Friday, November 30, 2012

Woman with track record for crying rape falsely accuses ex-step-father, has him dragged from his home at 2 a.m. and subjected to terrifying arrest

Jodie Simpson, a 22-year-old woman is going to jail for 21 months after she falsely accused her former step-father of raping her twice even though she had not seen him in years. We are not naming the former step-father here.

Simpson has a penchant for crying rape. In December, 2009, she made allegations of rape about multiple alleged offenders and locations.

Then in January, 2010, Simpson told the police her former step-father had abducted her and, with four other men and a women, subjected her to a horrific gang rape.

As if that wasn't sufficiently far-fetched, days later she again called the police, this time claiming her former step-father had gang raped her for a second time, this time with three other men.

With her track record for crying rape, and in the face of far-fetched claims about her step-father, according to the news report, "[police] officers had early doubts about her stories . . . ." 

So what did they do?  They swooped into the ex-stepfather's home at 2 a.m. and arrested him in front of his new wife. They hauled him off to jail, where he spent the next terrifying 14 hours in custody. He was strip-searched and intimately examined. Meanwhile, his computer -- containing his recent wedding photos -- and his phones were seized.  Police contacted his employer to check out his alibi. When the innocent man was finally released on bail, he was in tears.

How was this allowed to happen on nothing more than the bald allegations of a woman with Simpson's track record?  In the face of even ridiculous rape claims, the policy seems to be arrest-and-subject-to-a-terrifying-ordeal-first, THEN investigate.

In all, seventeen police officers were involved in an investigation that spanned 264 wasted hours. Add to that 62 hours of support staff time, and the cost came to £17,000 to the local police force.

At her sentencing hearing, the judge properly condemned her as "wholly malicious." 

For his part, the former step-father has installed video cameras at his home to monitor his own whereabouts in case it ever happens to him again. He also keeps all receipts to maintain a record of where he has been.

19 percent of college women are sexually assaulted while only 2.5 percent of college men are sexual assaulters? Isn't rape 'normalized' among 'men' in general?

This blog does not tolerate any effort to trivialize sexual assault. Our focus is on the men, women, and boys who have been wrongly accused of sexual assault -- whether falsely or otherwise -- because too often their victimization is trivialized, and some of our laws and policies have made it too easy to punish innocent people for offenses they didn't commit. One can, and should, be concerned about both the wrongly accused and victims of sexual assault without trivializing the victimization of either. It is not "either/or."
Society must strive to punish the perpetrators of heinous sex offenses while insuring that the innocent aren't punished with them. Why is this such a controversial subject?

The fact is, the entire discussion is terribly divisive. A disturbing meme is to insist that rape is "normalized" among "men" in general. Snarky anti-rape campaigns directed at "men" in general (e.g., posters that "remind men" not to rape etc.) have sprouted up, and they always draw waves of indignation from male readers at Reddit. Writer Jessica Valenti is one of the purveyors of the maleness-is-broken crowd, once wrote: "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."

Valenti's assertion, and the meme that tells boys they belong to a seriously flawed gender, ultimately fail because: (1) they don't get at the real problem, and (2) they don't ring true to most people. The vast majority of guys are decent, and contrary to Valenti's assertion, "otherwise decent guys" don't so easily forget their decency and do such a vile thing. Strong visceral reactions of anger and rage to rape claims, and sometimes tragic overreactions, including vigilante beatings and killings, to mere accusations of rape, are far more characteristic of masculinity than is the urge to rape or to excuse rape. 

So what is the real story? In the surveys about campus rape that are frequently relied on to show that rape is a serious problem, there is a statistic that is rarely ever discussed, but it may hold the key to addressing the real problem. According to the National Institute of Justice: "Surveys of men and women on college campuses show a striking disparity in the proportion of women who report being assaulted and the proportion of men who report (even anonymously) being perpetrators. For example, in the Campus Sexual Assault survey, 19 percent of the women reported experiencing a completed or attempted sexual assault since entering college, while 2.5 percent of the men reported being perpetrators."

Why this disparity? Because men, obviously lie on anonymous surveys? (Don't laugh -- without any support, the Campus Sexual Assault Report posits that unfortunate anti-male suspicion: "We suspect that some males who have perhaps perpetrated sexual assault since entering college consciously answered our survey questions about perpetration negatively and untruthfully." Note that the Campus Sexual Assault Report didn't have similar concerns that women lie on anonymous surveys.)

The National Institute of Justice, however, gets it right. It noted that yes, "some people" don't give accurate survey answers, but there are two other possibilities:

"•Men and women may have different perceptions of the same incident.

"•Experts speculate that rape and other sexual assaults may be like other crimes inasmuch as a relatively small number of people commit serious crimes, but those who do often become repeat offenders."

Even the Campus Sexual Assault Report ended up acknowledging the possibility that "[r]elatively few men sexually assault women . . . ." Page 5-28 at

In fact, this possibility has been credited by a leading sexual assault authority. In contrast to the "even-decent-guys-rape" meme, not long ago feminist gadfly Amanda Marcotte wrote about the influential Lisak/Miller study that chronicled the typical rapist: he is not the otherwise decent guy next door, or just a regular guy going to school. He is a narcissistic man who enjoys forcing himself on women, a deviant whose attitudes are not "normalized" but are those of a social outlier. Rapists on campus, as it turns out -- and which everyone other than the zealots already knew -- comprise only a small percentage of the male population, and they account for 9 out of every 10 rapes.

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." 

And Dr. Lisak connects the dots: de minimis sexual assault education, like posters reminding men not to rape, aren't going to stop the real criminals. "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."

Rape is not "normalized." Sarcastically reminding  college men not to rape accomplishes nothing.Posters and mandatory orientation classes are misdirected and don't get at the real problem: sexual predators who use both alcohol and unsuspecting women to accomplish their vile plans. Any program wishing to significantly reduce sexual assault must focus on them.

The approach taken by the Jessica Valentis of the world hinders the effort to stop rape because it keeps us from focusing on the real problem.  The men who don't rape -- that is, the vast majority of men -- should be thought of as allies in the effort to stop rape, not potential suspects in need of education.

Nanny jailed over false rape claim after one-night stand with boss: A nanny who cried rape when she was shunned by her boss after a one-night stand has been jailed for two years

Tina Greenland shared a night of passion with divorced Nicholas Mouna, who employed her to care for his disabled daughter.

The mother-of-three sent a text to her boss the next day saying: ‘Had a lovely night... hope you don’t think I’m some kind of tart.’

But when Mr Mouna, 55, made it clear he did not want a relationship the vengeful nanny called police and claimed she had been raped after her drink had been spiked.

Insurance broker Mr Mouna was arrested and sacked from his job despite never being charged with any crime, a court heard.

When detectives looked at text messages the pair had exchanged they realised Greenland had made up the rape claims.

The 49-year-old maintained her innocence throughout her trial, but her account of what happened in December last year was rejected by a jury.

Jailing Greenland for perverting the course of justice, Judge Nigel Van Der Bijl quoted poet William Congreve, saying: ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’

He added: ‘This is serious because people who make false allegations make it harder for real victims to be believed.’

Greenland, of Folkestone, in Kent, screamed: ‘Oh no, my God no,’ as the sentence was passed.

The court heard after being rejected by her boss, Greenland tried to take an overdose of tablets and vodka.

Paul Hogben, defending, told Canterbury crown court that Greenland ‘couldn’t cope with rejection’.

He added: ‘She is not a bad person, but by the jury’s verdict she did a bad thing. She has made a terrible mistake.’.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

'Getting it Wrong on Preponderance'

Andrew Kloster's brilliant piece can be found here:

College student expelled for alleged sex offense is afforded no due process at all: the most shocking display of academic hubris we've encountered

A male college student has alleged that his school engaged in conduct that can only be described as an Orwellian affront to his Constitutional rights. The case reported below is an example of how the Department of Education's April 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter is being applied to strip college men accused of sex offenses of their due process rights. This is among the most shocking displays of academic hubris we've encountered in all the years we've been reporting these incidents, and that is saying a lot.

The student, an undergraduate, has sued the University of Georgia, claiming that on November 7, 2012, he received an email from Kristopher Stevens, Associate Director of Equal Opportunity Office at the university, who advised him that he was being expelled, "effective immediately." 

Stevens informed the student that the student had been accused of engaging in sexual conduct with a female undergraduate last August during which she claims to have been too intoxicated to consent.

