Friday, August 31, 2012

We applaud recent NY Times editorial

This is a New York Times editorial from August 21, 2012:

Federal law allows federal courts to award attorneys’ fees and other expenses to criminal defendants who prove gross misconduct on the part of federal prosecutors. The law — a 1997 amendment sponsored by Representative Henry Hyde, a Republican — is a valuable deterrent to prosecutorial abuse, providing compensation in cases where a court finds the government’s position to be “vexatious, frivolous or in bad faith.”

By “bad faith,” the amendment has always been understood to mean that a defendant could be compensated if the prosecution behaved unethically even when its case was legitimate. But a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit rules by 2 to 1 that the law applies only in cases that are clearly unfounded. This makes the government untouchable in any plausible prosecution.
This case was brought against Dr. Ali Shaygan for allegedly dispensing drugs outside the scope of his medical practice. He was acquitted of all charges in 2009, after a four-week trial and jury deliberations of only three hours.

The trial judge awarded almost $602,000 to cover Dr. Shaygan’s lawyers’ fees and expenses and reprimanded the prosecutors, who had threatened a defense lawyer with a “seismic shift” if he asked the judge to suppress statements obtained from Dr. Shaygan in violation of his rights. When the defense lawyer went ahead with his request, the prosecution, in reprisal, increased the number of charges from 23 to 141. The judge, quite rightly, said the government had not acted in “good faith,” in addition to perpetrating other “conscious and deliberate wrongs.”

The Supreme Court should take this case for review, as the defendant has asked. It should reaffirm that a prosecutor’s duty is to seek justice, not victory at all costs, and affirm the intent of the Hyde Amendment. Prosecutors are rarely punished for wrongdoing. Other sanctions like a reprimand from a bar association, are largely ineffective. The amendment is a check against gross misconduct.

Does 'rape is rape' rule out the possibility of false rape claims?

The following is a piece written by a partisan in the abortion battle. This blog does not involve itself in that thorny controversy, but the writer poses some blunt questions that are a concern to the community of the wrongly accused. It is found here:

Democrats and feminists have mounted a sustained attack against Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin for using the term “legitimate” rape, feigning horror at the implication there might be such a thing as “illegitimate” rape.

One liberal of distinction notably missing from the conversation is Whoopi Goldberg, who in 2009 defended director Roman Polanski by claiming his rape of a 13-yr-old in 1977 “wasn’t rape-rape,” she said. ” I think it was something else, but I don’t believe it was rape-rape.”

The conveniently ignored reality today is that just as men can victimize women by rape, women can victimize men by falsely accusing them of rape. It’s as old as the book of Genesis
Joseph was well-built and good-looking, and after a while his master’s wife began to desire Joseph and asked him to go to bed with her. He refused…. Although she asked Joseph day after day, he would not go to bed with her.

But one day when Joseph went into the house to do his work, none of the house servants was there. She caught him by his robe and said, “Come to bed with me.” But he escaped and ran outside, leaving his robe in her hand….

[S]he called to her house servants and said, “Look at this! This Hebrew that my husband brought… came into my room and tried to rape me, but I screamed as loud as I could. When he heard me scream, he ran outside, leaving his robe beside me.”…

Joseph’s master was furious and had Joseph arrested and put in the prison….
Ironically, the legalization of abortion in 1973 was based on the false claim of pregnancy by rape. From
[Norma McCorvey] initially said that her third pregnancy, the one in question at the time of Roe v. Wade, was the result of rape, but years later she said she had invented the rape story in an attempt to make a stronger case for an abortion.
Nevertheless, when it comes to Republicans, “rape is rape,” said President Obama of Akin’s comment, adding, “the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we are talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and certainly doesn’t make sense to me.”

Obama could have strengthened his statement by saying, “Rape is rape-rape,” but I digress.

His point is that we should take a woman’s word for it.

Thus, Obama would apparently take umbrage with the plot of To Kill a Mockingbird, wherein a white attorney defends a black man against a white woman’s false accusation of rape…

Now enter former president Bill Clinton, a touted speaker at the upcoming Democrat National Convention. A letter writer at reminds President “Rape is Rape” Obama:
[Clinton] was accused of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape, respectively, by Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaddrick. The only case to come to trial resulted in Clinton paying an $850,000 settlement to [Paula] Jones, and perjuring himself with regard to his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
In all, Clinton has been “implicated in at least five instances of rape, including the rape of former Miss America Elizabeth Ward Gracen,” quoting

If “rape is rape,” then why are Democrats and Obama showcasing Clinton?

Because they’re hypocrites, of course. And don’t expect the hypocritical mainstream media to point this out.

And there’s more. Akin’s opponent, pro-abortion Democrat incumbent Claire McCaskill, was incredulous that Akin could be “so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape.”

Meanwhile McCaskill refuses to support a law that would make it illegal for adult nonparents to traffick minors for abortions from a state with parental notification laws, such as Missouri, to a state without them, such as the one next door, Illinois, often, obviously, to cover up rape-rape. Note: Jill Stanek fought to stop “live birth abortions” after witnessing one as an RN at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois. That led to the Born Alive Infants Protection Act legislation, signed by President Bush, that would ensure that proper medical care be given to unborn children who survive botched abortion attempts.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cameras to be installed in taxi cabs to prevent false rape claims

There have been a cavalcade of false rape claims lodged against taxi cab drivers in recent years. See here and here.  Now cabbies in Londonderry are getting some protection. As reported here:

The move comes after footage from a camera led to the successful prosecution of a man found guilty of attacking a taxi driver.

This success prompted other drivers to follow suit, installing the equipment at their own expense.

The driver involved in the court action said that he took the decision to install the CCTV camera after a shocking incident that took place in his cab.

A group of men he had collected turned out to be drunk and one reached over his seat and tried to grab the steering wheel while he was driving.

The man said the incident almost caused him to crash the car and could have resulted in him being charged with a motoring offence without being able to prove what had happened.

The installation of cameras has been welcomed by the proprietor of the largest taxi company in Derry, Foyle Delta.

Speaking to the North West Telegraph, Jarlath Malone said installing cameras will give peace of mind to drivers.

He added: “I know a lot of drivers who will not work at night because of fears of being attacked or robbed but the biggest fear they have is of being falsely accused of rape.

“Drivers are very vulnerable and have genuine concerns about their own safety — especially at night, but not just at night — and we have a few drivers who have already installed CCTV.

“Anything that offers protection to drivers is welcome and I can certainly see the sense in having a camera installed in a taxi.

“All our drivers are thoroughly vetted before they start work for us so while a camera may make female passengers feel safer, it would be the driver who would benefit most from them.”

In Derry last December a taxi driver was accused of rape but it was not until March this year that all charges against him were dropped.

Willie Doherty, a driver with City Cabs, said this has prompted others to consider fitting CCTV.

He said: “It's being talked about by drivers who feel the CCTV would give them a bit more confidence when lifting fares at night, particularly in light of what happened to the driver last year who was accused in the wrong.”

And we're not supposed to be concerned for young men on campus when we hear a prosecutor say this?

I don't know what scares you, but the comments of Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters regarding the expulsion of Dezmine Wells from Xavier, scare me plenty:

“There is something seriously flawed with a procedure where a young man and his accuser appear before a group of people, which I would suggest probably isn’t very well trained in assessing these types of cases, and they sit there and tell their stories. No lawyers, nothing. There’s just something wrong with that."

“I have talked to people at the university. After the debacle we had with the church and with the archdiocese we set up a procedure where (the archdiocese) would come to us with any allegations of sexual assault.”

Deters said they would have sent detectives who “know what they are doing” to determine an investigation going forward.

Please underscore that the statement was made by a prosecutor, someone in the business of bringing criminals to justice -- not an ACLU attorney, not a men's rights activist. Just as all people of good will should be concerned when a woman is raped, this comment also ought to be cause for serious concern. We are allowing our government to implement latter day witch hunts against young men on American campuses to appease political interests. 

