Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Breaking news: Being drunk is no defense to rape, so why should it be a defense to making a false rape claim?

Comment: As you read the news story below this comment, consider the following: This is a news report about the woman who had a religious conversion and recanted her rape lie, which led to freedom for the man she had wrongly imprisoned for four years. We've discussed this case on this site many times. Now she is claiming that she was so drunk, she did not have the specific intent to commit the crime of making a false report.

Why would she be permitted to raise this defense when a man or boy accused of rape couldn't? The simple legal answer is that rape is a general intent crime to which voluntary intoxication is no defense, but, presumably, making a false rape report is a specific intent crime for which voluntary intoxication is a defense. Pretty fair, isn't it? The more important question might be this: if she really was so drunk, why on earth was her rape lie believed in the first place? That's a really frightening thought, isn't it? That a drunk woman who has no idea what she's doing can run to the police and have you imprisoned for years. If her defense is valid, then the law enforcement officials responsible for this innocent man's incarceration ought to be jailed for stupidity, or malice, or both.

Second, it is wonderful that she recanted, but she waited a long time to do so, and she needs to be punished as a deterrent to other false accusers. An innocent man should not need to depend on a false accuser's whim as to whether she will, in her sole and unilateral discretion, free him from his false rape hell. False accusers need to be sent a powerful message before they lie that they can't destroy a man's life by falsely accusing him of rape, and if they do, the punishment will be severe. The only way to stop the false rape epidemic is to truly send a powerful message. Too many falsely accused men have sat in prison waiting for the recantation that never came, and it's time to stop depending on the good will of rape liars by hoping, often in vain, that they show mercy to the innocent men and boys whose lives they've already destroyed.

Here is the news story:

Lawyers: Woman Believed Her Made-Up Story About Rape

The woman whose false rape accusations sent an innocent man to prison for nearly four years claims she was so drunk that night that she started to believe her own lies. Lawyers representing Biurney Peguero Gonzalez—who is currently facing jail-time on perjury charges—say she was so inebriated when she falsely accused William McCaffrey of raping her in a van in Upper Manhattan in 2005 that she lost all memory of the incident and came to believe her own story.

After getting married and undergoing a religious conversion, Gonzalez confessed that she had invented the crime in an attempt to cover up a fight with her girlfriends and make them feel sorry for her. Gonzalez faces between two and seven years in prison for lying to a grand jury and lying during her trial, though she might be sentenced to less time. Her lawyers have asked that she be sentenced to probation, noting that if she didn't come forward, McCaffrey never would have been exonerated.

McCaffrey had his 20-year sentence cut short in December, and said it was "courageous of her to come forward and finally tell the truth."

Link: http://gothamist.com/2010/02/23/lawyers_rape_liar_believed_her_made.php