The female accuser left the accused student's room and continued to text with him while going to another residence hall. She ended her texting by writing "night."  Copies of the texts are linked here. Some 48 hours later, she reported the incident as an alleged assault to campus police.

No criminal charges have been filed against the male student, but Stevens embarked on his own, secret investigation that apparently did not include reviewing police reports or video surveillance of the accuser from the residence halls.

The accused student claims that when he was expelled, he had not been accorded any due process whatsoever. None. There was no hearing of any kind; the accused student was not permitted any opportunity whatsoever to confront, cross-examine, or test the credibility of the accuser or the persons Stevens interviewed; in fact, Stevens will not even release the names of the persons he interviewed and their identities remain shrouded in mystery.

The accused student went to court and successfully petitioned for a temporary restraining order pending a hearing this Friday.

We do not presume to know what happened in this classic "he said, she said" encounter. Indeed, there has been no adjudication of the facts, so it is premature for anyone to pretend he knows, except the accused and the accuser.

The University's process, in all its Star Chamber ramifications, is at odds with even rudimentary principles of due process. Summarily expelling a student after engaging in a secret process that relied on clandestine evidence and undisclosed witnesses is contrary to everything we, as a people, believe in.  How could the accused student possibly mount a defense or contest this purported evidence if he does not know even the identity of his accusers?

If he doesn't even know who his accusers are, how could he prove, for example, that one of them was, in fact, out of town or incapacitated by alcohol on the night of the incident and could not have seen what she claims she saw? Or that she told someone something completely contrary to the account she gave Stevens?  In short, the accused student could not challenge anything they said. Stevens made certain their credibility would be unscathed because their accounts could not be tested by the well-honed scalpel of cross-examination. The accused student became like the warrior of old entering a combat by discarding his shield and breaking his sword. The "trial" was over even before it had begun.

Among the dark ironies of this sad affair is Mr. Stevens' admonition to the accused student that it would constitute a violation of the school's policy to retaliate against anyone who participated in the investigation. It seems not to have occurred to Mr. Stevens that it would be impossible to retaliate against undisclosed witnesses.

The university's secret justice is intolerable and should be a grave concern to all persons concerned about justice on our college campuses.

The accused student's complaint is found here:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Making a false claim of attempted apparently isn't a crime to the Univ. of Cincinnati police

Police have no plans to charge a woman for making a false attempted rape claim that led to a campus crime alert and an intensive police investigation, with police scouring images from surveillance cameras.

Police did noy say whether the woman would face any university discipline for making up the story.

The claim was made by a female student at the University of Cincinnati who alleged that a masked gunman attacked her in a university garage earlier this month. She claimed she escaped after punching him.

Apparently no male was targeted in the police investigation, but there are many cases where men have been targeted by police in false rape cases where no male was identified by the false accuser.

In this case, images of the men who passed through the university garage around the time of the alleged attack were studied by police. While that created no personal hardship in this case, it is a tad disconcerting to think that the police might be studying your face and your actions because of your gender and the happenstance that you were in a particular place at a particular time. Consider also that if the unwitting conduct of one of these men had raised suspicion, the police might have targeted him. The risk for injustice is enhanced even when a false accuser doesn't single out a particular man or boy.

Making a false claim of rape or attempted rape is a crime. If law enforcement is convinced to a moral certainty that the woman lied, it is inappropriate not to charge her. She is entitled to a trial, and there is always the possibility that she was innocent. We are not suggesting we know more than the police.

The university should also bring a disciplinary action against her. Is it fair to the university's student body to allow an anonymous woman to remain on campus if, indeed, it turns out she is a false rape accuser?

Attempted rape claim at university parking garage false, say police

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS — When it was first reported, the incident seemed to be the most dramatic in a series of alleged groping attacks inside University of Cincinnati parking garages: a female student alleged that a masked gunman tried to rape her but she escaped after punching him.

Now police say the report was bogus.

In an alert issued Monday afternoon, UC police said they had closed their investigation of the Nov. 5 sexual imposition alleged to have occurred inside Calhoun Garage. “There was no offense ... and the report was fabricated,” police said in an alert posted via, an alerting service that many law-enforcement agencies use.

Police gave no additional details as to how they discovered that the woman’s allegation was false, nor did they say whether the woman would face any charges or university discipline for making up the story.

The false report led to a campus crime alert and an intensive investigation; police scoured images from surveillance cameras.

Attempts to obtain further information from UC officials were unsuccessful.

At the time of the report, the case was the ninth such attack women had reported this fall. In September, a 15-year-old boy was charged in eight of the incidents, some of which occurred at Calhoun.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

'Wendy Murphy Comes to the University of Virginia'

The Obama administration's April 4, 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter, which instructed colleges to lower the standard of proof to find guilt in cases of sexual misconduct on campus to a mere "preponderance of the evidence," is an affront to the community of the wrongly accused because it makes it far too easy to punish the innocent for offenses they didn't commit. Here is more evidence of the abuses caused by that abominable policy, by Prof. KC Johnson:

Written by KC  Johnson for Minding the Campus: 'Wendy Murphy Comes to the University of Virginia'

Nuneaton woman who falsely accused her own dad of rape facing jail

A young Nuneaton woman who falsely accused her own father of raping her has been remanded in custody for perverting the course of justice.

Samantha Sherriff, 20, was arrested at her home in Vernons Court, Vernons Lane, Nuneaton, after failing to turn up at the Crown Court in Leamington for a hearing last week.

The 20-year-old has pleaded guilty to a charge of perverting the course of justice between March 4 and March 15 by making a false allegation of rape.

The charge detailed that she made a false allegation to the police that she had been raped by her father, Andrew Sherriff, and made a false statement to the police.

As a result, Mr. Sherriff was arrested and held in police custody where police interviewed him under caution.

He was given conditional bail while police investigated the allegation - only for them to find that the story was a lie, and arrest Samantha Sherriff herself.

When she failed to turn up for last week's hearing, the court heard she had also failed to attend an appointment with a probation officer, and a warrant was issued for her arrest.

Judge Alan Parker yesterday adjourned the case for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on her, and remanded her in custody.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Prof: In light of the 'Dear Colleague' letter, Duke lacrosse players likely would be expelled if it happened today

Here's an excerpt from Prof. Dan Subotnik's great, no-holds-barred article on the Duke Lacrosse case, "The Duke Rape Case Five Years Later: Lessons for the Academy, the Media, and the Criminal Justice System" 45 Akron L. Rev 883, 919-20 (2012):

. . . in April 2011, the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights announced guidelines for the many hundreds of colleges and universities it regulates. Under these rules, which distinguish sexual assault from other types of criminal behavior, schools now have to judge students accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault based on a "preponderance of the evidence" instead of "clear and convincing evidence," which is apparently the standard that a number of schools currently apply.

 More malefactors will be expelled from schools under this standard, and that is to the good; but would the Duke accused have had any chance of justice under a lower evidentiary standard for complainants that trumpeted the special heinousness of sexual assault?

Young man falsely accused of rape is freed, spends first Thanksgiving home in four years

Here are two stories about Jonathan Montgomery. His is among the most important false rape stories in recent years. Mr. Montgomery spent four years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.

Johnathon Montgomery leaves prison after receiving Governor's pardon

ARRATT – Jubilant family members converged on Johnathon Montgomery Tuesday night as he walked out of Greensville Correctional Center after being wrongfully imprisoned for 4 years.

"I'm real good, and I'm glad to be out," Montgomery said. "The biggest thing I can say, and my mom has said it to me a couple times, and I didn't realize it until, you know, 3, 4 days ago: 'The truth will set you free.'"

Governor Bob McDonnell issued a conditional pardon for Montgomery Tuesday night and ordered his immediate release from the prison.

Montgomery is the 26-year-old man from Hampton who was sentenced in 2008 for a rape he did not commit.

The governor says he called Montgomery to deliver the news and also spoke to his mother and father.

