Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Police: Woman lied about burglary, sexual assault

A Johnson City woman lied when she reported a burglary and sexual assault on Friday, resulting in her arrest this morning, police said in a news release. 
Jennifer Sammons, 1825 Todd Drive, was charged with filing a false police report. 
In a news release, police said her arrest resulted from an investigation into a burglary and sexual assault reported on Friday. Police said Sammons admitted she had consensual sex with a person she knew and called emergency service personnel making the false claims. 
She was jailed in the Washington County Detention Center on $5,000 bond pending a Sessions Court appearance Monday.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Woman pleads guilty in connection with false accusation of home invasion that sent teen to jail for 8 months

Reported here:

A Maryland woman who falsely accused a teen in a home invasion where a Fawn Grove resident was shot pleaded guilty to obstruction of the administration of law Wednesday and was sentenced to two years probation.

Cassie Jo Heath, 27, told York County Judge Craig T. Trebilcock that she was under the influence of drugs when Pennsylvania State Police questioned her about their suspicions that Mason Michael Carter, then 17, had shot William Cooper in the chest after he broke into the Cooper home on Park Drive about 1:30 a.m. Oct. 20.

Carter was arrested and charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, robbery and related charges. 

He remained incarcerated for almost eight months before being released on nominal bail on June 20.

Police arrested Bradford S. Holup, 50, of Baltimore, five days later in connection with the home invasion. According to police, Holup, who was in a Maryland prison on an unrelated attempted homicide charge, reportedly had confessed to police on June 18.

Wednesday, Heath told Trebilcock she was in methadone treatment but had not used illegal drugs in over a year.

She said police had come to her house and told her Carter was in custody for the home invasion. She said she told them "over and over again" that Carter was not involved.

"They didn't believe me, so I lied," she said. "I dug myself a hole and got deeper and deeper."

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tim Barker said Heath had tried to recant her allegation at Carter's preliminary hearing. But, he said, witnesses trying to change their testimony at that point are "a dime a dozen in our world."

Barker said Heath's sentence could be viewed as lenient compared to the time Carter spent in custody. He explained that investigators had determined that Heath may have some information about the home invasion and Carter and had contacted her. She had not make any attempt to contact police to frame Carter, he said.

Barker also said he spoke with Carter on Tuesday evening. Carter was not present at Heath's hearing because of work obligations, Barker said.

Barker told Trebilcock that Carter said he and Heath "are on good terms," was supportive of her drug counseling and was in agreement with the proposed probationary sentence.

"It would be understandable if Mr. Carter were not," Barker said. "I think Mr. Carter shows great maturity in this."

Trebilcock said he agreed, noting that he had the same initial concerns about the sentence before hearing from Barker.

"I would be inclined to give you some jail time," Trebilcock said to Heath. "To balance the scale for what Mr. Carter went through."

But Trebilcock said, he believed Heath had been scared when confronted by police and made some choices while on drugs that were "poor choices."

Saturday, April 27, 2013

News report derides family and friends for speaking up about the character of man accused of sexual assault

Hakop Kaplanyan, a freshman star on UCLA’s water polo team, has been accused of, but not charged with, sexual assault of an acquaintance.

Now, his friends, family, and classmates have put together a You Tube video as a way to lend him moral support. They call him dedicated, intelligent, honest, and caring -- and they say that he is accused of actions that he did not commit.  See it here.

We have no idea is Hakop is innocent. We cringe when armchair Internet jockeys, or worse, writers for major Internet Web sites, take sides in sexual assault cases as if they know the truth. They often form judgments based on vile stereotypes about gender.

But this is different. When a father is reported as saying his daughter is telling the truth about being raped, or a mother says her son didn't do it when he's accused of rape, we respect their sentiments as the natural testimonials of loved ones. All they are saying is, the person I know tells the truth and wouldn't do anything wrong. It does not mean we should think they have first-hand knowledge about the incident at issue.

