Thursday, April 30, 2009

Orange County woman lied that she was raped along a jogging trail, police say

Comment: If you ever look at the readers comments connected with a news report of a false rape claim, you will notice that most of them are angry, and most want the false accuser to be punished -- both men and women. Many seem to understand the issues surrounding false rape claims -- the fact that false rape claims do immeasurable damage to the credibility of actual rape victims; the fact that they are common; the issues regarding anonymity; the scare-factor for men who realize consent can easily be lied about, and so on. Here are a few examples of comments on the news story below (which is a garden variety false rape claim -- a young woman claimed for reasons known only to her that she was raped; fortunately no innocent man was snared by her lie):

"The pendulum has definitely swung too far the other way when it comes to taking women at face value. I've come across a good many (like this one), who are absolutely despicable with their lies and manipulation. Further - this is an affront to actual rape survivors - how horrible!I hope they throw the book at her, and that it hits her in her crotch - the lying wh*re!!"

Or this one:

"This woman is very sick! How dare she make a story like this up for whatever reasons. I can't help but be outraged by her own personal reason when there's real rape survivors out there that know this is nothing to make stories up about."

Or this one:

"Nice. So some psychopathic women will falsely report rape in order to provide the whack with an alibi for some type of other twisted behavior. Ok fine if we want to play like this I am now taping all activites I participate in. Consent forms will be mandatory."

Or this one:

"ok, since the rape report was false why can't we find out her identity? After all, it has been determined that she wasn't a sex crime victim, right? So why keep her identity undisclosed? Isn't reporting a rape to the police that never happened some sort of violation?"

Or this one:

"The sad (very sad) truth is that most claims of sexual assault/rape by adult women are anywhere from totally false to mostly false. It takes valuable time and resources away from those genuine cases that need to be investigated. Of course, no one will ever talk about this publicly because it is VERY un-politically correct."

Report of rape along jogging trail found to be false

Authorities said a report made by a 20-year-old woman along a jogging trail was found to be false today.

By SALVADOR HERNANDEZ

The Orange County Register

A report about a rape along a jogging trail in an unincorporated part of Santa Ana was found to be false today after investigators interviewed the alleged victim for the third time, authorities said.

Authorities with the Orange County Sheriff's Department were preparing to release a sketch today of a suspect described by the woman to investigators. But during the third interview of the woman today, investigators found that the report had been falsified, said Jim Amormino spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

"She made it up," he said.

The 20-year-old woman first came forward to investigators with the sheriff's department Monday, describing a rape that had allegedly occurred on a trail along Esplanade Avenue, said Amormino.

The woman said she was forced into a black SUV by a man who drove her a short distance from the trail, then threw her on the ground and raped her. The woman also described details of the car, including a chocolate interior and a purple rosary.

Authorities said the woman also said that the man threatened to kill her and her family if she reported the crime to police.

But the story ended up being bogus, Amormino said.

Initially, the case bore some similarities to a rape that had occurred in Fullerton on April 20, and investigators had begun looking at a possible link before the two incidents, Amormino said.

"Right now, we don't know why she did it," Amormino said.

Link: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/woman-amormino-investigators-2383724-sheriff-today

False Rape Society's guest editorial in a major college paper

The Daily Cardinal: The University of Wisconsin-Madison

Don’t forget victims of false rape accusations

Although rape victims get the most coverage, people often forget about those falsely accused of rape and the struggles they go through.

By Pierce Harlan and
E. Steven Berkimer

Guest Editorial

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Unfortunately, much of the “awareness” raised about a crime that victimizes all too many women is unnecessarily politicized and factually incorrect.

For reasons that have nothing to do with aiding rape victims and everything to do with advancing a larger political agenda, too many of the persons who dominate the public discourse about sexual assault feel it is necessary to insist that false rape claims are a myth.

We write for one of the few websites in America devoted exclusively to giving voice to the persons wrongly accused of sexual assault, The False Rape Society.

False rape claims are America’s taboo epidemic, and we chronicle news of false rape claims on a daily basis. We receive heart-wrenching emails, especially from mothers of young men who have been falsely accused. One young man recently told us our website stopped him from committing suicide. That is an awful burden to put on one little website, but these people have nowhere else to turn.

But our efforts aren’t universally applauded, as you can imagine. Our site is often dismissed by some feminists as unnecessary, to put it charitably, because, we are told, women don’t lie about rape. Financially interested sexual assault advocates habitually insist that false rape accusations account for only 2 percent of all reported sexual assaults, which, they say, is no higher than false reports for other crimes, despite both the absence of any evidential support for this claim, and the presence of irrefutable evidence debunking it. Such evidence can be found in Edward Greer’s “The Truth Behind Legal Dominance Feminism’s ‘Two Percent False Rape Claim’ Figure,” Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review from 2000, which traced the 2-percent canard to its baseless origin.

The fact is, every serious and unbiased study ever conducted on the subject shows that false rape claims are a serious problem. The numbers vary from study to study, but they are always multiple times the sacrosanct 2-percent figure. Purdue sociology professor Eugene Kanin studied a mid-size midwestern city over the course of nine years and found that 41 percent of all rape claims were false. Kanin subsequently studied two large state universities and found that in three years, 50 percent of the rapes reported to campus police were determined to be false. In a separate 1985 study of 556 rape allegations, 27 percent of the accusers recanted, and an independent evaluation revealed a false accusation rate of 60 percent.

Police officers sometimes note in a moment of candor that a significant percentage of rape claims are false, but false claims generally are neither publicized nor severely punished, if they are punished at all, for fear of putting off women from reporting actual rapes.

So where does all this leave the men and boys falsely accused of rape? They are invisible collateral damage in the war on rape; virtually no one is looking out for their interests despite the grievous harm many suffer. By tolerating false claims in the interest of not putting off actual rape victims, by not affording the presumed innocent the same anonymity their accusers receive, we have declared open season on the hapless men and boys who come within the crosshairs of women who would lie about rape, often at grave cost. Men and boys falsely accused of rape have been beaten and killed and have killed themselves; they’ve been fired from their jobs and lost their businesses; they’ve suffered from depression; they’ve lost their wives, their girlfriends and have been permanently alienated from their friends. Rarely do they ever come out of it whole, and for many, the ghost of a false rape claim trails them for the rest of their lives.

“It was the most horrible thing I have ever been through in my life ... I thought I wasn’t going to see my kids again,” said Darren Ball, who became so distraught over the lies told about him that he tried to throw himself into traffic. Concerned passers-by pulled him to safety. The stigma of being accused of rape never quite goes away, as Darren explained: “I should have been cleared completely, but I still get funny looks from people. Months after the charges were dropped, people were still saying ‘have you heard, we’ve got a rapist living down the road.’”

Darren’s toll was emotional. Many men suffer horrific physical tolls as well. John Chalmers has to learn everything over again after being attacked by a man who wrongly believed Mr. Chalmers sexually assaulted his sister. It has left John with devastating brain injuries that have forced him to step down from a senior position at his family’s bakery.

But at least Mr. Chalmers has the opportunity to restore himself to a semblance of his former self. Other young men aren’t so lucky. Sumbo Owoiya, 18, was gunned down after Joseph Sullivan’s teenage girlfriend lied and told Sullivan that Mr. Owoiya had raped her. Sullivan and an armed accomplice drove to the apartment where Mr. Owoiya’s family lived and knocked on the door. When Mr. Owoiya looked through the peep-hole, the gunman fired a shot that hit Mr. Owoiya in the stomach and lodged in his spine. He died a short time later.

Rape is a horrific thing, but a false rape accusation can be similarly life-changing and just as terrible. The false rape claim epidemic will only be controlled when we look upon those who levy false accusations with the same disdain that we look upon rapists, and demand that their lies not be tolerated. Let us be brutally frank: As it stands, we are ignoring a significant class of victims because, when it comes to this issue, they were born into a politically incorrect gender. By any measure, denigrating the experience of the wrongly accused by dismissing their victimization as a “myth” or as unworthy of our discussion, much less our protection, is not merely dishonest but morally grotesque.

Link: http://www.dailycardinal.com/article/23007

Stephanine Ann Bennett's false rape claim brings 30-day jail sentence

1. Ms. Bennett, so long as she stays clean of any further wrongdoing, will have her record expunged in 3 years. How many men falsely convicted of rape are able to only serve 30 days and get their records expunged?

2. Once again, a man is to blame, as her former boyfriend coerced her to make the false rape claim. The fact that she came forward after the accusation and told the truth does count in her favor, but when are women going to be held culpable for their decisions?

Thankfully, they did not arrest the man she falsely accused, and she has to repay the court associated costs (it is unclear if that includes the cost of the police investigation).

Stephanine Ann Bennett sentenced to 30 days in jail for false claim.

BENTONVILLE - A Colcord, Okla., woman was sentenced to 30 days in jail for falsely accusing a man of raping her.

Stephanine Ann Bennett, 18, pleaded guilty Monday to filing a false police report, a class D felony. She agreed to plead guilty under an agreement that Public Defender Brynna Barnica reached with Deputy Prosecutor Ben Poole.

Bennett was arrested Oct. 20, 2008. She had earlier reported to police that she had been raped, but recanted the allegation a few days later.

Poole told Circuit Judge Robin Green that police investigated, but did not arrest, the man who Bennett claimed raped her.

Barnica told Green that Bennett was coerced by a former boyfriend to make the allegation against the man.

Green said the only reason she accepted the plea agreement is because Bennett came forward to report her lie.

Green accepted the plea agreement and Bennett's guilty plea.

Bennett was placed on state-supervised probation for three years with Act 346, which means her conviction can be expunged if she successfully completes her probation.

She must perform 120 hours of community service and must serve 30 days in the Benton County Jail.

Bennett must report to the jail by noon June 16. Green delayed Bennett's sentencing until she graduates from high school.

She must also pay $1,870 in court-associated costs.