“Our staff, together with their counterparts in various state and local agencies, did a great deal of work on this petition in under 20 hours. And I thank them for that service. After reviewing the petition for a conditional pardon sought by his attorneys, the evidence that came with it, and additional evidence gathered by our staff, I have granted Mr. Montgomery a conditional pardon, as requested, effective immediately. Mr. Montgomery will leave Greensville Correctional Center this evening. This situation has been a tragedy. An innocent man was in jail for four years. While tonight Mr. Montgomery is free from prison, he will never get those years of his life back. Tonight I called Johnathan to personally offer, on behalf of the citizens of the Commonwealth, our heartfelt apologies for all that he has been put through due to this miscarriage of justice. I am thankful that the witness in this case finally stepped forward to recent her testimony. Justice, while tragically delayed, has been served. I thank everyone who worked so hard on this case to achieve tonight’s outcome. More than anything else, I wish Mr. Montgomery a successful and fulfilled future with his family and his friends," McDonnell said in a press release.

McDonnell went on to say, “It is a travesty of justice when an innocent person is confined in a jail or prison, and it should never occur in our society. Our office became aware of Mr. Montgomery’s situation last week. Since that time members of my staff, along with the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission, the Mid-Atlantic Actual Innocence Project, the Hampton Police Department, the Hampton Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, the Office of the Attorney General, the Virginia Department of Corrections and the Virginia State Police have worked diligently to gather all necessary information in this case and review the matter thoroughly. I asked Mr. Montgomery’s attorneys to file a petition for a pardon with our office, as that action would allow me to exercise my gubernatorial authority and take immediate action. We received that petition at 10 p.m. last night, and began reviewing it immediately."

"I had a lot of, a lot of anxiety getting here," said Montgomery's mother, Mishia Woodruff. "I was excited, and anxious, and all that stuff."

"It's great. It's great to be with my mom. You know, you don't know what you've lost until you've lost it. It's a great feeling to have her by my side at all times," Montgomery said.

Montgomery's accuser, 22-year-old Elizabeth Paige Coast, recently admitted she lied. She was 17 when she accused him of sexually assaulting her when she was 10 and he was 14. In recanting, she said she made up the story after her parents caught her looking at sexually explicit websites.

She reportedly picked Montgomery for the lie because he and his family had moved away.

She is now charged with perjury.

"She's done what she's felt like doing, and she's got to deal with it just like I have to, and I can't comment on any feelings I have towards her at this point," Montgomery stated.

Click here to read the governor's conditional pardon.

Montgomery couldn't be released because Virginia law states a convicted person has just 21 days to return to the circuit court to have the conviction vacated. After that time, the person must appeal to the higher courts for a “writ of actual innocence.” The only other course of action is to appeal to the Governor for a pardon.

Montgomery and family members left Greensville Correctional Center with plans to grab a late dinner. Montgomery said he enjoys eating. During his time in prison, he lost more than 100 pounds, so being able to eat whatever he wants, whenever he wants to eat it, is among the things he looks forward to doing. He, also, is anxious to see his family's pets.

Wrongfully accused man enjoys holidays at home after spending years in jail

HAMPTON-- Johnathon Montgomery spent Thanksgiving at home with family for the first time in four years.

His father, Dave Montgomery, sent these photos of Montgomery and his family. In an e-mail sent to 13News he said, "John carved the turkey this year."

"He also is getting to do things that he hasn't been able to do like cook his own food," his father added.

26-year-old Montgomery was wrongfully accused of sexual assault in 2008. His accuser later admitted that she made up the story.

Governor Bob McDonnell pardoned Montgomery last Tuesday and ordered an immediate release from prison.

Watch the video here:

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Times Square sailor and Jenny McCarthy: sexual assaulters?

A few months ago, it was "revealed" that the principals in Alfred Eisenstaedt's iconic 1945 Life Magazine photograph depicting a sailor passionately  kissing a nurse in Times Square at the conclusion of World War II were, in fact, strangers. This was scarcely a "revelation" since the photographer himself long ago wrote about the incident and made it fairly clear that the subjects of his photo were strangers.  But the "revelation" prompted some bloggers to declare that a crime had been committed because "the image actually and unambiguously depicts an act of sexual assault." The Feministing blog solemnly called it "stomach turning" and noted: "If there is a better symbol for how messed up our ideas about sex and romance are, I can’t think of one." See here.

Fast forward to last Sunday night at the American Music Awards. After announcing that teen heartthrob Justin Bieber, 18, was the winner in the rock/pop album of the year category, Jenny McCarthy, a 40-year-old ex-Playboy model, suddenly and without warning, grabbed Bieber by the neck and the ass and kissed him.

I might be wrong, but I don't think that Feministing has even written about the McCarthy-Bieber incident, much less condemned it. Otherwise, the reaction to this incident is curious. 

"Wow. I feel violated right now," Bieber himself said, laughing it off.

McCarthy attempted to explain herself. "I couldn't help it, he was just so delicious, so little, and just, ahhhk, I wanted to tear his head off and eat it."  And: "I took the opportunity in the window, considering I'll never get to do it again, and kind of molested him."

Some snarky Hollywood news outlets have even invented a pithy term for it: "cougar rape." They are treating it as an inappropriate, yet humorous, "cougar" moment, not a crime. One report said this: "McCarthy is known her pranks and funny personality so most likely she meant nothing by it and was probably even trying to embarrass Bieber a little in front of an audience for a laugh."

Is is wrong to kiss someone of either gender without his or her consent? Yes, it's a personal violation. Yet, do we, as a society, want to see either the Times Square sailor or Jenny McCarthy criminally charged?  My guess is that a poll in response to such a question would yield an overwhelming "no" as to both, with at least a slight majority rolling their eyes over the fact that the question was even asked in the first place. While most people would probably claim to have "zero tolerance" for sex offenses, in practice, even "zero tolerance" has its limits, and not every personal violation should end in a jail term.

So, how do we deal with personal violations like these?

Does it matter, for instance, that Justin Bieber, and, my guess, the nurse in the Times Square photo, were OK with being kissed? A little startled, but OK with it?  Or do we really want to head down the path of deciding whether something is criminal based on how offended the victim was?

Does context matter? Does the jubilation over news of the end of a horrific war lessen the seriousness of the Times Square assault? How about the jubilation over a major music award among wacked-out, free spirit Hollywood types?

Does the fact that the public isn't at all concerned about either kiss simply mean that most people are unenlightened? Consider that virtually everyone would be outraged by news of a rape -- so does their indifference to the Times Square and Bieber kisses mean they are unenlightened, or does it just mean that people are able to make judgments about the seriousness of these sorts of incidents and that they don't think the kisses are that big a deal? 

I just just raise the questions, you can answer as well as I can.

I know one thing: these sorts of incidents shouldn't be treated differently when the genders are reversed. The Feministing blog said that it hoped that a kiss like the one in Times Square would "garner the proper prosecution it deserves" in today's world. So what does the McCarthy kiss deserve, or was that somehow "different" because the victim was an 18-year-old guy?  Haven't we reached the stage where we all agree that an assault that merits prosecution is an assault that merits prosecution regardless of the genders of the victim and perpetrator? And if it isn't appropriate in this case, shouldn't we stop using 67-year-old incidents to make political points?

Sources: see, e.g.,,0,3577726.story and

Must read: 'What to Make of the Rape Accusations at Amherst College?'

By Wendy Kaminer, author, lawyer, and civil libertarian. She is the author of I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional, and a past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Published in The Atlantic Nov. 21, 2012

"Sexual Assaults Roil Amherst," a New York Times headline declares. The campus is in crisis over student accusations of assaults met with administrative indifference to a culture in which sexual misconduct and sexist speech thrive. It's a depressingly ordinary controversy, but this time it was sparked by extraordinary charges of rape and malfeasance, published in a college newspaper: Former student Angie Epifano described being raped by an acquaintance on campus and eventually institutionalized by administrators after they refused to pursue her complaint and she complained of suicidal thoughts.

It's a remarkable story but only a little more remarkable than the apparent assumption that it's entirely true. "Alleged Sexual Assaults Roil Amherst," the Times should have reported.

I don't assume that Epifano's story (among others) is false. I do assume (at least for the sake of argument) that it was offered in good faith, that she believes that she was raped and badly mistreated (perhaps wrongly imprisoned) by college administrators. Her report is generally plausible, but responses by her alleged rapist and the administrators, counselors, and doctors she mentions might be equally plausible. (As far as I can tell, none are publicly available.)

In any case, plausibility isn't proof, obviously, and reading Epifano's "wrenching account," you can't possibly evaluate the accuracy of her perceptions or recollections. Neither, it seems, can the New York Times, which reports that she is in Europe ("friends say") and could not be reached for comment.

