Monday, March 21, 2011

Another High Profile 'Rape Victim' Turns Out to be a Liar: False Rape Claim Covered Up a Murder

Another high profile false rape claim has been exposed. This case is significant because the lie was told to cover up a murder, and it scared the beejebers out of everyone in a posh D.C. suburb for a week before the untruth was uncovered.

Brittany Norwood, 27, had claimed she was the survivor of a vicious sexual attack at the upscale yoga attire store Lululemon Athletica where she worked in well-to-do Bethesda, Maryland on March 11. The supposed attack left Norwood's colleague Jayna Murray, 30, dead. The victim-turned-suspect was found inside the store, bound and bruised, and she convinced detectives that two men in ski masks and gloves raped and beat her and her fellow employee.

The "survivor's" story terrified residents and merchants in normally safe Bethesda. It happened in an area of restaurants and high-end stores that has long been considered one of the least dangerous spots in the region. Stores went into hysterical mode, installing security cameras and enlisting private security guards to escort workers to their cars. Average citizens began asking clothing stores if they’d sold ski masks to anyone suspicious. A reward of more than $150,000 was offered to catch the supposed intruders. 

And business for the local merchants was down. Way, way down. One local restaurant manager said business was down 50 percent during the week hysteria gripped the area. Foot traffic along the road was light, and many businesses closed early because employees were nervous, he said. “People have been very, very apprehensive. Very, very nervous.”

How does this fear square with the sexual grievance industry's mantra that people don't believe rape claims? This case is nothing more than a high profile manifestation that people generally automatically believe rape claims.

Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger  and Assistant Chief Drew Tracy both said that detectives investigating the case had little choice but to believe Norwood’s story at first.

Read the next quote and try to wrap your head around it: “Victims of sexual assault, you have to take their story as truthful,” the chief said.

Given that a rape/murder under these circumstances is more than just exceedingly rare, and that women frequently lie about rape, that statement from a trained police officer is peculiar, to put it charitably.

The chief continued: “Four days ago I really believed this was a random crime of opportunity,” the chief said. “It’s a tragic case.”

And, of course, police officials began describing the case to reporters based largely on the alleged survivor's statements.  And the news media obligingly ran with the story, treating the "survivor's" account as fact.  The venerable Washington Post, for one, reported the story as if a rapist/murderer was certainly on the loose. The illustrious paper became little more than a parrot for police, who were little more than parrots for the "survivor." 

Here's how the Washington Post's story on the alleged incident starts off -- and keep in mind that it too four -- FOUR -- reporters and a staff researcher to get this wrong:  "Two men wearing masks and gloves entered an upscale yoga clothing store in downtown Bethesda after closing hours this weekend, killed a worker and sexually assaulted another, officials said Saturday. Detectives think the attack began as a robbery about 10 p.m. Friday along the high-end Bethesda Row shopping district." 

The story also noted: "Detectives think that the men - dressed all in black with faces and hands covered - entered a short time later, police said. Because the intruders were covered, police have come up with only limited descriptions, with one being 6 feet tall and the other a little over 5-foot-3, police said."

But once police got around to actually investigating Norwood’s story instead of just acting as the purported survivor's stenographers, they found holes, big holes.  Only two sets of footprints, one belonging to Norwood and the other matched to a pair of shoes kept in the store, were found at the crime scene, Manger said. Unspecified evidence was also found in Murray’s car, which raised questions, he said. The rape story made no sense, either, he said.

“(There is) no evidence to support that either was sexually assaulted,” the chief admitted.

If there was "no" evidence for a sexual assault, why did the Washington Post report that officials said a sexual assault occurred?  And why did the chief of police say "I really believed" the alleged crime had occurred? 

Worst of all, at one point in the past week, Chief Manger said officers were doing surveillance on a “suspect” who fit the story they’d been told. They trailed an innocent man they thought might be a “person of interest.”

What might have happened to that man if the lie had not been exposed?  And how would any of us feel if we learned that the police were following us around in the past week?

It is astounding how frequently high profile rape claims turn out to be lies.  While we are aware of no definitive studies on the prevalence, the percentage would be staggering.

And that only underscores the absurdity of the chief's statement “victims of sexual assault, you have to take their story as truthful.”  Respectfully, Chief, your job is not to automatically believe alleged victims of sexual assault. Your job is to treat the account of an alleged victim of sexual assault as an assertion to be fairly and objectively investigated. Why is this too much to ask?