Thursday, July 17, 2008

A call for allowing men accused of rape to remain anonymous until conviction

In the article reprinted below, the family of a teenager accused of rape is calling for symmetry in the U.K. law that protects the anonymity of rape accusers with all the tenacity that Clark Kent guards Superman's identity but does nothing whatsoever to protect men who are merely accused of rape. The young man's family is calling for an end to the double standard and wants men accused of rape to remain anonymous until conviction.

Bravo!

A man can be accused and arrested for allegedly committing this most vile crime short of murder on the basis of nothing more than the word of a woman or a girl. He can claim she's the real criminal for making a false report, but no one cares about that. Unlike virtually any other serious crime, there is often no other evidence to support a rape claim where the male admits to having intercourse. In fact, the very physical act that constitutes the alleged crime is precisely the same act that is performed countless times every minute the world over, and in the vast majority of those cases the woman welcomes it.

Once accused, the man will be arrested (the boy in the story below was actually jailed for three weeks). His once-good name is splashed across the newspapers, TV, radio and the Internet, and the entire world is invited to titillate to the details of his humiliation. Most people will assume that since he was arrested, "he must have done it," and most will never once consider that he is in jail based on nothing more than a lone female's accusation.

And when the charges are dropped, or when the woman recants, his innocence is never deemed as newsworthy as the initial accusation, if it is deemed newsworthy at all. His life is left in tatters, perhaps beyond repair, and many of his friends and acquaintances are left believing that he probably did it, or at least wondering if he did.

In contrast, even if she outright lied about it, her anonymity is preserved forever.

When will we, as a society, realize that there is something terribly wrong with a culture that allows virtually any female to claim she's been raped and, before a single fact has been adjudicated, cause a male's life to unravel for the world's entertainment? Even if the claim is found to be a lie, it is impossible to "put the toothpaste back in the tube," and he will never regain the reputation he lost. For what other crime do we hand one class of private citizens (generally young women) the unbridled power to destroy the lives of any member of another class of citizens (e.g., virtually any male, but generally young men)?

This double standard is merely a manifestation of the fact that the crime of making a false rape report has become so embroiled in the feminist sexual assault milieu that it has been largely, and improperly, removed from the public discourse about rape and subsumed in a mishmash of policies that seek only to protect female and child rape victims. Men and boys supposedly presumed innocent until proven guilty are destroyed on the basis of a naked accusation, and hardly anyone cares. They are nothing more than collateral damage in the war on rape.

The story below properly puts the emphasis on the male, a rarity in cases of this kind. But it also contains the de rigueur cold-hearted comments of a police official who goes out of his way to assert how seriously police take claims of sexual assault. And exactly how seriously do you take claims of false reporting of rape, officer? Let me guess -- not seriously at all. And that, officer, is the problem.

HERE IS THE NEWS STORY

Rape accused calls for law change

DAVID BALE 16 July 2008 15:00

The family of a teenager who had rape charges against him dropped has called for a change in the law to ensure the identity of those accused of serious sex crimes is only released on conviction.

As the law stands, the identity of victims of sex crimes is protected and cannot be made public. However, details of those accused are made available to the public upon charges being brought, not when a prosecution is successful.

Jacob Paston, 18, was accused of the rape and attempted rape of a woman in the city on April 19.

He appeared at Norwich Magistrates' Court on Monday, April 21, and was remanded in custody to appear at Norwich Crown Court on Tuesday, May 6, when he was granted bail.

Whilst he has now been told that the charges have been dropped due to lack of evidence, the teenager, from Barrett Road, Lakenham, says the damage to his reputation has been done.

He said: “I feel traumatised and distressed by it all. I was locked up in prison for three weeks and I spent three days at Bethel Street police station in the cells.

“My family knew I was innocent but everyone else and the neighbours didn't. I would like to see a change in the law so that the names of people accused of rape are kept secret just like those who accuse them.

“I'm trying to get on with my life now, but it's hard.”

He claimed he even had to give up his three-year carpentry course at City College Norwich, because people were aware of the accusations and were treating him differently.

He added: “I'd been there two years and was doing well. But I did not feel comfortable with everyone starting at me. It has ruined my life.”

Frank Ferguson, district crown prosecutor for Norwich, confirmed the case had been discontinued, adding: “The Crown Prosecution Service takes sexual allegations very seriously and keeps cases under constant review.

“In this case further evidence came to light, and, as a result of this, we decided to discontinue the proceedings against Mr Paston, as there was insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.

“We have no plans to bring charges against the complainant for wasting police time.

“When we discontinue a case it does not mean that we don't believe the complainant. In this case we simply did not have sufficient evidence to proceed with the prosecution.”

It is estimated that between three and nine per cent of all reported rapes turn out to be false, according to Home Office figures.

Link: http://www.eveningnews24.co.uk/content/News/story.aspx?brand=ENOnline&category=News&tBrand=enonline&tCategory=news&itemid=NOED16%20Jul%202008%2012%3A29%3A41%3A147