But accepting her statement of the facts, you can evaluate her beliefs about how alleged rape victims and rape accusations should be treated. Epifano says that she was raped by a fellow student in May 2011 and reported the attack about a year later, this past spring, to a college sexual assault counselor. She says her counselor questioned her rather skeptically, asking if "it might just have been a bad hook-up." Her request to change dorms was denied, she was advised to "forgive and forget," and assured that her fears of being raped again were unfounded and that she was safe remaining on campus.

The counselor reportedly discouraged Epifano from pressing charges, because her alleged attacker was about to graduate and a disciplinary hearing might not vindicate her claim. Accompanied only by a faculty adviser, she would have to face him (and his faculty adviser) and prove that he had raped her. "It wouldn't get you very far to do this," she reports being told.

Put aside questions about the accuracy of Epifano's recollections and the soundness or gross insensitivity of the counselor's advice. Never mind the absence of discussion about reporting the alleged attack to law enforcement; rape is, after all, a felony, which courts are better equipped to address than colleges. Focus instead on Epifano's reaction to the prospect of a disciplinary hearing:

Hours locked in a room with him and being called a liar about being raped? No, thank you. I could barely handle seeing him from the opposite end of campus; I knew I couldn't handle that level of negativity.

I sympathize with Epifano's feelings but still wonder: If she wasn't willing or able to testify against her alleged attacker in an informal hearing, if she wasn't capable of handling questions about her accusations, what did she expect administrators to do? Simply take her word that a rape had occurred a year earlier and punish her "rapist" (perhaps by expelling him) without giving him a chance to confront his accuser and present his side of the story?

In fact, if Amherst was in compliance with federal Department of Education guidelines, the burden of proof on Epifano would have been slight, and she could have been shielded from questioning by her alleged attacker. A 2011 directive from the Department's Office for Civil Rights errs on the side of protecting the accuser's feelings in these cases, instead of the rights of the accused. OCR requires colleges and universities to use a preponderance of evidence standard in evaluating allegations of sexual assault. That is the lowest possible standard of proof, requiring a hearing officer to be only "50.01% certain" that the accused is guilty as charged.

OCR guidelines also strongly discourages schools from allowing a student accused of sexual violence to confront his accuser, because "allowing an alleged perpetrator to question an alleged victim directly may be traumatic or intimidating." (OCR does not consider the trauma that may be inflicted on a student wrongly accused and denied the right of confrontation.)

Maybe Amherst was out of compliance; maybe Epifano's counselor was ignorant of the relatively new OCR rules; maybe Epifano misunderstood the counselor's advice. Amherst is reportedly investigating her case and its treatment of sexual assault claims, and the counselor who advised her has resigned.

Epifano dropped out of school, after the administration denied her request to study abroad in South Africa. "It's for the best; Africa is quite traumatizing, what with all those horrible third world conditions," Epifano recalls being told by her dean. Maybe she recalls correctly; maybe not. But given the extreme emotional instability that she describes -- deep, possibly suicidal depression and intense fearfulness -- it's hard to know exactly how college administrators could have helped her. Consider how Epifano responded to the denial of her request to study in Cape Town:

Living was difficult. Each day I woke up and wondered around in a daze. At night I stared blank faced at a wall and curled up in my chair in a fetal position. I couldn't talk with people. If I talk with them they might become infected with my dirtiness. I stopped eating. I stopped sleeping. I secretly hoped that one day on a run my heart would just stop and no one would have to see me again. I wasn't worth anything anyway.
If Epifano's account of her state of mind is accurate and not an exercise in self-dramatization, then I have some sympathy for administrators who reportedly wanted to "monitor" her. I'd venture to describe her as deeply troubled and wonder if her troubles were exclusively attributable to the reported rape.

Is rape necessarily this traumatic? Are all rapes equal in the damage they inflict? Yes, according to some popular feminist wisdom. No, according to the diverse experiences of rape victims I've known -- including women who've been raped while hitchhiking and by strangers who broke in to their apartments, as well as women raped by dates or acquaintances. Years ago I slept with a guy who made a veiled threat to kill me if I didn't. The sex was perfunctory and not at all memorable; what I remember most clearly is the threat.

I'm not criticizing or judging Epifano for being acutely frightened and depressed. I'm not presuming to tell women how they should or shouldn't react to being raped. Quite the opposite. I'm simply suggesting that different women react differently, according to their different circumstances, strengths and vulnerabilities. I'm not denying the horrors of rape and the outrage, shame, or fear it can engender, but I am questioning the assumption that it naturally and inevitably breaks women down. I'm wondering if that assumption isn't sometimes self-fulfilling.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Double standard: Some men accused of sex crimes are more presumptively innocent than others--the Kevin Clash case

Compare the way Duke University treated the news that three of its lacrosse player students had raped a black woman with the way Kevin Clash's employer treated the accusations of statutory rape lodged against Mr. Clash by two young men.

On March 25, 2006, in his first official statement that accompanied the cancellation of the lacrosse team's game against Georgetown and its following game, President Richard Brodhead opened with the following: "Physical coercion and sexual assault are unacceptable in any setting and have no place at Duke." Three days later he added the following: "Let me explain my own thinking about the suspension of play. Physical coercion and sexual assault are unacceptable in any setting and will not be tolerated at Duke. As none of us would choose to be the object of such conduct, so none of us has the right to subject another person to such behavior. Since they run counter to such fundamental values, the claims against our players, if verified, will warrant very serious penalties, both from the university and the courts." A few weeks later he made the following well-known statement: "If our students did what is alleged it is appalling to the worst degree. If they didn't do it, whatever they did was bad enough."

We won't even talk about the reaction of the Group of 88 or the potbangers carrying the giant "castrate" banner.

Remember Hofsta's statement following the infamous false rape claim by Danmell Ndonye? “We are saddened and deeply distressed by these allegations of horrific crimes perpetrated against a member of our community. Acts of sexual violence are not tolerated on our campus.”

How does that compare with the reaction of Sesame Workshop, the producer of “Sesame Street,” to news that a second young man had come forward to announce that he, too, had underage sex with Elmo creator Kevin Clash? Read it yourself. Sesame Workship issued the following statement: “None of us, especially Kevin, want anything to divert our attention from our focus on serving as a leading educational organization. Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin’s personal life has become a distraction that none of us want, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job and has resigned from ‘Sesame Street.’” According to the New York Times, the statement concluded, “This is a sad day for ‘Sesame Street.’”

Can you imagine if Penn State had called the allegations against Jerry Sandusky a "distraction" without condemning vile sex acts of the kind alleged? 

Oh, and by the way, the New York Times names one of the accusers against Mr. Clash. Has it ever named Crystal Mangum even after the lacrosse players were declared "innocent"?

The reaction to the Kevin Clash story stands in stark contrast with the usual reaction to news that a male has been accused of a sex offense.  The New York Times reports that prominent feminist Katherine Franke, a professor of law and the director of the center for gender and sexuality law at Columbia University, said she worried that Mr. Clash was “the most recent victim of what we call in my world a ‘sex panic.’"  She added: “At precisely the moment when gay people’s right to marry seems to be reaching a positive tipping point, sexuality is being driven back into the closet as something shameful and incompatible . . . decency (as in the case of Clash).”

Then, Ms. Franke did something we rarely see feminists do in high profile cases involving men accused of sex crimes. She underscored his presumptive innocence. Mr. Clash, she noted, “has not been convicted of a crime, but merely accused of one in a completely unsubstantiated, vague complaint.”  (By the way, you can read about Prof. Franke's views on sexual offenses here, starting on page 155:

The way that Sesame Workshop, the New York Times, and Prof. Franke treated the allegations against Mr. Clash is the way claims of sexual misconduct should be treated in all cases. 

Unfortunately, not all men accused of sex offenses are acclaimed artists who work for revered public television shows.

Cops: Alleged Sex Assault on CLC Campus Proven False

An investigation by College of Lake County Police has concluded that an alleged sexual assault on the Grayslake campus last month did not occur and was a false allegation.

An investigation of a reported sexual assault on the College of Lake County’s Grayslake campus has ended with the alleged victim recanting her allegation.

On the evening of Oct. 24, CLC’s Police Department received a call from Highland Park Hospital indicating that a female student had reported that she had been the victim of a sexual assault earlier in the day on the Grayslake campus.

CLC police went to the hospital and interviewed the student following her treatment and immediately began an investigation that concluded this week.

