Archive for the ‘presumption of innocence’ Category

Falsely Accused man gets a second chance.

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

This guy was about the same age as I was when I was falsely accused. Fortunately for me, the story of my accuser did not stand up to the police investigation. Brian Banks was not so lucky. He got a bad lawyer who told him to make a plea deal for the horrifically racist idea that no jury would believe him because he was big and black. So he served time in jail and then had to wear an ankle bracelet and register as a sex offender.

Fortunately, he was able to get his false accuser to admit the lie.

False accusations of rape are rare. They are nowhere near as common as rape. But stories like this expose the need for people to talk about it. This is why we need the presumption of innocence to be afforded to all who are accused of crimes. In a perfect world nobody would make a false accusation of rape. But in a perfect world, nobody would be raped either. We can, as a society, make it so actual victims of rape can come forward while also making sure that people are given fair trials and that lives like Mr. Banks are not ruined just because someone thinks it is OK to make up such a horrific lie.

Roger rejects “modest reforms” in rape trials.

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

A double dipper today with two posts dealing with Roger Canaff and his blog. In this post, Roger is critical of Florida Attorney Roy Black and his recent article suggesting “modest reforms” in rape cases.

Now, I have several issues with Roy Black and how he makes his argument. He brings up Jamie Jones and the Halliburton case. I do not believe that is the same thing as DSK or Kobe or some random guy off the street who has been accused of rape. What Black is requesting is something that I also have said would be a good idea, and that is to extend the rape shield laws to protect the name of the accused.

This shouldn’t be too controversial. If we are truly a nation that treats people as innocent until proven guilty, then we should not seek to parade them in front of the media and splash the name of the accused all over the place.

Of course, like the author of the other article Roger criticizes, Black invokes the flawed Kanin Iowa study that “showed” 40% of rape accusations to be false.  This is why Black is not helping his own cause. When you bring up flawed studies, you are not coming to the table with clean hands and as such you make your own demands less likely to be agreed to.

However, Roger also has some issues with his rebuttal. Black believes it is easy to make a false accusation. It is. I know. It was very easy for my false accuser (who Roger personally knows) to make her claim to police. She just made it up and called the cops.  Roger uses unreported cases of rape as proof that it is not easy to make a false claim. Yes, you read that right. Roger states:

The idea that rape is an accusation “easily made but not easily defended,” for instance, never existed in reality, but only in the minds of men who could enforce this paranoid fantasy in courts of law.  In fact, most victims don’t report being sexually assaulted; it remains a chronically under-reported crime and a tiny percentage of victims ever see their rapists legally punished.

That rape is under-reported does not change that a rape charge is easily made if it is false and that it is not easily defended when you handcuff the defense.  Roger also claims that rape shield laws prevent cross examination but in fact some laws in some states do indeed prevent certain things that some might view as relevant from being asked. Now, is what a woman was wearing or how she was dancing relevant? Absolutely not. If a woman is walking around in nearly nothing she still has her body autonomy and as such should not be touched without her consent. But in the article linked to in my last post, it described a case where the emails by the accuser describing a desire to participate in BDSM were ruled inadmissible under rape shield laws. Now, the conviction was overturned on appeal. However, how much extra jail time was served because such evidence was barred from trial.

This is why Roger fails in his argument. He claims that the defense is allowed to bring up relevant information at trial when we have evidence that on occasion it does not. He also fails to disproves that false claims are easy to make yet hard to defend against. I would say this makes Roger 0-2 but he is wrong about so many other things I have lost count.

Roger shocks me.

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

There is an article on The Weekly Standard about false accusations of rape. I have several issues with the way in which the article was written. One of the problems is the highly flawed Iowa study done by Kanin.

Well, Roger Canaff has some criticisms of the article as well.  However,  in his attempt to discredit the author he fails to link to one study or one report to back up his claim that the author is, in fact, wrong about her claim that women lie about being raped more than other people lie about other crimes.

