Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Police: Woman Lied About Sex Assault in 5 Points

Columbia police have charged a woman they say made up a claim of a sexual assault in Columbia's Five Points.

Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott announced Wednesday at a news conference that his officers charged 26-year-old Heather Felicia Atkins with perjury/false swearing to police and filing a false police report.

According to Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott, Atkins told officers on October 19 that she'd been beaten, kidnapped, and sexually assaulted at gunpoint while walking near 700 Harden Street. The woman said two men were responsible, and that one of them held her down while the other committed the sex assault.

Police say she gave detailed descriptions of the attackers and the circumstances of the incident.

A warrant, though, says that later proved false. The document cites witnesses who disputed Atkin's claims, and Scott says a Facebook posting also contradicted her story.

The warrant says Atkins later admitted to filing a false report.

"She lied to the City of Columbia Police, she lied to her family, she lied to the public and she broke the trust of the people around her," Scott said.

According to Scott, here is what really happened. According to him, Atkins left work early with a male co-worker and went back to his place. The man's girlfriend caught the two together, and in the resulting conflict, Atkins got a black eye.

Scott says the woman told them she was too embarrassed to tell the truth, and that's why she made up the story.

The chief says the potential harm that a case like this could do to victims of sexual assault is why he chose to address this case with a news conference.

"If you can imagine the damage of how this affects the true victims of sexual assault," Scott said. "It's too often that people are victimized. This is an underreported crime, but I can tell you the City of Columbia and law enforcement as a whole takes sexual assault very seriously. and this hurts the whole community that this allegation was made."


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cartersville woman charged with falsely reporting sexual assault by deputy

Bartow County Sheriff’s Deputies have arrested a Cartersville woman on felony false statements and writing charges.

According to Bartow County Sheriff's Office reports:

26-year-old Cheryl Alisha Graves of 402 East Church Street, Cartersville was arrested Thursday morning, on three felony counts of false statements and writings after she allegedly lied to law enforcement officials.

Graves reported to officials she was sexually assaulted by a deputy during a traffic stop on the morning of Tuesday, October 16, 2012, near Euharlee.

An investigation by Internal Affairs led officers to believe Graves fabricated her claims about the incident, which lead to her arrest.

Graves is being held in The Bartow County Jail pending a $7, 500.00 bond.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Stigler woman pleads guilty to falsely accusing man of rape

McALESTER — A Stigler woman recently entered a guilty plea in a case accusing her of falsely accusing a man of raping her.

Katheryn Marie Louise Clark, 21, of Stigler, pleaded guilty Oct. 16 to a misdemeanor charge of false reporting of a crime. She was fined $150 and sentencing was deferred for one year.

According to court records, Clark was charged Dec. 19 after she told authorities “that she had been raped by her soon to be brother-in-law.”

On Dec. 16, Pittsburg County Deputy Jack Suter was dispatched to Longtown and took a report from Clark that the man had raped her, according to a police affidavit. Clark accused him of dragging her by the hair and forcibly having sex with her while she was screaming and biting him, according to the affidavit.

A medical rape kit was performed on Clark, according to the affidavit, and the nurse performing the rape kit told authorities that “there was not any evidence of sexual assault.”

Authorities then interviewed the man Clark accused of raping her, as well as a possible witness identified by Clark in her statement to police, according to the affidavit. Suter determined that there was no evidence of any kind that the man raped Clark and determined that Clark had falsified the report.


A stinging indictment of the Dept. of Education's efforts to strip the presumptively innocent of their rights in sex cases

Jason Willick has written one of the most stinging indictments of the "Dear Colleague" letter, and one of the strongest defenses of the presumptively innocent, we've seen yet in the student newspaper of the University of California, Berkeley. The op-ed is here: We hope that readers will comment on the article and write to Jason to lend your support. Here are some excerpts:

"Prominent New York University law professor Richard Epstein questioned the constitutionality of the directive, declaring that 'the Department of Education is on a collision course with the Bill of Rights.' He took particular issue with the mandate that all schools use the weak 'preponderance of the evidence' standard in disciplinary hearings regarding sexual misconduct. Former Department of Education attorney Hans Bader noted that this standard of proof 'means that if a school thinks there is as little as a 50.001% chance that the accused is guilty, the accused must be disciplined,' and former American Civil Liberties Union board member Wendy Kaminer called it 'practically a presumption of guilt.'
. . . .
"It’s impossible to know whether cutting back on protections for the accused actually encourages victims to come forward, but it is clear that this approach can lead to intolerable injustices. Just ask Caleb Warner, who, as a student at the University of North Dakota, was found guilty  of sexual assault under the shameful 'preponderance of the evidence' standard. He was banned from campus and sentenced to three years of suspension. A year and a half later, he was exonerated because law enforcement determined that his accuser was lying and charged her with filing a false report.

"As the instances at Yale and Amherst have amply illustrated, there are unacceptable strains within the culture at American colleges that create an environment conducive to sexual violence. But restricting the civil liberties of students accused of sexual misconduct does nothing to address this. On the contrary, this approach merely formalizes the unhealthy perception that sexual assault is a 'different' type of crime that should be subject to a different set of rules and procedures — inviting more cultural baggage and stigma.

"As colleges around the country grapple with sexual misconduct issues in the wake of the Amherst scandal, they should not draw their inspiration from the Department of Education directive, which does violence to America’s tradition of civil liberties and due process. I am hopeful that the soul-searching brought about by Epifano’s courageous account of her experience at Amherst will give rise to serious ideas about how to improve colleges’ responses to sexual misconduct so that they can protect the rights of all of their students."

Man pleads guilty to falsely accusing officer of rape

Authorities said 26-year-old Andrew Jackson Boyington pleaded guilty Monday, October 15, to filing a false report after accusing a Fairhope police officer of rape and threatening to go to the news media with the allegations.

Baldwin County District Attorney Hallie Dixon said Boyington was sentenced to one year in jail, split to serve 45 days, with the remainder suspended for two years of probation, during which he is to have no contact with witnesses or victims in the case.

Filing a false report is a Class A misdemeanor.

Dixon said that Boyington anonymously called the Fairhope Police Department in June, alleging that one of the Fairhope police officers had raped a woman.

Investigators said he also made two harassing calls to the officer, during which he threatened to tell reporters the same story. To ensure that the investigation be handled objectively, Fairhope officials asked the District Attorney’s Office to investigate. After determining that there was no basis for the allegation against the officer, investigators identified Boyington as the caller.

“False reporting not only harms the person falsely accused, but also can be detrimental to the prosecution of legitimate crimes. It casts a shadow that true rape victims have to overcome,” said Dixon. “To falsely accuse a police officer of rape is especially serious, because it tarnishes the reputation of someone whose job is to protect the public, undermines citizens’ faith in law enforcement. ”


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Middlesbrough man hounded despite being cleared of rape

A MAN cleared of rape says he's still "living a nightmare" by being continually hounded by those who don't believe his innocence.

John Percival says he has been attacked several times - including being hit over the head with an iron bar - and has been forced to move home, following his acquittal.

Despite being found innocent, Mr Percival says he has been constantly tormented by those who believe him guilty.

And it’s due to this harassment that he claims he has tried to commit suicide and has turned to self-harming.

Now he wants to re-iterate his innocence in the hope that people will let him get on with his life.

The 42-year-old said: “I’ve been through hell and back and I’m still living a nightmare. People still shout ‘rapist’ at me. It’s horrible.

“I’ve gone from 15 stone to 10 stone. I can’t eat because of it. I just want to move forward.”

Girlfriend Dawn Cromack, a 41-year-old charity shop worker added: “People have taken it out on me as well, to get to him. But I’m standing by him.

“What he’s been through is disgusting - I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”

As reported, a jury unanimously acquitted Mr Percival after 80 minutes’ consideration following his trial at Teesside Crown Court in June.

He was charged after a woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said he raped her after a night out in Middlesbrough in 2010.

When he was found not guilty Mr Percival hoped it would be the end of the matter but says his nightmare is still continuing three months on.