Nabbing rapists is critical; insuring that the innocent aren't nabbed with them is even more critical. If you need to ask "why" that interest is even more critical, then you aren't well schooled in our jurisprudential traditions:

See these stories about Mr. Deters' comments:

Kingsport man pleads guilty to making false child rape charge

Story reported here:

BLOUNTVILLE — A Kingsport man has pleaded guilty to reporting false child rape allegations against his father, among other offenses.

Joshua David Lynn Thompson, 25, 130 E. Carters Valley Road, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Sullivan County Criminal Court to filing a false police report, exhibition of materials to a minor, introduction of contraband (drugs) into a penal institution, and felony failure to appear.

An investigation of Thompson's allegations had prompted a child rape charge against his father, James David Thompson. The elder Thompson was acquitted following a one-day trial in November 2010.

In June 2010, during a hearing in his father's case, Joshua Thompson testified he never saw his father "messing with" the alleged victim or engaged in a sexual act. He also said he did not recall having told a Sullivan County Sheriff's Office investigator otherwise.

During that hearing, the judge warned Thompson he could be charged with perjury if he was caught lying under oath or with making a false police report if it was later determined that he had lied to the investigator. The judge also told him a witness can avoid a perjury charge if false testimony is amended to the truth before leaving the witness stand.

After being cautioned, Thompson continued to insist that he never told the investigator he'd seen his father and the girl engaged in sexual activities, reiterating several times that he had "never seen anything."

Thompson's testimony included the following statement: "I never did hear (the alleged victim) cry at night. And (she) did go into Dad's room freely. I never did have sex with (her). The only thing I ever seen -- I went to live with my grandmother when I was 16 -- the only time I ever seen anything and it wasn't never any sexual acts. I was just assuming that anything was going on -- she was probably 17 or 18, that's around the time she got pregnant. (Her mother) would go to work, she would work graveyard, and (the alleged victim) would go into Dad's room. But as far as me seeing anything, I've never seen 'em kiss or have sex, or..." he concluded.

In exchange for Thompson's guilty plea to the false report charge, the state agreed to dismiss an aggravated perjury charge. His other guilty pleas stemmed from separate cases.

The exhibition of materials to a minor charge stemmed from Thompson's display of pornographic material to a minor. The contraband charge stemmed from drugs he had in his possession during a booking into the Sullivan County jail. The failure to appear charge stemmed from a court appearance that he missed after a court security officer spotted him running from the courthouse in February.

Court officers told the judge his sudden flight might have been prompted by an attachment for overdue child support. He was arrested on that attachment and the other charges in March.

According to Sullivan County Assistant District Attorney Julie Canter, Thompson received an eight-year sentence with 35 percent service required, with four years suspended in favor of supervised probation.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Witch hunt at Xavier: Dez Wells' expulsion from Xavier ‘fundamentally unfair,’ prosecutor says

As reported here:

Shortly after his office declined to pursue a sexual assault case against former Xavier basketball player Dezmine Wells, Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters excoriated university officials for their process in determining to expel Wells from school.
In an interview with WLW-AM radio, Deters called the use of a University Conduct Board to determine whether Wells had committed an offense worthy of expulsion “fundamentally unfair” and “seriously flawed.” Deters said this matter “should never have gotten to the point where someone’s reputation is ruined.”

Deters said he took the allegation seriously and assigned two assistant prosecutors “who are highly skilled at assessing these kinds of cases.”

A source close to Wells told Sporting News he testified before the Hamilton County Grand Jury on Monday.

On Tuesday morning, the Grand Jury declined to prosecute. Deters said, based on what was presented, “It wasn’t even close. ... We would never take anything like this to court. It just wouldn’t happen.”
Xavier University responded to Deters' criticisms with the following statement:

“Federal law (Title IX) and federal regulations and guidances prohibit universities from ceding student conduct matters to the criminal justice system. The Federal law requires schools to act quickly and all schools, by law, must use the ‘preponderance of the evidence’ standard, whereas the criminal justice system uses the ‘probable cause’ standard to indict, and the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard to convict.

“The process used by the Xavier University conduct board is the standard used in American universities. The XU conduct board heard evidence that may or may not have been heard by the Grand Jury. After the conduct board reached its decision, the matter was considered and upheld by an appeal board of members of the student body, faculty and staff and is final.”

Wells — a small forward from Raleigh, N.C., who made the Atlantic-10 all-rookie team — was expelled by Xavier this month based on the recommendation of the conduct board.

Wells was expected to become the star of the Xavier team as a sophomore. He was among the highest-rated recruits in the school’s history and averaged 9.8 points in his first season. He was suspended four games for his involvement in the Musketeers’ on-court fight with Cincinnati last December.

Until the expulsion, that suspension was the only apparent stain on Wells’ record.

“I cannot by law discuss what went in front of the Grand Jury,” Deters told WLW. “What I can tell you, though, is this is a young man with no record that we know of, who this allegation was leveled against and in our opinion at the conclusion of this that the Grand Jury did come to the right conclusion.

“I would hope they would revisit this thing. They’re set up to protect their students, but Dez Wells is a student, too.”

Deters’ objection was rooted in the Xavier conduct board process, which he described as positioning Wells and his accuser — without legal representation — before a panel consisting of Xavier students, faculty and administrators. Deters stressed that, in his opinion, these people were “untrained” to deal with sexual assault allegations.

“This offense carries mandatory prison time. This is not shoplifting,” Deters told WLW. “If found guilty, this individual faced 11 years in prison. This is no laughing matter. And people are reviewing it who, I would suggest to you, haven’t been doing it for decades.”

Deters said he hopes Xavier officials “will revisit this thing,” although it was not clear whether he was referring to Wells’ dismissal or the process itself.

Earlier this month, Xavier completed an agreement with federal investigators in which it pledged to begin training and reporting programs to protect victims of sexual assault.

The Education Department’s office of civil rights pursued the agreement after complaints were filed by female students over the school’s handling of sexual assault and sexual harassment claims.

”Any time you get federal people involved in this, you should expect a disaster,” Deters said.

Serial liar who cried rape is jailed over new false assault claim

SERIAL liar Kelly Walsh – who made up a story that she had been raped – has been jailed again after falsely claiming her ex-boyfriend had attacked her.

She later "tried to bluff her way out of it" but eventually confessed to lying yet again, a court heard.

Walsh, 24, formerly of Grimsby, admitted falsely reporting to the police that she had been assaulted, with intent to pervert the course of justice, on August 7 last year.

Phillip Evans, prosecuting, told Grimsby Crown Court that Walsh went to a police station in Rotherham and claimed that her ex-boyfriend, Jason Stevens, had hit her in the face, causing bumps on her head, during an incident in Grimsby.

Her story was treated with suspicion by the police and it emerged after two statements were taken from Walsh's mother and Emma Shadlock that the matter was "simply not true".

She was arrested on July 24 this year in Bradford.

As reported in April 2010, Walsh had been given a one-year suspended prison sentence at the same court after admitting perverting the course of justice by falsely claiming she had been raped.

She rang a helpline from a telephone box to claim she had been raped by a friend – and a 45-year-old man was arrested at his home.

The man was arrested, subjected to intimate sampling and was held in custody for hours.

In December that year, she was jailed for ten months after admitting breaching the order.

Ernie Lidster, mitigating, said Walsh had suffered many problems in her life, including relationship issues, and claimed there had been difficulties with her former boyfriend.

Mr Stevens was not arrested and the allegation was treated with disbelief by the police.
"She tried to bluff her way out of it," said Mr Lidster. "She was lying. She does regret her actions."

He added that Walsh, who is pregnant, was currently serving a 25-week prison sentence imposed by Keighley magistrates on July 25 for two theft offences.