Police found inconsistencies between the alleged victim’s original statement and witness accounts, CLC Police Chief Thomas Guenther said. As a result, police again interviewed the student, and she admitted that her report was untrue.  She has signed a statement that the sexual assault did not occur and her report was a fabrication, Guenther added.

“It is very unfortunate that a false allegation was made,” Guenther said. “However, we take all reports of criminal activity very seriously, and it is very important to conduct a thorough investigation of any allegation. We now know that the assault did not happen, and we hope that students and the community will be reassured that the college remains a very safe place."


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Claim of sexual assault proves to be false

A north Ruidoso couple were startled early in the morning Nov. 4 when a woman came to their door begging for help.

"The dog, he started to bark," the resident said. "And he never does that because nobody's ever around. And my wife's in the other room and she goes, 'Honey, there's somebody downstairs.' I said, 'Downstairs? There's got to be a nightmare here.'"

The man went downstairs accompanied by a growling dog. Outside was a woman.

"I'm saying, uh-uh, this don't look right; four in the morning. I'm waiting for somebody behind the wall."

He opened the door and heard, "I need help. I need help."

The man closed the door and called 911.

In minutes, three police cars and a fire truck arrived, followed later by an ambulance.

"We felt a little bit safer and we went outside with her. I felt bad because it was cold but I didn't let her in because I had this in the back of my mind, hey, wait, we live in the middle of nowhere man. How does this happen?"

The resident said the woman wanted to go home but she would not immediately tell police where she lived. Eventually she claimed to be from Missouri.

"What happened finally was we had a woman policeman up here, she was asking her all the questions, and finally they found out, she said she was raped and dumped off near here. She had her knees all scraped up and her pants torn. She said she was from Russia. She just wanted to go home. She didn't want to press charges. She didn't want to give names. She didn't want to do this or that. They finally took her but the experience was you should never let somebody in the house unless you know what's going on especially when you're in the middle of nowhere."

The three officers that showed up at the couple's door were Ruidoso Police Patrol Officer Carolee Jones, Eric Ament and Cpl. Larry Smith.

Jones reports the female victim smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech.

The woman said she had recently arrived from Missouri but was originally from Russia. She said she was traveling with a male subject and they had checked into a local hotel before going to a casino. She would not give Jones the name of the man she arrived with and said continuously she would be murdered in five to ten minutes if she told Jones the man's name.

The woman told Jones she had been thrown or jumped from a vehicle causing an injury to her knee, which had fresh blood. The victim said she thought she was somewhere in Texas.

The victim said they had left the casino and her male traveling companion had picked up a second man who began sexually assaulting her soon after he entered the vehicle. Her male companion continued to drive. She said she struggled with the male. The vehicle stopped and she jumped out and ran, but the man caught up with her, pulled down her jeans and raped her.

Jones said the woman had fresh blood on her knee and one of the knees of her jeans, which were torn for fashion, was torn more than the other.

The woman said she ran away from the man after the sexual assault and ran up the hill to the first house where someone answered the door.

The woman said she was born in Russia but was sent to the United States at a young age and had been a "sex slave" since she was very young. She said she feared retaliation if she mentioned the names of either the man she came to town with or the man who raped her. She said the man who raped her was a local and "you know him."

Jones went to Lincoln County Medical Center with the woman and stayed with her while doctors treated her. Then Jones turned the woman over to Ruidoso Police Department Victim's Advocate Dawna Reyes and detective Sgt. Wade Proctor.

"Her boyfriend had called the police department looking for her because he could not find her," Proctor said. "Of course we got a completely different story from him."

The boyfriend said there was an argument at the hotel and he was going to leave but decided he had drunk too much so he slept in the car, according to Proctor.

The boyfriend went looking for her the following morning and called the police when he could not find her.

"She had gone to the front desk and asked where the nearest (service) station was," Proctor said.

Proctor said the injury to the woman's knee had happened before the boyfriend left when the woman had left the hotel during the argument and fallen while walking in the woods near the hotel, according to the boyfriend.

After talking to the boyfriend, Proctor talked to the woman again.

"Now when we start talking to her, she is reluctant and she doesn't want to talk about this," Proctor said. "She doesn't want to do anything."

Proctor said she changed her story to say she was assaulted by two men after she walked off from the hotel. She refused to take a sexual assault examination at the hospital.

"You get to the point where the story just doesn't add up," Proctor said. "The more you go with it, the bigger it gets."

Proctor said the physical evidence did not support the woman's story.

"After being sexually assaulted in the type of terrain she said she was in there would have been some physical evidence," he said. "There were no marks on her back, no marks on her legs or any physical evidence to support her claim."

Proctor said he then gave the woman a chance to tell the truth about what happened.

"She started crying and said she made it all up," he said. "She was gone for several hours and because of her past she didn't want to get in trouble with her boyfriend so she made this story up."

Proctor said the woman did claim to have been sexually assaulted as a child growing up in foster homes. Proctor said he had not confirmed this information.

"I talked to a brother-in-law that said she and her siblings came from a pretty dark background," he said.

Proctor said after determining the woman had lied about what happened he could have charged her with filing a false police report but decided against doing that.

"I told her to get into counseling when she got back to where she came from and I would not charge her," Proctor said. "I have it on my board right there to follow up on it."

Proctor said officers and EMS spent a lot of time on this and if the woman does not get counseling, he will file charges and seek restitution.

Proctor said it took a lot of resources to conduct the complete investigation of the woman's false claim of sexual assault.

"It does happen here," Proctor said.

A Ruidoso restaurant worker was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and stabbed in the head May 5 as she was leaving work. That victim survived because Smith found her in a wooded area near the restaurant the following morning and summoned medical help.

The Ruidoso resident that summoned help for this woman did it with caution."It was a weird thing," the resident of the home said. "It was just really bizarre. All I can think of is what my wife said, 'Honey, I watch Criminal Minds. Don't open that door.'"


Monday, November 19, 2012

The 'beyond a reasonable doubt' standard of proof is the reason for the rape problem? Seriously?

The ignorance is appalling, and more than a little tiresome.

Katelyn Sack, a writer for the UK Guardian's blog, has the American college rape problem all figured out, so she thinks. Among her other off-the-mark epiphanies is the following indictment of our criminal jurisprudence: "This 'beyond a reasonable doubt' standard reduces the likelihood to a single-digit percentage chance that a rapist will be convicted and sentenced to prison."

Wait, wait, wait. We see comments like this so frequently that we probably don't even think about what they mean. What Sacks is saying is this: because the standard of proof makes it difficult to get a conviction in a rape case, if you have 100 rapists, less than 10 of those rapists will be found guilty.

Do you see what she does? She assumes they are all rapists to begin with. The "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard of proof is their "get out of jail free" card, a technicality that makes it almost impossible for victims to get justice.

Sack's assertion is beyond appalling. Does the standard of proof allow some rapists to go free? Undoubtedly it does. Blackstone's formulation is a hallmark of our criminal justice system. By the same token, even with the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard of proof, are some innocent men and boys convicted of rape?  Spend a few weeks reading through this blog if you don't know the answer to that. The standard is "beyond the reasonable doubt" to insure, to the best of our ability, that only the guilty are punished. It must be wonderful to be Sack -- she doesn't need any standard of proof to know who's guilty--in Sack's world, the trial is over before it has begun because an accusation is as good as a conviction.

Sack's other points are scarcely worth responding to. The screwball centerpiece of her argument is this: ". . . universities deny otherwise available legal counsel to students involved in disputes with other students. If you get arrested for drunk-driving, most American universities offer you legal assistance. Not so if you get raped by another student – as in the majority of college rape cases. This policy reinforces survivors' ignorance about civil complaints. Because criminal rape complaints usually fail, civil complaints give survivors an otherwise-absent fighting chance in court."

Sack wants the university to provide to the services of a civil lawyer so that rape accusers can sue their rapists, and she has no concern that this is completely unrealistic. The cost of a civil lawyer to handle a claim of this nature in a major metropolitan area could easily run in the $50,000-$75,000 range, perhaps much more. Moreover, it is likely that most college rapists are essentially judgment-proof. It is for that reason that it is so difficult to attract qualified contingent fee counsel to handle these cases to begin with. If the rapist can't pay the judgment, the entire exercise is a waste of time and self-defeating. Beyond that, Sack doesn't bother to address the issue of whether the accused student is entitled to a free civil attorney to handle his defense and counterclaim. She likely hasn't even considered the possibility that the accused student might actually have a defense and a counterclaim, but if the school is going to pay for the accuser's costs, it should also pay for the accused's costs as well.  So double the legal fees. Oh, and by the way, on his counterclaim -- the accuser is as likely to be judgment-proof as is the accused.

