Friday, October 30, 2009

Judges: Prison 'inevitable' for false rape claimants, but primarily because of the harm to future rape victims

Comment: The news story below this comment is good news, and one shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth -- an appellate court says that women who make false rape claims will go to jail. Still, the principal focus of the jurists' concern is not on the actual victim of the false rape claim but on the future, unknown, hypothetical, phantom, possible, could-be, even unborn rape victims who might be, possibly will be, may be disbelieved because of such lies. The harm to the falsely accused -- the actual victim of the crime -- is incidental to the harm to the hypothetical rape victims; the crime of false reporting needs to be taken seriously, the judges suggest, primarily because of its effect on the victims of a different crime, rape, and because of the harm to hypothetical females whose future rape cries won't be believed. Re-read that last sentence again -- it is important.

Our interest is in exacting greater penalties for this crime, and this decision will benefit innocent men falsely accused, even though they are only incidental beneficiaries of the get-tough-on-false accusers policy. Still, one must wonder why the harm to the falsely accused themselves is not sufficient to take this crime seriously. In the case on appeal, for example, the man was arrested in front of his colleagues at Ford Motor Company, held for nearly 10 hours, and subjected to "degrading and upsetting" intimate examinations before being released without charge. Original story here. Here we have a distinct and palpable harm not to a hypothetical victim but to a flesh and blood victim. Perhaps -- and let's be honest, we know this is the case -- the problem is that the flesh and blood victim has too much flesh; I'm specifically referring to that piece of flesh that hangs between his legs.

The Judges' reaction is all-too typical: Although false reporting of rape is a crime whose victims are almost exclusively male, it has become so embroiled in the feminist sexual assault milieu that discussing it as a potentially significant problem for men is verboten because such view does not conform to the rape metanarrative handed down by those who control the public discourse over rape. In fact, this crime may be unique among all crimes because virtually the entire public discourse about it is dominated by persons who insist it is not a serious public threat, at least not to men. If it is a threat at all, it’s to women, they insist.

Wouldn't it be nice to shift the primary focus of our concern to the actual victim of this crime, just once? We hope the judges are serious when that stated the following: "An immediate custodial sentence is inevitable when a false allegation of rape is made." An automatic two year custodial sentence would go a long way to ending the false rape epidemic.


Prison 'inevitable' for false rape claims

Prison is "inevitable" for women who falsely cry rape because it "drives a nail" in to the rape conviction rate, senior judges have warned.

By Tom Whitehead, Home Affairs Editor
Published: 2:37PM GMT 30 Oct 2009

The Court of Appeal said false allegations damage conviction rates of genuine rapes and are "terrifying" for innocent victims.

The judges spoke out as they dismissed an appeal by a former nurse who was jailed for two years after falsely accusing a man she met online.

Jennifer Day, 35, made the claim against Andrew Saxby, who she met through a dating website, following a row in a case that cost £4,000 of taxpayers' money and 270 police man hours.

She was jailed at Basildon Crown Court in July this year after being convicted of perverting the course of justice by making a false complaint of rape.

Dismissing her appeal against sentence, Mr Justice Henriques, sitting in London with Mrs Justice Rafferty, said: "False complaints of rape necessarily impact upon the minds of jurors trying rape cases.

"Every time a defendant stands trial for rape, defence counsel necessarily point out to the jury that false allegations are made.

"Allegations such as this drive yet another nail into the conviction rate."

He said the two-year sentence was "well-measured" and warned: "An immediate custodial sentence is inevitable when a false allegation of rape is made."

It was an offence which "attacks the criminal justice system". Scarce police resources were also diverted and innocent victims faced a "terrifying allegation", he said.

Mr Justice Henriques read out the words of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, made in a previous ruling relating to a false rape claim.

Lord Judge, pointing out that such an allegation involved more than the individual victim, said: "Every false allegation of rape increases the plight of those women who have been victims of this dreadful crime.

"It makes the offence harder to prove and, rightly concerned to avoid the conviction of an innocent man, a jury may find itself unable to be sufficiently sure to return a guilty verdict."

He said it was an offence which not only causes great problems for the victim, but also damages the administration of justice in general in "this extremely sensitive area".

Day, from Corringham, Essex, made the accusation after an argument with Brentwood man, Mr Saxby.

The pair had met through an internet dating site and had enjoyed a short relationship before she made the allegation in the early hours of January 8 of last year.

She said Mr Saxby had come to her home and raped her, but when arrested he told police that, although he had banged on her door, they had argued outside and he had left.

A neighbour confirmed his versions of events and, when challenged, Day admitted that she had not told the truth.

In the original trial, the court heard how Mr Saxby was subjected to "degrading and upsetting" examinations while being held by police for ten hours following the rape claim.

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: "False allegations of rape are an insult to the victims of this horrendous crime and contribute to the disgracefully low conviction rates.

“Those who make false allegations maliciously should expect to be dealt with in the strongest possible manner.”

However Lisa Longstaff, of Women Against Rape, said the sentence was "outrageous" and warned the judges comments risked putting women off reporting rapes.