Unemployed Walsh, who also admitted failing to surrender to bail on January 27, was jailed for seven months.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Man claims now-dead Augustinian brother molested him

COTWA: We are not calling this a "wrongful" rape claim, we simply post it to underscore the point that we just don't know -- a boy might have had his life scarred by an evil man, or a good man's name might be forever besmirched by an evil lie. We don't know, and we wonder why a presumptively innocent man -- who can no longer defend himself because he's dead -- is being publicly named for something so awful where there is no way to disprove it.

A man is suing the Chicago Archdiocese, claiming a now-deceased Augustinian brother who served as dean of St. Rita of Cascia High School sexually abused him more than 30 years ago when he was a student at the South Side school.

The plaintiff, listed as John Doe, was a student at St. Rita and a devout Catholic when the abuse happened in 1977 or 1978, according to the suit.

Brother Christopher J. McCartney repeatedly pulled the boy out of class and called him to his office where he would remove his pants and fondle him, the suit alleges. When the boy would try to leave, the brother wouldn’t let him and said he was being “disciplined.”

The plaintiff recovered the repressed memories of the alleged abuse in 2011, according to the suit.

The Archdiocese of Chicago received the lawsuit Wednesday afternoon but has not had the opportunity to evaluate it yet, a spokeswoman said.

However, the spokeswoman said, “It is clear that the archdiocese does not own or operate St. Rita’s high school and we have no authority over the members of the Augustinian order serving in Augustinian institutions.”

Wednesday’s lawsuit accuses the Archdiocese of failing to have a system in place to supervise brothers in order to prevent sexual contact with minors. It further claims the Archdiocese knew McCartney had lured other children to his office and molested them, but did not restrict his access to young people or report him to authorities.

“My client hopes that this lawsuit can serve as a catalyst for other victims to come forward to confront their past abuse and by doing so, begin to heal,” said the man’s attorney, Jessica Hegarty.

“He wishes to help other child sex abuse victims by letting them know that they’re not alone and that they need to come out of the shadows and confront their abusers.”

McCartney entered the Augustinian order in 1961 and worked at high schools in St. Louis and Detroit before moving to St. Rita in 1973, the school website says. He served as a dean at the South Side all-male high school for five years.

He later worked at Maryville Academy in Des Plaines and St. Joseph Parish in Pekin, Ill., then worked outside Chicago before he died on July 21, 2002.

Hegarty & Hegarty, the firm representing the plaintiff, is considering adding the Augustinian order as a defendant to the lawsuit, his attorney said. The order could not be reached for comment.

Tuesday’s two-count suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, claims negligence and fraud and seeks at least $100,000 in damages.

LeeAnn Shelton

Monday, August 27, 2012

The unfortunate politicization of the University of Montana's mandatory sexual assault training

All students attending the University of Montana will be required to watch a video tutorial, consisting of seven short videos, and pass a quiz based on them with a score of 100 percent before they can register for second semester classes.

The script for the videos was written by two professors from the school's Women and Gender Studies program. “We know this video can evoke strong feelings on the part of men and women,” one of them said. “This training is designed to create the opportunity for dialogue and discussion and to make sure we’re not silent about these issues.” You can watch the videos here:

The videos focus, among other things, on "America’s 'rape-prone culture.'” One of the videos says: “Many scholars warn of a rape-prone culture, where prevalent attitudes, norms and behaviors excuse, minimize and even encourage sexual violence. This environment creates stereotypes and beliefs about women, men, sexuality and power.”

One of the videos also debunks what it calls lingering "myths" surrounding rape, including this one: “People  lie about sexual assault.” The tutorial purports to clarify this epiphany by noting that "the vast majority of sexual assault reports are true. Not believing a survivor can be emotionally damaging and may prevent others from coming forward."

The videos contain much useful information, but they also suggest a troubling politicization of an important issue that should have no place in higher education. The assertions that ours is a "rape-prone culture" where "prevalent attitudes" and "norms . . . excuse, minimize and even encourage sexual violence" is coded language that those schooled in the issues will recognize. It is a manifestation of an unfortunate strain of extremist gender political advocacy that tends to reduce young men to caricature. With a sweeping broad-brush, it demonizes an entire gender as potential rapists. Jessica Valenti, a once-prominent gender political activist and blogger and one of the purveyors of the maleness-is-broken crowd, has written: "Rape is part of our culture. 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." This attitude, which the University of Montanta videos tap into, is absurd on its face because "otherwise decent guys" don't so easily forget their decency and do such a vile thing.*

Beyond that, the videos trivialize the significant problem of wrongful rape claims. To say it is a "myth" that people lie about sexual assault echoes the old disingenuous meme that "women don't lie about rape." Some people do lie about rape, and the resulting injustice to the victims can be devastating, even fatal. It is troubling that to some advocates, wrongful rape claims are deemed unworthy of consideration because, the advocates suggest, they do not pose a problem as serious as rape. We've recently addressed that argument here: It is unconscionable to trivialize the victimization caused by one social evil in advocating for the victims of another, yet it is routinely done when it comes to wrongful rape claims.  Among many, many issues that the videos could have dealt with are rape claims lodged when the woman wasn't lying but she was simply mistaken about the legal effect of the facts she's relates. (E.g., she didn't want to have sex, but her outward manifestations of assent could have reasonably led her partner to think she consented. Amanda Hess and Amanda Marcotte have discussed the internal conflicts some young women experience when they feel pressured to "defend their femininity.")

In addition, that "myth" is coupled with the statement that "not believing a survivor can be emotionally damaging and may prevent others from coming forward."  This clearly implies that every accuser is a "survivor," and it blinks at even the possibility that an accuser might be lying or mistaken. Students, thus, are being told they should automatically believe the accuser before the accused has been afforded the right to defend himself in a disciplinary hearing or a court of law. This, of course, is wrong on a host of levels. Students should be taught to treat all claims of rape respectfully while they are being investigated.  Students should not be taught to rush to judgment and assume that a male is a rapist on the basis of nothing more than an accusation.  The news stories we've covered on this site and on our predecessor site are replete with examples where that occurred, with all manner of resulting injustice.

It is especially troubling that students are forced not only to watch these videos, but to parrot back the information in quizzes if they want to remain enrolled at the university. It is unfortunate that more students, and more parents who are paying for their children to attend the university, are not better schooled in these issues. They would see for themselves how far from the mainstream certain aspects of these videos really are.

*NOTE: In contrast to the "even-decent-guys-rape" meme, feminist Amanda Marcotte 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."

U.Conn. Police: Sex assault claim false

Police at the University of Connecticut say a report that a group of men struck a woman with a skateboard and sexually assaulted her is false.

According to police, the woman reported the alleged attack early Saturday at Storrs campus. Police investigated by reviewing security camera footage and conducting more than one interview with the person who made the complaint. They say that they learned the incident did not occur and that the person who made the complaint "falsely reported the assault."

After receiving the report, police issued an alert warning through the university's emergency alert notification system. They did not say if charges would be filed.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Slate columnist suggests rape claim is false, 'Rambling Feminist' accuses her of 'victim blaming'

In her “Dear Prudence” column, Slate’s Emily Yoffe recently fielded a question about a rape claim and had the good sense to recognize the difference between incapacitation, which negates consent, and inebriation, which generally doesn't unless it leads to incapacitation. Ms. Yoffe had the temerity to suggest that a false rape claim is a false rape claim.  For that, she's been excoriated by a puerile, victim-mongering blog post in a blog called The Rambling Feminist. As shown below, that blog post throws out buzzwords like "slut shaming" and "victim shaming" where they have no application, and, sadly, the blogger seems utterly content not to understand what "consent" means. 

First, here is the Dear Prudence question and answer:

Q. Friend Has Revised One-Night Stand Story: A friend recently called me and said she had a one-night stand after drinking too much. She was beating herself up over drinking too much and going home with a guy she met at a bar. I reassured her that everyone makes mistakes and didn't think much more of the account. However, since then, she has told many people that she was a victim of date-rape—that the guy must have put something into her drink . She spoke to a rape crisis line, and they said even if she was drunk, she couldn't have given consent so she was a victim of rape. She now wants to press charges—she has the guy's business card. I have seen her very intoxicated on previous occasions, to the point she doesn't remember anything the next day. I'm not sure on what my response should be at this point. Pretend she never told me the original story?

