Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rapists in our midst . . . .

There is an unfortunate strain of gender advocacy that reduces young men to caricature. With a sweeping broad-brush, this kind of advocacy paints an entire gender as rapists or potential rapists. Jessica Valenti, a once-prominent feminist blogger, is one of the purveyors of the maleness-is-broken crowd: "Rape is part of our culture," she once wrote. "It's normalized to the point where men who are otherwise decent guys will rape and not even think that it's wrong. And that's what terrifies me."  For people like Valenti, rape apparently is a male habit as common as playing video games and adjusting scrota. But Valenti's assertion doesn't ring true to most people because "otherwise decent guys" don't so easily forget their decency and do such a vile thing. That approach to the rape problem only hinders the effort to stop rape because it keeps us from focusing on the real problem.

And let's not kid ourselves, COTWA does no favors to the wrongly accused by pretending that rape isn't a problem. Every rape that is committed only makes the next false claim all the more plausible.

In contrast to the "even-decent-guys-rape" meme, feminist Amanda Marcotte, of all people, recently wrote about the Lisak/Miller study that chronicled narcissistic men who enjoy forcing themselves on women. The picture that study paints is about men who are anything but "decent guys"; they are outliers, and there is nothing "mormalized" about them. Ms. Marcotte writes: "Far from being ordinary men who get out of control from lust, the roughly five percent of men interviewed who are rapists are men who seek out opportunities to rape women.  . . . they pride themselves on their methods of identifying victims and separating them from potential help. They also eagerly explained how they avoided facing consequences, mainly by attacking drunk women. Rapists, it turns out, are acutely aware that if the victim was drinking, she’s much more unlikely to report it, and even if she does, the police are unlikely to do anything about it. As added protection against getting caught, most rapists attacked acquaintances, probably because they know that they can claim innocence, saying they thought she had consented."  http://www.thefrisky.com/2012-07-27/the-soapbox-rapists-know-the-answer-is-no/#more-2417712

And that is who we should be looking at with suspicion. And, guys, if we see a male acquaintance behaving in that manner, that is who we should be socially ostracizing, and chiding, and sternly lecturing.

"Decent" guys don't rape, and the vast majority of guys are decent. Perhaps if we all agree on that, we can all pitch in to attack the rape problem, which is real and is deserving of our attention.

Psychiatric treatment sought as alternative to prison for woman who falsely accused father of sex assault

A 40-year-old Calgary woman who falsely accused her father of sexually assaulting her should undergo psychiatric counselling and not be sentenced to prison, her lawyer told a provincial court Friday.

On Oct. 5, 2010, Lori Lee Gnam told police, hospital staff and social workers that her father kicked her in the stomach and then injured her during a sexual assault, according to an agreed statement of facts.

Gnam, who had been living with her parents for eight months, told police her father became furious and asked her to leave when she told him she felt she was being taken advantage of and would no longer pay rent at their home.

After deliberately injuring herself, Gnam was taken to hospital, where she told medical staff her allegations.

Police were summoned, but her surgeon questioned the cause of the injuries, indicating they were inconsistent with the type of assault she claimed had occurred. Det. Marlene Hope of the police sex crimes unit also questioned the validity of the claims.

Three months later, Gnam admitted she had caused the injuries herself in a failed suicide attempt.

At Friday’s court appearance, her lawyer, Stephen Jenuth, asked for a conditional sentence.

Jenuth said his client, who was emotional throughout the hearing, is remorseful for causing harm not only to her father but also for wasting police resources. He recommended Gnam undergo one year of psychiatric treatment.

But Crown prosecutor Julie Morgan asked for the more serious sentence of three years in prison, based on the seriousness of the false allegations and the length of time Gnam continued to lie to police.

“She had plenty of time to retract her story . . . but she just kept going,” Morgan told the court.

Morgan recommended Gnam go to the Edmonton Institution for Women, where there is a voluntary therapy program.

Gnam’s sentencing date was set for Aug. 28.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Political correctness in criminal law


Renewed calls for anonymity for the presumptively innocent: the reasons they deserve it

A British MP has backed calls to grant defendants in rape trials anonymity. Grahame Morris, MP for Easington, said he is aware of cases where accused rapists have suffered as a result of false claims and believes they should be protected by the law.

Mr Morris said: “I’ve seen some cases where an individual who turned out to be innocent has been subjected to awful abuse and even lost their job. There are malicious allegations of rape and the only way to protect people from that and ensure natural justice is to have anonymity for defendants. I’m not condoning rape, it is a heinous crime, but the fact these names can appear in the local press can sometimes stir up vigilante reactions. People often assume the person charged must be guilty and I think that’s wrong.”  He said that once a case is concluded and someone has been found guilty, reporting restrictions should be lifted.

The effort to give men accused of rape anonymity until they are found guilty, or even charged, failed when it was introduced in the UK two years ago. Many victims' advocates think we need anonymity for rape accusers but not for men accused of rape, and their concerns seem to be posited in good faith. However, COTWA is not convinced that anonymity for anyone is appropriate. Feminist Naomi Wolf and constitutional law scholar Alan Dershowitz, among many others, think that rape accusers should not be anonymous. See here. On the other hand, superstar defense attorney Roy Black, and many others, think that persons accused of rape should be anonymous. See Mr. Black's spirited explanation here.

There are some very important considerations counseling in favor of anonymity for the accused. At the very least, these considerations ought to be part of the public discourse on this critical issue:

I. The Presumptively Innocent are Unfairly Stigmatized by Rape Claims

The message conveyed by granting anonymity for rape defendants is that the harm of publicly identifying innocent men who are falsely accused is severe and unconscionable, not that women are inherently untrustworthy. Justice for rape victims does not depend on the public shaming and humiliation of the presumptively innocent.  For rape claims, the accusation becomes its own conviction in the court of public opinion because it is nearly impossible to undo even the most far-fetched rape claim (that's because of the he said/she said nature of the claim). Legion are the cases where those wrongly accused of rape have suffered unspeakable injustice due to the vile stigma of the claim.

We are always perplexed by those who insist that, on the one hand, when it comes to accusers, rape is a different kind of crime warranting anonymity, but on the other, when it comes to men and boys accused of rape, the stigma of rape is no different than any other crime. In fact, rape is widely regarded as the most loathsome offense in the entire criminal law canon after murder, universally considered worthy of the most severe societal censure and condemnation; in some cultures, rape is regarded as more offensive than murder.

False rape claims have caused innocent men and boys to be killed and to kill themselves; to be beaten, chased, spat upon, and looked upon with suspicion long after they are cleared of wrongdoing. They lose not only their good names but often their jobs, their businesses, their spouses, and the affection of their families and their friends. It is often impossible for the falsely accused to ever obtain gainful employment once the lie hits the news: for the remainder of his life, a falsely accused man will have prospective employers Googling his name and discovering the horrid accusation.

II. Anonymity is Already Given to Some Males Accused of Rape, Without Adverse Consequences to Rape Accusers 

Many accused rapists are already afforded anonymity, without adverse effects to rape victims.  In the UK, anonymity orders under Section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 are frequently granted to teen boys accused of sex crimes.  Moreover, men whose identities cannot be revealed without necessarily revealing the accuser's identity are usually treated anonymously by the press in both the UK and the U.S.  The identities of accused males who fall within these two classes are shielded because, as a matter of public policy, the benefits of shielding their identities are deemed to outweigh the detriments. There is no evidence -- none whatsoever -- that granting anonymity to these classes of defendants has in any manner hindered the war on rape.  Thus, in a real world setting, every hypothetical disaster that would supposedly occur if anonymity were granted has been proven to be disingenuous.
III. Granting Anonymity Would Encourage More Women To Come Forward

It is likely that more rape victims would "come forward" if the men they accuse were anonymous. 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 often isn't difficult 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.  We suspect that a fair number of women are not coming forward because they know their identities will become known when the identities of the men or boys they accuse are publicized.