Mr Percival said: “Being arrested and on trial was scary. It was nerve-racking.

“When I was found not guilty it was great - I thought it was all over. But that night people smashed my windows in.”

It was due to the constant threats and harassment that Mr Percival said he was forced to move from his home on Beaumont Road to a bed and breakfast in Middlesbrough.

Now he hopes people will leave him be so that he can get his life back on track.

He said: “I’ve lost my home and have been called rapist and worse. I just want to get on with my life.”


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Court: False testimony used to convict 'Beatrice Six'

A federal appeals court ruled that Gage County authorities likely manufactured the false testimony used to convict six people of the 1985 rape and murder of a Beatrice widow.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in St. Louis applies to two separate civil rights claims brought by five members of the so-called “Beatrice Six.” Monday's decision means the cases can proceed to jury trials in U.S. District Court in Lincoln.

The five plaintiffs, who all served prison time for the Feb. 2, 1985, murder of 68-year-old Helen Wilson, are seeking unspecified monetary damages from Gage County, including several current and former members of the sheriff's office, for violations of their constitutionally guaranteed right to due process.

“They are obviously gratified to have their day in court,” said Lincoln attorney Robert Bartle, who is representing four of the five plaintiffs in the case.

A message left with the lawyer representing Gage County was not immediately returned Monday.

DNA testing unavailable at the time of the murder showed Wilson was raped and killed by an Oklahoma City man who died in 1992. A subsequent investigation exonerated the six of any involvement in the Wilson case, and they were granted pardons by Nebraska's highest elected officials.

One federal claim was brought by Joseph White, the only one of the accused to maintain his innocence. The appeals court affirmed a decision by U.S. District Judge Warren Urbom that enough evidence exists to send White's case to trial.

“The evidence suggests that defendants systematically and intentionally coached witnesses into providing false testimony,” the court's opinion stated.

The other case involves Ada JoAnn Taylor, Kathleen Gonzalez, James Dean and Thomas Winslow, who appealed a lower court decision that dismissed their claims. The appeals court reversed U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf's ruling that investigators did not knowingly use false evidence to obtain the convictions.

“The evidence allows a reasonable inference that defendants' investigation crossed the line from gross negligence to recklessness and that the defendants manufactured false evidence to complete their investigation,” the opinion stated.

All four of the former defendants reached plea bargains that required their cooperation with the prosecution in exchange for reduced charges. Taylor and Dean both testified against White at his trial.

The panel did uphold the part of Kopf's earlier ruling that determined those who cooperated with the state failed to show their false confessions were unconstitutionally coerced.

The three-judge panel qualified their findings somewhat by indicating at this stage, they are obligated to view the facts in the light “most favorable” to the plaintiffs.

The appeals were argued before the panel in April.

The defendants in the civil rights lawsuits include former Sheriff Jerry DeWitt, Burt Searcey, the lead investigator in the case, and Wayne Price, a psychologist and part-time deputy who had professionally treated several of the accused before the Wilson homicide. Both Price and Searcey continue to work in the sheriff's office.

Former Gage County Attorney Richard Smith was granted immunity and dismissed from the civil rights claims.

Nebraska has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to White, Gonzalez and Winslow under a law that allows the wrongfully convicted to seek compensation. Taylor and Dean recently won similar claims in Gage County District Court, but the state is appealing because it argues they are not entitled to compensation because they gave perjured testimony at White's trial.

White, who died in a workplace accident in 2011 while living in his home state of Alabama, is now represented in the case by his mother.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

George Whitmore Jr., Who Falsely Confessed to 3 Murders in 1964, Dies at 68

George Whitmore Jr., an eighth-grade dropout who confessed in 1964 to three New York murders that he did not commit, and whose case became instrumental in establishing historic legal reforms — including the Supreme Court’s 1966 “Miranda” ruling, which protects criminal suspects, and the partial repeal of capital punishment in New York State — died on Oct. 8 in a Wildwood, N.J., nursing home. He was 68.

The cause was a heart attack, his daughter Regina Whitmore said.

Mr. Whitmore was 19 in April 1964 when he was first picked up on a Brooklyn street, in Brownsville, for questioning about an attempted rape in the neighborhood the night before. A soft-spoken young man, he had grown up in a house in a junkyard that his father owned in Wildwood, N.J. He had tried hard in school but dropped out at 17, moved to Brooklyn and was waiting for a ride to work when the police pulled their car over and started asking him questions.

He would later tell interviewers that he had secretly been pleased at being asked for help in solving a crime, and at the prospect of having a good yarn to tell his friends.

But when his interrogation ended several days later, Mr. Whitmore had confessed to the attempted rape, and to the rape-murder a few weeks earlier of another woman in the neighborhood, Minnie Edmonds. He had also confessed to the double murder in Manhattan, on Aug. 28, 1963, of two women whose bodies were found bound and stabbed numerous times in the apartment they shared on East 88th Street.

Called “the Career Girl Murders” in newspaper headlines, the killings of Janice Wylie, 21, a researcher at Newsweek magazine, and Emily Hoffert, 23, a schoolteacher, had been the focus of an eight-month investigation.

Mr. Whitmore recanted his confession, and he consistently claimed afterward that the police had beaten him and that he had signed the confession without knowing what it was. He said he was innocent. And in the case of the Wylie-Hoffert slayings, he said, he could provide the names of a dozen people who saw him on that day and who would remember it, because it was the day of the civil rights march on Washington, when Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. He and everybody else in Wildwood had watched it on television and talked about it incessantly, all day, he said.

In 1964, Mr. Whitmore was convicted by a Brooklyn jury on the charges of attempted rape. Though the verdict was overturned because jurors were found to have been reading newspaper accounts of the case, which referred to Mr. Whitmore as the “prime suspect” in the Career Girl Murders, he was tried a second time. He was convicted again, but the verdict was again thrown out, on different grounds.

By 1965, Manhattan prosecutors had evidence that Mr. Whitmore was wrongly accused in the Wylie-Hoffert murders. They had linked the brutal slayings to Richard Robles, a recently released prisoner who would later be convicted of the crime, and who remains in prison.

Still, while Mr. Whitmore now faced a second trial, in the murder of Ms. Edmonds, his indictment in the Wylie-Hoffert case remained in place. News accounts said that by refusing to dismiss the indictment, prosecutors hoped to deny Mr. Whitmore’s defense lawyers an argument: that the dismissal of the double-murder indictment proved it had been coerced, and that Mr. Whitmore’s confession to the Edmonds murder, elicited in the same long interrogation, had therefore been coerced, too.

Selwyn Raab, a reporter then for The New York World-Telegram and Sun, and later for The New York Times, had found a dozen witnesses who remembered seeing Mr. Whitmore in Wildwood on the day of the double murder. They had bumped into him in the homes of friends and relatives while watching Dr. King’s speech, Mr. Raab wrote in a front-page story in The World-Telegram.

“Whitmore’s case showed how fragile the whole system was, and still is,” Mr. Raab said in an interview on Sunday. “Even now, police use the same techniques to manipulate suspects into giving false confessions. And 90 percent of convictions are still based on confessions.”

The police and prosecutors at the time denied any misconduct. Legal reformers asked Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller, a Republican, to appoint a panel to investigate, but he declined.

Yet Mr. Whitmore’s legal troubles were far from over. With the Manhattan district attorney still refusing to clear him entirely in the Wylie-Hoffert case, Mr. Whitmore went to trial for the murder of Minnie Edmonds, solely on the evidence of his “confession.”

In the debate in the New York State Legislature over a proposal to abolish the death penalty, Mr. Whitmore’s case became a warning cry against the killing of innocents. “In Whitmore’s case,” said Assemblyman Bertram L. Podell of Brooklyn, “we have learned to our shock and horror that a 61-page statement of completely detailed confession was manufactured and force-fed to this accused.”

