Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Death of bit player in Dotson false rape claim reminds us of that terrible case

Terrence L. Barnich, a bit-player in the Gary Dotson case, one of the most famous false rape cases ever, has died in Iraq at 56.

We could write books on the Dotson case, but a brief summary will need to suffice: In 1977, 16-year-old Cathleen Crowell was impregnated by her boyfriend and made up a story that she had been raped to tell her foster parents. She identified Gary Dotson, 20, as her alleged attacker, and kept up the lie through his 1979 trial, where he was convicted and sentenced to 25 to 50 years imprisonment. The trial was a sham, with liar Crowell identifying an innocent man as a vile criminal, and incompetent forensic evidence pointing the finger of guilt at him. Four alibi witnesses were disregarded by the prosecutor. It wasn't until 1985, while an innocent young man rotted away in a prison, that Crowell told her pastor about her rape lie. The pastor contacted a lawyer who tried to have Dotson freed, but the court refused to believe Crowell's recantation. Eventually, Dotson was paroled after public pressure was brought to bear, but he found himself in and out of prison until finally, DNA evidence proved that the tell-tale semen stain belonged to the false accuser's boyfriend, and Dotson was released.

Mr. Barnich, the deceased man, "gained a high public profile in the 1980s as general counsel to [then-Governor James] Thompson. When an alleged rape victim recanted her accusations against Gary Dotson, and with a commutation in the balance, Mr. Barnich flew first-class with the woman's underpants on dry ice to be analyzed by a British DNA expert. Dotson could not have committed the assault, the scientist concluded. Mr. Barnich turned in a bill for $2,158, saying he couldn't chance the evidence getting lost on a luggage carousel.Thompson commuted Dotson's sentence."

Mr. Barnich's was just one small piece of the story -- an innocent man's life was at stake, and Mr. Barnich refused to take any chances with it. If everyone connected with Dotson's case had adopted the same attitude, Dotson's life would not have been destroyed by a teenage girl's lie to cover-up her own promiscuity.

We could contrast the care Mr. Barnich took with innumerable other bit players in the Dotson case who were not so concerned about "getting it right." One fascinating aspect of the Dotson fiasco is how the sexual assault industry reacted to Crowell's recantation. This is a triggering moment for the falsely accused, so be warned:

"Meanwhile, many did not believe Webb's story that she had never been raped, including 57 percent of respondents in CBS 2's poll. Some became concerned the case could have a negative impact on women's rights. 'As a therapist, I think that part of what is happening – and this is speculation – but I think that Cathleen has for years denied the terror and the tragedy and the trauma of what happened to her,' said Dickelle Fonda of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault. 'I think that she has carried a great deal of guilt and shame and embarrassment, as many rape victims do, and never had the opportunity to resolve that. Had she had that opportunity – had victim services been available at the time – perhaps none of this would have happened.'"

Did you get that?

First, note the emphasis on "women's rights" as opposed to, oh, say, "justice" and "honesty." Never does it occur to people like Ms. Fonda that Dotson might just have been innocent. Or did they even care? This, of course, is merely another manifestation of how the crime of false reporting has become subsumed in the radical feminist sexual assault metanarrative, which is replete with half-truths and outright lies and which never expresses concern for protecting the rights of innocent men and boys falsely accused of rape. The disingenuous hallmark of that metanarrative is that false rape claims are a "myth."

Second, and most troubling, is that a so-called "expert" went on the record in a public forum to espouse rank speculation that was intended to lead people to believe that a young man was guilty of a terrible crime. By recanting, the young woman just proved to this enlightened "expert" that she's in denial about the terrible trauma she experienced. No other explanation was plausible, right? Borrowing a page from the Salem witch hunt playbook, this "expert" painted an innocent young man as evil based on her supposed superior knowledge. Webb's initial lie must be believed (because it accused a male of rape), but her recantation should not be believed (because it would exonerate the male of rape).

In fact, this was nothing more than the worst kind of gender stereotyping -- male bashing gussied up to look like an educated assessment. In other contexts we'd call what this "expert" spewed "prejudice" or "bigotry," but of course according to radical feminists a woman can never be accused of unfairly treating a member of the "oppressor gender."

Oh, and let's not forget to mention that the "expert's" speculation was as wrong as it could be.

Of course.