Link: http://www.nwarktimes.com/bcdr/News/72302/

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Soccer star won't be charged with rape due to insufficient evidence -- which means no rational trier of fact could have convicted him

COMMENT: As explained in the news story below, Soccer Star Fredy Montero has been cleared of rape charges, but unfortunately there probably will be some people who claim that "he got away with it." One comment under the news story at the original source said this: "Did you actually expect a celebrity to take the fall for this. they have this mentality that they are entitled to whatever they want." The feminist community will assert that the mere fact that the prosecutor didn't bring charges doesn't mean that no rape occurred.

You see, the concept of "presumed innocent" has little meaning in the rape context. A rape allegation is almost impossible to totally disprove to everyone's satisfaction beyond any scintilla of doubt when the defense is that the parties were involved in a consensual relationship. The fact of the matter is, Mr. Montero has already been tried and convicted, without a scrap of evidence being admitted at trial, in the court of last resort -- the suspicious minds of people ready to believe that any man accused of a sex crime "must" have done "something."

The district attorney refused to bring charges due to "insufficient evidence." Under Washington state law, it means that "no rational trier of fact, could have found the essential elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt." If there is "sufficient" evidence, this means there is some evidence that could convict the accused, even if it is weak. It is up to the trier of fact to decide how much weight is to be given to a claim. Here there was "insufficient" evidence, in the district attorney's opinion.

The fact that any rape allegation can trail an innocent man for the rest of his life, often destroying him in the process, is reason enough to give the presumed innocent charged with a sex crime the same anonymity accusers are afforded.

Sounders FC's Montero won't face criminal charges

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg has declined to file criminal charges against Seattle Sounders FC soccer star Fredy Montero, citing insufficient evidence to support an Eastside woman's claim that he had raped her.

By Christine Clarridge
Seattle Times staff reporter

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg has declined to file criminal charges against Sounders FC soccer star Fredy Montero, citing insufficient evidence to support an Eastside woman's claim that he had raped her.

A brief statement on Tuesday from Satterberg's spokesman, Dan Donohoe, did not elaborate on the decision.

The 23-year-old woman had reported to Bellevue police that Montero, 21, had raped her in March, and then later stalked her. Prosecutors reviewed the police department's investigative files before reaching their decision Tuesday.

Reached by phone Tuesday, the victim said she was "devastated" and could not understand how the prosecutors came to the decision.

Montero's agent said that the allegations were false and stemmed from Montero's efforts to end a dating relationship with the woman.

Montero continued to practice with Sounders FC during the investigation, although he missed the team's April 4 match against Toronto.

"I am excited to return my complete attention to scoring goals for the people of Seattle and making the Sounders FC a very successful club," Montero said in a statement released Tuesday by Sounders FC.

Said an unidentified team spokesman in a statement: "We are pleased with the decision from the prosecutor's office and look forward to putting this behind us and focusing on soccer."

A relative of the woman, who asked to not be identified, had said the woman and Montero knew each other but that "calling it a relationship would be way, way out there."

According to documents released Tuesday by the Bellevue Police Department, the woman met Montero just a few weeks before the alleged rape.

A friend of the woman, who is employed by Sounders FC, had approached the 23-year-old about possibly doing some work as an interpreter and translator for the club's Spanish-speaking players.

The woman, who had lived in Colombia and speaks Spanish fluently, told police that she, Montero and several others had been out dancing and partying on March 14 when they decided to go to Montero's town house in Factoria for an after-hours party.

Another woman, who met the group that evening for the first time, was invited as well.

One of Montero's teammates and another woman told police that they saw Montero and the 23-year-old kissing. The teammate told police it looked to him like the 23-year-old was "happy."

The 23-year-old woman told police later, however, that Montero was sexually aggressive with her, and kept trying to get her to have sex with him, urging her to drink heavily and even locking her in a bathroom with him.

She said that she decided to sleep at Montero's house because she had too much to drink and she slept on the floor next to him. She left the house the next day, according to Bellevue police reports, but discovered later that she had left a necklace at his house.

She told police that she texted him or called him several times during the week to ask about her necklace, but he never texted back.

According to police documents, she said Montero called around 2:30 a.m. on March 22 to tell her that he had found her necklace and invited her over.

She told police that she went back against her better judgment because one of his teammates would be there as well.

At some point, the teammate left and the woman claims that Montero dragged her up the stairs, removed her clothes and raped her while she cried for help.

The 16-year-old son of Montero's host family, who was also spending the night there as a friend of Montero's teenage brother, told police he did not hear any screams or cries.

Montero was arrested by Bellevue police on March 22 and released after surrendering his passport.

The woman also alleged that Montero stalked her when she saw him in a car with his host father a week after the alleged rape, but investigators concluded that the sighting was coincidental after talking with the host family.

The 23-year-old woman's family said they went to the media with the allegations after the Major League Soccer club announced that Montero wouldn't be traveling to Toronto with the team because he had the flu.

Information from Seattle Times reporters Ian Ith and José Miguel Romero is included in this report.

Link: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/sports/2009054153_montero15.html

A book for teens celebrating male dismemberment, where all the guys are pigs (of course)

When will it ever end?

If you're looking for a book to give a teen about male dismemberment carried out by a high school girl with a fetish for lopping off balls, where "castration fantasies run throughout," and where "males, all males, are presented . . . as loathsome, filthy and out of control," well, perhaps this is the book for you -- Castration Celebration. Purportedly written by a male.

It's put out by Random House Children's Books. Did you get that? So . . . it's aimed at teens? Which gender? If girls, why are we planting these man-hating castration thoughts in our daughters' heads even before they've walked into their first Womyn's Studies class? Perhaps our teen sons need to see it now -- to prepare them for a world where anything male is regarded as evil and subject to censure by the matriarchy.

Of course, a book about a teen male obsessed with committing female genital mutilation likely would get the author locked away -- that's different, we would would be chided, due to historical atrocities (and, of course, there have been no historical atrocities against males). This book, in contrast, is described as delightfully bawdy.

FROM THE NEW YORK POST:


Posted: 3:20 amApril 27, 2009

HOLD on to your laps, America. And lock up the kids until they're 42.

The latest addition to the well-stocked smut canon is aimed not at adults, but at impressionable teens and pre-adolescents. It's called "Castration Celebration" -- a kind of "High School Musical" meets "Saw." Gross.

The novel is about what you think, but worse. This twisted, comic romp does little more than cheerfully promote underage sex, drug-taking, binge-drinking and, most painfully of all, male dismemberment by a high-school-age female, the heroine.

The theme is captured on the very first page, which reads: "Did you know that in imperial China, eunuchs had their testicles, penis [sic] and scrotum [sic] removed?"

Aside from the egregious grammatical sins, the nastiest thing about this book is that it's not offered for sale in a brown paper bag by some oily character. This tome is the giddy, proud publication of prestigious Random House.

Random House Children's Books, that is.

Believe me, I'm not so naive as to think kids don't engage in some of the acts listed here: Sex. Gay sex. Drunken sex. Stoned sex. Angry sex. Unprotected sex. Sex, real or imagined, with farm animals. Baaa!

But, really, Random Partner House, are you in the business of publishing how-to books influencing youngsters?

The main character is Olivia. who is traumatized after catching her father in flagrante with a student not much older than she. Her pathetic mother cries. Olivia, meanwhile, searches for a sharp pair of scissors with which to punish Max, a high-school boy crush who punishes her by screwing a drunk, older girl.

Castration fantasies run throughout. "You know what would be cool?" Olivia says. "You know how toy stores have doctor kits for kids to play with? What if they sold miniature castration kits?"

Later, Max finds his way back into 17-year-old Olivia's bed by vowing, to his mother, to cut it off.

Males, all males, are presented here as loathsome, filthy and out of control.

The author is Jake Wizner, a man and a Manhattan middle-school teacher, which gives me the creeps. "A lot of 14- to 15-year-old boys don't like to read a lot. But the stuff I'm writing speaks to them," he said. However, Wizner said that while he would not assign this book to his own eighth-graders, he would not take it away either.

What bothers me is the way aberrant behavior -- drug abuse, blotto drinking, compulsive sex -- is normalized. These activities are treated as routine, things not to be condemned, discouraged, or even reluctantly tolerated, but celebrated. Like castration.

Wizner's biography lists his hobbies as writing, teaching and "going to the playground."

Just not near my kid.

Yvonna Ann McDonald Claims Rape; Arrested For Filing False Report

Can anyone imagine if a man had been arrested for this, that he would have been released on a $500 bond? Again, it will be interesting to see if she receives any jail time for the false report.

Yvonna Ann McDonald arrested; bond set at $500

DECATUR - Police have arrested a Moulton woman and charged her with making a false police report.

Officers say Yvonna Ann McDonald, 25, waved down an Alabama State Trooper on April 4 at the intersection of 2nd Avenue and East Moulton Street in Decatur.

The trooper called Decatur Police, and McDonald filed a report with them claiming she was raped.

McDonald was transported to Decatur General, where a sexual abuse nurse checked her for signs of rape.

The Decatur Police Violent Crimes Unit then began an investigation, that later revealed no rape had occured.

Officers arrested McDonald later that morning.

Link:
http://www.whnt.com/news/whnt-decatur-false-rape-report,0,6165258.story

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Would it be socially acceptable to turn a distinctive female body part into a piñata, to be beaten with a stick for laughs?

Then why is this somehow acceptable?

Must-read story: Police say half or more rape reports are false in some places, they just don't care to do anything about it

Comment: The story below this comment could be used to teach False Rape Claims 101. Before you read it, you need to understand a few things.

By now, readers of this blog understand that to discern the truth about the prevalence of false rape claims, you often have to dig through mounds of dung in mainstream media reports because newspapers are far too reliant on rape advocacy groups for their "information."

The following news report is rare in that the reporter tries to be even-handed.

