Saturday, May 29, 2010

An illustration of how the American news media reports false rape claims as actual rapes

Would you like to see what sort of "rape culture" we find ourselves stranded in?  This is a chilling example of how an alleged rape that supposedly occurred in Lebanon, Ohio was reported earlier this week in American mainstream news outlets as a fact.  While some news outlets got it right, too many acted as nothing more than stenographers for police, as opposed to journalists who bother to do their own investigations.  Moreover, while many reporters couched their reports in terms of "police said" that an abduction and sexual assault occurred, it appears that police didn't actually say that. It appears that police actually said that a woman was found bound and gagged and claimed she was abducted and sexually assaulted.

This sort of reporting is typical of how rape claims are reported in this country, and this particular case illustrates the immense power of a false rape accuser to use the news media to advance and give legitimacy to her prevarications.  Women are too readily believed by the mainstream news outlets.  Some of them, looking both for sensational stories and to appear to be politically correct, almost seem to be rooting for the claim to be a fact, as awful as that seems, just because a woman said it happened.

(Thanks to Michael for the tip.)

EARLIER THIS WEEK:
 
From WDTN TV's website:

Lebanon Police are searching for an abductor who snatched a college student from her front yard.  Police said the victim was taking out the trash Monday morning in the 600 block of Franklin Road when two men approached her. The victim said they blindfolded and gagged her, tied her up, forced her into a car, and then drove to a wooded area where they assaulted her. There are no descriptions of either the suspects or their vehicle.

[Note the use of conclusory terminology that presented the "crime" as a fact.  The "abductor," not the "alleged" abductor, "snatched" a college student, not "allegedly" snatched a college student.  The report hides behind "police said" this or that.  "The victim" -- not the "alleged" victim or the "accuser" -- was approached by two men -- not "allegedly" approached" by two men, who, of course, did terrible things to "the victim."]

From WHIO radio's website:

Lebanon police are investigating the abduction of a 21-year-old woman who was later found bound and gagged. . . . . Authorities say the woman was abducted early Monday morning while taking the trash out at her home on Franklin Rd. when she was approached by two men and forced into their car where she was blind-folded, gagged and bound. Authorities say the men drove the woman to an undisclosed area where they held her there for approximately 15 hours and sexually assaulted her. At some point during the abduction, police say the men left her alone and she managed to escape back to her family's home where they found her still tied up and laying in the front yard.

[More of the same conclusory terminology that assumes a rape occurred.  Not once does the report say where the police obtained information about the alleged event -- was it based solely on the "victim's" word?]

From WHIO TV's website:

The Lebanon Police Department is investigating an abduction of a 21-year-old woman.The investigation began on Monday with a report around 2:40 p.m. by family members that the victim was missing. Officers said at approximately 10 p.m., officers and medics were dispatched to a yard on Franklin Road near Norman Lane where the victim was found bound and gagged. According to police, the woman took the trash out early Monday morning from her home and was approached by two men. The men then forced her into a car, where they blindfolded her, gagged her and bound her wrists. Sgt. Jeff Mitchell said, "Between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. Monday morning, she was taken from in front of her residence." Police said the men drove the woman to an undisclosed wooded area, where they held her for 15 hours and sexually assaulted her at times. Investigators said the men eventually left the woman alone, allowing her to escape and return to her home. Officers said the woman found by her family members lying in the front yard bound and gagged. She was taken to the Atrium Medical Center in Middletown. The name of the victim has not been released. Investigators said they are talking to witnesses and the victim to get more information about what happened.

[The same.  The accuser is a "victim" and the reporter is content to write down what "police said."  Joseph Pulitzer would be proud.] 

Here's one report that reported it the right way:

Woman, 21, found bound and gagged:  

LEBANON - Police are investigating after a 21-year-old woman was found bound and gagged in a residential yard late Monday.

The woman was found outside on Franklin Road near Norman Lane about 10 p.m. and taken to Atrium Medical Center in Middletown, police said. Her name and condition have not been released.

Police began searching for her earlier Monday after her family reported her missing about 2:40 p.m.

Police are talking with the woman and say they are working on developing leads in the case.
__________________________

Can anyone guess what really happened?  Again, from WHIO radio's site:

YESTERDAY:

UPDATED: College student lies about abduction and sexual assault

By Mike Ivcic
LEBANON, Ohio - Investigators said Thursday that a local 21-year-old pulled a hoax on local law officials. Police in Lebanon, though, aren't laughing.

Police said that Kristen Lamb of Lebanon admitted to making up the story of her abduction and sexual assault on Thursday.

Monday, police received a report around 2:40 p.m. by family members that Lamb was missing. Then, at approximately 10 p.m. Monday night, officers and medics were dispatched to a yard on Franklin Road near Norman Lane where Lamb was found bound and gagged by her family.

The University of Cincinnati nursing student originally told police that she was abducted by two men between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. while taking out the trash in front of her residence.

She then claimed to police that the men drove her to an unknown wooded area where they held her for 15 hours and raped her. Lamb said that the men eventually left her alone for a time, allowing her to escape and return home.

However, in an interview with investigators on Thursday, Lamb admitted that she fabricated the entire story. She said that she went to a wooded area and sat there for more than 15 hours after using zip ties from her father's tool box to bind her own wrists and using a pillow case from her room to cover her head.

Investigators said that Lamb took them to the wooded area north of her home, where they found the pillow case and one zip tie.

Lamb told police that she had no assistance or contact from anyone while she was gone.

Police say they attribute Lamb's actions to her family's attention to her brother's recent wedding.

Investigators are now talking with prosecutors about possible criminal charges against Lamb.

[FRS Note to reporter Mike Ivcic: We don't know if you wrote the earlier story about the alleged abduction and sexual assault that appeared on your news outlet's website, but did the authorities really say that the woman had been abducted, as your news outlet reported in the earlier story?  Or did the authorities tell your news outlet merely that the woman "claimed" she had been abducted, as you reported in the updated story?  Do you see the difference?  When a news outlet tells its readers that "police said" something happened, that is a hell of a lot different than reporting that police said that a lone accuser "claimed" something happened.  The former will be automatically believed as fact; the latter will be taken with a grain of salt.  But I suspect that reporters know that. And I suspect that some reporters -- I don't mean Mr. Ivcic -- are content with having their readers believe that a mere claim of sexual assault was an actual sexual assault.]