I swear, we are regressing on these issues, and it's because the people who are addressing them in media outlets with big audiences are often ill-equipped to do so.

Sack's unfortunate blog post is here:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Off topic: College writer uses 'Movember' to raise awareness about a critical issue: a women's right not to shave

November is "no-shave" month -- "Movember" -- and it's among the few well publicized initiatives that brings attention to serious problems that exclusively affect men, prostate and testicular cancers. How are women reacting to this effort?  My impression is that women who are aware of it are pretty much unanimous in their support of it.   

Then there's Hannah Bauer

Bauer, writing in a college newspaper, first mildly belittles the effort: "Traditionally, No Shave November has been an excuse for men to let their facial hair grow out to lumberjack-level beastliness. This generally results in the occasional turned-off chick, and the often jealous or admiring fellow bro."

Then, Bauer had an epiphany. "No-shave" November presents a golden opportunity to raise awareness about a critical problem. No, not prostate cancer or any other issue relating to men's health. Women's rights.

Yep. You read that right. Bauer explains: ". . . we have to ask ourselves why women feel this internal and external pressure to shave. If we, as women and as society, can accept body hair on a man, that means that body hair isn’t disgusting. It’s just gross when it’s on a woman. Maybe it’s just me, but that seems a little unfair. I’m not really sure when or how society began to expect women to be magically and perpetually hairless, or why this expectation has been maintained, but I intend to find out."  Therefore, Bauer announced, "in the name of great feminism, I will be participating in No Shave November this year."

So you see?  Silly "Movember," where men grow facial hair as an "excuse" to be more beastly, can actually be used to raise awareness about something damn important.  Bauer writes:  "Feminism is a lengthy subject, but it’s not about being a lesbian or a man-hater, it’s about being equal. It’s not even really about shaving, but about choice."

You are excused to go bang your head against the wall.

You know what, Hannah? I agree -- it is unfair to women that they are are expected to shave. But to make that point in the context of a campaign devoted to saving lives (a campaign where, finally, men have come together to actually address a male health problem in a productive, activist way instead of doing what men do too often -- ignore it) is a tad insensitive, don't you think?  Not evil, not man-hating, just eye-rolling petty, that's all.  Everyone agrees that there are at least some issues that affect men because they are men -- prostate and testicular cancer have to rank high on that list -- is it so terribly difficult to get behind the men on this issue without trivializing the problem, or without making it a problem for women?  Seriously?

The Huffington Post quotes a Tumblr user named chunkymonkeyandme, a "stay-at-home mum," who responded to Bauer more succinctly than we would: "[D]o not take this prostate cancer awareness month away from men and make it about feminism and your rights not to shave!"

Saturday, November 17, 2012

ACLU's efforts will make it easier for colleges to punish the innocent

In an affront to the community of the wrongly accused, the ACLU said it will investigate whether Virginia’s public colleges and universities have tightened their policies on sexual assault to meet stricter federal guidelines. See here.  For anyone new to this blog, the stricter federal guidelines mandate that schools make it easier to punish the innocent for offenses they didn't commit. Specifically, the federal government is requiring schools to lower the standard of proof for sex offenses in order to find more persons guilty.

For the first time in memory, a group historically at the forefront in fighting to preserve the due process rights of Americans whenever they were in danger of being taken away is working to roll back due process rights in a significant and blatant way. 

What is the harm of a school getting it wrong and punishing an innocent student for a sex offense he didn't commit? “The consequences for someone expelled for sexual assault are enormous and will follow him throughout his life, leading to rejection by other schools, inability to qualify for the bar and a great deal of stigma,” Prof. Cynthia Bowman of Cornell has explained. 

Claire Gastañaga, the author of the statement by the ACLU, fails even to acknowledge the significant student interest that Professor Bowman referenced. And she fails even to acknowledge the possibility that the new rules will make it easier to punish the innocent.

Gastañaga's stance has the perverse effect of allying progressives with law and order conservatives who typically have fought the expansion of individual due process rights at every turn.  She accomplishes the seemingly impossible task of putting the ACLU in bed with Bob Dole, the architect of Fed.R.Evid. 413, and every law and order loony for whom no law is strict enough to nab and punish sex offenders. To hell with worrying about whether stricter laws might punish the innocent with the guilty!

Over the past century, valiant progressives at the ACLU and similar organizations have waged many famous battles to insure that presumptively innocent persons accused of crimes were afforded individual due process rights. It is for this reason that Gastañaga's efforts are so jarring, and so wrong.

Gastañaga's efforts are an affront to the wrongly accused.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Woman admits telling social worker that her sex abuse claims were false

A WOMAN has admitted she told a social worker that allegations of sexual abuse she and her older sister had made about her mother’s boyfriend were false.

The 26-year-old woman was giving evidence in the trial of a 52-year-old man who is accused of sexually abusing his partner’s six daughters.

This complainant was the second sister to give evidence before the jury.

The trial has previously heard that the first two sisters made allegations in 2003 which they later withdrew. The allegations were made again in 2005 when a third sister claimed she had been abused by the man.

The older sister had earlier told Mary Rose Gearty SC, prosecuting, that the abuse started when she was eight or nine, and continued until she was about 15 or 16.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 62 counts of sexual assault.

The second sister agreed with Giollaiosa O Lideadha SC, defending, that she attended a meeting with a social worker, her older sister (the first complainant), and her mother in April 2003.

She agreed that a report from that meeting outlined that the then 16 and 18-year-old girls said that an earlier statement they had made to gardai outlining the allegations had been withdrawn or was about to be withdrawn.

The complainant accepted that they said this to the social worker and that they also told the woman that the reason they made the allegations was because they were just trying to get the accused “into trouble”.

Mr O Lideadha put it to the woman that the report stated that when they were asked why they wanted to get the man into trouble the older sister recounted a row they had with their mother and the accused the night they went to the gardai to report the abuse.

The complainant accepted that the social worker told them that because there were younger sisters in the house they would be treating the allegations very seriously and would have to talk to the accused.

She further accepted that their mother was then asked to leave the meeting and the social worker again asked the girls were the allegations true and the teenagers insisted they were not.

The complainant agreed that the social worker assured them that if they made genuine allegations of abuse they would be dealt with “with the utmost seriousness”.

The report stated that the girls again said that the allegations were false, that they did not wish to pursue them and the teenagers agreed to inform the gardai about this.

The social worker’s report also outlined that the girls’ mother was concerned about her daughters taking ecstasy tablets and hash.

The complainant replied that she did take hash at the time but denied that she took ecstasy. She said she could not remember her mother ever being concerned about her taking drugs.

She agreed that there had been fights at home at the time between herself, her sister, her mother and the accused but denied that she had hit the accused during those rows, though he had hit them.

Mr O Lideadha suggested to the woman that she had physical fights with her mother at the time and the accused had to intervene.

The woman refused to accept this and a further suggestion that she had physical fights with her sisters, “no more than pushing, normal fights between sisters”.

The woman insisted that the allegations of sexual abuse she had made before the jury were true.

She refused to accept a suggestion that the allegations could not be true because if they were she would not have let her younger sisters remain in the family home with an abuser.

“If these allegations were true, there is no way you would call off an enquiry and let the accused go back into the family home,” counsel suggested.

Mr O Lideadha further suggested to the woman that a report stated that, at the time of the third sister making allegations of sexual abuse in 2005, their mother believed that this girl was making false allegations because she was under the influence of the older sister, the first complainant.

The trial continues in front of Judge Desmond Hogan and a jury of six men and five women after one juror was excused.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Washington Post Editorial demands wrongly accused man be released

A wrongly imprisoned man in Virginia

The Washington Post Published: November 13

IN VIRGINIA, a young man has languished in prison for four years for a crime he did not commit. Now that his lone accuser has admitted that she invented the charges against him, the state and the courts seem paralyzed, unable to quickly arrange for the release of the wrongfully imprisoned man. This is a travesty.

The man is Jonathan Montgomery, age 26. In 2007, a then-teenage girl named Elizabeth Paige Coast accused Mr. Montgomery of having molested her six years earlier, when she was 10 and he was 14. It wasn’t true.