A: Trying to ruin someone else's life is a poor way to address one's alcohol and self-control problems. Since her first version of the story is that she was ashamed of her behavior, and since you have seen her knee-walking drunk on other occasions, it sounds as if she wants to punish the guy at the bar for her own poor choices. Yes, I agree that men should not have sex with drunk women they don't know. But I think cases like the one you are describing here—in the absence of any evidence she was drugged—where someone voluntarily goes home with a stranger in order to have a sexual encounter, makes it that much harder for women who are assaulted to bring charges. Talk to your friend. Tell her that she needs to think very long and hard about filing a criminal complaint against this guy if there's any way her behavior could be construed to be consensual. Say you understand her shame, but you're concerned about her drinking, and if she addresses that, she won't find herself in such painful situations.

Second, here is the response by the The Rambling Feminist, who takes that same question and answer and somehow transmogrifies it into "rape." She writes:

"If you ever needed a classic example of ways rape culture is insidious, here you go. This has stopped being about the victim, who was date raped (and is dealing with the shame socialized in that situation) and become about how her actions in trying to get justice, trying to deal, confiding in her friend, become about the rapist. Suddenly, it’s the rapist’s reputation you have to think about, it’s their life that matters, their peace of mind. Add to that, the victim’s behavior is somehow a justifiable part of her possibly have being raped? As if her drinking is an automatic signal putting out 'YES PLEASE RAPE ME!'.

"Here’s the bottom line. No matter the situation, there is no justification or excuse for rape. A rape is a rape. There is no better or worse rape. There is rape. And it must be stopped or prosecuted when it happens. More than that, how about we teach DON’T RAPE instead of what this kind of advice puts out.

"Slut shaming, victim blaming.

"I see what you did there Prudie."

Our comment: Late last year, we pleaded to elevate the public discourse about sexual assault. Since that time, nothing has changed. This is still one of the few blogs that bothers to voice respect for both the victims of both sexual assault and of false rape claims.  The Rambling Feminist is happy to wallow in smug, derisive ignorance about consent and assume men are rapists when they are not. Worse, he or she does a disservice to rape victims with his/her vituperative and factually absurd rhetoric. It is rants like The Rambling Feminist's that engender disrepute of people who, in good faith, want to raise awareness about rape.

Matt Lewis commented about the hysteria over Emily Yoffe's column: "I can only imagine what would have happened to Yoffe is she were a male Republican, rather than a female writer at Slate."

Former Husker charged with making false report about hate crime

A former University of Nebraska women’s basketball player who alleged that she had been assaulted because of her sexual orientation has been charged with making a false statement.

33-year-old Charlie Rogers had told Lincoln police three men broke into her home July 22nd, carved anti-gay slurs on her arms and stomach, and tried to burn her house down. The reported assault sparked a rally outside the Capitol, protesting discrimination against the homosexual community.

An investigation into the alleged hate crime cast doubt on Rogers’ account. Lincoln Poice Chief Jim Peschong told reporters during a news conference that investigators found no signs of attack in the house. A forensic pathologist from the FBI suggested Rogers either cut herself or had someone else cut her. Gloves found at the scene that Rogers claimed belonged to her attackers contained her DNA.

Rogers, from South Sioux City, played for Nebraska between 1996 and 2000. She ranks #2 all-time in career blocked shots and #8 in rebounds on the Nebraska women’s basketball team.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Torture in American prisons: ghastly

Ind. mom convicted in son's death in fire released

GREENSBURG, Ind. (AP) — Kristine Bunch hugged her mother and her teenage son, basking in the warm Indiana sunshine for the first time Wednesday afternoon following 16 years behind bars for a murder she said all along she didn't commit.

Jailers released the grinning 38-year-old woman, who had traded her olive green jail clothes for a new dress, less than a half-hour after a Decatur County judge granted her $5,000 cash bail at the suggestion of prosecutors. The state plans to try her again on murder and arson charges for the 1995 fire that killed her 3-year-old son.

The whirlwind that followed her arrest in 1996, when she was accused of setting the blaze that destroyed her Greensburg mobile home and claimed her son Tony's life, seemed like a bad dream at the time, Bunch said. "I was in shock," she said.

Being released from prison was like a dream, too, but "in a good way," she said.

"Now, it's like I can't believe it's happening," Bunch said.

The Indiana Court of Appeals last week ordered the local court to allow Bunch's release on bond while she awaits her second trial. The appeals court ordered a new trial in March, finding that the evidence used to convict her was outdated, weak and wrongly withheld from the defense.

Bunch's attorney, Ron Safer, said prosecutors "did exactly the right thing" by asking for a low bond, but he was disappointed they still planned another trial in light of scientific advances that he said suggest there was no real evidence of arson.

Prosecutors have had little to say except that they are seeking a gag order to restrict attorneys' public comments on the case. A hearing on their request is scheduled for Aug. 30, and Bunch was ordered to attend.

In the meantime, Bunch said she will live with her 58-year-old mother, Susan Hubbard, and her 16-year-old son, Trenton, in nearby Columbus, Ind. The family was taking Bunch out Wednesday night for her first meal besides prison food in years, at a seafood restaurant in Columbus.

Bunch said she looked forward to doing the everyday things that most people take for granted, like shopping, eating out, and using the Internet, which she has never seen.

"I can learn how to Facebook," she said. "All my friends tell me they're on Facebook."

But of all the technological changes since she was last out of prison, Bunch said cellphones, which have evolved from unwieldy boxes with thick antennas to sleek little machines, impress her the most.

"I'm amazed by the cellphones," she said.

Television and frequent visits by her mother and son kept her aware of changes in the outside world. "He introduced me to Harry Potter," Bunch said of her son. Now, she hopes to be able to teach the teen how to drive.

Bunch was sentenced to 60 years in prison in 1996 after a Decatur County jury convicted her of murder and arson. The same judge who sentenced her denied a 2006 petition for post-conviction relief based on new evidence.

Prosecutors said Bunch poured kerosene in the bedroom of her son, Tony, and the living room of their mobile home and lit it on fire. No clear motive was ever established, but they said Bunch had asked a friend to take custody of the boy about a year before the fire so she could "get away from it all" and that she had
made inconsistent statements about the blaze.

The Center on Wrongful Convictions said investigators at the time misinterpreted burn patterns as indicating an accelerant and that there was no evidence of arson. They also argued that advances in toxicology showed the child would have died from fire, not smoke inhalation, had the blaze been set in his room.

"It was horrible, but I knew if I held on to my faith that justice would prevail. The truth usually has a way of coming out," Hubbard, Bunch's mother, said.

Bunch said a prison ministry helped her maintain her faith while she was in prison. "I knew it was going to work out in the end," she said.

While locked up, Bunch earned her GED and a college degree. She said she plans to go to law school if acquitted. She wants to work in criminal law, representing inmates who have been wrongfully convicted.

"There's still a lot of work to be done. There's still a lot of people in my situation," Bunch said.

Man jailed after false rape claim

A YOUNG Wigan man has been sent to jail for crying rape.

Robert O’Brien falsely claimed that he had been sexually assaulted by a man who gave him a lift home from a bar in Appley Bridge.

Sentencing him to detention Judge David Aubrey, QC pointed out how serious the offence was and said only a custodial sentence could be justified.

He told the 20-year-old from Fern Close, Shevington, that such false claims undermine genuine rape allegations and make it harder for convictions to result.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that O’Brien’s alleged assailant was arrested, questioned and detained for 13-and-a-half hours because of O’Brien’s lies before being released on bail.

And the allegation led to the break-up of a long-standing relationship.