Governor Rockefeller signed a bill in 1965 abolishing capital punishment, except in the killing of police officers. (The death penalty was reinstated in 1995, and declared unconstitutional in 2004.) The Supreme Court cited Mr. Whitmore’s case as “the most conspicuous example” of police coercion in the country when it issued its 1966 ruling establishing a set of protections for suspects, like the right to remain silent, in “Miranda v. Arizona.”

Mr. Whitmore was tried several times in the murder of Ms. Edmonds, with each trial ending in a hung jury.

As a result of the various cases in which he had become entangled, he was in and out of prison, for months and years at a time, until April 10, 1973, when the Brooklyn district attorney, Eugene Gold, dismissed the last case against him — a retrial of the attempted rape case — with new evidence exonerating Mr. Whitmore. On his release from custody that day, Mr. Whitmore said that what he felt was “just beyond expressing,” adding “I’m not bitter. I appreciate greatly what the D.A. did.”

His life after prison was marked by depression and alcoholism, said T. J. English, author of “The Savage City: Race, Murder and a Generation on the Edge,” in which Mr. Whitmore’s life is chronicled.

Mr. Whitmore moved back to Wildwood, operated a commercial fishing boat for a time, and was later disabled in a boating accident. He was unemployed for long stretches.

Mr. Whitmore’s daughter Regina said he had children but never married.

Besides her, she said, his survivors include three other daughters, Aida, Sonya and Tonya, and two sons, George and James, all of whom have taken the name Whitmore, and more than 20 grandchildren.

“He told us about what happened to him,” she said. “But he said he never held it against anybody. He was always a very sweet man with us. He wanted us to grow up happy.” 


Rape accuser "hates" false rape claimants

Natalie Carmichael, who alleges that she was raped, spoke of her disgust for women who come up with malicious rape allegations and make it harder for true victims to be believed when they give evidence.

She said: “I don’t know any female who would deliberately put herself through a rape case but I understand people do make false allegations and that’s wrong.

“I hate people for that, because it’s made it more difficult for folk like me.”

Monday, October 22, 2012

Proposal at York University to respond to sexual assaults: require all undergraduates to take a women's studies class

York University has had six sexual assault claims in less than one month. According to police, the latest attack occurred at a bus stop, just one day after another incident was reported of a sexual assault inside a student residence.

In response, the York student union, theYork Federation of Students (YFS), has revived a pet “preventative” solution: a mandatory equity or women’s studies class for all undergraduate students at York University as a condition for graduation. Safiyah Husein, the VP equity for YFS, maintained that such a course would serve as a “preventative measure to get to the root causes and stop [sexual assaults and violence] before that happens.”

The suspect in this most recent attack is alleged to be in his 30s or 40s—most likely not a York University undergraduate student. And the arrest following a string of assaults in July saw three counts of sexual assault (and others) brought against a 20-year-old Toronto man — also not a York University student. In those cases and others, a mandatory course would have absolutely zero effect.

Is it prudent to require all undergraduates to take a women's studies course? Or it is overkill? Dr. David Lisak has shown that the vast majority of rapes are committed by a small group of predators.Likak "says schools put too much faith in teachable moments, when they ought to treat sexual assault as a criminal matter. 'These are clearly not individuals who are simply in need of a little extra education about proper communication with the opposite sex,' he says. 'These are predators.'"

As one writer put it: this debate "distracts attention from the real issue at York — the appalling state of security on the campus. York covers a huge geographic area, with campus facilities spread across all of it. There are plenty of dark fields and blind corners, and not nearly enough patrols and security cameras. York is always pledging to do better here, and no doubt after the latest string of assaults, will promise to do better still. But it’s not working. The campus is not a safe place, and that needs addressing. Now."  And: "The need to clamp down on sexual violence at York University is obvious. But forcing a new equity course on every student will do nothing to make the campus safer, and would serve only to encourage students uninterested from funding someone else’s thought experiment to take their tuition dollars elsewhere."

Friday, October 19, 2012

Georgetown University jacks up standard of proof to 'clear and convincing evidence' -- except for alleged sex offenses  

Toronto’s Roz and Mocha radio show facing backlash after contestant lies about being raped to win $10,000

The co-host of KISS 92.5’s Roz & Mocha Show says he’s not sure if the popular radio program will issue an apology for a segment aired Thursday morning, which featured a contestant who lied about being raped in order to win a $10,000 prize.

Roz Weston said in an email to the Star that producers of the show had not yet discussed an apology, but said the contestant’s lie “took us all by surprise.”

“Having someone come in and lie about being raped was not what I had envisioned for the game,” he said.

“I would never trivialize abuse, and would never use it as entertainment. If we had known ahead of time … I’m not sure she would have been picked at all,” Weston said.

The game, called Decision Impossible, involves taking three people, asking them why they deserve the money, then forcing them to decide amongst themselves who should win.

On Thursday morning, a woman named Kristyn convinced her two fellow contestants that she was the most deserving of the $10,000 prize by talking about her life with a former boyfriend, who she claimed had been verbally and physically abusive.

“He would beat me, he would rape me,” she said. “I felt helpless, I was trapped.”

But some were suspicious about the story’s authenticity, given she had previously said on air that she would do anything to win the money — “If I have to yell and scream, I’ll do that. If I have to lie, I’ll do that too,” she said.

Appearing on the morning show again Friday to face accusations she was lying, and revealed “the majority of the story” had been “exaggerated.”

“I was not raped,” she said, adding she had not been physically abused at all.

Listeners of the show took to Twitter and Facebook on Friday to air their complaints about the woman’s actions, the contest and the radio show.

“#DecisionImpossible is the worst radio contest ever. Encouraging ppl to lie then reward them with money is FRAUD,” tweeted @Rottenpeach_com.

“Canadian radio stations are sick out of their mind! @kiss925toronto (giving) fake rape victims $10000 for ratings ...” tweeted @denojohn. 

Many also complained on Facebook and in the comments section of the radio show website.

“Her lying was a slap in the face to all the women and even some men who have gone though such a horrible thing,” said another commenter.

Others commended her for playing a shrewd game.

“(S)he did what she needed to do. Stop taking it so seriously. Congrats to her for getting the money!” wrote one Facebook user.

“Dozens” of people are also calling into the radio show with that same reaction — something Weston said fascinates him.

The game, he said, is part-social experiment, and is intended to be entertaining, emotional and fun to listen to — “even if it is a bit awkward.”

“We came up with the concept, but how it plays out is entirely in the hands of three strangers. They 100% decide the outcome. They’re not actors. They’ve never met.”

After the show aired, Weston responded to a tweet that suggested “money is the root of all evil” — to which he said it “also makes for an entertaining show!”

Asked to explain, Weston said he wasn’t saying that lying about rape was an entertainment.

“But money games (based on similar situations) are nothing new. They’ve been a part of entertainment and reality TV for a long time,” he wrote in an email.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Are you as sick of politics as I am?

The chronically offended are hard at work inventing things to be chronically offended about.

People who wouldn't vote for Mitt Romney under any circumstance and regardless of his record are manufacturing yet another gender Circus Maximus to cast him in a bad light. This time, they are feigning offense about an innocuous comment the Governor made during this week's debate. You know the one--the "binders full of women" comment.

The Governor's shorthand remark was made when he was describing his track record of seeking out women for important government jobs. By any measure, that's a laudable effort. Yet, extremist loons and ideologues with a bent for prevarication are insisting that the comment "flaunts" the Governor's "gender bias."

And the campaign has just entered The Twilight Zone.

Perhaps most amusing of all, Vice President Joe Biden even took time out of making faces at his opponents to attack the comment.

You may recall that Mr. Biden once famously said this about Barack Obama: "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." 

Am I suggesting that the local village idiot has more credibility than Joe Biden? I'll leave that to you to decide.

Norcross False Incrimination Bill Passed By Senate

Please take note of the votes for/against in the final paragraph. This is very heartening to see.

