful. This has happened most often when these people were victims of a serial rapist. In one case a woman described the room where she was held prisoner and the police didn't believe her until while working on another case they found that room.

The number of sex crime victims who have been falsely accused and wrongfully charged is unknown since many rape victims don't have DNA or a confession from a rapist which can exonerate them. Each time someone claims that a person who reported rape made a fraudulent report and is guilty they are making that statement of guilt about someone presumptively innocent.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:56 AM   1 comments links to this post


At April 19, 2010 4:14 PM, Blogger Julian Morrison said...

Presumption of innocence is far less broad brush than these folks are thinking. It has only one specific meaning: it means that in court, the burden of proof is on the prosecution.

It doesn't mean the person is actually innocent.

It doesn't mean anyone not actually on the jury ought to presume they are innocent.

It doesn't override the scientifically well justified presumption that a woman who cries rape is telling the truth.


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