The court heard that fortunately police were suspicious about discrepancies in O’Brien’s statement and two months later, following further inquiries, he was arrested.

Sarah Griffin, prosecuting, said that when interviewed on this occasion he admitted he had been lying and said the decision to fabricate the allegation was a “split second decision when he arrived home.”

The investigation had involved two police forces and in Lancashire at least 10 detectives were committed to the inquiry, she said.

O’Brien, who has no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Miss Griffin said that in the early hours of October 30 apprentice plumber O’Brien returned home after a night out and told his parents that he had been raped by a 39-year-old man whom he named.

He said he had been out drinking with his girlfriend at Sam’s Bar in Appley Bridge and at the end of the night he and others were offered a lift home by the man.

He accepted the lift and after the man dropped the other passengers off the car was driven to Beacon Country Park in Up Holland where he was raped.

His mum called the police and at 6am the man was arrested and he immediately protested his innocence.

He was taken to Wigan police station and then to Skelmersdale.

“His car, clothing and mobile telephone were seized and he had to provide an intimate sample,” said Miss Griffin.

When interviewed, he denied rape and said all sexual activity between them had been consensual.

Police officers took a statement from O’Brien’s girlfriend and they noticed discrepancies in their accounts.

After the hearing, Det Insp Graham Hill, of Lancashire Constabulary’s public protection unit, said: “We take rape and sexual offences extremely seriously and will thoroughly investigate any reports.

“Genuine victims should be confident in coming forward and reporting offences.”


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Airlines, heed the story of Michael Matz: the man who saved two unaccompanied children sitting next to him after a plane crash

In light of the policies of two airlines to bar all men from sitting next to unaccompanied minors on planes, we thought this story should be publicized.

On July 19, 1989, Michael Matz was seated next to two unaccompanied children on United Airlines Flight 232 when tragedy struck mid-air. The plane lost an engine and its hydraulic system.

Mr. Matz kept the children calm, but the plane was doomed. It crashed in a Sioux City cornfield. The cabin tore apart and finally came to a stop in an upside-down position.

In all, 112 people died in that disaster, but Mr. Matz led the two unaccompanied children, Melissa Roth, 12, and her brother Travis, 9, to safety. The children's older brother, Jody, 14, seated elsewhere on the plane, also managed to escape.  Mr. Matz returned to the plane to search for other survivors, and then he came back to care for the Roth children, who were flying alone, for several hours.

Heroics aside, Mr. Matz has led a pretty amazing life. He's a six-time U.S. equestrian national champion. He made three Olympic teams and helped the US to a team silver medal in 1996 before carrying the flag in the closing ceremony.

Then, on a warm Saturday afternoon in May of 2006, the horse that Michael Matz trained, Barabaro, romped to a 6½-length victory in the Kentucky Derby. No one in the stands at Churchill Downs that day was happier than the three Roth children. All grown up now, they came to Louisville not to cheer on a horse, but to honor their champion, Michael Matz, who 17 years earlier had helped save them from disaster.

Off-topic: Women force 3-year-old boys to fight for the women's amusement

This news story is disgusting beyond words: women forcing very little boys to fight each other for the women's amusement. Does this come from some twisted attitude that sees boys as less than human? (Yet each of these women would be permitted to sit next to unaccompanied boys on Virgin Airline flights while men would be barred . . . . Just sayin'.)

Can we talk about false rape claims without being demonized?

Rep. Todd Akin has clarified his scientifically laughable comment that rape victims don't get pregnant. It's not the first time a Congressman has said something stupid (see, e.g., here), nor will it be the last.  But Akin's clarification might be more politically dangerous than his initial faux pas: he says he was actually talking about false rape claims. Here is what he said:
You know, Dr. Willke has just released a statement and part of his letter, I think he just stated it very clearly. He said, of course Akin never used the word legitimate to refer to the rapist, but to false claims like those made in Roe v. Wade and I think that simplifies it….. There isn't any legitimate rapist…. [I was] making the point that there were people who use false claims, like those that basically created Roe v. Wade.
The angry reaction to Akin's comments was sadly predictable, with some of the writers taking liberties with his actual words. Underlying most of the comments is an implicit belief that Akin thinks most rape claims are lies, and that when women are raped, they often "deserve" it.

I don't know what, if anything, Akin really thinks about rape accusers as a class, and I am not sure how the pundits know that, either. Akin might, or might not, assume that most claimants lie. If so, his thinking is barbaric and unjust, but his actual comment doesn't suggest any such belief.

What is disconcerting to us at COTWA is that we seem to have reached the point where anyone, but especially a conservative white male, who dares to bring up the subject of false rape claims is demonized. I write this as one of about 100 people in America who voted for the Ferraro-Mondale ticket because I thought it would be cool to have a woman as vice president, and as someone who is to the left of President Obama (which isn't difficult) on a host of issues. At this Web site, we go to great lengths to make clear our profound concern for rape victims and our strong belief that every rape claim must be taken seriously and never prejudged. Fighting the evils of both rape and of wrongful rape claims 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.

We know how it feels to be unfairly demonized for daring to discuss this subject. For many men and boys, our site is among the few outlets available 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 decisions not to take their own lives. This is a tremendous burden to place upon one unfunded, overworked blog. Yet, sadly, some people are very vocal in letting us know that one blog to give voice to the wrongly accused is one blog too many.

Rep. Akin needs to be held accountable for his record and his words, not for pointing out the irrefutable fact that there are people who make false rape claims. Here is a sampling of what some of the pundits are saying:

The Moderate Voice: "Rep. Todd Akin continues to dig himself deeper in the ‘legitimate rape’ fall-out. He clarified his despicable remark by saying women make ‘false claims’ about being raped."

Gawker: ". . . this once again demeans rape victims . . . ."  Gawker proceeds to tell us that Akin believes it is only on "rare occasions when the woman isn't faking it" even though Akin never said that.

In These Times takes Akin's comment to mean "women habitually lie about rape."  Then the writer makes this breathtaking assertion, echoing a meme that has gained unfortunate currency: "I can't think of a crime other than rape where preempting the very possibility false accusations has played such a big role in the definition of the crime."  She's obviously never heard of Blackstone's Formulation, which undergirds our criminal jurisprudence.

Barbara Arrigo, Detroit Free Press:  ". . . when people start talking that way, they sure seem to be implying that most women make up rape charges . . . ."  What, exactly, is "that way," Ms. Arrigo, and when, if ever, are people allowed to mention false rape claims?

Shannon Kulik, Salon: ". . . we have politicians suggesting that women, en masse, are out making false accusations about having been raped . . . ." Kindly name one Ms. Kulik. And: "This is an idea that I hear more often than I’d like from men. Some men have this fear of being falsely accused of rape. The FBI estimates that 'unfounded' rape accusations average about 8%, but unfounded is not the equivalent of false. If 'unfounded' estimates are 8%, then logic would dictate that “false” accusations of rape are less than that."  Sigh. We know that these numbers games are common with features writers, but how many times must we explain this? It is disingenuous to assert that less than ten percent of all rape claims are "false" without also explaining that the majority of reported rape claims can't be classified as rapes. No serious study, not even Dr. Lisak's, has ever refuted that assertion.

Just for good measure, Wendy Murphy has chimed in on Akins affair. She points out that the majority of the Innocence Project's exonerees are, in fact, guilty. Leave it to Wendy to launch this matter into the stratosphere of inanity.

It would be great to have a serious and civil discussion about the need to (1) eradicate heinous criminality by punishing the offenders while (2) insuring that the innocent aren't punished with them. That's not possible when serious voices who want to talk about both sides of that critical balance are drowned out by a cacaphony of angry rants eager to demonize anyone who dares to discuss the second part.

