Thursday, June 9, 2011

Police say no evidence to support alleged rape

The following article doesn't support an actual false claim, but it doesn't support an actual rape, either. And yet, the first comment left under the story automatically, with knee-jerk predictability, calls the claimant a "victim," thus assuming that a crime has been committed, and that the accused was guilty.

PORTSMOUTH — A Saturday morning rape report prompted the closure of a downtown bar, an extensive police investigation and a preliminary conclusion that there’s no evidence to support the allegation, say police. 

[FRS Comment] - So an extensive investigation can find no evidence to support the claim made. Which, then, turns this into a he said/she said case. Seems pretty straightforward.

Officers were notified about the alleged rape on Saturday at 12:48 a.m. when initial claims were that it occurred at The Page restaurant and bar. Responding officers temporarily closed the bar and required patrons to stay on scene, say police.

[FRS Comment] - So the restaurant/bar was closed down (likely hurting the owner's business), and all patrons were required to stay -- I would assume for questioning -- as to what the accuser and the accused were doing at the business. Sounds like pretty good police work so far.

When officers located the alleged victim, she said the rape occurred in the High-Hanover parking garage and gave police a detailed description of the alleged rapist and his car, said Deputy Police Chief Stephen DuBois.

[FRS Comment] - So, the rape was reported, but they couldn't find the alleged victim? Who called it in? I have to assume she did, as she gave the detailed description, once she was found. 

The woman was transported to the hospital, the male suspect was located and his car was towed to the police station, according to the city’s public police log. DuBois said a couple of detectives were called to investigate multiple scenes but an investigation has not led to an arrest.

[FRS Comment] - The man she accused was located and his car towed to the police station. Again, I would assume that this was to go over the car looking for evidence and to interrogate the man and check for some form of evidence that a sexual encounter occurred. As they found no evidence, I can only conclude her exam came back negative, as did his.

The investigation is ongoing, he said.

[FRS Comment] - Ongoing. One has to wonder why. See below for an Op-Ed that was submitted about this case.

Headline on sex assault story was objectionable

I'm writing to express my disgust with the word choice of a headline from the June 6 edition of the Portsmouth Herald: "Police say no evidence to support alleged rape."

Sexual assault is a pervasive and complicated issue in our society. No other victim of violent crime is forced to endure the social stigma of those exposed to sexual assault. There is a shameful tendency to blame and doubt the victims of these crimes, to question their memory and motive. There is absolutely no reason for the Herald to have chosen a headline that attempts to cast so much doubt on the claims of this woman who has had the bravery to report her assault.

[FRS Comment] - Pervasive? Really? Hmmmm. it appears that that one has been rather thoroughly debunked as well. Sadly, if they are doubted, as Mr. Taggart states, then I would dearly love to hear why the police bother to investigate a claim at all? I have to think that all of the special Rape/Sexual Assault/SVU type of groups that every police department I know of have, put the lie to that. And since it is still rare for a women who alleges a rape/sexual assault to be named by the media, how exactly does it cast doubt on her claim? The police actually investigated, and could find no evidence. That is what casts doubt on her claim, not the headline.

The majority of sexual assaults go unreported out of fear of the social implications of accusing someone of rape and of being a rape victim. It is a very difficult crime to prove, and perhaps it is better that 10 guilty men go free than a single innocent man be imprisoned, but that does not justify the pervasive trend of blaming the victim from the outset that is unique to sexual assault. The specific details of this case are still unknown to the general public, but the claim from the Portsmouth Police Department that there is "no evidence" is blatantly false. The claims of the victim certainly constitute evidence.

[FRS Comment] - Actually Mr. Taggart is pretty close to what Mr. Berkowitz stated, as our post HERE shows.
Furthermore, the Herald erred by choosing that particular characterization of the event, rather than an objective headline. Vital as it is to preserve the assumption of innocence, there should be an at least equal impetus to refrain from implying that the victim of such a serious crime is being maliciously untruthful, forgetful, or was somehow responsible. I'd urge the Herald to exercise some decency and discretion in any future reporting on sexual assault.

[FRS Comment] - Once again, the headline states exactly what the police discovered. No more, no less. Seems pretty objective actually. And seriously, nowhere in the original article was it stated that the accuser was being "maliciously untruthful, forgetful, or was somehow responsible."

Will Taggart


***Since this is really the first opinion type piece I have written, I welcome your feedback. Thank you