"It's just a fact, in sexual assault investigations, that we have false reports," said Tulsa Police Sgt. Gary Stansill of the Sex Crimes Unit.

Really? Because sexual assault counselors -- who, unlike the police, are not in the trenches solving crimes -- say false rape claims are "a myth."

Wait. Here's where the story gets really interesting.

"False rape reports are a big taboo subject. Advocate groups estimate only 2% are false . . . ." Let's stop there for a second. Note that the reporter attributes the standard two percent false rape claim canard (long ago debunked as lacking in evidentiary support -- see this law review article, which traced the two percent claim to it's baseless source) not to a "nonprofit" group with a noble-sounding name, as is often the case, but to "advocate groups." And that is an accurate description, because that is what those groups are. More accurate would be to describe them as "groups fomenting rape hysteria to justify their existence," but let's not split hairs.

Wait. The story gets even better:

". . . but police departments believe it's [false rape reporting] much higher, in some places, half or more."

Did you get that? Hell, one would think that this blog put them up to saying that -- because that's the same conclusion we've reached on our own. When we posit that same conclusion, we are accused of misogyny and some people wish us to be brutally raped.

Up to half or more of all false rape claims in some places are likely false. Re-read it. Copy it. Cut it out. Put it on your refrigerator.

Now, I wonder who we should believe -- advocate groups, or the police? Hmm. That's tough, isn't it? The former have a financial interest and bias while the latter has no financial interest or bias. (Unless, of course, you believe that the police are "in on it," because most police are men, and you know how we all stick together. . . .)

There's more. "Detectives don't usually make a big deal out of it because they don't want real victims to be reluctant to come forward."

OK, now we're seeing the true colors of our law enforcement officials. They would rather allow false rape claims than give up the chance to nab a rapist. Even though men and boys falsely accused of this vile crime have been beaten and killed and have killed themselves; they've been fired from their jobs and lost their businesses; they've lost their wives, their girlfriends and their long-time buddies. Rarely do they ever come out of it whole, and for many, the ghost of a false rape claim trails them for the rest of their lives.

And here is the kicker: "I'd rather work 20 false reports than lose one legitimate case because someone was fearful they wouldn't be believed," said Sgt. Gary Stansill.

And there you have it. The triumph of misandry. Men and boys falsely accused of this most vile crime are collateral damage in the war on rape. Of those twenty false rape claims the Sergeant is willing to accept, how many do you suppose will actually target a real-life man or boy? Certainly not all twenty, but some. Some men or boys will be questioned, and a few might even be arrested. And, yes, there is a possibility that an innocent man or boy will be convicted and will serve years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. All because nobody cracks down on false rape claims. All because they are rarely punished because police don't want to "make a big deal out of it." All because police are willing to accept false rape claims so as not to discourage actual victims from coming forward.

Funny, we are ever so concerned about rape accusers not coming forward, but for all the ordeal of making a rape claim, this somehow doesn't discourage the false accusers from coming forward, does it? The fact is, making a rape claim is as easy as it's ever been -- with news media anonymity for accusers (not for accuseds); exemption from polygraphs (only for accusers, not for accuseds); rape kits preserved for years by tax dollars; often unlimited statutes of limitations (in contrast, false rape claims have a limited statute of limitations); sexual assault counselors paid for by tax and tuition dollars (but no aids for false rape claim victims); Fed.R.Evid. 413 (which allows evidence in a rape trial of even rape claims for which the man was acquitted years earlier); and rape shield laws (sometimes applied to prevent the accused from mounting a fair defense) -- reporting is perhaps as easy as it can be while preserving the semblance of due process protections for the accused. Yet we still repeat this mantra about how terribly difficult it is for rape victims to come forward.

Newsflash: false rape claims are often not a victimless crime. But for what other crime would we actually hear police say they welcome it to be committed?

The Tulsa police force has just invited young women in the Tulsa area to commit this vile crime with impunity. And, yeah, yeah, yeah -- "we'll punish them if we happen to arrest some poor hapless guy." That's great consolation to the poor hapless guy, isn't it? "Don't worry, son, if you can prove that you've been wrongfully arrested on the basis of a lie, we'll go after your false accuser with a misdemeanor charge! Hell, she might even get three months probation -- after you've rotted in jail for a year or two." Young men beware -- you have just been officially sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. The Tulas Police have declared that you are fair game.

But, hey, at least the police are honest here. They don't pretend that false rape claims are "a myth," as does the gender-feminist, sexual-assault-industrial complex.

They are honest that false rape claims are rampant.

They just don't care to do anything about it.

HERE IS THE NEWS STORY

Tulsa Woman Falsely Reported Rape

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- It turns out a report from a woman found under a porch was mostly false. The woman had claimed she was kidnapped and raped. Tulsa Police say much of her story was a lie and they are frustrated they spent so much time and effort on the case.

The story was heart-wrenching and scary all at the same time. A man and his mother found a woman crying out for help underneath their porch. She told them and police she'd been walking when she was kidnapped, held for two days and sexually assaulted inside a nearby house.

Police say she wasn't kidnapped. Several witnesses confirm the man picked her up at her home.

Detectives say they can also prove she wasn't assaulted inside the home, either. The man involved, saw the story on the news and went to police before they even called him.

He told them it was a consensual encounter from the beginning."

"It's just a fact, in sexual assault investigations, that we have false reports," said Tulsa Police Sgt. Gary Stansill of the Sex Crimes Unit.

Police rarely ask for charges to be filed against false reporters, unless someone ended up being falsely arrested or the case took a lot of time and effort, like this one.

"Probably 50-60 man-hours," said Sgt. Gary Stansill. "Estimate probably at least $2,000- $3,000, maybe more."

False rape reports are a big taboo subject.

Advocate groups estimate only 2% are false, but police departments believe it's much higher, in some places, half or more. Detectives don't usually make a big deal out of it because they don't want real victims to be reluctant to come forward.

"I'd rather work 20 false reports than lose one legitimate case because someone was fearful they wouldn't be believed," said Sgt. Gary Stansill.

The Good Samaritan in the case says learning the truth will make her think twice before offering help to someone else in the future.

Police say people have different reasons for filing false reports: emotional problems, revenge, to cover up for something they shouldn't have been doing. If the woman is charged with filing a false police report, it would be a misdemeanor.

Link: http://www.newson6.com/Global/story.asp?S=10260320

Reported rape turns out to be false in Houghton Michigan

Another case of a short and sweet news story about a false rape claim.

The female who reported the assault returned to say it never happened.

HOUGHTON -- The Chief of the Houghton Police Department says a reported rape early Saturday morning on Pearl Street in Houghton, proved to be false.

A 20-year-old female reported the alleged sexual assault at 4 a.m. on Saturday morning, launching an immediate investigation by officers. The next day, the female told police the assault never happened.

The department will send the report to Houghton County Prosecutor Michael Makkinen to determine if any criminal charges will be filed against the woman for filing a false police report.

Link:
http://www.uppermichiganssource.com/news/news_story.aspx?id=283302

Monday, April 27, 2009

A false rape accusation is good for innocent men; it teaches them a much-needed lesson

As reported earlier here, Cpl. Daniel Smith has been acquitted of rape in the high profile Subic rape case by a decision of the Philippines Court of Appeals. Cpl. Smith, who was convicted in December 2006 and has been in detention ever since, was immediately released and came back to the United States -- likely as fast as he could (and good for him).

In Manila, a newspaper asked for reactions about the Court of Appeals decision. "What can you say about the acquittal of Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith by the Court of Appeals?" Most of the reactions were respectful of the judicial process and of Cpl. Smith; some were not. Here is my own particular "favorite" reaction:

Eddie Yap, Kabankalan City: I am glad that Smith has been acquitted by the Court of Appeals. I think the guy has learned his lessons and his acquittal will put him in the right track to become a better person if ever he’s guilty. The accuser’s testimony has many loopholes and I believe Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith is just a victim of circumstances in this controversy.

That's right, Eddie. That false rape claim, and two plus years in detention, surely have taught this innocent young man a well-deserved lesson; it will put him on the right track. This, of course, is reminiscent of our all-time favorite quotation, found in a 2001 Time Magazine article:

"[Vice President of Vassar Catherine] Comins argues that men who are unjustly accused can sometimes gain from the experience. 'They have a lot of pain, but it is not a pain that I would necessarily have spared them. I think it ideally initiates a process of self-exploration. 'How do I see women?" "If I didn't violate her, could I have?" "Do I have the potential to do to her what they say I did?" Those are good questions.'"

Yep. A false rape claim, and a few years in prison, are good for innocent men -- teaches them a lesson. Teaches them to respect women better.

The fact that no sane or moral person would ever suggest that inflicting criminality on a woman is "good" for her is completely beside the point. Men are different. Men, as a class, need to be tamed so that they treat women better, don't you know. And, damn it, a false rape allegation is just what is needed to initiate that process of self-exploration that every totally innocent Y-Chromosome-bearing human requires.

Assuming, of course, that he isn't killed in prison before he can begin that "process of self-exploration."
JUSTICE PREVAILS

From the Manila Times:

Court of Appeals acquits Cpl. Smith of rape

Court also orders his ‘immediate release’

By William B. Depasupil, Reporter

THE Court of Appeals on Thursday acquitted US Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith for raping Suzette Nicolas, more popularly known as “Nicole,” inside the Subic Bay Freeport more than three years ago.

In a 71-page decision penned by Associate Justice Monina-Arevalo Zena­rosa, the court’s Special Eleventh Division reversed the rape conviction handed down by Makati Regional Trial Court Judge Benjamin Pozon on November 1, 2005. Pozon had sentenced Smith to 40 years in prison or reclusion perpetua.

In the same decision, the appellate court also ordered the immediate release of Smith from detention “unless held for any other lawful cause.”

According to the Court of Appeals, it found Smith’s appeal meritorious as it cited a number of facts and circumstances that were ignored and overlooked by the Makati court.

