Monday, March 30, 2009

Witness recants claim that sex was not consensual

Comment: In the news story below, the difference between life in prison and a much-reduced sentence for two men hinged on whether an alleged witness to a sex act characterized it consensual or non-consensual. The witness decided to recant the claim that it was non-consensual, so the prosecution was left without a case for that crime. (Whether they should have received any sentence at all, given that they were 18 and the girl was 15 is another matter altogether. It seems absurd, given the relatively insignificant age difference and the emotional and physical maturity of girls that age.)

This case illustrates a point we make here quite frequently: it is extremely easy to lie about consent. The very physical act that constitutes rape is precisely the same act that has been performed countless times every minute of every day of every year since the beginning of time the world over -- as an act of love, an act of procreation. To transmogrify this most fundamental human act into a claim of rape, all a woman needs to do is recharacterize it as non-consensual. That's it. Some women lie about this -- it happens with alarming frequency, and it can and does destroy the lives of its male victims.


Pair charged with felony rape plead guilty to reduced charges

By LORETTA PARKFARMINGTON — Two men who could have faced a life sentence for first-degree felony rape have pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

Terry Jeremias Basada, 21, and Joel Jesus Arteaga, 20, each pleaded guilty to class C misdemeanor unlawful sex activity with a minor and a class A misdemeanor unlawful supply of alcohol to a minor.

A sentencing hearing is set for March 23 with 2nd District Judge Michael Allphin.Arteaga was in 2nd District Court Monday in front of Judge Jon M. Memmott for a sentencing hearing with his attorney, Todd Sessions.

The sentencing was originally scheduled before Allphin, but he was out sick.Because the charges were misdemeanors, not felonies, the judge only needed a police data report to review before sentencing, but Memmott had not received it.

Basada’s attorney on Friday requested the sentencing hearing be moved to March 23.

Deputy Attorney Richard Larsen said, “This case is unique enough you need to read through the police data report. I think it is in the best interest of the defendants if the case is continued.”

The Davis County Attorney’s Office had filed felony charges against the two men in June of 2008 following a lengthy investigation.

According to court documents, the incident occurred in July 2006 when the victim was 15 and the two men were 18.“A key witness recanted a good portion of his statements,” Larsen said.

The witness saw the victim shortly after the incident occurred, he said. In his original statements to police, the witness “had said very clearly it was non-consensual sex,” Larsen said.

Without the witness’s statement Larsen said it would be difficult to prove the sex was non-consensual.

The men pleaded guilty on Feb. 9 to the reduced charges based on the age difference.Larsen said the victim understands why his office offered the plea deal.

“We’re not claiming it was consensual sex, but we’re not able to meet the burden of proof for a first-degree felony,” he said.