In an effort to deter those who would abuse law enforcement resources, Senator Donald Norcross (D-Camden/Gloucester) has sponsored legislation to increase the penalties for perpetrators issuing false police reports. S1878 – which increases the penalties for any person who gives or knowingly causes to be given false information to a law enforcement officer in order to implicate another – was passed by the Senate today.

“Earlier this year, an individual in my district caused a manhunt by falsely accusing an acquaintance of sexual assault, identifying him as a serial rapist that had been plaguing Camden City,” said Senator Norcross. “While police officers were busy investigating this person’s lies, they were unable to pursue the true criminal.”

Under current law, such offenses are crimes of the fourth-degree and carry a sentence of up to 18-months in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. Norcross’ bill upgrades false incrimination to a third-degree crime, or a second-degree crime if the victim was implicated in a crime of the first or second degree.

“This individual wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars in a city that is already strapped for resources,” added Senator Norcross. “A fourth-degree penalty is tantamount to a slap on the wrist when compared with the disruption and waste caused by a lie.”

A crime of the third degree is punishable by three to five years imprisonment, a fine of up to $15,000, or both. A crime of the second degree is punishable by five to ten years in prison, a fine of up to $150,000, or both.

Camden City Police Chief Scott Thomson has expressed support of the legislation. Significant man power and six hours’ worth of potential leads were lost as the investigation was diverted to pursue this false lead.

“The fact is that the investigation was derailed by this individual – wasting time, effort and money,” said Chief Thomson.

The bill also upgrades the crime of issuing a false report from a disorderly person’s offense to a fourth degree crime. Those instances in which no actual person is named, but a fictitious report is made would be covered under this provision.

“These actions undermine law enforcement agencies, take attention away from actual victims, and put the community at risk,” said Senator Norcross. “Man-power and resources become diverted, not to mention the potential hysteria caused by public reaction to a fake crime.”

S1878 was passed by the Senate with a vote of 36 to 0. An identical bill in the Assembly is sponsored by Assemblyman Gilbert “Whip” Wilson (D-Camden/Gloucester) and is awaiting consideration by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Univ. of Michigan employs 'the best thinking possible' to lower the standard of proof from 'clear and convincing' to 'preponderance of the evidence' in campus sex cases

Family of Keith Porter believe rape claim led to his death

The following is a prime example of just what kind of damage a claim of rape can do. And even though we don't know if the accusation is true or false, it merits attention.

A MOTHER has described how her loving son took his own life after being accused of rape.
Keith Porter, 35, was found hanged at his home in Church Street, Highbridge, by his mother Rita.

She told an inquest into her son's death last week the accusations, which she and the rest of Mr Porter's family insist are false, caused him to commit suicide.

She said: “I love my son so much. He was happy, loving, giving, sensitive, a real joy and somebody to be proud of.

“He was falsely accused of rape and I believe his actions were because of the allegations made against him.”

Mr Porter died on May 29 this year, nearly three months after he was arrested on suspicion of raping a woman known to him.

The hearing heard the alleged offence dated back several years and Mr Porter had met the woman concerned on many occasions since.

He was on bail at the time of his death and had not been charged.

Mrs Porter added at the hearing: “Every time we met he would say 'Mum, I don't know why she's done this'.

“As the weeks went by he really became a shadow of himself and lost a lot of weight.

“He was crestfallen to think that he had been accused of such a thing and we were all in support of him.”

Mr Porter's father Michael told the inquest his son had mentioned self-harming two weeks before his death, but had reassured his dad he would never go through with it.

He said: “That's why it was such a shock.

“I think it must have been a cry for help. I never ever believe that he intended to do what he did.”

Mr Porter, who worked for conservatory makers David Salisbury in Highbridge until being made redundant last November, had played football for Burnham United and was a keen golfer and skittler.

He had been in a relationship with Pauline Best for five years.

They lived together and had been talking about marriage.

She told the inquest: “He was a very sensitive, loving person.

“Our relationship was a lovely, happy, jolly relationship until this allegation. This allegation is why we're here today.”

West Somerset Coroner Michael Rose adjourned the inquest to a date to be fixed, to give the woman who made the rape allegation the opportunity to attend the next hearing.


Monday, October 15, 2012

DNA lab error sent innocent 19-year-old to jail for months

A woman was raped in Manchester, a city Adam Scott, 19, had never even visited, but Mr. Scott was arrested and charged with the rape and thereafter spent three months in jail.

Why? Because LGC Forensics in Teddington, South West London, which does scientific testing for Greater Manchester Police, allowed Mr. Scott's DNA sample (which police had on file from an unrelated matter) to come in contact with a swab collected from the rape scene. The contaminated DNA made it look for certain that Mr. Scott was the rapist.

Now, Forensic Scientist Regulator Andrew Rennison has issued a report (found here: that says Mr. Scott was an “innocent victim of avoidable contamination.

Rennison’s report stated that, “It is estimated that the chance of obtaining matching DNA components if the DNA came from someone else unrelated to Adam Scott is approximately one in one billion (one billion is one thousand million). In my opinion the DNA matching that of Adam Scott has most likely originated from semen.”  Rennison said that the procedures were not adequate and that the records were not maintained properly by the technicians. He cited that used trays were not marked to indicate that it was already used.
Scott disclosed in a statement that he was angry that he was wrongly accused and that the false allegations had caused him and his family great pain.

When Mr. Scott was arrested, police said he was “absolutely adamant that he had never been to Manchester so that gave us some concern.” But obviously not enough concern to believe him over the results of DNA testing. The lab pinpointed Mr. Scott as the culprit, and that all police needed to arrest and charge him.

“I am angry I was falsely accused. I am angry about the amount of pain it has put me and my family through," said Mr. Scott. "I sincerely hope justice comes for the victim and the true rapist is caught.”


Friday, October 12, 2012

Obama 'justice' in college sexual assault cases 'a travesty of due process'

Posted by Mark Bauerlein at Minding the Campus

In this week's Chronicle of Higher Education, Joseph Cohn, director of policy at FIRE, summarizes the due process implications of a letter sent to colleges and universities last April by the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. As was widely reported at the time, the letter instructs schools to adopt the lowest standard of proof in our judicial system, preponderance of the evidence, in cases of alleged sexual misconduct, ranging from harassment to rape.

During the Bush Administration, Cohn notes, colleges enjoyed greater flexibility in their proceedings, and the Office of Civil Rights accepted a wide variety of standards among institutions. The new directive, signed by Obama appointee Russlyn Ali, allows little latitude.

Supporters have defended the lower standard of proof by citing civil lawsuits that also rely on a preponderance outcome, but the elements of civil lawsuits that are missing from campus hearings are worth listing:

Civil trials have impartial, legally-trained judges; campus hearings often rely on "a panel of faculty, students, and/or administrators."

In civil cases, either party may demand a jury; in campus hearings, the option isn't available.

In civil cases, parties have right to counsel; in campus hearings, "parties to these hearings frequently have no right to counsel."

In campus hearings, "rules of evidence don't apply," and witnesses "are usually not placed under oath."

According to Cohn, of 198 colleges ranked by U.S. News & World Report, 30 institutions so far have complied.

This is a travesty of due process, but it pleases advocacy groups such as the Women's Sports Foundation, the Association of Title IX Administrators, and Wendy Murphy (remember the Duke Lacrosse Scandal?), all of whom signed a statement in support of the letter. One particular sentence in the support statement indicates clearly why the new standard is a dangerous one. It reads: "The preponderance standard is the only equitable choice under Title IX as it avoids the presumption, inherent in a higher standard of proof, that the word of a victim is less weighty than the word of an accused individual's denial."

Note the acceptance of victim status for one party before the respective "words" have even been given. In some cases, of course, there will be physical evidence of assault, but in other cases, we have precisely a contest of words alone. With the stakes so high for the accused, should the accuser's accusation be as "weighty" as the accused's denial? Yes, according to these groups and the Obama Administration, and they dress it up in a language of "equity."