The justices cited, among others, the testimony of then 22-year-old Nicole that after dancing with Smith for 15 minutes or so, he asked her to go out for some fresh air, and that was supposedly the last thing she could remember.

Nicole also told the Makati court that when she regained consciousness, Smith was already on top of her, kissing her all over, even as she tried to resist.

“This gap in her narration with the malingering explanation that she was dizzy and could not remember is dubiously fanciful for being what the court perceptively describes as ‘contrary to ordinary experience of man,’” the appellate court said.

Intoxication in question

The appellate court also pointed out that the degree of Nicole’s intoxication was not clearly established based on the testimony of Dr. Kenneth Go, an expert on toxicology. He had admitted to not performing a blood test on Nicole that could have provided a more accurate basis for determining her level of intoxication.

The court also said it found that there is more to the exception than to the rule “that conclusions and findings of fact should not be disturbed unless for strong and cogent reason.”

“Under the criminal justice system in this country, the overriding consideration is not whether the court doubts the innocence of the accused but whether it entertains a reasonable doubt as to his guilt,” the new ruling said.

“As in this case, a careful and judicious perusal of the evidence on record does not convince the prudent mind about the moral certainty of the guilt of the accused, hence, we must acquit,” according to the justices.

On the rape charge

The Court of Appeals also noted that the information charges Smith with rape by means of “force, threat and intimidation” and “taking advantage of the intoxication of the victim.”

“But no evidence was introduced to show force, threat and intimidation applied by the accused upon Nicole even as prosecution vainly tried to highlight her supposed intoxication and alleged unconsciousness at the time of the sexual act,” the appellate court said.

The information, the court added, did not specify that Nicole was deprived of reason and was rendered unconscious. “Hence, evidence as to said means of committing rape cannot be considered and which indeed was objected to at every step during the trial.”

Nicole’s recantation

In exonerating Smith, the Court of Appeals pointed out that “we disregard the alleged recantation of Nicole” submitted on March 8, 2009, “nor did we open the sealed draft decision penned by retired Justice Agustin Dizon which was attached to the records.”

“Wherefore, on reasonable ground, the accuse Lance Corporal Daniel Smith is hereby acquitted of the crime of rape as alleged in the information. He is ordered released immediately unless held [for another] lawful case,” the decision said.

The Dizon draft decision also acquitted Smith of rape. A copy of the draft was obtained by The Manila Times, which later came out with an exclusive story.

The supposed leak of the Dizon draft is now the subject of a Court of Appeals investigation that was ordered by the Supreme Court.

Nicole recanted her story in a five-page statement executed on March 12, 2009. She also signed on the same a document attesting that she received P100,000 as part of the compensatory damages awarded to her by the Makati court after finding Smith guilty.

Also on March 12, Nicole terminated the services of her counsel, lawyer Evalyn Ursua. A few days later, Nicole’s mother confirmed that her daughter was already in the US and set to marry her American boyfriend.

Smith was in the custody of the US Embassy in Manila, pending the outcome of his appeal. He was transferred to US custody upon his conviction following agreements between Foreign Affairs Secretary Roberto Romulo and US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney.

But the Supreme Court in a 9-4 decision on February 11, voided the Romulo-Kenney agreements and ordered the transfer of Smith to the custody of Philippine authorities.

It ordered that Smith be placed under the custody of Philippine authorities and for Romulo to negotiate with Kenney for “the appropriate agreement” on detention facilities under Philippine authorities.

Despite the Supreme Court order, Smith was never transferred from the embassy.

Link: http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2009/april/24/yehey/top_stories/20090424top1.html

Teen admits she made up story of abduction, rape

Short and sweet, describes this news report. The girl, afraid of getting in trouble, falsely claimed she was raped, and will get no punishment. How long before she does this again, but with an innocent man fingered as the accused? At the very least, she should be on probation until she is 18, and have to reimburse the police for the time and manpower used in the suspect search. Otherwise, we are enabling someone to become a serial false accuser.

No punishment for teen's false rape claim.

DAYTON — The 13-year-old girl who said she was raped on North Keowee Street admitted that she made up the story because she feared getting into trouble for being out about 6 p.m. Sunday, March 29, Dayton police said.

The girl told police she was pulled behind a closed business while walking home from a friend's house, police said. Montgomery County sheriff's deputies and Five Rivers MetroParks officers helped in the suspect search.

Police said the girl, who confessed at Children's Medical Center of Dayton, will not face any charges.

Link:
http://www.daytondailynews.com/n/content/oh/story/news/local/2009/03/31/ddn033109teen.html

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sexual assault counselor says 'unfounded' claims means 'the chances are really good that something did happen'

We are quoted in an article published by a major college newspaper on false rape claims that makes a strong attempt to be even-handed. It is rare to find an article on this subject that isn't written from a sexual assault counselor's point of view, but this is one of them. This piece does reference some of the most important points in this area.

I take exception to a couple of comments by two sources cited. Here's the most problematic:

"Kelly Anderson, the director of the Dane County Rape Crisis Center . . . said she thinks false sexual assault reports are an understandable crime to be concerned about, but said people often misuse the phrase, 'false claims' to represent unfounded claims.

“'A false report is when someone says, "I was raped," and it’s demonstrably untrue,' she said. 'Unfounded cases are where the chances are really good that something did happen, but [the Department of Justice] is not going to be able to prove it.'”

This comment is incorrect and does a grave disservice to countless men and boys who are accused of sexual assault but are not brought to trial.

"Unfounded" generally means there is insufficient evidence even to bring the matter to trial, for any variety of reasons, including the fact that the evidence doesn’t add up.

It absolutely, categorically does NOT mean that "chances are really good" that "something did happen." The implication of the sexual assault counselor is that "chances are really good" that any man who was not determined to have been falsely accused by (usually via the accuser’s recantation) is a rapist. What nonsense.

Here’s the reality. It is often impossible to determine if a rape claim is false because the only evidence may be of the "he said/she said" variety. Often the only physical evidence of rape is the same physical evidence of the most fundamental act of love, the act of procreation, that has been performed countless times every minute of every day of every year since the beginning of time the world over.

To suggest that there was "a really good chance" that any rape claim that is not demonstrably false was, in fact, an actual rape is akin to saying that we must automatically believe any woman when she says she was raped, and that we must automatically disbelieve a man when he says he didn’t do it. Women and men might lie about everything under the sun but, mirabile dictu, according to some sexual assault counselors, the subject of rape acts as a truth serum that forces anyone not possessing a Y-Chromosome to speak incontrovertible truth. They would have us believe that when it comes to the lone subject of rape, one gender is incapable of telling a lie while the other is incapable of telling anything but lies.

This is all very insulting to the countless men and boys wrongly accused of this crime. It suggests that even if charges are dropped, a man or boy must carry with him the taint of being a probable rapist forever.

To illustrate how unfair it is to characterize "unfounded" in the manner this sexual assault counselor has done, consider rape claims that are not "unfounded" but are actually brought to trial — but the men are acquitted by a jury. Sometimes the jury comes back with an acquittal in just minutes. Could anyone fairly say that "chances are really good" that the men acquitted were actual rapists who just got away with it -- just because the charges weren't determined to be "false" at the outset of the investigation? The question scarcely survives its statement. It’s simply not fair, or just, to suggest that.

And it is all the more unfair, and all the more unjust, to say that "chances are really good" that "something" happened with respect to claims dismissed even before trial -- often because there isn’t enough evidence to bring the claim to trial.

Here's the bottom line: a certain percentage of rape claims are demonstrably false (unbiased studies range from 8 to 60 percent -- no unbiased study puts it below that). A small percentage end in conviction for rape. In between, the rest are dismissed somewhere along the way for a variety of reasons. It is fair to say that some of those were NOT actual rapes, and that some probably were. It is grossly UNFAIR to say "chances are really good" that men and boys accused of this vile crime were actual rapists merely because the claim wasn’t immediately determined to have been a lie.

The only moral thing to do for unfounded claims is to treat the presumed innocent as factually innocent. The terrible stigma of a rape accusation suggests the grave necessity of anonymity unless and until there is a conviction. Short of anonymity, we need to beat the drum that men not convicted of rape should always be presumed innocent, and presumed innocent not just under law but in every way. Innocent men and boys who are unjustly accused of this foul crime deserve nothing less.

Man cleared of rape after court shown phone footage of woman 'actively' taking part in sex

Drunk and high, so unable to consent. This mantra seems to be standard fare in false accusations now. Funny how the video footage that was taken shows her actively participating. Sadly, to protect themselves, men (mostly) have had to start filming the act to cover themselves. And even that isn't proof against charges being leveled against them (See here).

Businessman cleared of rape by phone footage.

A businessman was cleared of raping a university student today after jurors were shown video footage of their sex session.

Gary Taylor, 41, was accused of attacking the 27-year-old woman after turning up at her flat with cocaine and a bottle of red wine.

The woman, who can't be identified for legal reasons, told jurors that Mr Taylor forced her to perform a sex act on him and then raped her in her living room.

But during cross-examination she was shown footage Mr Taylor had taken on his mobile phone during the encounter on September 26, 2008.

Mr Taylor's barrister Karen Holt said the footage showed the woman 'actively' performing a sex act on him.

Judge Christopher Moss QC closed the public gallery before a graphic clip filmed by the woman was shown to the jury.

The judge warned: 'You are going to see a clip which from what I have been told you may find extremely distasteful. To avoid making it a peep show, I have ordered the public gallery to be cleared.'

After the footage was screened, Miss Holt said to the alleged victim: 'You and Mr Taylor were very familiar with each other and comfortable in each other's presence.'

The woman said: 'I don't think I was happily talking to him.'

She also denied 'actively' performing a sex act on Mr Taylor.

The prosecution offered no evidence following advice from the judge.

