Sunday, June 15, 2008

Because nothing says 'Happy Father's Day' like a false accusation of rape

Happy Father's Day to all fathers. Fathers endure certain hardships mothers are never forced to endure, some of which are even created by their own children and spouses. Among these, of course, are false rape accusations, which are often among the very worst experiences a father, or any man, can possibly endure. Here are a few such stories from recent news accounts -- a special Father's Day edition:

A 15-year-old girl lied that her step-father raped her. He was imprisoned for several days, and the vile accusation hung over him for five months before the girl admitted she made the whole thing up. The girl's punishment? A curfew for three months.

Another father, Gerard Wilson, had been searching frantically for more than a day for his 14-year-old daughter when sheriff's deputies found her in a motel room with a convicted pedophile from Texas whom she met on the Internet. The girl told police she had sex with that man, but she also made sure to tell police that her father had touched her inappropriately. Wilson, a middle school teacher, had not slept in more than 24 hours when investigators began an hours-long interrogation. They finally coerced him to write his daughter a letter apologizing for the things she said he'd done. Wilson was immediately arrested and jailed on a $4-million bond. The girl later testified that she made up the claims -- to shift police attention to her father instead of her illicit lover, whom she said she wanted to marry. Jurors deliberated for less than half an hour before acquitting.

Brian Scott Harden, father of three, faced the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison when his wife claimed he raped her at gunpoint before DNA evidence exonerated him. Astoundingly, the wife admitted under oath that if DNA testing hadn't been performed, she "probably" would have continued to lie at trial that Mr. Harden raped her and assaulted her with a gun.

Prosecutor David Gorcyca dropped charges against a father accused of raping his autistic daughter after the man spent 80 days in jail. The case collapsed because the court could never establish the girl, who cannot speak, was the author of the rape claim allegedly made with the help of a teaching aide through a widely dismissed method known as facilitated communication.

Then there was the father whose daughter lied that she was raped by a teenage boy at a party. Before the girl admitted her lie, in a fit of rage her father stabbed the boy. The father faced charges but there was no indication that the daughter would be charged, even though it was her vile lie that set in motion the unfortunate chain of events.

And there was Devin LaSalle, the 32-year-old father of three who was shot dead by the husband of his lover, Tracy Roberson. Mrs. Roberson's husband caught Mr. LaSalle and Mrs. Roberson together, and Mrs.Roberson told her husband that Mr. LaSalle was raping her. Mrs. Roberson's lie led to the shooting that left the three LaSalle children orphans -- all to cover up Mrs. Roberson's affair from her husband.

A 27-year-old father of two considered killing himself after being falsely accused of rape by a woman with whom he had had a fling. The woman's lie was finally exposed, but not before neighbors spat on the father and his marriage was left in tatters. The false accuser's defense? She blamed her violent boyfriend, claiming she had to lie because she feared he would harm her. Fathers just can't win in this story: the man the false accuser blamed was also a father -- to three of her children.

Happy Father's Day to all fathers, and especially to those fathers forced to endure the hell of a false rape accusation -- a hell that mothers will never be forced to suffer.