IV. Granting Anonymity Will Not Unduly Inhibit The Prosecution of Serial Rapists

Another argument often trotted out to oppose anonymity for men accused of rape is that anonymity could inhibit the effective prosecution of serial rapists.  This argument is a snare and a delusion.  First, anonymity for rape defendants does not prevent the naming of serial rapists.  It would simply forbid publicly naming men who have only been accused but not convicted of rape. A suspect would be identified if he is convicted. 

Second, the vast majority of rapes are committed by acquaintances where the identity of the perpetrator is not at issue. The number of cases where rape victims might be helped in identifying their rapist by seeing a man's picture on the television news is minuscule. 

Third, it can scarcely be denied that some teen boys and some men whose identities are already shielded must also be serial rapists.  The fact is, there is no evidence that granting anonymity for these classes of defendants has in any manner inhibited the effective prosecution of serial rapists. 

Fourth, anonymity for men accused of rape would not hinder police investigations any more than anonymity for rape accusers hinders police (not to mention innocent men) from learning that a rape accuser has made false rape allegations in the past.  Society has made a policy decision to grant anonymity for women who accuse men and boys of rape because such anonymity is thought to serve other useful purposes.  Anonymity for men would also serve useful purposes, even if police might prefer to have them publicly named.

Abbotsford sexual attack report proves to be bogus

Abbotsford Police have determined the reported sexual assault of a young woman by two unknown men in February was false.

The alleged 19-year-old victim informed police on Feb. 3 that she had been dragged into a vehicle and taken to a parking lot close to the downtown core and sexually assaulted by two South Asian men the night before.

Given the seriousness of the reported crime, APD deployed launched a wide-scale investigation which drew on much of its resources, said Const. Ian MacDonald.

Numerous officers were tasked with investigative duties, the forensic unit was deployed to gather evidence and produce composite sketches of the described suspects.

The APD issued two separate news releases to protect to public safety and ask for witnesses and information.

Following the incident patrol officers conducted a door knocking campaign downtown and talked to every business in the area.

The department's crime analysts contacted other police jurisdictions to look for patterns or other similar assaults over a period of years.

Most importantly, major crime detectives worked every lead they received in the more than five-month investigation, said MacDonald.

"After all of those efforts by the APD and the community, it has now been determined that the incident was fabricated," he said, adding thousands and thousands of dollars was spent on the case.

It took a fairly significant amount of time to determine the report was bogus as the alleged victim had provided lots of information about things that were partially true, said MacDonald.

"She provide so much detail of actual people and things downtown," he said.

"She wasn't fabricating every element of the story but interspersing nuggets of truth into the report."

The women even went so far as to describe a real truck as the vehicle that had been involved in her abduction.

Descriptions she provided were then corroborated by other people in the area as a result, said MacDonald.

A case file 650 pages long was created the bulk of that comprised of tips from the public.

The young women eventually confessed to detectives after a number of meetings to work out seeming inconsistencies in the information she provided, he said.

MacDonald said its unlikely charges will be laid against the woman.

It would be difficult to prove intent given her mental capacity and her understanding that such a fabrication would have the results it did, he said.

It's not entirely clear why the woman would make the false report.

"There's some component of attention seeking," said MacDonald.

"And once it got started, it's difficult to find the right time and place to confess truth."

The APD is sharing the information not to embarrass the woman but inform the community impacted by the false report, said MacDonald.

"This was a huge investigation and we have a responsibility to let citizens know the results and hopefully alleviate the fear associated with the attack."

The department threw the appropriate amount of resources at the case given the seriousness of the alleged crime, said MacDonald.

"A duo stranger attack deserves a lot of attention from any law enforcement agency in any city," he said.

"But beyond the monetary cost, what price tag do you put on the fear it created among women who had to take the bus in the downtown core."

The APD stresses it still wants people to call the department around crime and commends the courage it takes for legitimate victims to come forward, said MacDonald.

"We want to remind the others that diverting police resources to bogus events can impact our ability to help those who truly need it."


Friday, July 27, 2012

DA: Disgruntled ex-LC coach made false sex abuse claims

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman on Tuesday announced the arrest of Tim Udinski, the former head lacrosse coach at Lansdale Catholic High School, for stalking and harassment.

The defendant lodged false accusations of sexual misconduct against officials associated with the school, according to authorities. On seven separate occasions between Oct. 19, 2011 and May 31, 2012, Udinski allegedly sent false claims of sexual abuse in anonymous emails to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. In these emails, he claimed the current Lansdale Catholic football and lacrosse coaches were engaged in sexual solicitation of players on their respective teams. Udinski also accused the Lansdale Catholic principal of failing to take any action regarding the alleged misconduct, according to reports.

During his tenure at the school, Udinski reportedly was the target of unfounded accusations.

During the 2011 lacrosse season, Lansdale Catholic relieved Udinski of his duties after he reportedly engaged in repeated heated arguments with players and staff. Principal Tim Quinn reported Udinski was extremely upset about his firing.

After Udinski’s firing, on Oct. 19, 2011, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia received an anonymous email alleging that the head football coach had sexually solicited a player. The email included an accusation that the principal, himself a former football player at Lansdale Catholic, had a history of ignoring any complaints about the coach.

On March 12, and March 14, 2012 the Archdiocese received two anonymous emails stating Lansdale Catholic’s head lacrosse coach had been involved in a sexual assault while attending Lehigh University.

Again on March 15, 2012 the Archdiocese received an anonymous email threatening to inform the media about the allegations involving the lacrosse coach. This email was followed by numerous anonymous emails on March 22, to the Archdiocese and local media outlets concerning wrongdoing at Lansdale Catholic High School.

On May 9, 2012, the Archdiocese received an anonymous email stating that the coach sexually assaulted a lacrosse player at Lansdale Catholic. He was also accused of inviting the player to the shore and offering him beer. The complaint included another accusation that the principal was ignoring the complaints.

On May 31, 2012, another anonymous communication was sent to the Archdiocese again referencing the lacrosse coach attempting to lure his players to the shore to engage in sexual activity. Quinn was accused of covering up. The email demanded the principal’s resignation and jail time for the coach.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia released a statement Tuesday, noting, “Lansdale Catholic High School and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia take all allegations of abuse seriously. Each of these allegations, as is our practice, was immediately reported to law enforcement.”

The Montgomery County Detective Bureau undertook an investigation of these accusations. Twelve county detectives and staff members were tasked with investigating these repeated, anonymous reports of sexual abuse against two high school coaches. Detectives devoted in excess of 184 hours to investigating the accusations against the coaches. During the inquiry, law enforcement officers interviewed 97 people and executed 10 court orders and search warrants.

At the conclusion of an exhaustive and comprehensive investigation, detectives and prosecutors concluded that the allegations against both coaches were false and unfounded. The estimated cost to Montgomery County taxpayers to investigate these multiple false reports was more than $8,250.

“We wasted thousands of dollars — we used close to 200 man hours, we interviewed 97 individuals, and in the end, all to disprove these false accusations,” Ferman said. “The cost to taxpayers is enormous, but it pales in comparison to the cost to the individuals who have been falsely accused. I can’t begin to imagine what their lives have been like — to be the subject of these false accusations. It also does a tremendous amount of damage to real victims of sexual abuse — the notion that they made be disbelieved because someone has made a false accusation.”

Through the investigation Montgomery County Detectives developed Tim Udinski as the subject who allegedly sent the anonymous communications to the Archdiocese. On June 21, 2012, Detectives went to Udinski’s residence to interview him about this case. Udinski allegedly admitted to sending the seven anonymous emails to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Udinski reportedly stated that all the complaints were untrue. He allegedly admitted he specifically targeted the Lansdale Catholic football coach and lacrosse coach. Udinski reportedly told detectives that he made these false reports because, “I was mad at the school for the way I was treated. I was just furious.”

Lansdale Catholic administrators expressed relief and gratitude at the news.