Mr Taylor, who runs a multimedia company, was cleared of four charges of rape and walked free from court.

The Old Bailey heard police had arrived at the victim's flat in Wood Green, North London, in the early hours of the morning after reports of a disturbance.

She made a complaint of rape and Mr Taylor was arrested at the scene.

Giving evidence she told the court: 'He wanted to be intimate. Maybe he thought he could force me into it but he went too far.

'He thought he could be persuasive and it went too far. He kept trying to kiss me that evening and I was saying no.

'I was quite drunk. He was on top of me at some point with his hand on my mouth.'
Mr Taylor, from Hornsey, North London, denied four counts of rape, including two of rape by oral penetration.

The woman had not seen the film of her having sex with Mr Taylor before it was shown to the court.

Link:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1166466/Man-cleared-rape-court-shown-phone-footage-woman-actively-taking-sex.html

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Men, not women, need to 'take back the night'

Here's another in a wearying cavalcade of articles about violence against women, and this one, like all the rest, is premised on the supposed fact that women are the primary targets of violence, and that women, and only women, have the most to fear: "Most women . . . still feel afraid to walk alone . . . ."

Well, I guess I don't exactly know what that means. Does it mean women are afraid to walk alone on a dark deserted street? Good. They should be. So should men. But if it means women are generally afraid to walk alone in a relatively safe neighborhood, it is irrational.

I know this goes against their entire rape culture metanarrative, and I am sorry to muddy up a perfectly good victim fetish, but anyone not intoxicated on Womyn's Studies knows that innocent men are victims of violence far more often than women. There is no dispute about that. None whatsoever. You can even consult sources that feminists would consider unimpeachable: Yes Means Yes: Visons of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Vallenti (2008) at page 23: "Men are 150 percent more likely to be the victims of violent crimes than women. . . . Men are more likely to be victimized by a stranger . . . ."

Did you get that? Yet we have an entire month dedicated to women's fear of men. The result? Well, for purposes of this blog, the result is to help create a false rape culture. With all the irrational fear-mongering Chicken Littles running about warning women not that "the sky is falling!" but that "men can't be trusted!" the slightest whiff of a rape allegation is automatically believed. The male-as-predator hysteria gives automatic plausibility to every rape claim, even the ones that are false. And when a rape accuser is automatically believed, the man or boy she accuses is automatically branded a rapist in the court of last resort, the American dinner table where clucking tongues pass judgment on everything under the sun based on nothing more than vague, unsubstantiated feelings. And that is intolerable on any level.

So ask yourself, in light of the facts, which class of citizens should most fear walking alone?

And which class of citizens has given in to irrational fear-mongering?

Further, why does the class of citizens least victimized by violent crime not seem to give a damn about the safety of the class that is actually most victimized? (That's actually a very interesting question, isn't it?)

Then, after you've answered all those questions honestly, the following question should answer itself: Do women really need to "take back the night," or has it been theirs all along?

Judge dismisses rape charges in Pawtucket case

COMMENT: Interesting comment by Judge Prcaccini in this case:

He asked how could the three defendants on trial for rape could be held to a different standard, if trained observers, such as the rescue worker, could not even identify her as intoxicated?

That is an excellent question. If she was dancing, talking, smoking pot and "shotting," then it is reasonable to believe she was able to consent. Another case of day-after-regret? Maybe. But the Judge made the correct decision in this case.

Rape charges dismissed in Pawtucket case.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- They hugged, slapped backs and the word "justice" rang out in the courtroom seconds after Judge Daniel A. Procaccini dismissed rape charges against three men.

Procaccini found that the state had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Spencer Ward, Kenneth Sakor and Alaba Sobowale had sexually assaulted a Massachusetts woman on a stairwell at a birthday party in Pawtucket three years ago.

Monday's decision ended the trial in Providence County Superior Court and cleared the three men of first-degree sexual assault charges.

"From day one, we didn't think they were guilty," said John Coughlin, representing Sakor.
Prosecutors needed to prove the three men sexually penetrated the woman knowing she was physically helpless, meaning she was unconscious or physically unable to communicate her unwillingness to engage in intercourse.

Coughlin said the men had chosen to have the judge try the case before Procaccini instead of a jury because the judge would have a greater understanding of the law than a jury. "

"The state was dealt a bad hand," Coughlin said.

The now 27-year-old woman testified over two days that she treated her mother to The Phantom of the Opera at the Providence Performing Arts Center before heading to Sakor's birthday party around 11 p.m. March 9, 2006. She had at least five drinks, including a rum and coke that she believed someone kept refilling after she drank from it. She danced and "chit chatted" with the 20 or so people there, most of whom she supervised at that Judge Rotenberg Center, a residential facility for special needs students in Canton, Mass.

She said she smoked marijuana in the foyer with five men, including all three defendants. She took "shotties" from a man, allowing him to blow a puff of smoke into her mouth. She said she could not move or speak and awoke to find Sobowale, 48, of 79 Ivan St., North Providence, raping her; followed by Ward, 26, of 76 Petteys Ave., Providence; and then a third man.

A rape kit done at Women & Infants Hospital identified Sakor, 24, of 197 Garden St., Pawtucket, a former high school track star, as the third man.

In ruling, Procaccini noted that the rescue worker, police officer, and doctor who saw the woman in the hours after the alleged assault described her as alert, communicative and not obviously intoxicated.

"[The woman's] description of helplessness is not supported by the evidence in the record," Procaccini said. He asked how could the three men be held to a different standard, if trained observers, such as the rescue worker, could not even identify her as intoxicated?

He also noted significant gaps in her ability to recall the events, particularly when she was being questioned by the defense lawyers.

The Journal does not identify alleged victims of sexual assaults.

Link: http://newsblog.projo.com/2009/03/judge-dimsisses.html

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Outrage over humiliation for strip search victim; no outrage for humiliation of men and boys subjected to physical exams after being falsely accused

The Washington Post reported that the United States Supreme Court heard argument yesterday on whether school officials have the right to strip-search a 13-year-old female student to find a prescription medication. The article summarized questioning by the Justices, and noted the following:

"[Justice] Ginsburg was also the toughest questioner of [Phoenix lawyer Matthew W. Wright, representing school officials and the school district], calling the events of the day 'humiliating' for Redding and saying school officials searched her on the basis of the other girl's accusations 'with no questions asked at all.'"

Hmm, strip searched on the basis of another girl's accusation. Sounds pretty awful, doens't it? That one person could have such power over another person -- to use the apparatus of the state to humiliate her by forcing her to be strip searched.

Now where have I heard of such things routinely happening? Except no one complains about them aside from a handful of us?

Wait! I know! The false rape context!

Like the man who was forced to undergo a full medical exam on the basis of nothing more than a woman's accusation, and then two weeks of hell. Turns out the woman lied he had raped her because she was afraid of what her boyfriend might do if he found out they were having an affair.

Or the cab driver who was arrested and subjected to an intimate medical examination on the sole basis of a lone woman's accusation. Thankfully, modern technology -- here a video camera -- showed the woman turn into a "victim" only when police were coming.

Or the innocent 27-year-old ex-husband who was arrested, strip-searched, forced to give intimate samples, and held for 16 hours -- this unspeakable humiliation was caused entirely by the false accusation of his ex-wife.

Or the innocent 20-year-old ex-fiance of a false rape accuser who was arrested, put in a cell, and forced to have an intimate swab taken, as well as DNA, fingerprints, a cheek swab and a photo.

Or the innocent cab driver who was arrested on the basis of a false accuser's word, and taken into custody where intimate samples, DNA and fingerprints were taken.

Or the innocent man who was a complete random stranger to his false rape accuser who was arrested, held in a cell for 22 hours, interviewed and given an intimate forensic examination.

Or the two innocent men who were arrested on the sole basis of a false rape accuser's word, forced to undergo medical examinations and to give intimate samples before being released on bail.

And I could go on and on. Those are just a handful of recent cases where young men were subjected to bodily humiliations, all because someone accused each of them of a vile sex crime.

I agree with Justice Ginsburg about the girl in this case, but I can't help but think -- why is there no outrage for the falsely accused men who are routinely humiliated in far worse ways -- on the basis of nothing more than one false accuser's word?

Men as collateral damage: Teacher's life destroyed by teen who admitted lie, and possibly by the D.A. who put him on trial despite the admission

Comment: Innocent men are collateral damage in the war on rape, as we have said many times; this is all the more true when an allegation of sexual misconduct concerns a child.

This case is egregious. There was zero concern for the innocent man. None. The fact that his life was destroyed means nothing to anyone outside his family, it seems.

Read the story below -- it is shocking. A teacher's life was destroyed because a teenage girl lied that he had taken indecent liberties with her. The teenager admitted to the teacher's wife in an email that she made up the whole thing because she sought revenge against the wife for reporting that the girl intended to commit suicide. As we all know, a rape lie won't work against a woman; this vile tool only works on men, and it worked like a charm on the woman's innocent husband.

The teacher's attorney says he turned the email over to the District Attorney -- who nevertheless proceeded to put him on trial for indecency with a child! Perhaps there's more to the story that the D.A. hasn't revealed. All we know is what we read in this story.

The teacher lost his teaching job, and his child was taken from him. The jury saw through the lie and quickly acquitted him. But not before the accusation destroyed an innocent man's life.

The district attorney made this astounding comment: "We firmly believe these cases must be tried to a jury, and we will continue to be strong advocates for child victims."

Tried to a jury -- even after the child admitted her lie? Have you no duty whatsoever to be an advocate for innocent men falsely accused of this vile crime, sir? Men like this teacher whose life was ruined by a lie?

Shameful! Absolutely shameful!

The teacher's only crime in this case was being born male. Too often in our toxic false rape culture, that's sadly enough.

h/t Bruce

HERE IS THE NEWS STORY:

Teacher cleared of indecency charge

Attorney says child confessed in e-mail, lied to authorities

By ALLEN ESSEX

Valley Morning Star

BROWNSVILLE - A former Harlingen High School teacher has been cleared by a jury of a charge of indecency with a child after the child confessed in an e-mail she lied to authorities, his attorney said.