Feminist criminal defense lawyer commentary worth a read

She is asked "how can you defend men who victimize women?" and "how can you be a feminist and also a criminal defense lawyer?"  Here is what she said:

"I've found that responding with a statement about the Sixth Amendment right to counsel can produce eye-rolling and that attempts to talk rationally about cases where women have made false accusations of rape nearly always fail.

"Yes, I do know victims of rape, and as the mother of two girls, I desperately want 'no' to always mean 'no,' but my unqualified disgust with acts of violence against women does not lessen my commitment to the rights of the accused."

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Legislators ought to stop giving sexual assault tutorials

Wisconsin state representative Rep. Roger Rivard (R-Rice Lake, Wisconsin) is in trouble for addled and insensitive comments he made about rape.  He has done the community of the wrongly accused no favors.

Rivard, for reasons I cannot discern, was commenting on a case in Wisconsin where a boy was charged for having sex with a younger girl. The boy was 17, the girl was 14, and children under 16 can not legally consent to any type of sexual contact in Wisconsin. This is commonly referred to as statutory rape where valid legal consent is deemed by law not to exist because of the age of the girl.

Given the age of the children in the scenario Rivard addressed, the compassionate, and just, response is to hope that the boy is not punished as if he were an adult. It can even trigger a legitimate debate about whether a three-year age gap in teens should negate the offense altogether. I have no expertise in such matters, but rational people recognize that society has to draw bright-lines when it comes to the age of consent. The appropriate age is something over which there is much debate, and this case raises troubling, and very serious, questions.

Instead of positing a serious response, Rep. Rivard made these startling comments: He said his father warned him, "Some girls rape easy" - meaning that after the fact they can change what they say about whether sex was consensual. Then, Rivard "clarified" his remarks and related what his father told him about premarital sex: "He . . .  told me one thing, 'If you do (have premarital sex), just remember, consensual sex can turn into rape in an awful hurry.'" Rivard said. "Because all of a sudden a young lady gets pregnant and the parents are madder than a wet hen and she's not going to say, 'Oh, yeah, I was part of the program.' All that she has to say or the parents have to say is it was rape because she's underage. And he just said, 'Remember, Roger, if you go down that road, some girls,' he said, 'they rape so easy.'"

Instead of "clarifying" his remarks, Rivard tumbled deeper down the rabbit hole. This blog, which is the leading blog that gives voice to the wrongly accused, does not support Rivard's comments.

First, boys should not have sex with underage girls, but not for the reasons Rivard suggests. Putting aside issues of morality, the girl was underage at the time of the act, and her willingness, or unwillingness, to engage in the act has nothing to do with crime of statutory rape. If she was underage, it was rape the moment the act occurred. Yes, Rep. Rivard, rape is "easy" in that instance -- because the girl was underage.  If a girl becomes pregnant, the illegal tryst will come to light, and the state has a duty to prosecute. Rivard seems to be telling boys to be wary of having sex with underage girls not because it's illegal but because the girl might reveal the tryst, which is troubling and bizarre on a host of levels.

Second, Rivard's comments suggested that boys should be wary of having sex with underage girls because the girls will lie and claim it was nonconsensual.  Rivard's message wrongly suggests that girls have a propensity to lie about rape. The reality is that teen sex occurs routinely in our culture -- it would be impossible even to estimate its frequency -- and the overwhelming number of such incidents do not spark false rape claims. That is a fact.

If Rivard wanted to talk to boys about having sex, he missed a golden opportunity to paint a mature, and serious, picture for them. He should have talked about the dangers of pregnancy, and the boy's responsibility to support children born as a result of the encounter -- about how the boy will exchange a few minutes of immediate pleasure for 18 years of child support.

Rivard should have talked about the necessity of consent, and about not proceeding if the boy is unclear about the girl's intentions. Beyond that, Rivard should have talked about how studies show that girls have much greater after-the-fact regret than boys, and that even if she says "yes," she might later regret it.  Rivard could have told the boys to envision how their girlfriends might react to the sexual encounter after it is over.  He could have told the boys to envision how their girlfriends' parents will react to the news that she's having sex with him. Will she feel pressure to lie to them and claim it was non-consensual? False rape claims sometimes occur, as Amanda Marcotte has written, because of "the idea that it's shameful to just have sex because you want to." Amanda Hess similarly talked about women who make false claims to defend their "femininity." Society holds young women to standards different than young men (although recent studies show that is changing among young people), and girls typically feel greater societal pressure than boys to refrain from sex. (That, of course, does not excuse false rape claims.)

What we need is a mature, serious discussion about these matters. Not warped views that "women routinely lie about rape," or, for that matter, that "women never lie about rape."  The world is far, far more complex than that, and the issues are too serious to reduce to mantras. Lawmakers, like most bloggers, should stay out of the public discourse on these issues until they actually know what they're talking about.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wrongly accused man sues NY City and the Brooklyn DA's office

Darrell Dula, wrongly accused along with three other men of raping a young Orthodox Jewish and forcing her to become a prostitute, has sued New York City and the Brooklyn district attorney’s office for malicious prosecution, defamation and false imprisonment. Charles J. Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney, and Lauren Hersh, the chief of Mr. Hynes’s sex-trafficking unit, were named in a separate, related suit.

Mr. Dula spent ten months in jail without bail before prosecutors last month dropped all charges against Dula and his three co-defendants.

Hynes had called all four men “low lives” in front of reporters, claiming they’d forced the young woman into prostituting herself for eight years, starting when she was 13. “It’s one of the sickest cases I’ve ever seen,” the veteran prosecutor gushed. In addition, reporters were told that Mr. Dula had been involved in sex trafficking, and had threatened the woman’s family members, according to one of Mr. Dula's attorneys.

Hynes and lead prosecutor Lauren Hersh proceeded with the prosecution despite knowing that a year prior, the woman had brought similar allegations to NYPD sex crimes detectives, only to change her mind and recant within hours.

Then, an assistant district attorney, Abbie Greenberger, quit her job, complaining that Ms. Hersh pressured her to continue the prosecution even though the accuser had partially recanted her allegations. The accuser claimed the recantation was pressured by the police.

Shortly after, Ms. Hersh, who oversaw the case, also quit her job, amid claims that she had failed to tell the defense about the changed account or about other evidence that could have damaged the prosecution’s case. She resigned in May, after the district attorney’s office conducted a review and concluded that she had not acted improperly.

According to a former Brooklyn prosecutor with close ties to Mr. Hynes’s office, the lawyer-disciplinary committee of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court’s First Department, in Manhattan, is investigating Ms. Hersh’s conduct in the rape case and other cases.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

'Given the horrific nature of Jerry Sandusky's crimes, will the public care what happens to him in prison?'

Jerry Sandusky's misconduct is both universally and properly reviled. It would be overly-charitable to characterize as "delusional" Mr. Sandusky's continued insistence that he is guilty only of bad judgment.

But when Mr. Sandusky is sentenced to prison today, he may be at increased risk of becoming a victim of the very act that he, himself, committed on numerous helpless boys. That should be a concern to all persons of good will even though such concern will not be a natural impulse.

. . . child molesters are reviled inside prison walls just as they are on the outside, and are often subjected to physical and verbal abuse, including sexual assault. Given the horrific nature of Sandusky's crimes, will the public care what happens to him in prison?

"The Sandusky case is one of those moments when our core beliefs are really tested," said Lovisa Stannow, executive director of Just Detention International, a group that fights prison rape. "This is a moment when it's especially crucial to recognize that nobody ever deserves to be raped. No matter who you are, sexual violence and rape is wrong, it's a crime, and it is something we have to fight."

Jerry Sandusky is no more worthy of concern, or protection from sexual abuse, than is any other inmate in the state's custody. But his high-profile case serves as a reminder to all of us that the problem of prison rape is real and should not be ignored. Even people who have committed evil acts do not "deserve" brutal, vigilante justice while in the state's custody, and we must insist that the state protect them from such brutality.

Woman charged with making false reports of rape at Warriors Path

Please note the plural "reports" in the title. You are reading that correctly. Kimberly Evans reported that she was raped not once, but twice, to cover up an affair she was having, that she didn't want her husband to know about. 

