Saturday, July 4, 2009

Here is everything wrong with the way we treat men and boys accused of rape

The next time someone angrily insists that false rape claims are not a serious problem and that far too much attention is paid to them, refer her to this case, which is sadly typical of the way men and boys accused of rape -- the supposedly presumed innocent -- are treated.

David Jansen and his ilk are the reason we have this website. Mr. Jansen's case gained recent national notoriety when it first broke. You probably heard about the initial report that accused him of rape; you probably have not heard about its outcome. To summarize: "David Jansen was arrested after a pizza deliveryman stopped by his remote rented cabin in the Tennessee Smoky Mountains and saw a woman tied up on the couch mouthing, 'Call 911.' But Jansen claimed all along that the woman was his lover and that she was into bondage, his lawyers providing stacks of evidence that the two had been in a relationship for sometime. After news of the arrest hit the media, the woman's history of filing false rape claims surfaced and her mother was interviewed saying that her daughter was a notorious liar."

Thankfully, no charges will be filed against Mr. Jansen. According to the story: "The Sevier County District Attorney's Office agreed with Jansen, saying in a statement that 'we could not obtain a conviction against Mr. Jansen nor would we try. As district attorneys our job is to seek justice not convictions,' District Attorney James B. Dunn said in the statement. 'Justice requires us to dismiss these charges based on the victim's credibility and other evidence.' Dunn's statement noted that the woman has been told about their decision and 'she insists that her allegations are true. This office will not prosecute the victim,' Dunn said in the statement. 'The evidence would not sustain a conviction for making a false report.' As for Jansen, his lawyers said he's just happy to be cleared. 'Mr. Jansen looks forward to resuming some level of normalcy in his life in hopes to move on as best as possible from this incident,' his attorneys said in a statement. 'As one might imagine, it has been costly on both a financial and emotional level.' But the damage is already done in many aspects. His wife filed for divorce shortly after learning of his arrest."

Because of the claim of a serial false accuser -- someone her own mother didn't believe -- Mr. Jansen was incarcerated for a crime he likely didn't commit; his name was splashed all over the news for the world to titillate to his humiliation; his marriage came to a screeching end; and his reputation was likely destroyed beyond repair. Any time Mr. Jansen goes to apply for a job, his prospective employee need only do a simple Google search to learn about the terrible thing he was accused of doing. How many employers will take a chance on him, regardless of how clear it is that he was innocent?

In contrast, the serial false accuser was not arrested and will not be charged (nor has she ever served a day in prison for any of her false claims); her reputation is largely preserved -- she can move away and the persons she interacts with will never suspect she might be a serial false accuser, nor will they ever learn about this incident; her identity is still shielded by the news media with all the tenacity that Clark Kent employs to keep Superman's identity from being known; and even now the District Attorney refers to her as the "victim." Did you get that? The person who was probably the actual victim here is referred to simply by his name; the person who probably committed a crime is called the "victim."

The asymmetry is astounding and, by any measure, patently unjust. Mr. Jansen has been sacrificed on the altar of political correctness to atone for the sins of actual rapists, and to encourage other rape accusers to come forward. He is literally nothing more than unfortunate collateral damage in the "more important" war on rape. The case begs the question whether this woman and other false accusers would lie about rape if, indeed, their identities weren't shielded. I tend to think there would be far fewer false rape claims.

Professor Alan Dershowitz had this to say about shielding the identities of rape accusers: "People who have gone to the police and publicly invoked the criminal process and accused somebody of a serious crime such as rape must be identified," he said. "In this country there is no such thing and should not be such a thing as anonymous accusation. If your name is in court it is a logical extension that it should be printed in the media. How can you publish the name of the presumptively innocent accused but not the name of the accuser?"

The case raises one other important point: note that neither party was charged with a crime despite the fact that it appears it would be far easier to obtain a conviction against her than him. The next time an angry young radical feminist insists that police should not use their discretion to believe or disbelieve rape claimants but should leave it up to the jury and put every claim of rape on trial, simply point out that the same has to be true for men and boys who accuse women of false rape claims. How about this procedure: in every rape trial where a man or boy claims he didn't do it, let the jury also decide if the woman or girl is guilty of filing a false report. Why not? You can't have it both ways, ladies. You can't insist on a procedure only when it might favor you. A man or boy accused of rape has the same right to seek justice as a woman or a girl who does the accusing, and that right goes beyond merely defending against the claim -- that right includes seeking justice for a crime perpetrated against them. After all, making a false report is a crime just as rape is a crime. Somehow I suspect that if such a procedure were in place, false rape claims would largely be a thing of the past -- and Mr. Jansen would not have had his life destroyed.