Defense attorney Michael Young said his client, Andres Chavez Rodriguez, is relieved that a 404th state District Court jury on Wednesday found him innocent after deciding in less than an hour of deliberation the allegation against him was false.

Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos confirmed on Friday that Rodriguez was found to be innocent of the accusations.

Rodriguez was at first suspended by the Harlingen school district, then later forced to resign his teaching position, Young said.

"He would like to go back to work at Harlingen High School," Young said of Rodriguez.

The accusation destroyed Rodriguez's life, Young said.

"When he was arrested (in 2007), the Child Protective Service at first took his 2-year-old daughter out of his home," Young said.

Later, after investigating the accusation, CPS found the charges to be unfounded and returned the child to Rodriguez and his wife, Young said.

The couple and their daughter continue to live together as a family.

"The young teenage girl who accused Rodriguez later sent an e-mail to Rodriguez's wife, Leslie Rodriguez, admitting she had lied to get back at her for reporting her intention to commit suicide, Young said.

Even though he turned over a copy of the accuser's e-mailed confession to the DA's office before the trial, his client was put on trial anyway, Young said.

Villalobos issued a statement Friday that confirmed Young's account of what transpired in Judge Elia Cornejo-Lopez's courtroom.

"The defendant, Andres Rodriguez, was acquitted of indecency with a child," the DA said.

"We respect the jury's decision. These types of cases are difficult due to the sensitive nature of the allegations and the age of the victim.

"We firmly believe these cases must be tried to a jury, and we will continue to be strong advocates for child victims," Villalobos said.

Harlingen school district officials did not immediately respond on Friday to a request for a comment.

Link: http://www.valleymorningstar.com/news/rodriguez_50367___article.html/young_child.html

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Landmark article from the archives

COERCION DOESN'T MAKE SEX A CRIME
NEWSPAPER ENTERPRISE ASSOCIATION
June 25, 1993

BY: SARAH OVERSTREET

A few months ago, there were "Take Back the Night" rallies in cities all over the country, all with the purpose of making the streets safe for women to walk.

The concept was a good one, and I didn't think much more about "Take Back the Night" until I later saw some literature from one of the rallies with this statistic: One out of every four college women has been the victim of ''rape" or "attempted rape."

I tried to let that sink in. One in four? I graduated from college 19 years ago, when rape statistics for college women were either much lower or there were a whole lot of us keeping mum. One in four? Where was I when things changed so drastically for college women, that every fourth date could bring a rape attempt? Why are the several college women in my family not talking about it?

And if it's true, why aren't we responsible adults yanking them back home?

Yet, according to material I read and rape counselors I've talked to, these statistics are generally accepted within the profession.

In a recent issue of The New York Times Magazine, Katie Roiphe, author of The Morning After: Sex, Fear and Feminism on Campus, takes issue with the roots of the one-in-four claim. She cites one troubling 1985 survey, undertaken by Ms. magazine and financed by the National Institutes of Health.

In that survey, University of California at Berkeley social welfare professor Neil Gilbert points out that 73% of respondents didn't initially define their experiences as rape. It was the psychologist conducting the study who was said to have interpreted the responses as rape. One of the survey questions was: "Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn't want to
because a man gave you alcohol or drugs?"

Roiphe takes issue with the definition some rape counselors use for the word "rape" - that even "manipulation" or "verbal coercion," based on women's perceived powerlessness to men, constitute rape. No physical violence, no force, just smooth talk.

If this were a perfect world, none of us would wheedle anyone else into doing something he or she didn't want to do, nor be coerced into it ourselves. But is coercion rape? We humans cajole, manipulate and wangle each other all the time, knowing full well the other person doesn't want what we want.

Let's suppose you have a teen-age son, a college sophomore. He's a kid who studies, works in a grocery store and doesn't bring the police knocking on your door in the middle of the night. He's on a date. He and the girl have had too much to drink, and he paid for the drinks. He wants very much to have sex and he uses phrases everyone would agree have more to do with manipulation than truth:

"You know you want to do it, too. It's normal for people to have sex and abnormal for them NOT to have sex. Don't you like me? We seemed to be having such a great time . . . am I not attractive enough? You're the most beautiful, the smartest girl I've ever been out with . . . ." The girl gives in and has sex with your son, even though she doesn't want to. Is your son a rapist?

It is not OK to coerce anyone into sex, especially when sex carries the possibility of pregnancy, venereal disease or AIDS. But rape has historically been defined as an act of force, violence or, at the very least, non-consent. To define "talking into" as rape is to dilute the power of the forcible, absolutely non-consensual and often violent crime.

It is also to deny that we humans sometimes think differently about our own actions after the fact, especially after a relationship breaks up, after a partner has treated us badly, when we wish we could visit some grief on an ex- partner.

Our college students need the tools of personal power and responsibility, not a false definition of rape. So do we all. Lacking the skills or confidence to resist verbal coercion doesn't make it a crime.

My harshest condemnation yet: for the unfathomable misandry displayed by a male college writer

Comment: My comments to the op-ed piece posted below may be the harshest I have written on this site. Read the op-ed piece and decide for yourself if my opinions are warranted. I believe that the publication of this particular op-ed piece is the height of journalistic irresponsibility and tells us everything we need to know about political correctness run amok on our college campuses. When will college students learn they can fight rape without maligning an entire gender? Without pretending men aren't falsely accused of rape?

A Drexel University student who goes by the name Lonnie Snyder -- whom I know nothing about aside from what's written in his op-ed piece -- has seen fit to manufacture a clearinghouse of irrationalities to support his blithe, cavalier rejection of "Nicole's" recantation in the much publicized Philippines rape case where Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, a man not much older than I suspect Mr. Lonnie Snyder is, has been sentenced to serve out decades in prison for a putative rape his accuser now says never occurred.

As we've previously reported here, Nicole's recantation was set forth in a very rational, thoughtful affidavit that manifests what can only be called a guilty conscience. A guilty conscience is not something that the extremist wing of the feminist community can understand, given that it is premised on the existence of right and wrong, a truth separate and apart from their own ideological, narcissistic whims and desires. Nicole's affidavit says she doesn't think it is fair that a young man is rotting away in prison based on a sexual encounter that was confusing and that, she fears, sent him mixed signals. Nicole isn't sure if it was rape, and in a just and rational world, that should be enough to free the young man.

How does Mr. Lonnie Snyder react to this affidavit? He rejects it out of hand by invoking the most inane speculation, the wildest surmise and the most asinine conjecture.

Nicole had "courage" to initially report the rape and to put herself through the court proceeding, Mr. Lonnie Snyder declares. But then, deus ex machina, Mr. Lonnie Snyder plops a conclusion on the page that might just as well have fallen from outer space. Mr. Lonnie Snyder leaps, bounds and soars to the conclusion that Nicole's recantation can only be accounted for by outside pressures, interference or threats by third parties.

Of course, this childish speculation is factually incorrect as shown by a cavalcade of innumerable rape claim recantations cited on this website; recantations where, objectively, the evidence simply did not support the claim in the first place.

I would be curious as to what outside pressures Mr. Lonnie Snyder thinks "got to" Nicole. The U.S. military? The Philippines government? UFOs? Bigfoot? Mercifully, Mr. Lonnie Snyder doesn't bother to tell us -- because, of course, he can't tell us.

Mr. Lonnie Snyder proceeds to demonstrate that he is astoundingly uninformed when it comes to the legalities of rape. He writes: "When the woman, 'Nicole,' made her statement rescinding her rape accusation, she said, 'She had been kissing and drinking with [him] … [she] may have in fact have been so friendly and intimate with [him]' that things got carried away. I maintain that this is not her fault. I have been taught that consensual sex requires that I ask whether a woman is OK with a sexual act, then give her time to respond. If I feel like she is not OK, then I stop initiating sex." (Emphasis supplied.)

Mr. Lonnie Snyder has been taught wrong. Consent does not "require" a verbal manifestation of assent. Consent is any manifestation of assent to enter into sexual relations. It can be expressed by conduct as well as words, and it can be shown from all the surrounding circumstances. The test is whether a reasonable person in the position of the male would understand that consent has been given. The woman’s secret, undisclosed intentions, desires or whims, and her ex post facto, false and belated, after-the-fact hissy fits of regrets, are of no import; all that matters are her external, objective manifestations of assent at the time of the act.

Then Mr. Lonnie Snyder regales us with his views on rape in general, which could have been copied verbatim from the most virulent anti-male radical feminist's playbook. "I think that the most important thing we can do to help a rape survivor is to believe them," he ejaculates. Rape is, after all, "one of the most underreported crimes in this country." And: "In the U.S. there is an epidemic of sexual harassment or assault - and most of it isn't reported. This means that these silent victims will live forever with the internal stigma, shame and psychological aftermath of a traumatic experience without ever getting help. These people are truly alone."

On and on he blathers, one feminist mantra cascades atop the next until they collapse upon one another to form a sort of Rorschach inkblot of unmistakable misandry. It's all here: women might lie about everything under the sun but, mirabile dictu, the subject of rape acts as a truth serum that forces anyone not possessing a Y-Chromosome to speak incontrovertible truth. When it comes to rape, one gender is incapable of telling a lie while the other is incapable of telling anything but lies. Except, of course, when the woman recants her rape claim -- in that instance, she automatically reverts to being a liar -- double-X chromosome be damned. Mr. Lonnie Snyder also trots out the canard that rape is rampant because of underreporting. We know that rape is rampant because no one is reporting all these rapes that must be occurring, which proves, of course, that rape is rampant. Get it? Neither does anyone else.

