Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rape tale was a hoax, but the liar had everyone "walking around looking at young men, wondering if" they’re rapists

Comment: We reported last week on the rape hoax in East Elmhurst, New York City, but what we didn't report on was the scare that the liar caused. See the news reports beneath this comment.

This is yet another fear-mongering, Chicken Little fable whose moral is -- mistrust young men! (that's novel, isn't it?) -- a tale for women already overly-saturated with warnings to be overly-wary of men. It is, in short, a manifestation of a culture where rape hysteria not only grows but flourishes.

We have frequently written about how the myth that every young man is potential rapist who needs to be viewed with suspicion is the engine that drives the culture of rape hysteria, and that false rape claims are its noxious emissions. This culture enables false accusers to tell a plausible lie. They know that virtually any young man who is even accused of this vile crime will be considered not merely a plausible suspect but a presumed felon.

This particular fable is about an imaginary pair of scary young rapists, and how they panicked an entire neighborhood. The only problem is that police say it never happened. The woman lied to cover up an affair from her husband.

One local politician, though, is rightfully sick of the hysteria. George Dixon worried aloud about how "a false crime report could . . . result in the injury or death of someone resembling suspects described in the report."

Mr. Dixon -- you are our hero. We've frequently noted on this blog that men falsely accused of rape are at times killed or kill themselves; they are beaten and spat upon; they lose their wives, their girlfriends, their social support, their jobs and their businesses. Few men emerge unscathed from a false rape claim, and for most it is the worst thing they will ever experience in their lives.

Mr. Dixon's next sentence sums up the hysteria a false rape claim generates: “Now you’ve got us walking around looking at young men, wondering if they’re involved in something.” Before the police revealed that the report was false, Mr. Dixon called for the full prosecution of the woman if, indeed, it turned out she lied.

Bravo to you, Mr. Dixon! Your concerns are on the money. Rape hysteria tarnishes an entire gender and creates mistrust of men. Too many others in authority use false rape scares as a "teaching moment" not to teach about the dangers of false rape claims but as an occasion to scare women about -- you guessed it -- rapists. This, of course, only perpetuates the rape hysteria and empowers other women to lie about rape. Here, finally, is someone who wants to use a false rape claim to teach about the dangers of false rape claims to both innocent men and to the false accusers.

So what do you think are the chances that this liar will be charged? The New York Daily News says "unlikely." That, you see, is the rape culture we live in: where every young man is viewed with suspicion, but too often the real criminals wear lipstick and heels, and nobody bothers to punish them.


Officials try to clear up rape rumors:
E. Elmhurst residents concerned by reports of a March 11 assault

East Elmhurst residents, alarmed by conflicting reports of a rape in a park next to an elementary school last week, did not get complete answers at a community meeting Friday, but they did get a chance to discuss the implications the news had on their community.

Rumors abounded March 11 after reports that an early−morning rape occurred near PS 127 on 25th Avenue.

“Word spread through the news, text messages and e−mail,” said City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D−East Elmhurst), who organized the event at the First Baptist Church on Astoria Boulevard in the hopes of getting the various civic organizations and city agencies to network.

Police said a woman in her 30s was walking home from work when she was grabbed by a pair of Hispanic men, dragged into the park next to PS 127 and raped. The next day news reports citing anonymous police sources said the woman’s story was false and she made it up as an excuse for coming home late and drunk.

Police at a community meeting Friday would not confirm that account, citing an ongoing investigation.

“Yes, there was an incident reported as a rape,” Detective Adriane Johnson said. “It’s not as clear−cut as it may have seemed.”

But though residents took the news reports at face value, their perception of the neighborhood remained shaken.

“I’m glad it was not what it seemingly was in the beginning,” said East Elmhurst−Corona Civic Association member Lynda McDougal, but she noted there are other problems in the neighborhood, including a regular thief who steals the lug nuts from parked cars.

“You kind of walk differently in East Elmhurst,” she said. “On Roosevelt Avenue, I kind of carry my bag a little closer. What this did for me was [make me say,] ‘What are some of the things I’m lax about?’”

Others were angrier about how a false rape report could damage the trust in the community.

“I think it’s a dangerous precedent to set,” said District Leader George Dixon, who worried that a false crime report could send police out and result in the injury or death of someone resembling suspects described in the report.

“Now you’ve got us walking around looking at young men, wondering if they’re involved in something.”

He called for the full prosecution of the woman if the report turned out to be false.

Principal Evita Sanabria of PS 127 said the full day of police and media surrounding the school took its toll on the staff’s nerves, but she reassured parents in the audience.

“It was a bit rough for us because part of the math exam was that day,” she said, but noted “the children going in or coming out were completely safe.”


Queens woman's playground rape horror a hoax, police say

A waitress trying to cover up an affair fabricated a story about getting raped in a deserted Queens playground Wednesday, police said.

The 32-year-old woman told cops she finished her shift at an East Elmhurst diner just after 4 a.m., and was followed by two men near 98th St. and 25th Ave.

They hit her over the head, dragged her to a playground adjacent to Public School 27 and sexually assaulted her, she claimed.

But detectives, who combed the playground and checked surveillance tapes, uncovered holes in the alleged victim's time line and determined that her story was false.

A source said the married woman was drunk when she left her workplace - which was actually a strip joint - and came home disheveled.

Confronted by her husband, she came up with the rape tale.

In reality, the source said, she was having an affair with an ex-flame she met while bartending.

The woman, who was treated at Elmhurst Hospital Center, was sticking by her story last night.
"It didn't happen," a police spokesman said late yesterday. "They're waiting for her to recant."

No rapes were reported so far this year in the 115th Precinct, which includes East Elmhurst.

Told about the alleged attack, residents were initially unnerved by the news.

"I'm surprised because I've never heard of that happening here near the school," said Irma Trevino, 35, who lives in the area.

Sources said that even if the woman concedes her hoax, it's unlikely she'll be charged with filing a false report.