A Kingsport woman has been arrested after allegedly claiming she was raped by unknown men on two occasions at Warriors Path State Park, but later admitting she fabricated the accounts to cover up an extramarital affair.

Kimberly Evans, 29, of 2633 Reservoir Road, turned herself in at the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office on Thursday morning. She is charged with two counts of filing a false police report.

According to police records, Evans contacted the Sheriff's Office on Sept. 10. She claimed the first incident occurred sometime in June when she was walking in the park and grabbed by an unknown white male.

Evans reportedly told police she was choked and bit on the neck by the man, who then tied her hands behind her back and pulled her into the bushes. A police report says she claimed the attacker covered her mouth with his hand, preventing her from screaming for help, and punched her in the stomach several times while penetrating her.

The man, according to Evans account to police, told her to remain in the bushes for 20 seconds as he ran away from the scene, threatening to hunt her down and kill her if she told anyone about the attack.

At the time Evans was reporting the June incident to investigators, she allegedly relayed a second attack at Warriors Path in the month of August — this one perpetrated by a different man.

Evans allegedly said this incident occurred while she walking near the Frisbee golf area, with the suspect holding a knife to her back as he raped her. She reportedly described the man as a white male with military-style haircut, wearing hiking boots and a muddy T-shirt. Evans told police he was likely on some type of drugs, according to the report, and apologized before he ran away.

When making the reports to police on Sept. 10, Evans allegedly claimed she had just told her husband about the attacks. Police were initially concerned about the alleged incidents, but subsequent questioning revealed Evans' statements didn't match up.

According to an affidavit filed in Sullivan County court, Evans would later tell a detective that she had lied to police. The court records says Evans did so to cover up a sexual encounter with a friend, which she didn't want her husband to know about.


Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence to falsely accused: 'a righteous indignation instead of fear should inform your feelings'

Great answer, and I am sure the community of the wrongly accused appreciate it:

Q. Confessing My Darkest Secret: I have fallen in love with a wonderful woman, but I harbor a secret I'm terrified will send her running in the other direction. Seven years ago a vengeful ex-girlfriend falsely accused me of raping and beating her. She either hurt herself or convinced someone to hurt her. I was arrested, and my parents spent most of their savings on the lawyer who finally exonerated me. Eventually the cops figured out she lied, though at that point many people at our small college saw me as a rapist. I have undergone extensive counseling and am in a much better place now, but no amount of therapy can calm my fear that when they hear my story, people will go running in the other direction. I love my girlfriend but do not know how to begin to tell her about the false rape accusation. If you are kind enough to answer this question, I seriously hope it doesn't inspire gender-bashing or hyperbole from readers. I just need advice about how to confess this secret.
A: You've been through a terrible trauma and it's something you should share with someone you love. Even though you've had therapy it sounds as if you've absorbed much of the shame that was heaped on you. Perhaps a new therapist can help free you more. Of course you want to put this behind you and not dwell on it, but a righteous indignation instead of fear should inform your feelings. Before you tell your beloved, rehearse what you want to say—you will not be convincing if you speak with an air of terror. Remember you, not your ex, were the victim. Say you want her to know about a terrible episode in your life because it's something important you experienced and because you wouldn't want her to hear a distorted version from someone else. If you have some legal paperwork about your exoneration you can offer to show her, explaining you know such cases can raise doubts in people's minds, and you don't want her to have any about you.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Is the Military using the University of Montana Standard of Coercion?

A court martial for rape at Ft. Detrick raises an interesting issue of what constitutes rape:

The events began June 3 when police received a call for help from a woman at Landy's home. While police were there, Landy admitted he had an unregistered gun in a closet in violation of post regulations.
On July 10, the woman reported to police that she had been raped by Landy. Two military police officers from Fort Meade who investigated the case said the woman told them she was raped when they interviewed her at the hospital and then again the next day.
But the woman testified Thursday on behalf of Landy, saying she called a counselor to discuss their rocky relationship when Landy failed to respond to her text messages after he had roused her from sleep for sex earlier that morning. The counselor sent out an advocate who then took her to Frederick Memorial Hospital, the woman testified.
The woman called the rape charge "absurd" and said that she initially did not want to have sex but eventually submitted.
"I never said that he raped me," she said. "Everybody else assumed that's what it was."

So, on June 3, Landy was not arrested for rape.  However, he admitted that he violated a regulation by having an unregistered gun in his closet.  Then around July 10, she goes to talk to a counselor about her rocky relationship with Landy and tells the counselor that Landy roused her from sleep for sex.  She says that she initially did not want to have sex, but then submitted.  The key question is: why did she change her mind?  Did he threaten her?  Or, did he nag her, guilt trip her, beg her, etc.?

I've worked with CPT Sean Moran on a previous case, and he seems to be a skilled litigator.  The question is whether or not the Army follows the same standard as the University of Montana in its definition of unlawful coercion?

Friday, October 5, 2012

La. death row inmate released after confession turns out false and after being cleared by DNA

15 years. On death row. After a forced confession. It's amazing what the advent of DNA testing and technology have done for those innocents. Without going through the Innocence Project's list of profiles one by one, I think it's reasonable to assume most of them are men. Regardless of the gender makeup, one conviction from a false accusation is too many.

Kevin Thibodeaux is the 300th person whom DNA has shown to be innocent of the conviction. In this case, it also was enough to get him off of death row, and released from prison.

In 1997, Kevin was convicted of raping and killing his 14 year old step-cousin. A confession was obtained after 9 hours of interrogation, which was essentially the sole basis for his conviction. However, recent DNA testing shows that he was not the person who perpetrated the rape and murder.

He was released this last friday, after 15 years on death row.

In a statement, Thibodeaux said he was grateful to the district attorney and is “looking forward to life as a free man again.”

Since 2000, The Innocence Project says, six people have been exonerated from Louisiana’s death row.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Teen charged with filing false rape report .

NEWPORT NEWS-- A 15-year-old Newport News girl who claimed she was raped last week is now charged with filing a false report.

The teenager claimed she was raped while waiting for the school bus near the Lochaven Apartments off Old Oyster Point Road.

According to Detective Amber Rogers with the Special Victim's Unit, "The girl made up the story so she wouldn't have to tell her father she had sex and she could still get protected with the Plan B."

Plan B is a morning after pill that prevents pregnancy.

Police have taken out a petition charging the teen with filing a false report. The department also wants to be reimbursed for the $1,200 rape kit used in the investigation.

Detective Rogers says, "It's very frustrating because we have legitimate cases and we had to take time away from those cases for one that didn't happen."

Police say that in the last two years there have been two legitimate stranger rape cases reported in Newport News.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

French man gets 800,000 euros for false rape conviction

A French court Tuesday ordered nearly 800,000 euros to be paid in compensation to a former farm worker who spent more than seven years in prison after being falsely convicted of child rape.

Loic Secher, 51, is only the seventh person to have a wrongful conviction overturned in France since 1945. He had been demanding 2.4 million euros ($3 million) in damages.

Secher had spent seven years and three months in prison after a 14-year-old girl accused him of raping her. He was sentenced in 2003 to 16 years in jail.

The alleged victim retracted her accusation in 2008 and Secher was acquitted two years later, emerging from prison in April 2010.

His lawyers said he suffered violence at the hands of his fellow prisoners and had attempted suicide.

The court in the northwestern city of Rennes also ordered Secher's mother to be paid 50,000 euros in damages and awarded a sum of 30,000 euros to each of his three siblings.

Secher, who had consistently proclaimed his innocence, has said he felt "destroyed" and "ruined" by his time in prison.