“We’re extremely happy for the diligence of the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office and their detectives,” said James Casey, Lansdale Catholic High School president. “Along with the Archdioceses Office of Delegate of Investigations, they worked extremely well together and guided us in these challenging times.”

Quinn added, “There’s a sense of relief that obviously we can start moving forward on something. We’ve been dealing with it for a year. The Montgomery County detectives gave us a lot of support and help and man hours. Now we’re moving forward.”

Udinski was hired in the fall of 2010 and his contract was not renewed in 2011, said Casey. “He hasn’t been an employee since that time.”

“He was very highly recommended,” Quinn said. “He had done a lot of work. He had a good interview and his background checks were clear.” Quinn said he had no idea that Udinski might pose a problem, calling it “a surprise.”

The defendant was video arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Harold Borak today and bail was set at $25,000.00 unsecured. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 27 at 10:30 a.m.

The case will be prosecuted by the Captain of the Major Crimes Team, Assistant District Attorney Jesse S. King.

Journal Register reporters Linda Stein and Jenny DeHuff contributed to this article



Police: false rape claim prompted by revenge

A West Haven woman was allegedly upset about an ex-boyfriend seeing another woman, so she falsely accused him of rape and kidnapping, according to police.

On June 4, police got a report of an abduction and sexual assault, according to police spokesman Capt. Ronald Smith. When officers arrived at the Hubbard Place apartment, Jessica Barrett, 20, of 52 Main Street, West Haven, told them that she had been kidnapped and raped by her ex-boyfriend, he said.

"Barrett, advised officers that on June 3, as she was walking near the Truman Street School in New Haven, her ex-boyfriend exited his vehicle, punched her in the head and then forced her into the vehicle," Smith said. "Barrett further advised officers that her ex-boyfriend drove her to the Hubbard Place address, where he raped her several times.

"She further claimed that her ex-boyfriend kept her in a closet for a period of time," Smith said. "In addition, she was not fed for nearly 24 hours. Barrett was subsequently transported to the Hospital of Saint Raphael."

The next day, Detectives Donald Remillard and Sean Dolan met with Barrett, when she told them she "fabricated the entire story because her ex-boyfriend had been dating another girl," Smith said.

After an investigation, Remillard submitted an arrest warrant application to the court, Smith said, and on Tuesday Barrett had turned herself in at Hamden Police Headquarters. She was charged with falsely reporting an incident and second-degree false statement.

She was released on a written promise to appear in Meriden Superior Court on Aug. 6.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

A wise man . . .

Dr. Boyce Watkins: read him.

Student editor gets it right about the wrongly accused, mostly

We applaud Trenton Sperry, the editor-in-chief of The Daily O'Collegian (Oklahoma State University), for having the courage to express alarm about false rape claims (Rape a dangerous issue for men). Such alarm is often greeted with derision and downright disdain, especially on college campuses. Sometimes, the very suggestion that some claims are wrongful is treated as an assault on rape victims, even though it is any but that.

Mr. Sperry's principal points are as follows:

"I’d wager many of us have had a sexual encounter we later wish wouldn’t have happened. That doesn’t mean we were raped, and I know most people understand this quite well.

"It was a conscious decision we made that we regret, just like almost every other decision we’re likely to make at this point in our lives.

"But there are times when a friendship or relationship gets strained after a sexual encounter or when feelings get hurt the next morning.

"We must be careful not to associate these instances or emotions with the sexual act itself."

Mr. Sperry correctly notes: "Men face an enormous stigma when it comes to accusations of rape, especially on college campuses." And: ". . . being accused of raping someone can ruin an innocent person’s life."  Moreover, he tells women who make false rape accusations that "the damage you could do to a man is much more serious than you may know. Aside from jail time, most convicted sex offenders must register with the city, state and nation for the rest of their lives. Their photos and locations are posted on the Internet for all to see at any given moment. They are often fired from their jobs, kicked out of school and become pariahs of society. The label of 'rapist' is nearly impossible to remove."

One of COTWA's missions is to assist in raising the level of discourse about wrongful accusations of serious sex criminality.  We, therefore, must take issue with this statement in the op-ed:  "And anyone who coerces someone into or forces a sexual encounter should be promptly and severely punished. Period."  COTWA shares Mr. Sperry's strong disapproval of "sexual coercion" but we have also demonstrated the legal infirmities that prevent making it a punishable offense: http://www.cotwa.info/2012/03/legal-infirmities-to-punishing-sexual.html.

Mr. Sperry also missteps when he writes: "Judges and juries are rightly inclined to believe a woman’s accusation of rape . . . ."  In fact, judges and juries should examine every rape claim objectively, and no preconception about whether a rape did or did not occur is ever "right."

That aside, good job, Mr. Sperry.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Inmate allegedly made up assault

A Barre woman serving a sentence for arson has been charged with falsely accusing other inmates of sexually assaulting her.

Vermont State Police say Belinda Brunell, 35, reported that she was sexually assaulted by two female inmates at the Chittenden County Correctional Facility in South Burlington. She was examined by a medical worker at the prison and then taken to the emergency room at Fletcher Allen Health Care for further examination.

The state police interviewed Brunell, then interviewed the inmates she accused. Police say that when they returned to Brunell she admitted there was no sexual assault or sexual contact.

Brunell was cited to appear in Chittenden County criminal court Aug. 14 to answer the charge of making a false report to a law enforcement officer.

Link: http://www.timesargus.com/article/20120720/THISJUSTIN/707209947

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chilling: Colleges ramp up to find more men guilty in sex cases

Professor KC Johnson has a piece in John Leo's Minding the Campus called More Advice on Railroading Males in Sex Cases. He notes that the Association of Title IX Administrators  is “[s]eeking to build off the momentum from the ‘Dear Colleague’ letter” by holding a four-day training session “devoted to how to implement new, guilt-presuming sexual assault standards.”
If you think that’s too harsh, read on:

When colleges and universities use the "adversarial process" to deal with such complaints, the Association laments, ‘Justice is rarely done. Truth remains elusive.’ (Perhaps we should simply shut down the court system, as well.) . . . . [A]ccording to the Association's training guide, colleges need to use a ‘civil rights investigation model for addressing campus sexual misconduct’--which has the advantage, for those interested in overriding due process concerns, that it is ‘not police-led investigation, and it is not the same as investigating a student conduct violation.’
The topics make clear the one-sidedness of the session's agenda. (In addition to administrators, the Association invites "prosecutors, sex crimes investigators, magistrates, victim advocates and judges"--but not defense attorneys or civil liberties advocates.) Topics on how colleges should respond to sexual assault/harassment claims include such issues as ‘due process myopia’ and ‘is a hearing necessary?’ The list of ‘experts’ invited to train campus administrators includes Brett Sokolow, who rivals the notorious Wendy Murphy in the almost cheerful willingness with which he presumes guilt in sexual assault cases. As FIRE's Will Creeley has correctly noted, Sokolow has exhibited a ‘disdain for due process [that] echoes the worst instincts of the angry mob.’
We have also chronicled how colleges are expanding their definitions of sexual abuse to include sex acts that are, by any rational measure, consensual: The Legal Infirmities in Punishing Sexual Coercion.
Our college campuses are ground zero for the work we do here, and Prof. Johnson’s warning bell should be taken very seriously.

Not enough falsely accused "to worry about" . . . . Seriously?

The vast majority of women and men are offended by both rape and false rape claims. Fighting both evils is not, and should never be, a zero sum game, and there is no necessity to trivialize the victimization caused by one in advocating for the victims of the other.  Our advocacy at COTWA does not in any manner diminish our support for victims of sexual assault.  Rape victims have expressed to us their disgust with false rape claims because they understand that every rape lie diminishes the integrity of every rape victim. We must never trivialize the horrors of rape, and advocating for victims of wrongful accusations is not in any sense inconsistent with advocating for victims of false rape claims. 