And when Mr. Lonnie Snyder automatically believes every rape claim, by necessity, he brands every male ever accused of rape a "rapist." Without a scrap of evidence having been admitted at trial, every male ever accused of rape is guilty in the court of last resort, the op-ed pages of Drexel University's student newspaper. To hell with the fact that upwards of half of all rape claims, or more, are likely false, as shown by objectively verifiable data. In fact, every unbiased study ever conducted on the subject shows false rape claims are a very serious problem. Every single one. But why let the facts get in the way of a good feminist victim metanarrative? Anyway, don't blame Mr. Lonnie Snyder for not knowing about the countless men who have been falsely accused -- after all, his feminist mentors never mentioned them, did they? Mr. Lonnie Snyder would do well to spend a couple of days reviewing the true-life accounts of the falsely accused on this website before he writes another op-ed piece. And when he reads their stories, maybe he'll think to himself about these "silent victims [who] will live forever with the internal stigma, shame and psychological aftermath of a traumatic experience without ever getting help. These people are truly alone."

Mr. Lonnie Snyder's piece never should have found its way inside this newspaper; it frankly seems to have been written so that Mr. Lonnie Snyder's other piece could find its way inside some hot feminist who buys into this horseshit. I have no patience for feminists who treat men accused of rape as flotsam, and even less for college men who regurgitate vile feminist shibboleths when it comes to false rape claims. Young men like Mr. Lonnie Snyder live their lives in blissful ignorance, unaware that, as a young, Y-Chromosome carrying member of the human race, it could be him rotting away in a jail cell on the other side of the planet. He does a disservice to all falsely accused young men who are victims of this most foul circumstance, and he should be ashamed of himself.

HERE IS THE OP-ED PIECE:

Does society have a 'blame the victim'mentality?

Lonnie Snyder
Issue date: 4/17/09 Section: Ed-Op

I was reading The Wall Street Journal recently and I came across an article that really bothered me - a woman from the Philippines, who originally claimed she had been raped by a U.S. marine, has rescinded her rape accusation.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, "It wasn't clear why the woman identified as Nicole in court papers, recanted her testimony in a sworn in statement."

After reading that very statement, my head filled with questions and theories. Why would a person suddenly decide that she had not been raped, especially since a court ruling declared that she had indeed been raped in 2005? I wondered if there was outside pressure that caused her to recant her statement.

I find it hard to believe that a victim would just change her story without interference, or possibly a threat. I think society unfairly blames the victims of sexual assaults more than they blame the aggressors. I believe that if a person says he or she was raped, then that is exactly what we should believe.

From listening to survivors of rape and sexual assault, the hardest part of reporting a rape or sexual assault is telling your friends, because friends might not believe an assault took place. I might add, these people are both male and female survivors. I think that the most important thing we can do to help a rape survivor is to believe them. This holds essential since rape is one of the most underreported crimes in this country. Many in the criminal justice community estimate the amounts of sexual assaults that actually occur to be over double the amount that are reported.

Think for a moment what this means: In the U.S. there is an epidemic of sexual harassment or assault - and most of it isn't reported. This means that these silent victims will live forever with the internal stigma, shame and psychological aftermath of a traumatic experience without ever getting help. These people are truly alone.

Further, I really don't like to hear that a person is being pressured to deny that she was raped, as is the case with the woman in the Philippines. I respect that she had the courage to initially report this and go through all the long court proceedings in 2005. She and the accused man were said to have been out to a dinner and a club the night of the rape.

When the woman, "Nicole," made her statement rescinding her rape accusation, she said, "She had been kissing and drinking with [him] … [she] may have in fact have been so friendly and intimate with [him]" that things got carried away.

I maintain that this is not her fault. I have been taught that consensual sex requires that I ask whether a woman is OK with a sexual act, then give her time to respond. If I feel like she is not OK, then I stop initiating sex. I have learned this through my membership in the group One in Four at Drexel. Of course, when alcohol is involved, everything is different. I know in Pennsylvania, you cannot consent to have sex if you are intoxicated. I do not know what the law is in the Philippines, but I still think that the male in question was wrong to initiate sex if he saw that she was intoxicated. I encourage more students to read up on this issue and to take a stand.

Getting involved doesn't mean you have to drop everything and march on Washington, or spend hours defending your position at a legislative meeting. If you are looking for some way to speak out against sexual assault or rape, Drexel frequently hosts many speakers on the topic. There are organizations to advocate the restriction of domestic violence and/or sexual assault. But even if these measures seem like too much for you, you can make a difference on your own as well. If you hear some of your friends joking about rape, I encourage you to explain to them that it is actually very hurtful, not funny, to both men and women.

Link: http://www.thetriangle.org/home/index.cfm?event=displayArticle&ustory_id=0f1084e5-a214-4afd-8683-973edf2a21d1


Failed Justice: Convicted but Innocent

There is one thing that stood out immediately in the following story:

"No one benefits from a wrongful conviction. Not the police, not the prosecutor, not the judge, not the jury, not the victim," said Stephen Saloom, policy director at the Innocence Project. "The only person that really benefits is the perpetrator."

This is the core of what a false accusation is all about. Power. Power to destroy someone's life, just for uttering a few words. Power to take from them, their pride, self esteem, family, friends, job and future. And really, all it takes is 3 simple words:

"He raped me."

Nothing more needs to be said or done. And unlike other crimes, this is all that is needed, for someone to be arrested, placed in jail (sometimes for months or even years) and prosecuted, even though there is no physical or corroborating evidence.

Please take a few minutes and read Alan Newton's story, and pay special attention to his words at the end of the article. It's the least he deserves.


Half a life gone to a false rape claim.





With Dr. Seuss's pink hardcover of "Oh Say Can You Say?" tucked under his right arm, Alan Newton politely follows the energetic students down Jackie Robinson P.S. 375's beige halls. The children scout out a class for Newton. It's Read Across America day and his chance to read aloud Seuss' book of clever tongue twisters.

Newton had arrived around 10 a.m. to help organize and direct volunteers. But now it is close to 1 p.m. and most of the classes received their readings earlier. Teachers have resumed their lesson plans. Newton missed his chance.

Newton has missed many chances in life. Now 48, he spent almost half his life in upstate prisons for rape, robbery and assault charges stemming from a June 1984 crime against a woman in the Bronx. Not until 2006 did DNA absolve him of the 1985 conviction. He was innocent.

Exonerated after spending 22 years in prison,
Alan Newton waits in the hall of P.S. 375 after
participating in Read Across America.


Newton's story is just one of hundreds nationwide that have weakened faith in the justice system. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson repealed the death penalty in his state in March, citing the potential for executing the wrong person among the many reasons.

Here in New York, the state bar association has begun identifying the causes of wrongful convictions in New York. In a recent report, an association task force reviewed 53 cases of vacated convictions. Its findings do not conclude that each was a case of innocence, but that errors and lapses in due process led to "a conviction [that] was wrongfully obtained."

A number of bills to address wrongful convictions have been proposed in the state legislature, and a previous attempt to expand the state's DNA database could have resulted in fewer conviction errors.

"No one benefits from a wrongful conviction. Not the police, not the prosecutor, not the judge, not the jury, not the victim," said Stephen Saloom, policy director at the Innocence Project. "The only person that really benefits is the perpetrator."

Causes of Wrongful Conviction

The 53 cases studied by the bar association represent only a sample of cases, although it's difficult to determine the extent of wrongful convictions in New York. The state Division of Criminal Justice Services does not keep track of wrongful convictions, said John Caher, the director of public information. Whatever the number, criminal justice experts and professionals agree that flaws in the system need to be addressed.

Newton's case exemplifies how things can go so terribly wrong. Soon after Newton's arrest, he said his then fiancée presented his alibi: Newton was in Queens with her at the time of the rape. But a Bronx store clerk identified Newton in a lineup as the male customer who trailed the victim out of the store. The victim, too, identified Newton. She chose him in a photo array as the man who forced her into his vehicle after she left the store, dragged her to a park and raped her, then stalked her as she tried to flee. He then allegedly brought her to an abandoned building where he raped her again and blinded her in the left eye with a box cutter.

Newton said in 1979 police had slapped him with a misdemeanor assault charge after he and his teenage friends grappled with an opposing group of teens. Five years later, his arrest photo was shown to the rape victim.

"Her testimony and the store clerk's testimony convicted me," Newton said. "That photograph is ultimately the reason why I'm here today."

Improvements in forensic science finally caught up with the evidence in Newton's case. Newton began requesting DNA testing on the victim's rape kit in 1994, nine years into his 13 and a half to 40-year sentence. Officials say they could not find the evidence.

The Innocence Project took up Newton's case. Since 1992, the non-profit legal organization has helped free 234 people based on DNA evidence, said a spokeswoman. Through its efforts, the kit was found in 2005 where it should have been all along, Saloom said.

Newton's case was among the 53 the task force studied. Mishandling of forensic evidence and/or not using DNA testing contributed to a wrongful conviction in almost half the cases. In most, as in Newton's case, which involved mishandling of forensic evidence and misidentification, more than one factor contributed to the wrongful conviction.

The task force found that errors by defense attorneys, false confessions and false testimony by jailhouse informants also contributed to imprisoning the wrong person. About 58 percent of vacated convictions stemmed from errors by a prosecutor, officer or judge. The most common cause of wrongful convictions, misidentification of the accused, accounted for about 67 percent of the cases.

Newton felt wronged but did not hold a grudge against the victim, he said. He thinks it was an honest case of mistaken identity. But he is definitely mad at the justice system.

"It's almost like there's no incentive for them to find out the truth about an innocent person because the cops solve the crime, they get a promotion or a raise or whatever," Newton said. "When a person is exonerated and a cop goes out his way to help the person, you don't hear about him getting no accolades."

Prosecutorial Problems

The state bar association's task force tackled the 53 cases last year in an effort "to pinpoint where the system let us down," said Bernice Leber, a partner at law firm Arent Fox and president of the bar association.

