Until relatively recently, to make a rape charge stick, corroboration beyond the lone accusation of the alleged victim was required. Innocent men and boys were not subjected to the possibility of wrongful arrest and conviction based solely on whether their accusers presented a convincing story. Now, the requirement of corroboration has been removed almost everywhere in the United States.
In practice, a peculiar thing has occurred. There are many examples where the old corroboration rule has been flipped on its head. Now, the prosecution no longer needs to corroborate the accuser's claim in order to forge ahead; instead, the accused is often arrested and held until there he is able to corroborate his innocence. That was not the intent of the law, but that is how it is often applied.
But what evidence is deemed acceptable to corroborate innocence? The accounts of disinterested third parties can be dispositive to corroborate innocence; but the accounts of other males arrested for the crime (i.e., alleged gang rape) typically are of no use. Some of the best corroborating evidence of innocence is not human -- it is DNA (but only where the accused denies the sex act). Also helpful are phone records, emails and text messages showing the "victim" was communicating with others while she was allegedly being "raped," or that the sexual act was consensual. And perhaps the best evidence of all is video evidence. Video evidence has secured the freedom of countless males wrongly accused of rape. Here is a video story from this week:
Woman who accused BIA officer of rape admits lying
"A woman who accused a federal police officer of sexually assaulting her on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation has admitted lying.
"Timothy Purdon, the U.S. attorney for North Dakota, says 46-year-old Victoria Bobtail Bear of McLaughlin, S.D., has pleaded guilty to a charge of giving false statements. She faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when she's sentenced on Oct. 20.
"Bobtail Bear was arrested for disorderly conduct last Nov. 30, put in a patrol vehicle and taken to the jail in Fort Yates. She later reported being sexually assaulted en route. Purdon says the accused Bureau of Indian Affairs officer had recorded the entire trip on his lapel camera, exonerating him."
Cases where video evidence freed the innocent are countless, and we've done lenghty posts chronicling them. Here is a small sampling of notable examples:
▲Hofstra student Danmell Ndonye's vicious rape lie led to a rush to judgment and the no-questions-asked-incarceration of four innocent young men. Days later it was revealed that a video of the act showed it was consensual and the young men were released. (That didn't stop one writer from asserting that the young man who made the video that prevented the falsely accused young men from serving multiple years in prison for a crime they didn't commit, "is the most twisted" one of of the group.)
▲There is a famous video of a false rape claim of a police officer shown on MSNBC. The video is chilling because the false accuser is terribly convincing. Without the video, it is no stretch to believe an innocent men would have been sent to prison for many years.
▲Louis Gonzalez, senior vice president of a Las Vegas bank, was falsely accused of rape by his former girlfriend Tracy West during a child custody dispute. West told police that Gonzalez ran up to her at her home in Simi Valley, California, hit her on the head and knocked her unconscious, then dragged her in the house and sexually assaulted her, burned her with matches and committed other violent atrocities. Mr. Gonzalez was arrested and held in jail without bail until a judge dismissed the charges almost three months later. Video recordings showing him in a Las Vegas bank and airport helped save him from the possibility of five life sentences in prison.
▲Louise Johnson drove Andrew Tutty to the brink of suicide after he was arrested and suspended from his job because of her false rape claim. He was only cleared later when a video proved he was with his son at a train station 160 miles away when Johnson claimed he turned up at her home with the knife.
▲Three 17-year-old boys were arrested after Victoria Salter, 26, told police they raped her. She even shaved her head and claimed the boys had used hair removal cream on her. Fortunately, one of the boys filmed the incident, which proved the sex not only was consensual but that Salter was participating enthusiastically.
▲Natalie Jefferson's claim that she was raped in a back alley caused an innocent man who had never been in trouble with the law to be arrested and held in custody as a sex suspect before video cleared him. It turned out Jefferson had a considerable psychiatric background and a problem with alcohol.
▲A young woman accused a cab driver of raping her when he threatened to go to police and report that she and her date refused to pay their fare. Police stormed into the cab driver’s home to arrest him. The woman later recanted her story about the alleged rape when she learned that a surveillance camera mounted in the taxi had recorded the couple leaving the vehicle without paying.
▲Deborah Davies' claim that she had been raped by one man and subjected to an attempted rape by a second stranger in an alleyway fell apart when video of the scene showed that no such attack occurred. When arrested for perverting the course of justice, the 35-year-old brazenly said: "That's why women don't report rape."
▲A 13-year-old school student claimed Latino students attacked her because she made a sign protesting illegal immigration, but she was seen on a surveillance video inflicting scratches on herself. Two students corroborated the false story, underscoring the importance of the video.
▲Kirsty Woods, who had a history of mental health problems, cried rape after having consensual sex. The innocent man was jailed, but released when video of the scene of the alleged attack confirmed his story.
▲Emma Deamer claimed that the man with whom she had consensual sex raped her because she got angry that he went downstairs to talk to his flatmate instead of staying in bed with her. She told police he was a stranger, and he was arrested. The case was dropped after video footage from a train station showed them walking arm-in-arm.
And we could go on and on and on.