Not Worth Worrying About

It is, therefore, distressing to read comments on the blogosphere by misguided victim's advocates that dismiss out of hand the unique problems of the wrongly accused.  Here is an example we saw on a blog recently: "Something like 4% of rape accusations are false. That’s not a big enough number that we have to worry about it." See here.

It is appropriate to respond to this unfortunate sentiment, since it echoes a belief that seems to have some currency. The literature is replete with references to the "myth" of false rape claims, or the “fact” that only two percent of all rape clams are false, consistent with the purported average for other crimes. It is not uncommon in this literature for men’s fears about false accusations to be dismissed with almost derisive references to Potiphar’s wife, who, according to the Bible’s Book of Genesis, wrongly accused Joseph (of “coat-of-many-colors” fame) of rape.  Those sentiments are both hurtful to the community of the wrongly accused and wholly unnecessary for effective advocacy on behalf of rape victims.

Unspeakable Injustices

We have chronicled numerous instances of shocking injustice suffered by persons falsely and otherwise wrongly accused of sexual assault.  By any civilized measure, our advocacy would be justified even if the wrongly accused were limited to the victims we feature on this site, or to "just" four percent of all reported rape claims -- a staggering number in itself -- but, in fact, the number appears to be considerably larger.

Emily Bazelon and Rachael Larimore wrote this: "What is clear . . . [is that rape and false rape claims] are the flip side of the same coin. False charges of rape are an absolute nightmare for the men caught in their net. And the specter of made-up allegations is a real problem for law enforcement—which means they are also a problem for women who are telling the truth."

False Rape Claims Undermine Confidence in Rape Claims

The sentiment that the number of falsely accused is not "a big enough number that we have to worry about it" is troubling on a host of levels. If the writer is truly concerned about rape victims, she should also be concerned about false claims. Rape should be regarded as a serious crime deserving of serious penalties. However, when prospective jurors -- male or female -- believe that false accusations against innocent men and boys are tolerated or overlooked, they are wary about convicting even men and boys who probably deserve punishment. In false rape case after false rape case after false rape case, we read about judges who reprimand the false accusers for the harm they do by diminishing the integrity of rape victims. These reprimands, sadly, do not resonate in the blogosphere, where reckless comments and uninformed opinions seem are common.

5.9%--With an Asterisk

Beyond that, the assertion that "[s]omething like 4% of rape accusations are false" fails to paint an accurate picture about the significance of the problem. We are loathe to dwell on numbers lest our words devolve into an unfortunate and divisive Oppression Olympics or be construed as trivializing the seriousness of the rape problem, something we will not do.  But a leading feminist legal scholar has acknowledged this fact: ". . . the statistics on false rape accusation widely vary and 'as a scientific matter, the frequency of false rape complaints to police or other legal authorities remains unknown.'" A. Gruber, Rape, Feminism, and the War on Crime, 84 Wash. L. Rev. 581, 595-600 (November 2009) (citation omitted). 

Why so much uncertainty? Because in between the claims we are reasonably certain were actual rapes, and the ones we are reasonably certain were false claims is a vast gray area consisting of the majority of the claims that can neither be classified as "rapes" or as non-rapes -- because we just don't know. That's the nature of a rape claim, where the act that gives rise to the claim is almost always committed in private. The claims in this vast gray middle area often suffer from evidentiary infirmities. Sometimes, while the claimant herself might think a rape occurred, her outward manifestations of assent did not match her subjective disinclination to engage in sex, so it wasn't rape (and in that example, nor was it a false claim -- but a wrongful accusation is just as harmful to an innocent man or boy as a false accusation). And that's just one of a countless number of examples.

Dr. David Lisak published a study on the subject in 2010 in Violence Against Women where he classified 8 out of the 136 (5.9%) reported rapes at a major northeastern university over a ten year period as false.  This figure has been cited by some prominent feminist blogs. 

Dr. Lisak used an exacting definition of false claims:
. . . a case was classified as a false report if there was evidence that a thorough investigation was pursued and that the investigation had yielded evidence that the reported sexual assault had in fact not occurred. A thorough investigation would involve, potentially, multiple interviews of the alleged perpetrator, the victim, and other witnesses, and where applicable, the collection of other forensic evidence (e.g., medical records, security camera records). For example, if key elements of a victim’s account of an assault were internally inconsistent and directly contradicted by multiple witnesses and if the victim then altered those key elements of his or her account, investigators might conclude that the report was false. That conclusion would have been based not on a single interview, or on intuitions about the credibility of the victim, but on a “preponderance” of evidence gathered over the course of a thorough investigation."
While Dr. Lisak's study found that 5.9% of the claims were coded as false reports, this does not mean that 94.1% can, or should, be regarded as actual sexual assaults

Dr. Lisak's report shows that 58.8% fall into the vast gray area referenced above where we simply don't know whether it was a rape, a non-rape, or a false claim (and, again, from the innocent male's perspective, it makes little difference whether a wrongful claim was also a false claim). Specifically, Dr. Lisak explains that 44.9% of the claims did not proceed to any prosecution or disciplinary action, did not result in a referral for prosecution or disciplinary action because of insufficient evidence or because the victim withdrew from the process or was unable to identify the perpetrator or because the victim mislabeled the incident (e.g., gave a truthful account of the incident, but the incident did not meet the legal elements of the crime of sexual assault).  Moreover, another 13.9% contained insufficient information to be coded.

So that leaves 35.3% of the claims that were referred for prosecution or disciplinary action. For those claims, Dr. Lisak offers no opinion as to the propriety of the referral and does not reveal the outcome of the prosecution or disciplinary action. Dr. Lisak did not use an exacting standard similar to the one he used to determine if a claim was "false" to determine whether an actual rape occurred.  We have provided ample evidence on our blogs of wrongful claims that had been improperly or incorrectly referred for prosecution or disciplinary action. In short, of the claims comprising the 35.3%, we have no idea how many were actual rapes.

Thus, it is disingenuous to assert that "only" 5.9% were false claims and to leave it at that without an explanation. It is reasonable to assert that while the number of false and wrongful claims is unknowable, the percentage is considerably higher than 5.9%.  Again, that is not to detract from the seriousness of the rape problem because we have not even discussed the problem of unreported rapes. It is merely to counsel against trivializing the problem of false and wrongful accusations.

Intolerable Trivialization of the Wrongly Accused

The wrongly accused have few resources available to them.  The Innocence Project does monumentally important work in focusing attention on systemic defects that allow the innocent to be punished along with the guilty.  But the Innocence Project was founded "to assist prisoners who could be proven innocent through DNA testing." See here.  Its work is largely confined to DNA exonerations and generally does not assist men and boys who admit to having sexual contact with the accuser, which is the vast majority of rape claims. For many men and boys, our site is among the few outlets to let them know they are not alone. We have received notes from young men who tell us that our blog was instrumental in their decision not to take their own lives. This is a tremendous burden to place upon one unfunded, overworked blog. Yet, sadly, for some, one blog to give voice to the wrongly accused is one blog too many.

We share the concerns of victims' advocates about claims by some so-called men's rights advocates that women routinely lie about rape. We believe just the opposite: given the relative ease with which a false rape claim can be lodged, the fact that there are not many more is a testament to the good will of the vast majority of women. Just as we do not tolerate the trivialization of rape, nor do we tolerate those who trivialize the victimhood of the community of the wrongly accused.

Riverside woman found guilty of falsifying sexual assault report

There certainly are starting to be quite a few false allegations in my backyard lately. And while the report doesn't state anyone specific was accused, I can only imagine the scrutiny any man alone in the area during this time period faced, if he matched any description she may have given.

A Riverside woman was found guilty Thursday of felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report last year, claiming that she had been sexually assaulted.

Mary Malik, 47, of Riverside, had originally claimed that she was sexually assaulted in November 2011.