It is commendable for family and friends to believe, and to stand up for, someone who says they were raped, or who denies having committed rape. Too often, we see heart-breaking stories where it turns out a young man was wrongly accused, but before that, his loved ones had abandoned him.  That is often the most cruel aspect to being wrongly accused. We don't know whether Hakop is innocent or guilty, but the young people who put together this You Tube video should not be ridiculed. They are being loyal to a friend; if he's innocent, he surely needs such loyalty.  Their video is far different than, for example, the cynical professional writer who sits at her computer and takes sides in a high-profile rape case -- based on nothing more than "rape happens to too many women."

The mainstream media typically is very respectful of character testimonials supporting women who say they were raped.  But look at the way MSN's web site derides Hakop's friends and family for daring to lend support to him.

First, the inappropriate and sarcastic headline: "Friends' video says what a swell guy athlete accused of rape is."

Then, in the news report itself, there is this:  ". . . his supporters are aggressively coming to his defense, releasing a fawning 76-second video titled 'Hakop Kaplanyan - Innocence 2013,' in which they praise his character (and his smile) and laud his athletic skills — which, of course, everyone hates to see imperiled by pesky accusations. Not once is 'rape' or 'sexual assault' mentioned . . .."


The writer should just come out and say s/he thinks it's wrong for friends and family of men accused of sex crimes to publicly lend them moral support.

And what a peculiar thing to say -- "not once is 'rape' or 'sexual assault' mentioned . . .." As if this were a public service announcement about sexual assault.

The tone of this report is all off, but it's a chilling sign of the times. Another implicit message from the mainstream media that we are supposed to believe every man accused of rape is guilty by reason of the accusation, and that he is undeserving of being treated like a human being.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Cornell takes another step to make it easier to punish innocent students

Cornell is planning to change its disciplinary procedure for sexual assault claims by dispensing with the requirement that witnesses testify in person. It will, instead, allow written statements of witnesses. See here and here. The change is a significant blow to the rights of the accused. It flies in the face of judicial authority holding that in college disciplinary cases that are essentially credibility contests, the cross-examination of witnesses is essential to a fair hearing. An accused student cannot cross-examine an affidavit.

The change is being made to benefit accusers. The basis for the change seems to be anecdotal evidence suggesting that accusers may find hearings intimidating, and, therefore, they may be deterred from reporting misconduct. Narda Terrones, a member of the school's Women’s Resource Center, explained: “The most terrifying thing is getting in front of the panel and telling their story in front of the person they are accusing.”

The right to confront one's accuser is fundamental to due process. Its roots extend back to Roman law. In our modern criminal and civil jurisprudence, there are expansive protections to guard against the admission of hearsay evidence that can't be cross-examined. At least at public universities, while disciplinary hearings need not be conducted with the full panoply of due process rights accorded to criminal defendants, hearings still must be conducted with fundamental fairness for the rights of the accused. Even though Cornell is a private school, presumably, it wants its students, prospective students, and alumni to believe that its disciplinary hearings are conducted in a manner that comports with fundamental fairness (I have yet to see a college brochure anywhere touting a philosophy of treating the school's students unfairly). The new procedure would discard any semblance of the right to confront an accuser and is patently unfair to presumptively innocent students accused of sex offenses.

