Start by believing… in the presumption of innocence.

There is a group “End Violence Against Women”.

This is their vision statement:

We envision a world where gender-based violence is unacceptable; where perpetrators are held accountable, and victims receive the compassion, support, and justice they deserve.

This is their mission statement:

We inspire and educate those who respond to gender-based violence, equipping them with the knowledge and tools they need to support victims and hold perpetrators accountable.  We promote victim-centered, multi-disciplinary collaboration, which strengthens the response of the criminal justice system, other professionals, allies, and the general public — making communities safer.

I can say nothing about these goals that would be negative. Every good person in our society should support such things. Support victims and also support punishing perpetrators of sexual violence.

The problem is that Roger Canaff is involved with this group and he is a defender of false accusers of rape. Furthermore, he seems to take the “start by believing” idea too far by suggesting that we stop believing in the presumption of innocence that the victim of every crime has in this country. In his most recent “start by believing” post, he describes the actions by Dominique Strauss-Kahn as an apparent sexual attack instead of an alleged sexual attack. Words are important and we should be careful to use proper labels when describing those accused of crimes… not to protect the guilty but to protect the innocent.

Yes, Roger, power can help people get away with violence against women and that is wrong. But the fact that someone has power should not take away from the presumption of innocence that should be afforded to all people accused of crimes in our country. If “DSK” is guilty of sexual assault, he should be punished severely. Perpetrators of sexual violence are a scourge on our society and should be dealt with harshly. But you cannot truly have justice in our society if we hold accused rapists to different standards than other people accused of other crimes.

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