Police reported that fear was high among residents as the original report was that the victim had been followed home from the train depot at the Longcommon Crossing in Riverside. Once she arrived in the rear of her apartment building, she told police that a man sexually assaulted her in the dark alley.

Malik faked the sexual assault to persuade her daughter who had just moved out to move back home, police said.

As a result of Malik’s allegation, the police department added extra patrols to the night shift, increased patrols in and around the train station, reassigned street officers to assist in the investigation, required extra patrol assistance from railroad police and spent numerous hours on foot patrol assignments in the area of the victim’s home.

Riverside Police Chief Tom Weitzel said his and other agencies dedicate a great deal of time and effort investigating reported crimes, and the false report could mislead others on the validity of sexual assault claims.

Weitzel also expressed concern that future victims may be less likely to report sexual assaults.

“I hope the dialogue will focus on how we can encourage victims of sexual assault to speak up and get the help they need,” Weitzel said.

Weitzel has asked the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office to request reimbursements for $2,220 in costs associated with overtime as a result of the investigation.

Link: http://www.mysuburbanlife.com/mccook/newsnow/x306451244/Riverside-woman-found-guilty-of-falsifying-sexual-assault-report

Monday, July 23, 2012


Chalk another one up to the great work over at the Innocence Project. From what is reported in the article, it does appear to be a case where police did make a mistake. Intentional or not, a man spent 15 years in prison for something he did not do. Congratulations to Mr.Courtney on his exoneration. The following is the message I sent from the linked article:

Mr. Courtney,

Congratulations on your exoneration. While it is cold comfort, I am glad that you have at last been given justice. Without it being a plug, our website, www.cotwa.info (Community of the Wrongly accused), would like, if you are willing, to speak with you about what you have been through. We understand if you are simply looking to put it behind you, and wish you the best.

Here is the article:

Sedrick Courtney was wrongfully convicted of an armed robbery and burglary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and spent 15 years in prison and a year on parole before DNA testing proved his innocence. He first requested DNA testing ten years ago, but the Tulsa Police Department repeatedly claimed the evidence had been destroyed, until finally discovering they still had the evidence in their possession last year.

On April 6, 1995, two armed men wearing ski masks kicked in the victim’s apartment door. Once inside, they forced her to lie on the floor as they ransacked the apartment. During the robbery, the two assailants struck, kicked and bound the victim. She suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of the attack. The police recovered both ski masks near the scene.

The victim identified one of the assailants as Sedrick Courtney, who she had socialized with on several occasions. She said she was able to identify him from his voice and a brief glimpse she got of his face when he lifted the ski mask during the attack.

Prior to trial, the State recovered several hairs from both ski masks and subjected them to DNA testing, which produced no results. The state also conducted microscopic hair analysis. At trial, the analyst claimed that an “unusual” single bleached red hair recovered from the green ski mask was similar to a bleached red hair taken from Courtney’s head.

Courtney’s sister and cousins corroborated his testimony that he had borrowed his sister’s car on the morning of the crime to attend a class at an unemployment center and then went with his cousins to visit his aunt. Unfortunately this testimony couldn’t overcome the eyewitness misidentification or bad forensic science. Courtney was convicted and sentenced to 30 years imprisonment.

The Innocence Project accepted Courtney’s case in 2007. Though Courtney’s initial request for DNA testing in 2001 had been rejected–the Tulsa Police Department claimed that the evidence had been destroyed–repeated requests from the Innocence Project resulted in the discovery that the ski masks and hairs were still in the possession of the police. 

Mitochondrial DNA testing showed that none of the hairs matched Courtney. Tulsa County prosecutors agreed that Courtney’s conviction should be reversed. On July 19, 2012, a Tulsa County District judge granted the Innocence Project’s motion to vacate Courtney’s conviction and exonerated him.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Woman Gets Probaton For Making False Sexual Assault Claim Against State Police

A southern Illinois woman has been sentenced to a year and a half on probation after admitting she falsely accused Illinois State Police of sexually assaulting her during an investigation.

WSIL-TV reports that 44-year-old Dea Ann Thompson of Olive Branch pleaded guilty Tuesday in Union County to one count of disorderly conduct.  A judge also ordered her to do public service and get substance abuse and mental health treatment.

State's Attorney Tyler Edmonds says Thompson falsely claimed she was sexually attacked by state police officers during a February investigation.  The assault allegation was investigated by the state police and the Union County Sheriff's Department.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

The 'Bed of Shame': Stripping human intimacy from the most intimate of human encounters

This is a rumination and a personal opinion, and should not be taken as anything more. I rarely assert it, but it has often occurred to me that for a dizzying high percentage of cases we talk about on this blog, the consensual sex act that led to the false rape claim occurred in the absence of true emotional intimacy between the parties, often on one night stand hook-ups.

We are stranded in an era where, for too many of our young people, the drunken barnyard rutting of the hook-up culture has displaced the staid, time-honored rituals of courtship that previous generations honored.  If you're getting the idea that I don't respect the decisions made by a lot of the people we defend on this site, you would be correct. That doesn't mean they haven't been victimized, and my guess is that most readers would never know of my disdain for the lifestyles that breed a lot of these claims.

The paradigmatic example of a hook-up without human intimacy might just be group sex. Here's a little victim blaming, guys: how dazed and confused must you be to engage in group sex with a girl? Think Hofstra, and I could cite a number of other cases in the past few years. Please understand that a girl's stupid but consensual decision to engage in group sex never, ever, ever justifies a false rape claim, but group sex provides a primary reason why young women lie about rape: to "explain" a socially unacceptable or illicit sexual encounter.  In Hofstra, the girl was happily cheating on her boyfriend with a group of strangers and she feared that one of the boys would talk or that her boyfriend would otherwise find out. Need I say more?

Just when I thought things couldn't get any coarser on the sexual front, along comes the "Bed of Shame." What is that, you ask? Recently, a star of the UK's Geordie Shore (The UK's version of Jersey Shore) posted a tweet inspiring his 500,000+ followers to tweet photos of their sleeping, naked partners with the hashtag #bedofshame.

Some, and perhaps many, young men obliged, and photos cropped up depicting horny, shirtless college-aged men using their sleeping female bedmates as photo-op props.

How, exactly, do we describe a culture where someone engages another human being in the most intimate of acts, then rolls over, mugs for a camera, and turns into a proud angler standing on the dock showing off the fish he'd just hooked?  I looked at the boys in those pictures and wondered if we'd be writing about any of them on this blog sometime soon.

Am I saying that the "boys will be boys" culture breeds false rape claims? Yep, but that, of course, doesn't excuse the false accusers, and the fact is, "girls will be boys," too. Remember Karen Owen's "Fuck List"? A college girl prepared a clinical report on the sexual prowess of her college athlete sex partners the way a local newspaper would rate the town's pizza. Ms. Owen evinced an obsession with the male organ of copulation. Under her “Physical Attractiveness” criteria, she included "penile structures.” Another criteria was size: “Points were determined based on the length and girth of the Subject’s hardware.” In fact, every "subject" was rated, in part, on his appendage: "He is enormous,” she gushed about one. About another: ”I was actually rendered speechless. . . . I wasn’t even sure what to do with the situation at hand (erm, mouth?).” Another was “huge”; another was “very well equipped”; and another was “packing some decently sized hardware.” But she wrote of one hapless young man:“Wait. . . . Was that his dick? No, it couldn’t be.” And, yes, that poor young man's name was splashed all over the Internet.

But wait, you'll enjoy this. Germaine Greer attacked the Fuck List's obsession with penis size. "That’s not what women are interested in,” she insisted. But talk about irony, this is the same Germaine Greer who once did a television special  in the UK about the beauty of boys, as opposed to physically mature men, and the show featured a full frontal nude 18-year-old male model who posed while Greer waxed poetic about -- better sit down for this -- young male sperm. This is a quote from Greer: “There are many ways in which a boy is an ideal fantasy partner for a woman,” she clucked in her best professorial voice. “Any woman of taste would have a boy for a lover rather than a man. He’s easier to manage. His sperm flows like tap water, which happens to be a biological fact. And quicker recovery time and all that kind of thing. More rewarding in all sorts of ways. Conversation might be a bit lacking, but then, who does it for conversation?”