In the alternative, according to the attorney general’s office, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) could pardon Mr. Montgomery or commute his sentence. But until Tuesday morning, Mr. McDonnell seemed unaware of the case, and there is no evidence that Mr. Cuccinelli (R) alerted him to it.

According to the Daily Press of Newport News, which broke the news, Ms. Coast recanted her story last month. She says she made it up as a way to deflect her parents’ anger when they caught her surfing pornographic sites on the Internet. She told investigators that she chose Mr. Montgomery because his family had moved away and she believed police wouldn’t be able to find him. She was wrong. Mr. Montgomery was located, arrested, brought back to Virginia, and tried and convicted for sexual assault. In 2008, he was sentenced to 7½ years in prison.

After Ms. Coast came clean last month, she was charged with perjury and fired from her job as a civilian clerk in the Hampton police department.

The chief prosecutor in the city of Hampton, Anton Bell, agreed with Mr. Montgomery’s request that his conviction and sentence be thrown out. Hampton Circuit Court Judge Randolph T. West, who presided over Mr. Montgomery’s trial in 2008, said he was mortified to learn of Ms. Coast’s deception. “You will never forget this, and God knows, I will never forget it,” the judge told Mr. Montgomery in a hearing last week.

Since his conviction, Mr. Montgomery has been incarcerated at the Greensville Correctional Center, a gloomy state prison south of Richmond that houses Virginia’s execution chamber. He has lived his life amid career criminals, behind a double perimeter fence topped with razor wire, in the shadow of six five-story-tall guard towers.

If Mr. Cuccinelli is unwilling or unable to act, then Mr. McDonnell must do so, and immediately. If that means taking time out from the annual conference of the Republican Governors Association, beginning Wednesday in Las Vegas, so be it.

Ozark child falsely accuses man of rape, admits sex with another

The Ozark Police Department is investigating the rape of a 12-year-old girl who initially accused one man before changing her story.

 The girl told her parents she was raped, and police were brought in to interview her. It was at that point when the girl accused a man of raping her. Police then interviewed the unidentified man, but he maintained his innocence.

When police interviewed the girl again, she admitted she made up the rape story.

The story takes a twist after that.

While the girl admitted she'd accused a man who had done nothing, she admitted she did have sex with another man.

Authorities later identified that man as Deharvey Barber, 19, who admitted to having sex with the child. Barber is now facing four counts of statutory rape.

It wasn't immediately clear why the child blamed someone else, but she now faces her own legal troubles.

The child, unidentified, faces charges including false reporting to law enforcement and obstructing governmental operation.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

BBC issues apology for false sex abuse report, Entwistle resigns

George Entwistle, director general of the British Broadcasting Corporation, resigned today in light of an erroneous report that implicated a senior politician in a child sex-abuse scandal.

BBC announced Entwistle would take over the public broadcaster in July, and he had spent just 54 days in command.

"In the light of the fact that the director general is also the editor-in-chief and ultimately responsible for all content, and in the light of the unacceptable journalistic standards of the Newsnight film broadcast on Friday 2 November, I have decided that the honorable thing to do is to step down from the post of director general," Entwistle's statement read, according to the BBC.

Lord Chris Patten, the politician in charge of BBC, said it was "one of saddest evenings of my public life," The Telegraph reported.

"George Entwistle has worked for the BBC for 23 years. He exemplifies the finest values of public service broadcasting," Patten said, according to The Telegraph. "He has behaved as editor with huge honor and courage and would that the rest of the world always behaved the same.”

The 50-year-old Entwistle's sudden resignation comes after BBC issued an apology earlier today. The BBC aired the false report on its popular Newsnight program and did not name the abuser, but said that it was a senior member of the Tory government, CNN reported.

Internet speculation swirled about who the abuser might be and prompted former Conservative Party treasurer Lord McAlpine to issue a statement denying any involvement.

McAlpine called the claims "wholly false and seriously defamatory."

The BBC reported that a victim, Steve Messham, apologized to the former treasurer and admitted that he did not assault him.

Entwistle said he would not cancel the popular news show and said he did not know about the investigation until the day after it was broadcast, Britain's Sky News said.

He said the news program had "a fantastic investigative record" but that the report on child abuse allegations was "unacceptable" and "should never have gone out."

"We should not have put out a film that was so fundamentally wrong. What happened here was completely unacceptable," he said. "I have taken clear and decisive action to start to find out what happened and put things right."

Entwistle also suggested that staff involved in the episode could face disciplinary action.

It's another embarrassing incident for the British broadcaster in an already-difficult year. The BBC is facing another scandal over how it handled the sexual abuse allegations against the late TV presenter Jimmy Savile.

Two inquiries are being launched looking into why the abuse went undetected for decades and also why the same Newsnight program canceled an investigation into Savile and instead broadcast two tribute programs celebrating his charity work, reports CNN.


Alleged victim of sex abuse denies making up story for cash

A MAN claiming he was molested as a schoolboy by “sex predator” Mark Watson has denied making up a story for money.

The alleged victim accepted he had told unconnected lies to police in the past – including a false rape allegation.

But he said his claims of weekly sex attacks at Watson’s home were all true.

And he told a Newcastle Crown Court jury he had not created a fantasy for compensation cash.

Watson’s barrister Robert Spragg said: “I am suggesting you are telling a pack of lies and your motivation is entirely financial.”

But the man, now in his 20s, said his motivation for finally making his complaint was very different.

He told the jury: “It is so he can never do this to anyone else.”

Watson, of Green Lane, Ashington, denies charges of rape, sexual assault, grooming and downloading child pornography.

Prosecutors say he was a predator who posed as a much younger man to meet one of his two alleged victims – then only 15 – on a chat-room website.

He collected the boy and a pal, took them to his home and abused them both after getting them drunk on vodka, it is claimed.

Giving evidence in a recorded video interview, one of the alleged victims said Watson gave him £20-£40 at the end of each visit – cash he spent on cannabis. He said: “At the time I didn’t know. I think its disgusting now. I didn’t understand it.

“All I thought was, ‘If I do this, he gives me money’.

“That is the only reason I did it. I never enjoyed it.”

Watson accepts meeting the alleged victim, the court heard. By then he was 16, he was in his home only twice and nothing sexual ever happened between them, Watson says.

The man told jurors: “I have lied to the police in the past, but I wouldn’t lie on the bible. This has totally wrecked my life and my mental health.”


Harvard students vote on rule change that would make it easier to punish the innocent for sexual assault

I am at a loss to understand how people who otherwise would at the forefront of the battle to extend due process rights to persons accused of wrongdoing are, instead, at the forefront of efforts to roll back, in significant ways, the due process rights of persons accused of sexual wrongdoing on campus.

Sarah C. Stein Lubrano, Harvard anticipated class of ’13, has written a piece that is an affront to the community of the wrongly accused because she advocates that her college change its rules in a way that will make it easier to punish the innocent for offenses they didn't commit.  Lubrano urges students to vote to adopt a standard of “affirmative consent,” which she says redefines consent in sexual encounters to mean "saying yes to the sex with words or clearly enthusiastic actions.”

"This is necessary not to harshly punish people caught in seemingly ambiguous situations," Lubrano writes, "but rather to prevent these situations from being as ambiguous in the first place."

But harshly punish people caught in ambiguous situations it would do, and that's the problem. "Clearly enthusiastic" consent is unworkable as either a legal standard or an official university policy. It is critical to note that if this standard becomes law on campus, it would punish students with expulsion even where actual consent is present if it is not sufficiently "clearly enthusiastic." This would require campus disciplinary boards to sometimes expel young men for having sex even if it finds that consent was present.

Let's make this clear: COTWA supports any efforts to instruct college students to be certain their partner clearly consents to any sexual encounter. But that's far different than saying colleges should legislate, on threat of expulsion, that consent be "clearly enthusiastic." 

Who, on earth, will decide if consent was "clearly enthusiastic" anyway? Men and women do not carry "enthusiasm" meters into the bedroom. How can a disciplinary board tell the difference between ordinary consent and consent that is "clearly enthusiastic"? There is no mistaking midnight for noon, but at what point does twilight become night? It's a line as indistinct as a dense New England fog.  From a legal perspective, consent is like pregnancy: women aren't just a little pregnant, and likewise, there either was consent or there wasn't.