An influential judicial decision on the subject, Donohue v. Baker, 976 F. Supp. 136, 147 (N.D. N.Y. 1997), said the following in words Cornell should heed:
. . . if a case is essentially one of credibility, the "cross-examination of witnesses might [be] essential to a fair hearing." . . . . In the instant case, the disciplinary hearing became a test of the credibility of plaintiff's testimony versus the testimony of defendant Scott. From the record, it appears that the only evidence that was before the panel came in the form of Scott's two statements alleging sexual misconduct and the plaintiff's two statements denying the same. Indeed, the record reveals that the panel was reticent about even permitting plaintiff the opportunity to make a second statement. 
The opportunity to make two statements to a disciplinary panel might suffice in the case of alleged misconduct that could result in a short suspension from school. . . . . But the plaintiff here faced expulsion and procedures necessarily had to take on a higher level of formality to ensure fairness. . . . At the very least, in light of the disputed nature of the facts and the importance of witness credibility in this case, due process required that the panel permit the plaintiff to hear all evidence against him and to direct questions to his accuser through the panel. . . . It is not clear from the record that plaintiff was afforded this opportunity. . . . .
College sex claims are typically "he said/she said" affairs where the only witnesses with direct knowledge are often the accuser and the accused. Often, the entire case comes down to credibility. Cornell's new procedure will allow the accuser to carefully craft a narrative, in a sterile, controlled, and completely non-adversarial environment, that could forever alter a fellow's student's life. Both the person who will decide the fate of the young man she accuses, and the young man himself, will be deprived of the critical opportunity to observe her demeanor in testifying. The opportunity for juries and trial judges deciding fact issues to observe a witness' demeanor is so important in deciding questions of credibility that appellate courts, which do not see the witnesses, routinely refrain from upsetting juries' findings of fact for this very reason. The fate of young men at Cornell accused of sex offenses (but no other kinds of offenses) will be decided based on a cold, lifeless record.

The change is otherwise problematic. First, it seems to be motivated by anecdotal evidence about the discomfort of sexual assault victims in testifying at hearings. We can, of course, envision all manner of other scenarios involving alleged offenses having nothing to do with sexual encounters where accusers would experience discomfort about testifying. To our knowledge, Cornell is not offering these witnesses the opportunity to "testify" on paper.

Second, the concerns underlying the anecdotal evidence do not appear to mirror the actual primary reasons for underreporting of sexual assault. Scott Berkowitz, President & Founder of the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), undeniably an expert on the subject, testified about this in a Senate hearing in 2010, and writer Amanda Hess summarized it:
More victims may not be reporting their rapes, but the reasoning has changed over the past few decades. "A generation ago," the reasons were things like, "fear of not being believed; fear of being interrogated about and blamed for their own behavior, and what they were wearing. In short, they feared that they would be the one on trial."

Today, "the perception of many victims has evolved." Now they don't report for these reasons: "they don't want their loved ones to know what happened; they're ashamed themselves; they just want to put it all behind them." Today, "fear and shame of how the police wil [sic] treat them" has moved down on the list of reasons victims provide for not officially reporting the crime.
See here.

It is peculiar that the anecdotal concern is being raised now as a reason to change the school's policy, when it is significantly less pertinent than it once was. The timing may be motivated to take advantage of a political climate that is less respectful of the rights of the accused in these sorts of proceedings than at any time in memory.

Third, by treating sexual assault different than any other offense, Cornell is playing into an unfortunate stereotype that the feminist community has long labored to overcome. Feminist Naomi Wolf has decried anonymity for rape accusers in words that are equally applicable here: "Feminists have long argued that rape must be treated like any other crime. . . . Treating rape so differently serves only to maintain its mischaracterization as a 'different' kind of crime, loaded with cultural baggage and projections." Wolf argues: "It is wrong – and sexist – to treat female sex-crime accusers as if they were children." See here. But that is what Cornell is doing here--treating one class of victims as too weak to withstand the adversarial process. (It is well to note the the "Dear Colleague" letter mandates a very broad application of rape shield law-type protections for accusers, so the accuser's sexual history would not be an issue at any hearing on sexual assault.)

We are especially disappointed that Cornell, of all schools, is taking yet another step that will make it easier to punish innocent students. Law school professors Kevin Clermont and Cynthia Bowman, among others, have been vocal critics of the "Dear Colleague" letter's dismantling of the rights of the accused. The school's administration, in contrast, seems to harbor an unhealthy fealty to group identity politics, without adequate regard for the interests of the presumptively innocent.