And let’s look at one of the quotes that he criticizes in full context. “While orthodox feminists grudgingly admit that women sometimes make false reports of rape, they insist that such cases represent a minuscule share of all complaints and that to give them much attention is to perpetuate misogynistic “rape myths” and revictimize real victims.”

To me, her point is that she is attacking the idea that because the occurrence of false accusations is low that it should, in some way, be deserving of no attention.

Now, I will grant you that she does quote the Iowa study and anyone who does that is suspect. Even if the number of false accusations in that one town was true, the town is such a small sample size and is irrelevant in the grander conversation that should be had about people who do lie about being raped or sexually assaulted for any reason.

The overall point made by reasonable people who wish to discuss false accusations of rape is that people accused of any crime should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law and that the law should be held to the same burden of proof when it comes to convicting someone on a charge as serious as rape or sexual assault. When such a person is found guilty, it is my opinion that the book should be thrown at them.

Unfortunately, there are many (not all, not most, but many) in the feminist movement (of which I am a part) who do wish to sweep false accusations under the rug because they fear that every false accusation hurts every prosecution of every real rape.

But here is where Roger shocks me. He states: “False reports are both horrific and criminal. People who make them should be dealt with harshly unless serious mental illness was at play in making the report.” Unfortunately, he then seems to try and sweep them under the rug as well. But if false rape accuser apologists can make a statement that false reports are horrific and criminal, perhaps there is hope.

Remember Duke Lacrosse

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Just when you thought he couldn’t get more absurd, false rape accuser apologist Roger Canaff strikes again.

This time, he makes this statement:

Remember Duke Lacrosse: A rallying cry that will do more to shelter rapists for the next generation than any force on earth could hope to accomplish

Seriously? Come on man!

When confronted on these words, Canaff does say that the Duke Lacrosse team members were factually not guilty, should never have been tried, and that Mike Nifong should have been disbarred. Of course, anyone who disagrees with those three statements is an idiot.

However, the idea that remembering the Duke Lacrosse case (DLC) is somehow a defense for actual rapists proves that Canaff completely misses the point. DLC should remind everyone that we should not be making assumptions about what has happened in an alleged rape. DLC should remind everyone that there are predatory prosecutors who do not seek justice but instead seek to make a name for themselves. DLC should remind everyone that in this country that people are supposed to be treated as innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Canaff has not learned this lesson. He is saying that in the DSK case that there is no compelling reason to disbelieve her claims.

Everyone should remember that hookers, thieves and liars can be raped.  But Canaff would have us ignore the lies told in this investigation. At what point does an accuser of rape lose credibility? How many lies must one say in a police report before the accusations are not believed. In the case of my false accuser (who Canaff knows personally), it seems obvious that one big lie was all that was needed for the police to say that her claims were false.

Canaff also suggests that there are only two possibilities when you question the truthfulness of the statements made by accusers of rape. That either women are perfect and as such are believed when they make an accusation of rape or that they are not perfect and as such should never be believed. This, of course, is an absurd argument made by an absurd person. Nobody is suggesting that a woman needs to be perfect in order to be believed when making a rape accusation. What is being suggested is that SOMETIMES women lie about being raped and that it is reasonable to question the trustworthiness of a person making a serious claim that could have life lasting consequences for the accused.

Unfortunately, Canaff does not seem to embrace the legal ideals that our country holds dear. He would have us believe all accusers of rape, even though we know that sometimes (as in the Duke Lacrosse case) that rape claims made against individuals can be false.

This is why people need to stop speculating about serious criminal cases

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Stop speculating and let the police do their jobs. Stop trying people in the court of public opinion and let the trial go on in the actual court room.

It seems as if there are many problems with the testimony given by the accuser of DSK.

Remember, DSK is still afforded the presumption of innocence.

Update: Issues pertaining to the phone call in question may have been taken out of context.  However, the lies told in the investigation still may hurt her ability to get justice if she was, in fact, raped.

False charges against Weiner

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

Say what you want about Anthony Weiner… but do not say that he committed illegal acts with an underage girl, because it is not true.