Our criminal law is not a guessing game, and campus rules shouldn't be, either. A valid criminal statute puts the public on clear notice as to the conduct that is forbidden. “A penal statute, . . . to be valid, must be sufficiently definite to show what acts the legislature intended to punish.” William Lawrence Clark et al, A Treatise on the Law of Crimes at 59 (1996). This is a component of due process. “The test is whether the language conveys sufficiently definite warning as to the proscribed conduct when measured by common understanding and practices.” Jordan v. DeGeorge, 341 U.S. 223 (1951). A law that does not meet that standard is unconstitutionally vague.

College sex policies should not be free-floating standards of purported wrongdoing that punish wrongdoing “in the air.” Fundamental notions of fairness dictate that college rules of conduct be sufficiently definite to warn the accused when he’s in violation of them. This rule would not do that.  To punish young men (the target of this rule change), for not conforming to an artificial and politicized construct that would be impossible to fairly gauge borders on the barbaric.

Lubrano's unfortunate column is here:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Man recants claim that Elmo puppeteer is a statutory rapist

No harm done, right?

I mean, right?

A man who accused Sesame Street puppeteer Kevin Clash (Clash made the puppet Elmo a superstar) of having sex with him when he was a teenage boy has recanted his story.  The unnamed man now admits that the consensual sexual relationship occurred when he was an adult.

Isn't the news media glad that it smeared this man with an allegation so repulsive that he can't possibly be unsmeared?  And by the way, his false accuser retains his anonymity.

When the news media parrots an unsubstantiated allegation of a vile sex act, the general public believes there must be something to it. Why else would the Associated Press report it?  But too often, there's nothing to it.

Have you ever tried to get the toothpaste back in the tube? Or unring a bell?

If you don't you think that Sesame Workshop, the producer of Sesame Street, would love for Kevin Clash to just slink away of his own accord, you've been living under a rock all your life. Clash is damaged goods, and a lot of parents aren't going to want their kids near Elmo after this.

On behalf of the wrongly accused -- thanks, AP! You've done it again!

Mental health care ordered after false sex assault report

A Naperville woman who falsely claimed she was assaulted in Aurora has a chance to avoid having a felony on her record, after reaching a plea agreement in DuPage County.

Sarah Eschbach, 22, of the 2700 block of Spinner Court, will take part in a two-year alternative sentencing option after she admitted to falsely claiming that she had been the victim of a sexual assault. The sentence was issued Friday.

Paul Darrah, a spokesman for DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin, said the guilty plea was a condition of Eschbach’s acceptance into the Mental Illness Court Alternative Program.

Last March 26, Eschbach told Aurora police that she had been attacked in an apartment on the city’s far East Side by a 21-year-old man living there, with whom she was acquainted. Investigators later concluded the two actually had engaged in consensual sex.

The 24-month Mental Illness Court Alternative Program will entail counseling, therapy or “whatever needs to be done, to help her get through this,” Darrah said.

If Eschbach has complied with all of the program requirements at the end of the two years, the charges will be dropped, he said.


Valenta pleads no contest to attempted prostitution

A Wilber woman who falsely accused a Wymore man and several other men of rape in November 2011 pleaded no contest to attempted prostitution Wednesday morning.

Jennifer L. Valenta, 28, pleaded no contest to three counts: attempted prostitution, tampering with physical evidence and false reporting in a criminal matter.

Three more charges -- prostitution, perjury and obstructing government operations -- were dismissed by prosecutors in exchange for the plea deal.

Valenta will be sentenced on Jan. 2, 2013, at 1:30 p.m. in Gage County District Court. A pre-sentence investigation has been ordered by District Court Judge Paul Korslund.

She could face up to six years in prison, $20,000 in fines or both.

According to court records, Valenta told law enforcement she was raped by four men at Big Indian Lake in southern Gage County on Nov. 24, 2011.

Gage County Sheriff’s deputies later arrested Elliot Hawkins based on Valenta’s testimony.

During an investigation into the matter, Valenta submitted photos to investigators of injuries sustained during the reported rape that were later examined by a medical expert. The expert told investigators the injuries, including cuts and scrapes, did not match the timeline of the alleged rape and that they could have been self-inflicted.

Valenta also told investigators they could find paper towels at the scene that would implicate Hawkins and three others in the sexual assault. A DNA sampling showed DNA from Hawkins and Valenta only, however.

During a Jan. 19 interview, Valenta told authorities she was accompanying Hawkins on Nov. 23, 2011, and engaged in sexual acts with him for money. Statements made by Hawkins confirmed Valenta’s story.

Valenta also told authorities she caused self-inflicted injuries using her fingernails and a disposable razor.

Hawkins was released from jail and all charges against him were dropped.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Off-Topic: The UK gets it right on gender equity in auto insurance

From the BBC:  "Women are being urged to check their car insurance ahead of a new rule coming into force next month which will ban firms from taking gender into account. It means female drivers will see their premiums go up by as much as 25% after 21 December."

Brogan Mooney, 18, doesn't think it's fair that young women will have to pay around 25% extra. "I've been driving a year now and I've had no crashes and no claims, so I should be rewarded," she says.

What isn't fair is is the current system, where all young men -- even the ones who drive safely -- are penalized with higher premiums just because they were born male.

Safe drivers should pay the same whether they are male or female. Reckless drivers should pay the same, but more than safe drivers, whether they are male or female.  Why is this in any sense controversial? 

And, yes, yes, I know -- for a long time, insurers got away with discriminating against individuals based on gender by hiding behind their precious actuarial tables. Make no mistake, they only got away with it because people allowed them get away with it. Actuarial tables will also show differences based on skin color, but no rational person thinks it's fair to use race as a criteria to set premium rates.

It is unfortunate that President Obama, who has won applause from women's groups by bringing gender equity to health insurance, hasn't noticed that a lot of young men are being penalized when it comes to auto insurance just because they were born male.

At least on this issue, the UK got it right.

Calgary woman sentenced for falsely accusing her father of sexual assault

My only question in this case, is why hasn't she been remanded for a psychiatric hold, if she attempted suicide. House arrest and later a curfew seems awfully light for falsely accusing her father.

A Calgary woman who falsely accused her father of sexually assaulting her two years ago has been placed under house arrest for the first year of a conditional sentence of two years less a day.

In sentencing Lori Gnam on Tuesday, provincial court Judge John Bascom said it was aggravating that the 40-year-old woman perpetuated the lie to police, hospital staff and social workers for four months.

“An aggravating factor is the nature of the charge, which not only has the potential of harming an individual, but presents potential harm to the public through the system of courts and justice,” said Bascom.

“In addition, Ms. Gnam continued with these allegations from October 2010 to February 2011. She was an active participant, in that she provided a (sworn) statement to the authorities as well as contacting the investigating officer with queries why her father was not charged. This leads to the conclusion that her moral blameworthiness is relatively high.”

Crown prosecutor Julie Morgan had sought a federal penitentiary sentence, because of the seriousness of the false accusations, but Bascom sided with defence lawyer Steve Jenuth’s argument for a non-custodial penalty.

Bascom said the allegation arose out of a genuine suicide attempt where Gnam deliberately injured herself by inserting scissors into her rectum.

She had told her parents with who she lived on Oct. 5, 2010, that she would no longer contribute financially to household and other expenses, An argument ensued and the accused’s male friend became involved with her father.

Paramedics attended and dealt with her, as it was believed she was suffering from a spasm and complained of stomach pains. She was taken to hospital and released, but returned two days later with the self-inflicted wounds. While at hospital, she told her male friend’s daughter what her father had done to her.

Police lead Det. Marlene Hope of the police sex crimes unit spoke to the accused’s surgeon and became suspicious, then questioned the validity of the claims. However, Gnam continued the false allegations, leaving lengthy messages on the officer’s phone complaining why the investigation was taking so long and that her father had not been jailed.

Finally, Hope confronted Gnam in a meeting on Feb. 22, 2011, and the accused admitted she had lied and fabricated the allegations of sexual assault.

Her father was never arrested or charged.

Gnam, as part of her sentence, must be her home 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except for medical and other emergencies, work or school, and counselling and treatment as directed by her supervisor. She also must not possess or consume and alcohol or non-prescription drugs and perform 150 hours of community service.

The house arrest will be replaced by a curfew for the final year.

Gnam also may not have any contact whatsoever with her parents.