Thursday, February 9, 2012

The New York Post takes a big, bold step of naming the rape accuser in the Kelly case

The New York Post has taken the bold step of naming the rape accuser in the Greg Kelly case. Her name is Maria Di Toro. See here.  Mr. Kelly was fully exonerated last night because the district attorney said Ms. Di Toro's allegation did not constitute a crime.

The hand-wringing begins

But the hand-wringing about the Post's decision to name the accuser has begun. "It's a bullying tactic," one site said, "that could prevent women from reporting sexual abuse crimes; who would volunteer for this treatment?"

Women's groups: no concern about protecting the reputations of innocent men

If some people aren't especially sympathetic to those concerns, that just might be a backlash impulse: back in 2010, the new government in Great Britain was seriously considering anonymity for men accused of rape, but women's groups had a conniption.  Their anger was extreme, but largely irrational. When all was said and done, Britain kowtowed to women's groups and scrapped anonymity for men accused of rape.

The reaction of women's groups could only be explained by something no one would admit to: publicly naming and shaming men following an accusation is one way to punish rapists, and anonymity would end that form of punishment. The women's groups were deaf to our pleas that justice for rape victims does not depend on the public shaming and humiliation of the presumptively innocent who, too often, turn out to be victims of false rape claims. Women's groups responded with the moral equivalent of "drop dead."  (It is unfortunate we couldn't show these angry women the mail we get at this site from falsely accused men desperately seeking our help to remove news stories from the Web about long-ago rape claims.)

If  women's groups truly wanted to insure that women come forward . . .

With the Post's decision to name Di Toro (and the Post named her only after the case was closed and it was determined that Mr. Kelly was innocent), the same crowd now insists that naming accusers will prevent women from "coming forward."

If they were truly interested in protecting women's anonymity and in having women "come forward," they would support anonymity for both the accuser and accused anonymous. Why?  The vast majority of rapes, we are told, are of the acquaintance variety. When a woman accuses a male acquaintance of rape and he is publicly identified, it usually isn't difficult for the woman's family, her social circle, and her work colleagues to infer who the accuser is.

It is reasonable to assume that most rape victims would prefer not to have their identities revealed by inference when they accuse an intimate acquaintance of rape.  One way to assure that doesn't happen is to grant anonymity for men, too.

Asymmetrical anonymity: not fair

Many think there should be no anonymity for anyone in rape cases.  Last year, Prof. Alan Dershowitz wrote this about the DSK case: "The prosecution presented its case in public as if there were no doubt about the alleged victim’s credibility or the complete guilt of the alleged offender. In fact, one very important implication of the Strauss-Kahn case was this: the press is dead wrong not to publish the names of alleged rape victims. It is absolutely critical that rape be treated like any other crime of violence, that the names of the alleged victims be published along with the names of the alleged perpetrators, so that people who know the victim or know her reputation can come forward to provide relevant information. The whole manner in which this case was handled undercuts the presumption of innocence, and the same goes for many other cases like it. By withholding the name of the alleged victim while publishing perp photos of the alleged assailant, the press conveys a presumption of guilt. The next time I have to defend a case where there’s any chance of a perp walk, I’m going to federal court to demand an injunction against it."

Dershowitz previously said this on the subject: "People who have gone to the police and publicly invoked the criminal process and accused somebody of a serious crime such as rape must be identified." Moreover: "In this country there is no such thing and should not be such a thing as anonymous accusation. If your name is in court it is a logical extension that it should be printed in the media. How can you publish the name of the presumptively innocent accused but not the name of the accuser?"

He continued: "Feminists cannot have it both ways. They have persuaded us that rape victims should not be singled out for special treatment. Yet that is what many of them want from news organizations."

Feminist Naomi Wolf  has lots of interesting arguments why rape accusers shouldn't be anonymous.  Among other things: "It is wrong – and sexist – to treat female sex-crime accusers as if they were children, and it is wrong to try anyone, male or female, in the court of public opinion on the basis of anonymous accusations. Anonymity for rape accusers is long overdue for retirement."

It's time for a real national debate on the subject of whether to end anonymity for rape accusers. A debate, not a monologue where the usual suspects scornfully lecture with feminist mantras that assume they are right and anyone who disagrees with them is evil.