Pardon my skin for crawling.

Personally, I don't know what to make out of any of this, except that when we strip human intimacy from the most intimate of human encounters, it can lead to bad things, that's all. Call me a retrograde prude if you'd like, but we routinely see some of those bad things on this blog. 

Here endeth the sermon.
See here and here

Woman alleges rape by Swinging Richards strippers

So let me get this straight ... she says that she wouldn't have done it if she hadn't been drinking, but doesn't that imply that she was aware of what was happening? And if her friend was there, and he didn't try to stop anything, wouldn't that show implied consent (and yes, there is such a thing). This doesn't really sound like a rape case to me. And since she is saying that she can't identify the individuals, imagine being one of the male strippers there who weren't involved. The scrutiny they are now under, for doing nothing, must be terrifying.

The story after the jump:

An unidentified woman claims that she was raped by two male dancers at Swinging Richards, the gay-popular strip club, on June 9 after a night of heavy alcohol consumption.

The Atlanta Police Department's report on the incident states that the woman began the evening at a friend's house, where they consumed several alcoholic beverages. The pair then went to Blake's on the Park, a gay bar on 10th Street, and found themselves at Swinging Richards later in the evening. The woman's identity is being withheld by police.

The story was first reported by Atlanta's ABC affiliate WSB.

The report goes on to state the woman purchased a lap dance from one of the two alleged rapists, who then took her to a V.I.P. room with her male friend. In the V.I.P. room, the report states that the two strippers “bent her over a table and had sex with her.”

The male friend, according to the report, saw the woman perform oral sex on one of the dancers, but did not see the actual sex act.

The woman said that should could not identify the strippers and added that she “would not have done it if she hadn't been drinking.”

Atlanta Police Department spokesperson Carlos Campos said today that the incident is under investigation by the department's Special Victim's Unit and that the department was “pleased with the progress.”


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

We take issue with gender divisive anti-rape, anti-false rape posters

There is a not-very-common kind of anti-rape advocacy that trivializes the serious problem of rape by pretending to give men "tips" on how not to do truly dastardly things that no decent human being doesn't already know.  One particular anti-rape poster has ten "tips" for men to help end rape, including: "If you pull over to help a woman whose car has broken down, remember not to rape her."  (We're not making that up.) Other tips for men include not to rape women who get in elevators with them; not to break into women's homes; to ask a friend to stay with them in case they can't control their urge to rape; to carry a whistle in case they might "assault someone 'by accident'"; and to be up-front with women when they plan to rape them on a date. See here: http://i.imgur.com/iNI3c.jpg.

The anti-rape poster is tongue-in-cheek and more a declaration of empowerment on behalf of rape victims than a serious attempt to change anyone's mind about rape. In our view, the people who might rape would not be swayed by it even if they happened to see it. There are many important rape prevention messages that should be on posters (e.g., it is our experience that young people don't understand the concept of "consent" nearly as well as they should), but the advocacy behind this anti-rape poster seems misguided.

In answer to that advocacy, the following poster was prepared by a men's rights advocate and posted at Reddit's Men's Rights sub-reddit:  http://i.imgur.com/ojeN7.jpg.

We get it, we get it. It's mocking the other poster while reminding people that some men are falsely accused.

Feminist writer David Futrelle takes issue with the men's rights poster. We do, too, for reasons we'll explain below. Mr. Futrelle suggests that the men's rights poster is "[m]ocking rape prevention programs" in general, but that's a bit of a stretch. The men's rights poster seems to be mocking the snark and gender divisive condescension of the aforementioned anti-rape poster -- a poster that doesn't seem intended to "prevent" anything. The men's rights poster does this by pretending to relate self-evident "tips" to women that are, in fact, just as useless as the anti-rape poster's tips to men.

In any event, we take issue with the men's rights poster because mocking the tactics of persons who advocate on behalf of rape victims doesn't advance the interests of the wrongly accused, no matter how misguided the tactics being mocked. The purpose of the men's rights poster seems to be less about raising awareness of wrongful sex claims and more about "sticking it to" the persons behind the anti-rape poster. It's not going to resonate beyond the small community of persons too thoroughly immersed in gender issues. A more helpful approach would be to chronicle some of the stories of the wrongly accused to show how terribly destructive a wrongful sex claim can be, and to show that once a rape lie is unleashed, it often takes on a vile life of its own.

The vast majority of women and men are offended by rape and by false rape claims. It's not a zero sum game, and there is no necessity to trivialize the victimization caused by one in advocating for the victims of the other.  Rape victims have expressed to us their disgust with false rape claims because they understand that every rape lie diminishes the integrity of every rape victim.

The delicate balance that commands us to punish rapists while not punishing the innocent is extremely serious business. We need more sober, more adult, more serious voices to be part of the public discourse on these issues. The last thing we need is more snark, more gender division, more Chicken Little hysteria, no matter which side it's coming from.

Man charged with falsely accusing Fairhope officer of rape

Andrew Jackson Boyington, 26, of Robertsdale, was arrested on a charge of falsely accusing a Fairhope police officer of rape, and threatening the officer with a promise to go to the media with the allegations, Baldwin County District Attorney Hallie Dixon said today.

“Last month, the Fairhope Police Department received an anonymous call alleging that one of the Fairhope police officers had raped a woman,” Dixon said. “This caller also made two harassing calls to the officer, during which he threatened to tell reporters the same story.”

“Fairhope Police Chief Bill Press requested that the District Attorney’s Office investigate,” Dixon said, “in order to ensure that the investigation be handled in a manner that would be above reproach. I commend Fairhope Police Department for the above-board handling of this incident.”

The District Attorney’s Office initially looked into the rape allegation. After determining that there was no basis for the allegation against the officer, investigators focused on the person who generated the report. Further investigation identified Boyington as the caller.

Boyington was charged with filing a false report, a Class A misdemeanor that carries a prison sentence of up to one year, and harassing communications, which carries a sentence of up to three months in jail.

He was released from the Baldwin County Corrections Center on $1,500 bail, according to jail records.

“False reporting not only harms the person falsely accused,” Dixon said, “but also can be detrimental to the prosecution of legitimate crimes.”

Link: http://blog.al.com/live/2012/07/man_charged_with_falsely_accus.html

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

George Zimmerman hit with rape allegation

An unnamed woman has accused George Zimmerman of a prolonged pattern of sexual assault that supposedly ended ten years ago.  All of the details have been released in connection with the charges against Mr. Zimmerman for the death of Trayvon Martin -- except the accuser's name. 

What relevance do these incendiary allegations have to the charges against Mr. Zimmerman?  None. The idea that an unnamed person's unsubstantiated allegations of heinous sex acts could be published to destroy a presumptively innocent person's reputation is unjust on a multitude of levels.

In a Washington Post blog, Jonathan Capehart agrees the allegations are irrelevant, but Capehart inexplicably brands Zimmerman as guilty of the charges. Here's what Capehart wrote: "My heart goes out to 'Witness 9.' She suffered abuse that she says traumatized her, and she suffered in silence. It wasn’t until 2005 that she said she told her sister. Zimmerman was later confronted at a pizzeria in Florida. He apologized and left. These allegations brand Zimmerman a predator and a creep."

Capehart has done an injustice to Zimmerman and should rectify his rush to judgment with a retraction.



You know what both rape victims and the community of the wrongly accused could use? Fewer gender ideologues

"Michael Flood, a senior sociology lecturer at the University of Wollongong who has had disagreements with . . . men’s rights activists in the past, . . . said the false rape allegation claims were a standard way men’s rights activists tried to discredit rape victims. 'It ends up disempowering victims and protecting perpetrators,' he said, adding that false rape allegations were rare and likely made as often by men as by women."  See here: http://www.news.com.au/top-stories/carnivorous-men-v-lying-bitches-in-sex-war/story-e6frfkp9-1226427879838

Mr. Flood's comments must be viewed through a prism of gender advocacy. Let us respond by acknowledging some truths that a few of our readers will not care for.