"There can be no price put on compensation for what he went through," said Jean-Pierre Chesne, who headed a group seeking Secher's acquittal.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Man imprisoned for rape since 2003 to get new trial, or be released, because newly discovered evidence shows accuser claims she had been raped by up to eight different people on nine or more separate occasions

In 2003, James Eugene Grissom was convicted and sentenced to a 15 to 35 year prison term for allegedly raping a woman in a Michigan parking lot. Last summer, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered the trial court to consider giving Mr. Grissom a new trial because of evidence discovered after his trial that casts doubt on the purported victim’s credibility. The decision is reported here: People v. Grissom, 2012 Mich. LEXIS 1231 (Mich. filed July 31, 2012).

According to a concurring opinion filed in that case by Justice Marilyn Kelly, the newly discovered evidence shows that the complainant reported to the police, family, or friends that she had been raped by up to eight different people on nine or more separate occasions.

Yesterday, St. Clair County Circuit Judge Cynthia Lane has recommended a new trial for Mr. Grissom. "Because the prosecution lacked physical evidence, the complainant’s credibility became the cornerstone of its case. Had the jury not believed the complainant, the prosecution would have had little evidence to support the defendant’s guilt,” Lane wrote in her opinion. Lane wrote evidence found after Grissom’s conviction might have affected the jury’s assessment of her credibility. That new evidence includes numerous other allegations of sexual assault by the victim in California. “... The other newly discovered evidence is exculpatory because it tends to make the complainant’s testimony about the [instant] assault unbelievable — and thus tends to prove the defendant’s innocence,” reads a portion of Lane’s opinion.

Sara Ylen told investigators she was attacked May 12, 2001, in the Fort Gratiot Meijer parking lot in broad daylight. She didn’t report the rape until June 2002. Lane wrote that Ylen was portrayed differently by local prosecutors and California police officers. Here, Ylen was depicted as a “courageous wife and mother who struggled to overcome unthinkable shock and embarrassment,” Lane wrote. In California, investigators said she was “a woman with a traumatic childhood who actively participated in an on-line rape support group before she was raped; who concocted incredible stories of abduction and gang rape in apparent attempts to gain attention; and who made anywhere between one and nine prior false accusations of rape.”

Lane’s opinion has been turned over to the Supreme Court, which will determine what happens next. St. Clair County Prosecutor Mike Wendling said that if it is determined the case should have a second trial, the prosecutor’s office will determine if it moves forward. “Then we have to make a decision as to where we’ll go, and our decision will come relatively quickly because there is an individual waiting," he said. “We’ll just have to weigh it all out, see if justice will support another trial and if there’s any reasonable likelihood of a conviction with the evidence we’re presented with, including the newly discovered evidence,” he said.

The state Supreme Court decision contains ample information about the prior false rape claims. Justice Markham wrote:

A review of the newly-discovered evidence in this case indicates the following:

-- In California, approximately four months after the reported assault at issue in this case (but before the complainant reported that assault), the complainant called her father and told him she had been kidnapped and was being held in a room with no windows. Her father told the police he did not believe the com-plainant, explaining that he was "afraid it's just a smoke screen" because com-plainant "likes to have a lot of attention." Finally, the complainant's husband told police that her clothing and toothbrush were missing.

-- Police discovered that the com-plainant was actually in California staying with friends, and that she had told those friends that she had been raped several times, including by her brother in Colorado, and that her husband had been "in on it."

-- When contacted by police, the complainant stated that a man and woman had kidnapped her at knife point, driven her to a concrete block room with no lights or windows, and given her six large, white pills. The complainant stated that the man robbed her of her jewelry.

-- The complainant then recanted her report of the robbery and kidnapping, stating that it "never occurred" and that her friends, whom she had met in an online rape support group 18 months ear-lier, had picked her up from the restau-rant.

-- The complainant explained that she had joined the rape support group before being raped in Michigan because "she was raped when she was six years old" and "she has been in and out of support groups and therapy for years." However, the complainant's husband expressed "a difficult time believing [she] was telling the truth."

-- The complainant told the police that she had planned to spend the night with her friends without telling her hus-band or family and had fabricated the kidnapping story to "buy some time" to be alone.

-- The complainant then gave a third version of what happened outside the res-taurant, one that was strikingly similar to the assault at issue here. The complainant told the police that she never went in the restaurant; instead, a man grabbed her, put a knife to her back, and assaulted and raped her in the restaurant parking lot between two parked cars. The complainant then stated that she went in to the restaurant and had lunch with her family.

-- When asked about the complain-ant's reported rape in the parking lot of the restaurant, her mother reported that the complainant was never alone in the parking lot of the restaurant. Rather, the complainant had gone in the restaurant with the rest of the family and appeared fine at lunch.

-- When the complainant went to the hospital after reporting the rape in the restaurant parking lot, she told the police that the man had inserted a small, hand-held, gray flashlight into her vagina, as well as penetrating her digitally and then with his penis. The complainant said that the man wore a green mask and fled when she began screaming and hitting him. The complainant "had some injuries consistent with a sexual assault."

-- The complainant then told the po-lice that in Colorado she had been raped by her brother's friend, who had "tracked her down" at her motel. She later recanted this story and denied that any assault had occurred in Colorado.

-- The complainant told the fiancé of her friend from the online rape support group that her brother and his friends had gang-raped her 18 months earlier and that they had been convicted. The complainant said that her brother had found her in Colorado after he was released from jail and raped her again and that she thought her husband was also involved.

-- The complainant's friend's fiancé, a police officer, reported that the com-plainant had lied to them, that she might be mentally unstable, and that he was worried she might raise false allegations about him.

-- . . . the California police reports "show that complainant reported to police, family or friends that she had been raped by at least eight different people on at least nine separate occasions."

Sources: and People v. Grissom, 2012 Mich. LEXIS 1231 (Mich. filed July 31, 2012).

Police charge woman with falsifying rape claim, fraud

After months of investigating an alleged rape that happened on a public trail, St. George Police have charged the alleged victim with fraud and filing a false police report.

Police responded to the alleged sexual assault on May 2 near a bike bath that runs beneath Sunset Boulevard. Captain Kyle Whitehead said Sarah Rutz told police she was jogging south on the trail when she was attacked, knocked to the ground and raped.

Whitehead said after months of investigation and sorting through several leads the detective assigned to this case developed some information that there may not have been a rape.  Whitehead said Rutz, who made the rape allegations, told the detective that the rape had not taken place like she had told investigators originally.

Whitehead said in addition to the false report the case detective found that the victim had committed fraud in obtaining money as a victim of the alleged rape from the Utah State Crime Victims Reparations.

Once the investigation was completed, Whitehead said the case detective met with a representative from the Washington County Attorney’s office.  After reviewing the case with one of the deputy attorneys a warrant was obtained for Rutz for fraud and false report to police. The warrant was served on Rutz and she was booked into the Washington County Jail on those charges.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Campus Is a Poor Court for Students Facing Sexual-Misconduct Charges

The following article appears here:

By Joseph Cohn,

As student-conduct administrators nationwide know all too well, the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights required in a letter issued last April that institutions adopt our judiciary's lowest standard of proof—the "preponderance of evidence" standard—for use in campus sexual-misconduct hearings, which handle allegations ranging from sexual harassment to sexual assault and rape.

Under the new standard, if it is determined that an accuser's claims are a fraction of a percent more likely to be true than false, the accused may be subjected to discipline, including expulsion.

Unfortunately for students' rights, a long line of institutions have adopted this low standard under federal pressure. In fact, a review of policies at 198 of the colleges ranked this year by U.S. News & World Report reveals that 30 institutions—including Yale University, Stanford University, and the University of Virginia—have changed their standards of proof following OCR's mandate.

That's too bad, because colleges should be free to grant their students more robust due-process rights—and the federal government should not stand in their way.

Previous instructions from the Office for Civil Rights granted universities far greater flexibility. Indeed, OCR's 2001 Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance noted that "procedures adopted by schools will vary considerably in detail, specificity, and components, reflecting differences in audiences, school sizes and administrative structures, state or local legal requirements, and past experience."

Now OCR and its defenders are arguing that the preponderance-of-evidence standard is appropriate for adjudicating campus sexual-assault and sexual-harassment claims because it is the same standard that federal courts use when deciding civil lawsuits, including civil-rights lawsuits. Comparing college disciplinary hearings to civil lawsuits may be an attractive analogy, but is it accurate?