The task force reviewed cases and interviewed some of the judges, lawyers and the exonerated, Leber said. Their findings showed what other legal experts and advocates knew: The system needs reform.

In 31 cases, government malpractices contributed to a wrongful conviction. These included a prosecutor's failure to hand over information the defense had a right to examine and a prosecutor's purposeful use of false testimony. Failure to collect and preserve evidence and police not investigating other potential suspects were also cited by the report.

"I think if a prosecutor knowingly presents false testimony and it can be shown, then it's a crime and it's a kind of behavior from any lawyer that the system can't tolerate," said defense attorney Joel Rudin. He estimates he has helped overturn about 15 convictions.

Prosecutors argue that purposeful misconduct happens infrequently. But unintentional errors sometimes occur, such as not giving the defense evidence that the police unintentionally withheld from the prosecutor, said Anne Swern, first assistant district attorney for Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, a member of the task force. On appeal, the prosecutor's failure to hand over evidence to the defense could be called prosecutorial misconduct even if it was not a "willful mistake," Swern said.

To limit the argument over withheld evidence, the task force suggests requiring a pre-trial conference that would establish that the defense has assessed evidence held by police and the prosecutor.

A Deficient Defense

Sometimes, though, defense counsel may be at fault. They do not always adequately review evidence or represent their clients. Supposedly on the side of the accused, defense attorneys have contributed to their client's wrongful convictions "usually [through] a failure to fully investigate or to offer alternative theories and/or suspects," according to the report.

"That's fundamental," Saloom said about every defendant's right to reliable counsel. "Our system relies upon an adequate defense --period."

For quality control of defense attorneys, the task force suggests additional resources that allow lawyers to investigate further and receive more supervision of their work. Additional funding could also provide poor defendants with lawyers even after appeal, when they are trying to get their convictions vacated, Rudin said.

"In our system now, no one has the right to a lawyer once they've lost appeal," he said. "You have all these people in prison with no resources whatsoever and no legal training, and most of the time they end up representing themselves and don't know how to do it."

False confessions have also contributed to wrong convictions. In 1990, five teenagers were convicted in the beating and rape of a Central Park jogger. They confessed to the crime on videotape but DNA later implicated a lone man, not the teenagers. In 2002, their convictions were vacated amid accusations of racism and police misconduct during the original investigation.

False confessions helped cause a wrong conviction in 12 of the 53 cases, the task force found.

A Taped Record

Some, including Assemblymember Joseph Lentol of Brooklyn, advocate for videotaping interrogations, not just confessions. This, they maintain, would provide reliable evidence of whether coercion played a role in a confession.

But even those who support videotaped interrogations are leery of the costs involved. If police taped all confessions and the entirety of interrogations, prosecutors would have to view hours of tape, some of which might not be of evidentiary use, and the tapes would have to be stored for years. This all costs money, said Swern, who serves on the board of the National District Attorney's Association. Paying for the equipment could also be an issue in some jurisdictions.

"Indeed, if adequate funding is not provided, there could be an unwitting failure to comply with the mandate and, depending on the sanction for non-compliance, strong and persuasive evidence of a defendant's guilt (i.e., his voluntary confession) may be suppressed," wrote Swern in an e-mail. "That result would not further the cause of justice."

A former prosecutor and defense attorney, Lentol says he plans to push for funding support of proposals like videotaped interrogations.

"Even if it costs money, how much is a human life worth? Do we want to risk a valuable citizen because we didn't have a few bucks?" he said.

With the status of videotaped interrogations up in the air, critics argue that police need more training in interrogations and recognizing false confessions elicited under extraordinary pressure.

"I think police need to be educated more than they probably are that there are such things as false confessions," said Judge Barry Kamins, a former prosecutor and chair of the task force. "If you ask the public most people would think, 'Why would you confess to something you didn't do?' It is a strange phenomenon but it does happen."

Mistaken Identity

Several studies in the last few years single out the misidentification of the accused as the primary reason for wrongful convictions. The task force recommends changes in police procedures that can make the process fairer and more accurate.

The recommendations include assigning an officer who does not know the identity of the suspect to administer lineups and photo arrays. This prevents intentional or unintentional influence by the officer on the witness.

In one of the most egregious instances, Leber said, "the accused was handcuffed to a table during the lineup and no one else was."

Each step in the identification process should be documented, including the witness's degree of certainty when describing the suspect or picking a suspect from a photo or lineup, according to the report. The New York Police Department did not return requests for comment on the recommendations.

The New Tool

To undo the potential for human error posed by, for example, witnesses or police, the courts have relied heavily on the absolutes of DNA profiling. Since its inception in 1985, the evolution of DNA profiling and its use in solving crimes has led to a push for increased DNA testing. But many support DNA database expansion more as a strategy to catch the guilty than to clear the innocent.

Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer sought to expand the DNA database by including anyone convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony, instead of just some felonies, like sexual assault. But that fell through with his governorship.

Rockland County State Sen. Thomas Morahan has proposed new legislation to mandate DNA samples from everyone convicted of a felony since Jan. 1, 2003. His motivation for the expansion: helping police solve sex crimes. And in his State of the City speech last year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed that arrestees, not just convicts, be required to add their DNA swab to the database.

But less than 5 percent of cases involve DNA evidence that can 100 percent prove innocence or guilt, said Saloom. Rudin said none of his wrongful conviction cases included DNA that could absolve his client. In those cases he couldn't argue innocence based on DNA, but instead had to attack the "fairness of the process."

"The reason we're supposed to have a fair process is to increase the likelihood that the result will be consistent with what really happened," Rudin said.

Reducing Mistakes

The task force's proposals, as well as those from the Innocence Project and some members of the state legislature, seek to increase the fairness and accuracy of the criminal justice system. Lentol, for one, has sponsored legislation that makes it easier for the accused to request post-conviction DNA testing on evidence, such as rape kits. Presented in February, the bill has been referred to the Committee on Codes, of which Lentol is chair.

This bill accompanies a package of legislation that would expand the state's DNA database, require videotaping of interrogations and establish an Innocence Commission, Lentol said. The commission would investigate and reconstruct cases of wrongful convictions -- as investigators reconstruct a plane crash -- to find the faulty parts, he said. If his bills make their way through the political and bureaucratic obstacles, Lentol said he expects them to come up for a vote in late April or May.

Another bill in the Assembly, similar to Lentol's Innocence Commission, has spent two years working its way down the pipe. Sponsored by Assemblymember Michael Gianaris of Queens and picked up in the Senate in 2008 by Sen. Eric Schneiderman of Upper Manhattan, the bill would create the State Commission for the Integrity of the Criminal Justice System. The bill has been referred to the Ways and Means Committee in the Assembly and the Judiciary Committee in the Senate.

The permanent commission would investigate cases of wrongful convictions to establish their causes. The unpaid commission members would submit to the attorney general and governor recommendations on how to prevent wrongful convictions. Schneiderman says he thinks the governor and legislature would take the recommendations seriously because "the evidence of wrongful convictions that has developed in the last decade has had a tremendous effect on public policy."

Life After Wrongful Imprisonment

The crime Newton was convicted for is still an unsolved mystery. DNA excluded Newton but has not linked police to the actual perpetrator. Newton said he wishes the rapist had been caught 20 years ago. But he focuses on his present life and reminds himself that it feels good to be home.

On Read Across America day he opted for the professional look: a dark, well-fit suit paired with a red and gold striped tie. This might be his regular get-up in the next few years. After spending countless hours reviewing his own case while in prison, Newton wants to be a lawyer.

"I tell people I've been studying law for 20 years," he said.

He hasn't applied to law schools yet, so until then he has his job in the Male Development and Empowerment Center at Medgar Evers College. He recruits male students and sticks with them to encourage them to graduate. The center also organizes community service events, like reading to children at local elementary schools. While working at Medgar Evers, Newton earned his B.A. in business administration. It didn't take the average four years --he earned college credits while in prison.

While he has adjusted to his new life, nostalgia for what his life could have been is evident when he talks about his former fiancée. His family liked her and her family liked him, he said. But his conviction changed all that.

"One of the things she told me, she said, I hurt her because I told her I was coming home, and I didn't come home," Newton said. They never married.

For his time lost, pain and suffering, Newton is suing the city and the state for $50 million each. He filed his suits for compensation in late 2006, yet he is still not close to a conclusion.

"One thing I have plenty of is patience," Newton said. "What were you doing all that time in that cage? You were waiting."

Compensation for New Yorkers wrongfully convicted has varied wildly. Victor Ortiz won $530,000 in damages in 2000. He served nine years for rape and sodomy that DNA evidence later helped overturn. But in October 2008, Rudin helped Shih-Wei Su obtain $3.5 million for his 12 years in prison.

The task force suggests setting a minimum level of compensation, but if the convicted person opts to seek more, the minimum amount is waived. Other states have set minimum compensation amounts, but some have a hard time placing a dollar amount on an individual's life.

The state's claims law also currently excludes compensation for anyone who falsely confesses. The task force wants to see that change, too.

Aside from compensation after incarceration, which can take years, some argue that counseling, job training and other assistance for the wrongfully convicted is lacking.

"I think they need the most help of all because they shouldn't have been there," said Kamins. "After all, somebody in jail for 20 years for something they didn't do and you just open the door and say, 'Goodbye, here's some train fare.' That's just not appropriate."

But state officials dispute that; saying that the wrongfully convicted can access reintegration services as any other formerly incarcerated individual could.

Luckily, Newton, who said there was no government help for him after his release, had family he could rely on and an education underway. He doesn't mind the media attention, he says, because people need to know the system is flawed.

"A lot of times people don't believe this happens," Newton said. "This doesn't happen to the billionaires, this happens to ordinary people. They think it happens to other people. We all are those other people."


Link:

http://www.gothamgazette.com/article/issueoftheweek/20090420/200/2887