Savannah Dietrich tweets the names of the boys who pled guilty to her sexual abuse in violation of a court order: It isn't fair to the boys, and it does no favors for rape victims

When teenager Savannah Dietrich violated a court order by tweeting the names of two teenage boys who pled guilty to sexual abusing her, she was treated in some quarters as a brave crusader for rape victims. For their part, the boys were treated as deserving of this smear that has reportedly ruined the life of at least one of them.

In fact, Ms. Dietrich should not be applauded for her actions, she should be chastised for them.

First, it wasn't fair to the boys. The were charged as juveniles, and their pleas were premised on an expectation that their cases would be kept confidential. They have a right to rely on the court order entered pursuant to their pleas. We now know that many innocent young men plead guilty to crimes they didn't commit because have no real choice. Brian Banks is a prominent example: Brian pled guilty to a rape he didn't commit because his lawyer convinced him he would lose if he went to trial.  Brian, then 17, wasn't permitted to consult with his parents and was given just ten minutes to decide. He sat down and cried, then he decided 18 months sounded "way better than 41 years to life." 

Second, Ms. Dietrich's actions did no favor for rape victims. She has proven to the criminal defense bar, in a high profile case, that court orders requiring confidentiality not only can't be enforced, but that any attempt to enforce them will only backfire and give greater publicity to the illegal revelation of their clients' names. Ms. Dietrich has just given young men accused of rape -- even the ones who should plead guilty -- an important reason to insist on a trial, where rapists frequently prevail. This means that more young women will be subjected to grueling trials, or, more likely, they will just drop the whole thing.

Ours is a nation of laws. Ms. Dietrich has decided that she's above the ones that apply to the rest of us, even when we happen to be victims. Vigilantism and bloodlust are never valid substitutes for justice, even when we, personally, don't think that justice has been served.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Columnist: it is 'dangerous' to assert that 'all rapes that are reported are not actually rapes'

In the wake of Rep. Todd Akin's scientifically incorrect assertion that "legitimate rapes" don't end in pregnancy, Politico reporter Dave Catanese tweeted the following, among many other things:

"So perhaps some can agree that all rapes that are reported are not actually rapes? Or are we gonna really deny that for PC sake?"

Apparently Catanese shouldn't have said that. A writer at named Tommy Christopher doesn't like the fact that Catanese dared to raise the issue of false rape claims:

". . . there is a part of Catonese’s defense of Akin that actually is dangerous on its own, in much the same way that Akin’s remarks themselves were. Akin’s use of the term 'legitimate,' as in authentic, conveyed the idea that some rapes aren’t actually rapes, and Catonese reinforced that notion by tweeting 'So perhaps some can agree that all rapes that are reported are not actually rapes? Or are we gonna really deny that for PC sake?'

"While not technically inaccurate, Catonese’s tweet gives the impression that there is a widespread problem with over-reporting of rapes, when the fact is that, according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), less than half of all rapes are reported, while only 12% of rapes result in an arrest, 5% in felony convictions, and 3% in jail time. 54% of rapes are not reported, while according to the FBI, only 8% of rape cases are classified as “unfounded,” a definition that, in true circular fashion, relies on sick, Akin/Ryan-ian logic:
This statistic is almost meaningless, as many of the jurisdictions from which the FBI collects data on crime use different definitions of, or criteria for, “unfounded.” That is, a report of rape might be classified as unfounded (rather than as forcible rape) if the alleged victim did not try to fight off the suspect, if the alleged perpetrator did not use physical force or a weapon of some sort, if the alleged victim did not sustain any physical injuries, or if the alleged victim and the accused had a prior sexual relationship. Similarly, a report might be deemed unfounded if there is no physical evidence or too many inconsistencies between the accuser’s statement and what evidence does exist. As such, although some unfounded cases of rape may be false or fabricated, not all unfounded cases are false.
"In a culture that is already unfriendly to rape-reporting, Catonese has a duty to make these facts clear, and rather than firing him, Politico ought to make sure he does it."

Tommy Christopher's comments, and his stats, are disingenuous because they don't tell the whole story, for reasons we've recently blogged about here. As we explained, it is disingenuous to assert that less than ten percent of all rape claims are "false" without also explaining that the majority of reported rape claims can't be classified as rapes. No serious study, not even Dr. Lisak's, has ever refuted that assertion.

Catonese apparently learned how "dangerous" his comments were. Yesterday he tweeted: “Re last night: Bad idea trying to have nuanced conversation on highly charged issue on here. Did not intend to take a side. Lesson learned.”

At COTWA, we go to great lengths to make clear our profound concern for rape victims. Fighting the evils of both rape and of wrongful rape claims 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. 

But please, Mr. Christopher, do not try to demonize anyone who dares to talk about false rape claims by invoking Rep. Todd Akins.

Alabama Governor supports pardon for Scottsboro boys

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's governor would like to grant a request to pardon the black Scottsboro Boys over false accusations of raping two white women in the segregated South, but he lacks the legal authority, a spokesman said Thursday.

Officials with the Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center in Scottsboro sent a pardon request to Gov. Robert Bentley on Wednesday after first contacting the state parole board.

"Governor Bentley supports pardoning the Scottsboro Boys. However, the Constitution does not give him the authority to do so," spokesman Jeremy King said.

The state parole board doesn't grant posthumous pardons, a spokesman said.

One of the nine black teenagers convicted of raping two white women in 1931 received a pardon from the state parole board in 1976, with the support of then-Gov. George C. Wallace. Clarence Norris was the only one living at the time, and nothing was done for the other eight.

King said the governor's staff is looking at what might be done to allow posthumous pardons.

In 2006, the Legislature passed the "Rosa Parks Law" to allow for pardons for people convicted of violating the law during protests against segregation. Relatives can apply for the deceased to obtain pardons.

King said the governor would support the Legislature passing a law similar to that.The Scottsboro Boys Museum opened in 2010. It chronicles how a sheriff's posse stopped a train at Paint Rock, Ala., March 25, 1931, and arrested nine black teenagers on charges of raping two white women on the train. They were convicted in trials in Scottsboro, and all but one was initially sentenced to death. They won new trials. One of the women recanted her story. Five of the Scottsboro Boys had the rape charges dropped, while four were convicted.

The case resulted to two significant U.S. Supreme Court decisions saying criminal defendants are entitled to effective counsel and blacks can't be systematically excluded from criminal juries. One of the men, Haywood Patterson, was tried in a Decatur courtroom by Limestone County Judge James Edwin Horton. Although a jury found Patterson guilty, Horton threw out the verdict, an unpopular decision at the time that cost Horton re-election.

When Norris obtained his pardon in 1976, there was talk of trying to do something for Andy and Roy Wright, Haywood Patterson, Olen Montgomery, Charlie Weems, Ozie Powell, William Robertson and Eugene Williams , but nothing happened. Norris died in 1989.

The museum, which opened in 2010, is trying to stir up interest again. It has received support from several prominent Alabama lawyers.

"It's time to officially clear their names. We will do all we can to see that this happens," the governor's spokesman said.

Monday, August 20, 2012

So if a rape accuser gets pregnant, she's lying about rape?

As one of the only blogs that gives voice to persons wrongfully accused of sexual assault, you'd think COTWA would have heard of Rep. Todd Akin's "test" before this. Shows how dumb we are.  I've got a better idea, Mr. Akins: why not just toss rape accusers in the lake and if see they float?

In the past several weeks, this site has covered a series of unspeakable injustices against innocent or possibly innocent persons. We certainly hope that Mr. Akin's ill-advised comments aren't mistaken for advocacy on behalf of the wrongly accused -- they aren't.  And we certainly do wish that even a small amount of the press coverage being heaped on this story -- which is enormous -- could be diverted to expose some of the injustices we cover here. I'm not holding my breath on that last one.

Stamp out nocturnal emissions!

