Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day -- you're under arrest for rape (and we really don't care if you're innocent)

On this Father's Day, we would do well ponder how fathers once were revered in our society, and how they are treated today.  Fathers once were revered for the countless sacrifices they make for their families.  For their labor, their wisdom, their love. But those days are long gone.  Fathers are the official piñatas of the 21st Century.  The mainstream media, the family law courts, the White House, and pretty much every institution where fatherhood becomes an issue, rarely miss an opportunity to demean and belittle dear old dad.

The overwhelming misandry lobbed in dad's direction need not be chronicled here because it is dealt with extensively elsewhere.  But of all the misandry directed at fathers, none is as painful to read about as false rape claims.

What does it say about a society that regards a father as less credible than the far-fetched musings of an angry daughter who falsely accuses him of rape after he grounds her?  Or an angry partner, with an obvious motive, who lies that the father of her children committed rape solely so she can gain the upperhand in a custody battle?  Fathers -- the men who make sure their kids have a roof over their heads and food in their bellies, who sit up all night when their sons or daughters are sick, who rearrange their lives to make room for ballet lessons and hockey tournaments and a thousand other kid things, who pump up a daughter who doesn't think she's pretty, who become stern even when it's against their natures in order to motivate a kid who's underperforming in school, and who too often put up with wild mood swings and even abuse of their children's mother -- yes, those guys -- are rounded up, arrested, charged, jailed, and treated to a multitude of indignities on the say so of a lone accuser.  Child protection agencies and survivor groups don’t want to even acknowledge that false allegations can happen, too often resulting in fathers being falsely accused, charged, and convicted.

On this Father's Day, we salute all fathers, and especially all the dads who've been victimized by the worst thing that can happen to any human being short of murder, a false rape charge.  The following are just a few of the recent cases where fathers are treated as flotsam -- trust me, we could provide many more examples:

*An 18-year-old female falsely accused her father of raping her over the course of two to three years.  She made up the terrible lie because he was strict with her.  A police spokesman warned that "people who make false claims waste police time and resources."

*An 18-year-old girl laid false charges of sexual molestation and rape against her father, a transport controller, who said the incident had turned his whole life upside down.  "She has put me through an emotional rollercoaster," he said. "My wife does not live with me and refuses to talk to me. I am barred from communicating with my son."  He said the community had ostracised him.

*Former Vancouver police officer Clyde Ray Spencer spent nearly 20 years in prison after he was convicted of sexually molesting his son and daughter. Now, the children say it never happened.  Matthew Spencer and Kathryn Tetz, who live in Sacramento, Calif., each took the stand to clear their father's name.  Matthew, now 33, was 9 years old at the time. He told a judge he made the allegation after months of insistent questioning by now-retired Clark County sheriff's detective Sharon Krause just so she would leave him alone.  Tetz, 30, said she doesn't remember what she told Krause back in 1985, but she remembers Krause buying her ice cream. She said that when she finally read the police reports she was "absolutely sure" the abuse never happened.  Among other problems, prosecutors withheld medical exams that showed no evidence of abuse, even though Krause claimed the abuse was repeated and violent.  Despite his commutation, Spencer remains a convicted sex offender. He is hoping to have the convictions overturned.

*A woman falsely accused the 27-year-old father of the their two children of rape to gain the upper-hand in a custody dispute, which rape supposedly occurred when she was at his house picking up the children.  The father was arrested at his job.  A few days later, the police got around to looking into the woman's story, which led to charges against her for fabricating a rape allegation.

*A woman falsely accused the father of her child of kidnapping his own daughter and sexually assaulting the woman, because the woman was angry at him. The false claim led to an Amber Alert, and the father's arrest.  He was charged with child abduction, home invasion, aggravated criminal sexual assault and domestic battery.  The woman, by the way, had been convicted of filing a false police report in 2007 and was placed on conditional discharge for that crime.

*Another innocent man who spent two months in jail after the mother of his daughter falsely accused him of rape? They had had consensual sex, but she was angry at him, so not only did she lie to police about the rape, for good measure she added that he was armed and dangerous. So 12-15 police cars came for him. He was humiliated. Two of the arresting deputies were people he knew from school. He faced 25 years to life for a crime he didn't commit and finally raised $25,000 for his bail. The false accuser finally recanted, but not before his life was ruined. His false arrest cost him countless jobs and $40,000 in legal fees. And he still must pay $460 per month on his bail (and likely child support, to the false accuser).

*In the midst of a nasty divorce, Mr. Amine Baba-Ali’s wife falsely accused him of raping their daughter during a custody visit at his Queens apartment. At nearly every turn, his case became a study in the miscarriage of justice. Prosecutors ignored medical evidence that appeared to prove his innocence, then failed to disclose it to the defense until a few days before the trial.  He was sentenced to a maximum security prison, and even after being cleared of the charges, has not seen his daughter -- she doesn't want to see him. And no matter how many judges declare him flatly and unequivocally innocent, he will remain shadowed by child abuse charges for the rest of his life. As but one example, the Census Bureau turned him down for a job because of the conviction.

*A 15-year-old girl lied that her step-father raped her. He was jailed, and the vile accusation hung over him for five months before the girl admitted she made the whole thing up. The girl's punishment? A curfew for three months.

*Another father, Gerard Wilson, had been searching frantically for more than a day for his 14-year-old daughter when sheriff's deputies found her in a motel room with a convicted pedophile from Texas whom she met on the Internet. The girl told police she had sex with that man, but she also made sure to tell police that her father had touched her inappropriately. Wilson, a middle school teacher, had not slept in more than 24 hours when investigators began an hours-long interrogation. They finally coerced him to write his daughter a letter apologizing for the things she said he'd done. Wilson was immediately arrested and jailed on a $4-million bond. The girl later testified that she made up the claims -- to shift police attention to her father instead of her illicit lover, whom she said she wanted to marry. Jurors deliberated for less than half an hour before acquitting.

*Brian Scott Harden, father of three, faced the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison when his wife claimed he raped her at gunpoint before DNA evidence exonerated him. Astoundingly, the wife admitted under oath that if DNA testing hadn't been performed, she "probably" would have continued to lie at trial that Mr. Harden raped her and assaulted her with a gun.

*Prosecutor David Gorcyca dropped charges against a father accused of raping his autistic daughter after the man spent 80 days in jail. The case collapsed because the court could never establish the girl, who cannot speak, was the author of the rape claim allegedly made with the help of a teaching aide through a widely dismissed method known as facilitated communication.

Happy Fathers Day, men!