Friday, February 15, 2013

Dr. Lisak's testimony for the prosecution in the Jordan Johnson rape case: accuser's behavior could show she was truthful -- or that she lied

In the high profile Jordan Johnson rape case (he's an ex-University of Montana quarterback), the prosecution trotted out acclaimed sexual grievance industry guru Dr. David Lisak as an expert witness Thursday to testify against the presuptively innocent defendant -- no surprise there. Lisak testified that it's extremely common for rape victims to blame themselves for what happened as a way of minimizing the trauma or figuring out what they think they did wrong so they don't do it again. (The accuser in the Johnson case appeared to blame herself in a Facebook post to a friend. "And now I keep thinking that maybe I did want it, and that's why I didn't punch him or kick him or bite him. The more and more this goes on, the more I feel guilty about it. The whole situation makes me think I just lied," she wrote.)

But under cross-examination, defense attorney Kirsten Pabst got Lisak to acknowledge that while trauma could explain the changing stories of an alleged rape victim, lying could explain the same behavior.

Pabst asked Lisak, if it's true that "some people inaccurately portray their role in an event?"

"They might," said Lisak.

"Other people might characterize that as minimization."


" ... Because the horror is too much to bear."


"Or because it wasn't horrible."


Neither bad sex nor awkward sex nor disappointing sex constitutes rape, Lisak agreed in response to her questions.

"If nothing bad has happened," Pabst suggested, "what's characterized as accepting blame could also be seen as acknowledging responsibility," she said.

"Yes," said Lisak.

Lisak's fee is reportedly $325 an hour for his services as an expert witness. We wonder if, in hindsight, the prosecution thinks he was worth it.

Lisak, you may recall, is the researcher who did a study on false rape claims a few years ago. He claimed that only 5.9% of the rape claims in his study were false, based on a stringent definition of falsity. Importantly, Dr. Lisak's study did not show that 94.1% of the rape claims in his study could be regarded as actual rapes -- that's because Lisak's research showed that the majority of rape claims in his study fell in a gray area where no one can say if the claims were actual rapes or false claims. Unfortunately, however, Lisak didn't bother to tell us what the percentage of false claims would be if he only counted those claims he knew were either actual rapes or false claims (in other words, if he discounted the gray claims that don't fall into either category) -- it is beyond dispute that it would be much, much higher than 5.9%. As such, Lisak's "5.9%" is fairly meaningless given what we've just explained, but it has been chanted by uncritical feminist bloggers to "prove" that false rape claims are rare and unworthy of the attention as they receive. We've frequently cited Lisak's work with approval on this site, but the "5.9%" needed an asterisk with an explanation. Lisak's failure to provide one is a black mark on his distinguished career.

By the way, the trial turned into a near-farce on Thursday when the accuser's male roommate testified. This is from a newspaper account:

Stephen Green, the woman’s roommate and one of her best friends, testified Thursday that he was rattled when he got a text message from her that night that began, “omg … I think I might’ve just been raped.”

“I didn’t really know what to do. I didn’t know how to react. It isn’t something I was really prepared to deal with,” Green said. “I thought about going in there (to her bedroom) and doing something, I don’t know what. But I didn’t end up doing that.”

Instead, he texted her to get out of the room and then waited on the couch until she emerged. “She looked like she had been crying or was about to cry. Her eyes were watering up. She looked really distressed,” he told Thompson.

But the woman waved him off and took Johnson home. When she returned, Green testified, she started crying so hard she could barely talk.

[Co-defense counsel] Paoli’s cross-examination returned repeatedly to statements Green made to defense attorneys before the trial.

“You didn’t know what to do (in response to the text) because you thought she was exaggerating,” Paoli said.

“That’s not true,” Green responded.

Paoli showed him a transcript of the statement in which Green said the woman’s text left him confused, unsure of what do, and that he thought the woman might have been exaggerating.

On his redirect, Thompson asked Green: “Did you think (she) was exaggerating when she sent you that text message?”

“No,” Green said.

But Paoli got one more crack at Green, reminding him yet again of the statement.

“You did nothing to respond to her text. You were confused, the text was unclear to you, and you thought she was exaggerating,” Paoli said, summing up the statement.

“Yes,” said Green.