We are stranded in an era where a crime committed with a penis is deemed to warrant greater punishment than a crime committed with a loaded gun; where college men are expelled for engaging in consensual sex because they asked for it too much; where a high ranking British leader suggested with a straight face that police and prosecutors be assigned quotas to nab more rapists; where legal scholars urge that the burden of proof to prove "consent" in rape cases be placed on the accused male, thus making the sex act a presumed crime whenever a woman cries rape; where female statutory rapists can hold their male victims responsible for paying child support for a child born as a result of that sexual assualt; where strip clubs are financially penalized because victims' advocates insist there's a correlation between looking at naked women and rape even though experts say there isn't; where the Department of Education mandates that your son be found guilty of sexual assault, with all the attendant destruction to his life, even though the disciplinary panel is 49.999% sure he didn't do it.     

In point of fact, mankind has always had a love-hate relationship with the penis, and penile hysteria is nothing new. Society's machinations to control the vile tendencies of the male organ of copulation have taken many wild and fantastic forms throughout the centuries. There always seems to be a cottage industry ready to spring up to wage the War on Penis Terror.

In modern times, few efforts were as barbaric as those stemming from the hysteria in the 19th and early 20th centuries over boys' and young men's nocturnal emissions. In the 19th Century, Spermatorrhea was considered a disease brought on by nocturnal emissions and "that dreadfully destructive habit of Self Abuse." The list of terrors -- physical and psychological -- that supposedly resulted from it is mind-boggling, but the "cures" were even more bizarre. This is from a Quebec newspaper, September 15, 1859, touting an invention to "permanently" cure young men of both nocturnal emissions and "the secret habits of youth":

We don't know what the "instrument" looked like, but we can imagine. There were all sorts of inhumane devices floating around in that era to keep young men from ejaculating, and they are cringe-inducing.

Here's a lovely device designed to awaken any young man who experienced the misfortune of an erection in his sleep (which, we know, is routine). It is referred to as "Jugum penis," and it appeared in the UK 1880-1920. According to NewScientist: "Guaranteed to bring tears to the eyes of at least half our readers, this device was intended as a treatment for 'nocturnal incontinence' and to prevent masturbation. It was designed to deter nighttime emissions by causing enough pain to waken the sleeper if an erection threatened. Until relatively recently, masturbation was considered a moral weakness and at least partly responsible for a whole range of debilitating medical conditions."

How about the thing below. The Frisky asked if you can "GUESS WHAT THIS THING WAS USED FOR."
"Go ahead," the Frisky wrote, "just guess. Fancy faucet? Nope. Ornate door knocker? Wrong again. This is a rare 19th century, copper anti-masturbation device. The oh-so-comfie looking chastity cup was strapped on with a belt and worn by boys in France in the late 1880′s to prevent them from committing the “sin.” This cruel antique was auctioned off on eBay in 2008 for starting price of a little under $1,000. I just hope the lucky owner is not using it. Oh, the things the Catholic church came up with to keep people from getting off. At least they had the decency to include pee holes. But still. Sad face."

It is frightening that these devices were once deemed acceptable, just as male infant circumcission is deemed acceptable today. 

Conviction but no tangible evidence


Last Modified: Aug 17, 2012 10:16PM
This is not a story about the innocence of Darrell Williams.

It is too late for that.

Last month, a jury in Stillwater, Okla., found the former Dunbar High School basketball player guilty on two counts of rape by instrumentation.

This is a story about shattered dreams, about fate’s ironies and about a criminal justice system that continues to wrongfully snare young black men.
On Friday, Alice Williams, 45, will learn the fate of her middle son, whom she thought she had saved from the violence in Chicago when she sent him to Tulsa to play basketball.

“It has been so very emotional,” Williams, told me on Friday as she sat at her dining room table, where the plaques touting her son’s accomplishments, share space with the wrinkled news clippings about the trial.

“To get him to Oklahoma State, then to have these charges. It wasn’t right; to survive all the troubles and violence in Chicago; to get where he is. It hurts,” she said, her voice cracking.

A single mother of four — three boys and one girl — Alice Williams already had lost her eldest son to street violence when the charges against Darrell were leveled.

Derrick Williams was 22 when he was shot in the Back of the Yards neighborhood in 2009. He had gone there to visit his grandmother. Because a young man had gotten killed on the block the month before, neighbors were having a barbecue to honor the slain man’s birthday.

“Some guys decided to come by there and shoot up the place. The bullets caught him in the back of his head,” the mother said.

Pitfalls of college life

Four months later, Darrell was hustled off to Oklahoma State University. But rather than saving Darrell from the streets, the college life exposed him to an environment rife with pitfalls for a black man from the inner city.

Black people make up only 10.9 percent of the population in Tulsa county.

Although the infamous Emmett Till lynching occurred more than a half century ago, and interracial dating is no longer a scandal, a black man’s pleas of innocence are still meaningless against a white woman’s accusations of rape.

In this case, the rape charges stemmed from an off-campus house party in 2010. The young women apparently found out about the party from someone in a bar and showed up. Both women testified Darrell was the person who stuck his hand down their pants without their consent.

But two of his teammates are also light-skinned and of similar height and build.

On the night of the party, the basketball players wore similar warmup suits. Unless the women knew the players personally, it would have been easy for them to make a misidentification.

Even the head coach at OSU gave Darrell the benefit of the doubt.

“Williams has proven to me that he did not do this,” Travis Ford said at the trial. “If I believed he had done this and had direct evidence I would have dismissed him from the team.”

Because there was no evidence that corroborated the women’s allegations, Darrell remained on scholarship and on the team roster until the trial.

Tyrone Bullock, Darrell’s high school basketball coach, is also convinced of his former player’s innocence.

“He was a good kid. I drove him 12 hours to Oklahoma for an unofficial visit and he never even complained,” Bullock recalled.

‘Grades never failed’

“I talked to him three or four times a week about everything,” Bullock said. “Through the entire case, his grades never failed. He never changed. If someone is lying about something like that, they change. Darrell never changed.”

Darrell earned a 4.0 grade point average while awaiting trial. After the conviction, he was suspended from the basketball program. Once he completes his sentence, he must register as a sex offender.

The mother is praying that the judge will suspend the sentence and her son will leave Tulsa and be able to put this sordid chapter of his life behind him.

“He did so much to get where he is. Man it just breaks my heart that all of this is now taken away,” she said, her eyes tearing up.

Mildred Williams, Darrell’s aunt, said her sister would call her late at night and cry over the charges.

“I talked to Darrell like he was my own son. I really tried to break him down,” the aunt said.

“I told him I was going to ask him one time if he did those things to those girls,” she said.

“He told me he would never do anything like that,” Mildred Williams said.“I believe him.”

It was Mildred who reached out to Bishop Tavis Grant at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition for help with raising public awareness about Darrell’s plight.

11 whites, one Asian

“This is the classic case of injustice: Eleven whites and one Asian on the jury. Two white victims. Darrell being a black male athlete. There is no corroborating evidence. No rape kit. No DNA. There is nothing in [Darrell’s] background that would make you think he would ever do anything like this,” Grant said.

“This is the classic lynching of a black male.”

Obviously, if Darrell Williams is guilty, he deserves to be punished.

But given the hundreds of people who have been released from prison because they were wrongfully convicted, it is surprising that a prosecutor pursued these allegations without any evidence.

After all, an estimated 891 people have had their cases overturned because of they were wrongfully convicted nationwide, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.

What Darrell’s conviction shows is that despite this disturbing trend, a person like Darrell Williams can easily be convicted of sex-related crimes without a shred of tangible evidence.

Passed lie detector tests

Williams has always maintained his innocence. He passed two lie detector tests, and gave an audio interview to police investigating the case.

“I don’t know what happened in the basement. I was probably misidentified,” Williams said in a recorded interview.

The jury, which included no blacks, deliberated for eight hours and recommended that Williams be sentenced to a year in prison for each of the rape by instrumentation counts.

According to published reports, Williams wept when the verdicts were read.

“Oh my Jesus God,” he said and banged his hands on the defense table. “I didn’t do it,” he said.