This, of course, has not stopped the politics of personal destruction used by the most vile people in politics today. At first, people wondered “what if” he spoke with someone who was underage. They asked this question without any knowledge of any wrongdoing with underage girls. Then, they found a 17 year old and the allegation was made that he had acted inappropriately. However, he had not and they closed the investigation. But people are still suggesting wrongdoing.

People really should be ashamed of themselves.  Regardless of how you feel about the former Congressman and if he should have resigned, there was plenty of actual behavior that he has admitted to that you can attack him on. There is no need to manufacture charges against him, especially when such charges can have such a negative impact on those falsely accused.

Start by believing… in the presumption of innocence.

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

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.

Wait for more of these cases with the new Title IX regs

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Caleb Warner was a student at The University of North Dakota. He was accused of rape by a fellow student. The University kicked him out for violating the code of student life because of the accusation. It was the kind of swift decision that the current title IX regulations require. He was never formally charged by the police for a crime.

Three months after he was expelled from school, the police charged his accuser with filing a false police report.  Despite this fact, the university is refusing to reopen the case and change their minds on their rash decision.

People wonder why the university would refuse to act. I mean, common sense dictates that they must open the case if the police believe the woman lied, right? Well, common sense is not common any more. And the new Title IX regulations I blogged about previously do not use common sense on issues like these. I believe that universities will be afraid to revisit these cases because they will be afraid that the federal government will come down on them for violating Title IX. See, even though they might want to seek justice and right a wrong, the new regulations have nothing to do with justice. When you can kick someone off campus on the word (and the word alone) of someone else, you fail to achieve justice.

And while this decision to expel was not made with the new Title IX regulations in place, those regulations will open the flood gates for more rulings such as this.

This must be stopped.

Presumption of innocence and the Duke rape case false accuser.

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Seems as if Crystal Magnum, the false accuser in the Duke rape case, is now accused of Murder.

I hope she is treated with the presumption of innocence that the media failed to give the young men she falsely accused. I hope the courts are allowed to do their jobs and I hope, if guilty, she is punished accordingly.

Just sayin…

The presumption of innocence and Title IX

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

The Department of Education under Obama has sent a “Dear Colleague Letter” to colleges and universities regarding their responsibilities under Title IX when it comes to sexual harrassment (including claims of sexual violence).

Now, I was prepared to write a lengthy blog post describing the PDF (that is rather large) but I have found another article that basically describes my displeasure with this letter. I highly suggest you read the link. However, if you do not feel the need to read even that, I will give you the very short version.

Even though Title IX only applies to schools, it is requiring that compliance with Title IX requires that any claim of sexual assault by one student on another be treated quickly, take place regardless of law enforcement involvement, and be treated under the lower “preponderance of the evidence” standard than the “clear and convincing standard” that is used in criminal procedings.

Now, I have no problem if claims against a school for sexual discrimination are decided via the lower standard. However, to require that students accused of sexual assaults be punished swiftly under preponderance standards is horribly unjust.  The requirement that the school protect the accuser from retribution during the investigation is reasonable. However, instead of creating a duplication of resources, the Department of Education should just require that all claims of sexual violence reported to the school to be reported to the local police and then require the school to help the police in their investigation of the alleged crime.

Of course, the “Men’s Rights Activists” (MRA) have jumped all over this one. And nobody should blame them for being angry. They should just blame them for how they respond. Posts like the one I shared earlier describing the letter are reasonable. Responses to the initial post here just go too far and are not helping. Yes, some are correct that it seems like the mere accusation could enough to get a kid kicked out of school and that is absolutely wrong. However, it is not schools who are coming up with this horribly flawed set of guidelines, it is the current administration who  (for reasons I cannot determine) are rejecting the presumption of innocence. They are absolutely wrong about this and if you care about the presumption of innocence you should contact the Department of Education and share your displeasure with this letter in a clear, concise and rational way (i.e. not like many MRA will).