Mr. Flood almost made a good point -- almost.  But he went too far. We are well aware that some so-called "men's rights activists" are only interested in the subject of wrongful rape claims if there's a lying woman at the other end of the story. If the injury is caused by a corrupt district attorney taking advantage of a mistaken identification, that type of "activist" is not interested in the story.  We are also well aware that some so-called "men's rights activists" insist on changing the subject every time the subject of rape is brought up to talk about women who lie about rape. (Just as some extremists who advocate for women insist on changing the subject every time wrongful rape accusations are brought up to talk about rape.)

Fortunately, most of our readers are more sophisticated than that and care about injustice.

It is our experience that rape victims have no tolerance for rape liars, and that victims of false rape claims have no tolerance for rapists and feel greater affinity for rape victims after their ordeal. Go figure.

With that said, Mr. Flood has done a grave disservice to a very serious issue.  He unnecessarily trivializes the victimization and unique problems of the community of the wrongly accused, and does no favors for rape victims, when he insists on transmogrifying rape and false rape claims into an Oppression Olympics. 

We are not interested in competing in those games.

The effort to eradicate heinous sexual criminality while insuring that the innocent aren't punished with the guilty is a serious, sober, and very delicate business that does not allow for politicized hyperbole or the denigration of anyone's victimization.

Ours is the leading site on the Internet that gives voice to men and women wrongly accused of serious sex crimes, and we assure Mr. Flood that no one here disempowers victims or protects perpetrators.  The wrongdoers we mention on this site have nothing in common with rape victims, and the wrongly accused we mention have nothing in common with rapists.

Mr. Flood's other-worldly assertion that false rape allegations were "likely made as often by men as by women" is unworthy of serious response and casts the entirety of his comments in a most dubious light.

We see no purpose in dwelling on Mr. Flood's anger or in dignifying his decidedly undignified comments that try turn a very serious subject into a high school cafeteria food fight.

Oprah Winfrey: 'People remember the charge. They don't remember the exoneration'

Oprah made that statement in an interview with David Copperfield: see here.

As a footnote, England international Danny Care spoke of his relief after being told he will not face prosecution over an alleged sexual assault, and the comments under the article bemoan the naming of presumptively innocent men accused of sexual assault.

Olive Branch woman pleads guilty to filing false sexual assault report against ISP officers

UNION COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - Union County State's Attorney Tyler R. Edmonds announced Tuesday that an Olive Branch woman has pleaded guilty to filing a false police report in which she accused Illinois State Police Officers of sexually assaulting her.

Dea Ann Thompson, 44, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of disorderly conduct. She was sentenced to a  year and six months probation, fines and costs, time served in the county jail, public service work and substance abuse and mental health treatment.

According to Edmonds, Thompson falsely filed a police report which accused ISP officers of sexually assaulting her in February 2012 during the course of an ISP investigation.

The sexual assault allegation was investigated by the Illinois State Police Division of Internal Investigation and Union County Sheriff's Office. Thompson was indicted by a Union County Grand Jury in Feb. 2012 after the investigation showed Thompson fabricated the incident and knew the allegations to be false.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Cadet is cleared by post-act texting

A cadet from Valley Force Military Academy was cleared of sexual assault that allegedly occurred last February.  However, it appears that prosecutors still required him to cop a plea to a charge of harrassment.

The cadet's attorney shared the texts with the article's writer, who published them.  Notice how they still use "victim" to denote the female.

I am concerned with the four people involved with this case:

1.  First and foremost, the false accuser: She is the one who is most accountable and should be held accountable for her false accusation.

2.  The prosecutor who required a plea to harrassment:  Certainly, those texts indicate that the act was consensual.  The ethical thing to do would have been to drop the case or at least question the accuser to see if her story holds water in light of the texts.

3.  The defense attorney:  I can only hope that he was frothing at the mouth to take this to trial, and his client did not want to risk it.

4.  The cadet:  Ultimately, the cadet made the decision to plead guilty to harrassment, which I could understand if he had no more money to pay his attorney or just wanted to put this behind him.

Unfortunately, the accuser probably feels empowered by the fact that the accused now has a record.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

COTWA questions why a teacher was put on trial for sexual assault: his accuser said she'd "make him pay" for reprimanding her prior to the alleged incident

The Washington Post paints a picture of a shocking miscarriage of justice in a case about a school teacher accused of sexual assault, a latter day witch hunt. If the Post articles are accurate, it is unfathomable how a prosecutor would have allowed this go to trial, but don't rely on our characterization, read the articles yourself:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/fairfax-teacher-sean-lanigan-still-suffering-from-false-molestation-allegations/2011/03/04/AFVwhh3G_story.html and http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/fairfax-pays-teacher-lanigan-falsely-accused-of-abuse-72838-in-legal-fees/2012/06/24/gJQArOGK0V_story_1.html

According to the Post, in January 2010, Sean Lanigan -- an elementary school physical education teacher, a married father of three with a long history of service as a teacher, a top-ranked soccer coach and neighborhood babysitter -- was accused of molesting a 12-year-old girl. He was locked up and suspended without pay.  The district attorney refused to drop the charges even though Mr. Lanigan had reprimanded the girl before the alleged assault and the girl told a friend the following: “Mr. Lanigan’s a jerk. I’m going to make him pay.”  The girl told friends that she hated Mr. Lanigan before the alleged assault. Moreover, the girl recanted a material part of her story about the assault.

As the trial approached, Fairfax Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Katie Pavluchuk offered a deal: Plead guilty to misdemeanor assault — no sex offense, no jail time. Lanigan refused.

The trial ended, and the jury took just 47 minutes to acquit.  “It was an easy decision, and we were all in agreement,” juror Asman al-Ghafari said. “I just hope Mr. Lanigan can get his life back.”
“There was no evidence,” said Jacklyn West, who wept in the jury box as the lawyers made their closing arguments, later explaining that the 12-year-old accuser “had no idea of the consequences” of her allegations. “This poor man. That’s why I cried.”

Nicole Christian, the lead detective on the case, has a curious history. According to the Washington Post, several months after Mr. Lanigan was acquitted, Fairfax prosecutors dismissed another of Christian’s child abuse cases in the middle of trial, a rarity, when the detective acknowledged that she had “misstated” some key facts in her sworn testimony.

A sexual assault accusation should not be an occasion for a public official to roll the dice with a presumptively innocent man's life in the hope of "getting lucky" with a conviction. If the information reported by the Washington Post is accurate, that's what happened here, and it can only undermine public confidence in the way rape trials are handled.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Girl lies about rape to get mom's attention

OAKDALE -- After police spent weeks investigating an alleged kidnapping and rape of a teenage girl, the girl confessed Tuesday that she fabricated the story to get attention from her mother.

"In a follow-up interview, she totally recanted the story," said Detective Brian Shimmel. "It never happened."

The 16-year-old girl told police she was abducted June 13 by a man in his 40s while she was walking home from summer school. She said the man in question threatened her with a knife near the high school, forced her into a truck and drove her beyond the city limit, where he raped her.

She told police the man dropped her off near the high school and threatened to kill her if she told anyone. She said the whole thing took an hour.

Shimmel said he and other police personnel retraced her account of the day four times but the time line didn't add up. He said he canvassed the scene multiple times, interviewing neighbors, classmates and teachers, and couldn't find one witness to corroborate the girl's story.

The teenager told police she could not see the man's face because he had blindfolded her, but she contrived details about the truck she claimed was used, such as chipped paint on the hood and a dent in the door, Shimmel said.

"I had to push off a lot of other cases to work on this," Shimmel said. "We feared that there was a kidnapper out there, which took priority over other serious cases."