While it is true that most civil cases in federal court are decided under the preponderance standard, due process requires that this low burden of proof be offset by procedural safeguards—lots of them.

For example, to ensure fairness, reliability, and constitutionality, civil trials are presided over by experienced, impartial, and legally educated judges. At either party's request, facts are determined by a jury of one's peers. The parties have the right to representation by counsel, and a mandatory process of "discovery" ensures that all relevant evidence will be made available if the opposing party asks for it.

And speaking of evidence, strict rules apply that exclude hearsay, evidence of prior bad acts or crimes, and other information that is either irrelevant or unreliable. Moreover, all depositions and testimonies are given under oath or affirmation, with witnesses subject to perjury charges if they intentionally lie about material issues. The list goes on and on.

So which of those procedural protections are guaranteed in college disciplinary hearings? None. The procedural safeguards used at most colleges are embarrassingly minimal.

Colleges decide for themselves who will preside over these hearings and serve as fact finders. In some instances it's a panel of faculty, students, and/or administrators, the last of whom may have a powerful incentive to come to the conclusion that is most convenient for the institution. (In the real court system, we are very careful to avoid any hint of this bias from our judges and juries.) Even worse, some colleges have a single administrator designated to serve as both judge and jury.

Similarly, the parties to these hearings frequently have no right to counsel—even if they are able to pay for representation. Neither party has the benefit of discovery, and the rules of evidence don't apply. Hearsay and even irrelevant "evidence" are regularly considered. Parties are usually not placed under oath and may not be subject to discipline if they lie.

Without any of the safeguards designed to increase the reliability and fairness of civil trials, the risk of erroneous findings of guilt increases substantially, especially when a fact finder is asked to decide only if it is merely 50.01 percent more likely that a sexual assault occurred. The absence of the protections listed above makes the preponderance standard inappropriate and renders the comparison of campus sexual-misconduct hearings to civil suits in federal court inexact.

If anything, because there are so few procedural protections in place during sexual-misconduct hearings on campuses, the burden of proof should be higher, to offset the increased risk of error. After all, a guilty finding for sexual misconduct on campus may result in life- and career-altering punishment. And mistakes have been made. In one case, the University of North Dakota banned a student from the institution for sexual assault despite the fact that the Grand Forks police refused to charge him with a crime and in fact charged his accuser with making a false claim. The university eventually reversed its ruling, but only after it was faced with significant public pressure.

One other important feature distinguishes civil lawsuits from campus proceedings: Civil suits can be settled for money and kept confidential. Yet students accused of sexual misconduct cannot simply settle the case for money and stay in school. Preponderance advocates should ask themselves why this is so. If the answer is that campus sexual misconduct is more like a crime (with a victim and alleged perpetrator) than a civil dispute (with a plaintiff and defendant)—as is certainly the case—then why is the preponderance standard sufficient for charges of sexual misconduct on campus?

Given the laundry list of procedural safeguards present in civil trials but absent in college sexual misconduct hearings, and the difference between civil disputes and sexual misconduct, is it fair to argue that simply because the preponderance standard is used by federal courts deciding civil-rights cases, it must therefore be fair to use in college sexual-misconduct hearings? Only if you think it's fair to compare apples to oranges—and only if you are untroubled by expulsions of innocent students.

Joseph Cohn is the legislative and policy director at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

At Univ. of North Florida, four false police reports in past calendar year reap steep consequences

When students at the University of North Florida file false police reports, they may not be aware that more than $3,000 of fines could be waiting for them when UPD finds the reports untrue.

And since October 2011, there have been a total of four false police reports, said UPD Lt. Tammy Oliver, which has caused a waste of time, money and resources by UPD officials who investigate the crimes that never occurred.

“It’s fairly unusual in my experience to have that many in that short of time,” she said.

She said she hoped it was just a coincidence and not a growing trend.

While previous cases occurred in the 2011-12 school year, UPD found two reports involving female students to be false in August.

Earlier this semester, a UPD investigation determined a police report involving a woman named Triveni Kakani to be false.

Kakani, 21, claimed she was robbed on campus, according to an Aug. 2 police report.The report said Sgt. Mike Sams spoke with Kakani over the phone, who confirmed the incident.  Kakani reported two males approached her, drugged her and shoved her into the backseat of her silver Honda Accord, where she awoke several hours later.

UPD Detective Philip Kearney and Officer Dwayne Howard traveled to speak with Kakani Aug. 3 but could not locate her, the report said.

The police report said Kakani met with Kearney and recanted her statements Aug. 6, saying she never meant for any of it to happen. She said she didn’t know there would be an investigation and didn’t mean to mislead officers.

Kakani was charged with giving a false report to law enforcement officers and given a misdemeanor citation rather than arrest.

Kakani declined to comment to the Spinnaker.

Courtney Buchman, a UNF communication junior, said she is the assistant manager of the alleged victim of an Aug. 21 sexual battery.

In an Aug. 22 police report, a woman says a man assaulted her inside the UNF Student Wellness Complex’s women’s locker room.

Buchman said her employee, Kristin Boggs, came into work extremely upset one day and soon learned from another co-worker that she had been sexually assaulted in the women’s locker room of the UNF Student Wellness Complex.

Buchman said she immediately called UPD and reported an alleged sexual battery to Kearney and Howard.

Buchman said she learned the story had been falsified only after it showed up online as a student update. She was not charged with filing a false report and said she was only doing what she thought was right.

“All I did was report something I felt UNF and the police needed to know,” Buchman said.

But the false police reports aren’t limited to sexual assault cases.

Three students reported a robbery on campus Oct. 16, 2011. The victims eventually admitted the robbery never occurred and their names were redacted from the report.

Officer Heather Strayer responded to reports of an assault at Osprey Cove Dec. 8, 2011. She met the alleged victim, Luis Rodriguez, and his roommate, Sean Rech.

Rodriguez said two males assaulted him and stole his wallet near the first floor laundry room of Osprey Cove T building, the police report said.

An investigation determined Rodriguez fabricated the story, and there was no assault.

After two attempts each to reach Rodriguez and Rech on the emails the police report lists, neither responded to the Spinnaker.

Oliver said once UPD learns a report has been falsified, the individual is arrested.

This is a big hit for students who could spend time in court and potentially jail. Students must also report to Student Conduct, the judicial arm of UNF Student Affairs.

Bob Shepherd, the Student Conduct officer, said the appropriate charges are officially sent out in a letter that must be responded to within five days. After the student reports to a conduct review, an administrative hearing is scheduled.

Shepherd said Student Conduct encounters about 400 cases a year. He said it has the same process as the UPD’s: A student gets in trouble and gets a notice to appear, with restitution as part of the punishment process.

Students must then endure court costs.

Oliver said UPD fills out an investigative cost sheet, which measures the amount of manpower and resources used to investigate false reports. The student, Oliver said, is then slapped with the bill.

She said the majority of resources that go into investigations are the labor costs. Charged students could also wind up paying for resources from other agencies and evidence technicians, she said.

For Kakani, Oliver said the cost of the investigation was upward of $3,200.

Oliver said the link between students and false reports usually involves the parents.

She said students may lie to parents and authorities in order to protect themselves or someone they care about, while authorities pour time and money into the investigation of crimes that never occurred.

UPD Chief John Dean declined to comment.

Sheila Spivey, the director for the UNF Women’s Center, said between 2 and 8 percent of all nationally reported crimes are false. She said the fact some reports are false shouldn’t deter anyone from reporting a crime.

“We don’t want people who have been victimized to fear coming forth,” Spivey said.

She said there were 17 victims of sexual violence that joined the program in the 2011-12 school year and more than 69 total since the center opened in 1987.

Spivey said the Women’s Center offers a victim advocacy program that provides 24-hour emotional support and service.

She said UNF is a safe school for everyone and said the majority of crimes involving student victims occur off campus.