Later the prosecutor, a white female, told reporters she felt intimidated by Williams’ outburst.
But this is something to scream about.

A young black man had made it out of Chicago, Illinois without a mark on him or on his record. And like that, his dreams are over.

To learn more: go to

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Assange to Obama: 'End the witch hunt'

Troubling article trivializes the community of the wrongly accused

A troubling article trivializes the false rape problem:

Our comment:

It is well to point out injustices to women who likely were raped and to encourage rape victims to come forward without fear of stigmatization. But your article manifests a problematic “rush to judgment” bias that treats every rape accuser as a victim, and that blinks at the problems faced by the community of the wrongly accused. Throughout your article, you repeatedly label accusers as “victims,” which does a grave disservice to the presumptively innocent who are accused of such crimes since, by necessity, they must be guilty if their accusers are, in fact, "victims."

Regardless of how prevalent false rape claims are, there have been numerous instances of shocking injustice suffered by persons falsely and otherwise wrongly accused of rape, and their plight does not deserve to be trivialized. Moreover, the assertion that less than ten percent of all rape claims are “false” would represent a staggering number in itself, but the statistic is disingenuous without an explanation. As a leading feminist legal scholar has acknowledged: ". . . 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, lies 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. So if you insist on pointing out that only 10 percent of all claims are “false,” you need also to state that of the 90 percent of remaining claims, the majority simply can’t be classified as actual rapes or false claims.

It is bewildering that you deem it necessary to trivialize a serious problem just to make the point that another problem is also serious. Why can't we all advocate for all victims?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Off-topic: Disdain for the boyfriend

Below is a You Tube video of a Pizza Hut commercial that, in just a few seconds, manages to sum up a host of really screwed up gender roles. Sadly, they ring true. Watch it first, then ask yourself if this commercial could have been made with the genders reversed -- that is, with the son asking his mom about a veggie pizza for his girlfriend, and the mom reacting with disdain. I sincerely doubt it, because that would not have played into the familiar stereotypes: dads being overly protective of their daughters and viewing their male suitors with disdain, especially if those male suitors don't meet dad's standards (and a veggie-loving boyfriend often wouldn't).

I know, I know -- it's "just" a commercial -- but like a lot of commercials, it holds a mirror up to our culture, and we need to ask ourselves if we like what we see.

Friday, August 17, 2012

This blog berated for 'thumping our chest' when we advocate for the wrongly accused

A disturbing comment was added to one of our previous posts on this site ('Jon McCay's perilous defense of the 'Dear Colleague' letter: he refuses to acknowledge the risk of getting it wrong'), and it warrants our brief discussion. The post we wrote concerned comments made by Jon McCay, UNC's former Student Attorney General, defending the mandate of the Department of Education's April 4, 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter that lowered the standard of proof for sexual assault cases on campus to "preponderance of the evidence.”  Mr. McCay conceded that “the new standard likely will result in more guilty convictions,” but we were dismayed that he seems to take it as a given that the new standard will not subject students to punishments they don't deserve.  “That,” we explained, “is a conclusion that is unwarranted because it is only reasonable to conclude that the risk of wrongfully punishing innocent students is enhanced by lowering the standard of proof.” 
We were careful to add: “No one disagrees that holding more rapists responsible for their misconduct is a laudatory goal. The problem is that McCay doesn't bother even to consider whether the new standard poses the risk of punishing innocent students. And it does.”
This morning, a comment was added to that post asserting, in the face of clear language to the contrary, that we “blink” at the fact that “[o]ne guy and his family can sleep at night knowing that justice prevailed, when 17 [sexual assault] victims and their families can't get any sleep because there is no justice and you thump your chest and break your arm patting yourself on the back because you stood on the wall for the 1.”
The comment is a grotesque distortion of our post and a dishonest attempt to reduce this blog to caricature. In our post, we neither blinked nor thumped nor broke anything. This blog has been a steadfast defender of rape victims, and we do not tolerate any comments that might trivialize their plight.
But the comment is disturbing on a more fundamental level. It evinces a shocking absence of appreciation for the principles of due process and fairness that have informed Western Civilization's jurisprudence for centuries.  We are accustomed to such ham-handed attempts to demonize our defense of the wrongly accused, but, once in a while, it is well to demonstrate how wrong they are. 
The comment’s sentiment flips on its head a long-settled principle of law famously expressed by the celebrated English jurist William Blackstone: it is "better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer." (Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1765.)
In fact, the debate about whether it is just to punish the innocent in order to insure that the guilty are punished has been settled since the time of Abraham, as chronicled in Book of Genesis. When God was deciding what to do about the evil in Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham put the question to him: "Are you really going to sweep away the innocent with the guilty?" After repeated probing by Abraham, God made it clear he would not destroy the guilty if it meant destroying the innocent with them.
In modern times, "Blackstone's formulation," or as it is sometimes called "The Blackstone ratio," has been imprinted on the DNA of our jurisprudence.  Our Supreme Court, in various ways, has underscored that it is one of the pillars undergirding our jurisprudence. 
Justice William O. Douglas, a liberal icon for much of the 20th Century, stated: "It is better, so the Fourth Amendment teaches, that the guilty sometimes go free than that citizens be subject to easy arrest." Henry v. United States, 361 U.S. 98, 104, 80 S. Ct. 168, 172 (1959).
Justice Harlan once wrote: "I view the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal case as bottomed on a fundamental value determination of our society that it is far worse to convict an innocent man than to let a guilty man go free." In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 90 S. Ct. 1068, 25 L. Ed. 2d 368 (1970)(Harlan, J. concurring).
Somehow, this formulation has been cavalierly turned on its head in the current debate over the "Dear Colleague" letter.
Is the pain of a rape survivor in seeing his or her rapist go free in any sense comparable to the injustice inflicted when the state deprives an innocent person of his liberty?
"Terrible as it is for a victim to see a rapist escape punishment, it is far, far worse for an innocent person to be convicted of a sex crime." Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case, S. Taylor, K.C. Johnson (2007).
Take, for example, Dwayne Dail, who was convicted of a rape he did not commit as a teenager and spent the next 18 years in prison. While in prison Mr. Dail was repeatedly and brutally victimized by the same crime that he, himself, did not commit. His life was shattered, and it is fair to assume he will never be whole after his unspeakable ordeal.  Can anyone seriously assert that the pain of the rape victim in Mr. Dail's case was in any sense lessened by having this innocent man destroyed?
Rape victims whose misidentification of their perpetrators lead to wrongful convictions often develop deep psychological trauma when they learn what they've done.  Actual rape victims have no interest in punishing the innocent and are often among the most vocal critics of false rape accusers because they know that every rape lie diminishes the integrity of every legitimate rape claim. I have put the question to one of the most prominent victims of clergy sex abuse, and his unhesitating answer was that he hates false accusers because of what they do to real victims.
While an individual is capable of doing terrible things to another individual, including rape, neither the state, nor an institution of higher learning acting at the behest of the state, should ever fall to the level of a criminal and reasonably risk doing a terrible thing to another human being. Convicting an innocent man of rape, or expelling an innocent man for rape, is not an acceptable risk in the name of nabbing more offenders. 
Punishing the innocent undermines public confidence about the way rape claims are handled.  Judges, juries, and the people who decide college disciplinary hearings, would be all the more wary of punishing men for rape charges, even those who deserve to be punished, if they believed that the system allows the innocent to be punished, too.
A wrongful acquittal is a terrible thing, of course. But a wrongful acquittal is never, ever the equivalent of a wrongful conviction -- morally, legally, or any other way -- and to suggest otherwise is nothing short of morally grotesque.
Dictators throughout history have justified the ruthless imprisonment, torture, and murder of the innocent to insure that the "guilty" -- who always happen to be their enemies -- are destroyed.  It is a monstrously barbaric, and singularly un-American, practice.
The reason Blackstone's formulation retains its validity is self-evident. It is the very hallmark of a civilized society.