He said at the onset of the case that there were none of the usual red flags of a false report, such as lying to avoid getting in trouble for coming home late from school.

But concocting a story about rape to get attention also is a common excuse.

Shimmel said the girl was interviewed three times, including a two-hour session Tuesday.

Given that she eventually told the truth, Shimmel said he will not pursue charges against the girl for filing a false police report.


Law prof: Eliminating the statute of limitations in child abuse cases 'will inevitably increase the possibility of fraudulent claims'

Daniel M. Filler, professor at Drexel University law school, Philadelphia.

Q: What are the ramifications if the statute of limitations were eliminated in child sex-abuse cases in criminal proceedings?

A: The whole problem with the issue is that child sexual abuse is a hair-trigger issue in our society, and that fact has led to some real miscarriages of justice. That doesn't mean that there really aren't ugly things that happened to people who wait to report. Increasing or eliminating the statute of limitations might lead to more justice, but it also might increase more injustice. The question is how much injustice are we willing to tolerate to get more justice.

Q: What do you mean by more injustice?

A: These kinds of cases make people particularly anxious. I think when it comes to these cases, the worry is that, on one hand, memories are sometimes repressed. But it is also true that a person can be nudged toward remembering things that might not have occurred. Given that, people feel a statute of limitations is needed. It's the only way a defendant has a chance to disprove such allegations. It's impossible to find an alibi so long after the event is said to have occurred. The older the memories are, the fear is that it's more brittle and more likely a person is to create mis-remembrances.

Q: What are the ramifications if the statute of limitations were eliminated in child sex-abuse cases in civil proceedings?

A: It will inevitably increase the possibility of fraudulent claims because of all the noise around the Sandusky case and the Catholic Church. It has raised the anxiety in these matters. A fraudulent claim may succeed because the jury is more sympathetic. Defendants may be more likely to settle quickly.

Q: Advocates say child abuse victims routinely don't go to authorities for decades after the crime because they don't feel empowered enough or out of the control of the abuser, often someone in a position of authority. Wouldn't that be reason to extend the statute?

A: People understood this when they created the statute of limitations to extend to 30. In a society, we have to draw the line somewhere. We say 18-year-olds are fully adults for purposes of voting and becoming a criminal defendant. We say when you're 21, you're an adult if you want to drink. The Pennsylvania Legislature made a tough call and said, for the purposes of reporting child sex abuse, you can report it up until age 30. This recognizes that it's tough to report — but by 30 many people are out from under the thumb of an authority figure, and we've given them much longer ... [for] criminal liability and voting rights.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Another false rape accuser who would just as soon destroy another cab driver's life than pay her fare

SPRING HILL A woman was arrested last weekend following accusations she tried to sneak away without paying for a cab ride across two counties.

Her arrest came about 10 weeks after failing to pay a dinner and wine tab at a local restaurant.

Jennifer Ann McNeill, 52, of New Port Richey, was charged Sunday with retail theft and submitting a false report to law enforcement.

A driver from United Taxi picked up McNeill in Clearwater and drove her to 5419 Elwood Road in Spring Hill, at which time she told the driver her mother would pay for the $161 fare, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

McNeill walked toward the backyard and the suspicious driver followed her, deputies said. He spotted her running through the backyard and detained her.

He escorted her to his vehicle with the intention of calling law enforcement and she started to resist. At one point, she threatened to "call rape" if he didn't let her go, according to an arrest affidavit.

The cab driver honked his horn and pressed his emergency button in his car, which alerted the neighbors, deputies said.

McNeill slipped out of her shirt, broke free and ran away, according to the sheriff's office.

Deputies said they later discovered her at her mother's house off Gifford Drive. She initially said the cab driver tried to rape her, provided a sworn written statement alleging he did so, but changed her story later, authorities said.

She admitted she didn't have the money for the fare and knew her mother would not pay it, so she decided to run away from the taxi driver, according to the affidavit.

McNeill was arrested the night of April 25 after she failed to pay $45 for a dinner tab at Carrabba's near Brooksville, deputies said.

She had dinner and wine at the restaurant hours after being released from the Hernando County Jail – on a trespassing charge from three days earlier, according to reports.

McNeill used a credit card, but it was declined, deputies said.

She tried using other credit cards, but none cleared, according to the sheriff's office.

After an hour or so of texting people – and after no one responded to pay her bill – deputies arrived and arrested her.

She pleaded guilty at her next court hearing and was sentenced to two months in jail, according to records.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hofstra victim settles with false accuser

The Hofstra case was the most publicized false rape case since Duke lacrosse. Rondell Bedward, one of the five men falsely accused, has settled his lawsuit against his accuser Damnell Ndonye on undisclosed terms. He was the only one of the victims who sued her.

We have updated our coverage of the Hofstra case. We think it's the most important piece we've ever written -- it's also the most extensive report on the case we've seen anywhere: Lambs to the Slaughter: The Hofstra False Rape Case.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Rape charges against boy dropped when his girlfriend recants, admits she lied out of jealousy

The Livingston Daily has printed the name of a 17-year-old boy who was accused of raping his 17-year-old girlfriend even though the girl, who is not named, admitted she lied because she was jealous that the boy was seeing someone else.  The charges against the boy were dropped, and his attorney said the dismissal means justice has been done.  But has it?

Prosecutor David Morse said his staff decided it could not move forward with the prosecution after the girl recanted.  "At this point, we're uncertain which version of the facts she has related is untrue," he said Friday. "If we couldn't be certain, we couldn't put it before a jury. ... We just don't have evidence one way or the other."

The girl initially testified at a preliminary hearing in June that the boy raped her in May while they had been using synthetic marijuana known as Spice. She also testified that she and the boy had a two-year sexual history that included consensual "rough" sex while using Spice.  On cross-examination, the girl acknowledged that the boy could have seen the May sexual encounter as their normal rough sex.

Following the preliminary hearing, the girl provided a written statement to police recanting her allegations.  She wrote: "[Name of boy redacted] does not deserve to be in any trouble; he did nothing wrong," the girl wrote in her statement.  The statement explained that the girl was upset because the boy "had sex with me while dating another girl."

The girl testified about injuries she allegedly received during the encounter. Authorities concluded that the girl's original story and her injuries "were consistent."  However, the girl noted in her revised story that a bruise on her leg was caused when she and the boy were "roughhousing" and that she laughed and never once told him to stop. She said his causing her nose to bleed also "was an accident" due to their rough play, according to her statement.

"We're stymied as to which version is right," Morse reiterated.

The girl also admitted that she "lied" at the preliminary hearing because she was afraid of the "consequences I could be facing" for lying to police.

She claims she was high on Spice when two friends, whom she considered to be older-sister figures, convinced her that she needed to report the May incident as rape to police. She claimed one friend advised her that it was a good way to get back at the boy, according to the girl's statement.

"I decided to step up and take responsibility today and do the right thing, to fix the wrong thing I had done," the girl wrote in her June statement. "Again, everything was consentule [sic] and I wanted to have sex with him and I started the ruff [sic] housing with him that day; not him."

Morse said the girl most likely will not face criminal charges for perjury.

COTWA has no opinion as to which of the girl's versions of reality is the truth.  One of them was a lie.  Whether she should be prosecuted is a complex issue. The injustice here is that the boy's name has been widely publicized for an alleged crime that no one, except the boy and the girl, can say occurred and that both now claim didn't happen. But the boy will never be able to definitively disprove it -- that's the nature of the allegation -- and a prosecutor has publicly stated that the boy is a possible rapist. A simple Google search by a prospective employer, would-be spouse, neighbor, or anyone else will forever brand him as a possible rapist.

Our news outlets have made a compact to protect the identities of accusers of sexual assault because of the stigma associated with such assaults.  It is troubling that the damage to a teenager's reputation from an unfounded rape claim is not even deemed worthy of public discussion, much less a similar compact.