All in all, another triumph for political correctness, but a bad thing for Cornell.

Female Marine Convicted of Falsely Reporting Rape

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- A Camp Pendleton Marine who said she was raped has been found guilty in a military court of obstructing justice and attempted adultery.

U-T San Diego (http://bit.ly/17jzpkj) says the woman, a staff sergeant whose name is being withheld, was convicted Wednesday by a military judge, who did not explain his reasoning.

The woman and another Marine both said they'd had sex in a hotel room last year. But the woman said she'd been too drunk to consent, a statement prosecutors regarded as false. The other Marine said he didn't know she was married and didn't appear overly intoxicated.

The woman's husband reported the encounter.

She is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday and could get a year in jail, reduction of rank to private, loss of pay and dishonorable discharge.



A previous story was reported here:

She did not allege that she was sexually assaulted until after she learned she would be tried for adultery, according to court testimony.

A female Marine who says she was raped by a Marine in her squadron after a night of drinking is being tried at Camp Pendleton by special court martial for adultery, making false statements and impeding an investigation, it was reported Tuesday.

The woman, whose identity was withheld, and her alleged rapist are both staff sergeants who were assigned to Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 39 at Camp Pendleton in March 2012, when they had sex in a hotel room after several hours of drinking, according to U-T San Diego.

She pleaded not guilty on Monday, the newspaper reported, noting that she faced up to a year in jail, forfeiture of pay and a dishonorable discharge if convicted.

"The command does take sexual assault with the utmost gravity, and has decided to pursue this route to ensure that the sexual assault response process remains effective and maintains integrity for victims," a 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing spokesman, 1st Lt. Tyler Balzer, told U-T San Diego.

The woman's husband of 17 years -- another Marine who works at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar -- reported the alleged rape to her command after she told him she had been acting strangely because she cheated on him. She did not allege that she was sexually assaulted until after she learned she would be tried for adultery, according to court testimony.

"I made a poor decision," the husband told U-T San Diego of his report to his wife's command. "I'm paying for it now and my wife is paying for it. ...I was spiteful and I was angry. I didn't have all the facts."

The defense has said the woman failed to immediately report the sexual assault because she didn't want to go through the trauma of what she thought would probably be a pointless investigation resulting in no punishment for her attacker.

The woman's alleged rapist has denied any wrongdoing, testifying in court that he didn't know she was married and that she didn't appear too drunk to consent to sex. His name was also withheld because he has not been charged with any crime

Lawyers share false rape stories

SINGAPORE - When he reported that he had been robbed at knife point, Clementi Police Division quickly questioned potential witnesses at the crime scene in the vicinity of Stirling Road.

But when the 21-year-old "victim" himself was probed, it became clear that there was no robbery.

It turned out he had made a false report on April 10 after gambling away $2,000.

The incident prompted the Clementi Police Division chief, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Police Melvin Yong, to remind the public on the consequences of giving false information and wasting police resources.

The maximum penalty is imprisonment for a year and a $5,000 fine.

"Such cases of false reports are fairly common, they are a great inconvenience and a waste of expenses," said Mr Rajan Supramaniam, a lawyer at Hilborne & Co.

Police said they do not monitor the number of false police reports made and those punished for making such reports.

In the "robbery" case, the false report did not name a suspect. But sometimes, an innocent person is falsely named and subjected to police investigations.

"Sometimes there are lovers' spats, leading to accusations of molest, and these accusations are made out of anger" said Mr Rajan. He added that about one in five of the false report cases he has dealt with was made by someone who wanted to exact revenge on the accused.

Mr Rajan, who has been a lawyer for 13 years, estimates that he has handled around 50 cases based on false reports.

Lawyers shared with The New Paper cases that they handled.

For Mr Ramesh Tiwary, one case stands out.

More than 10 years ago, the criminal lawyer represented a Sri Lankan maid who was charged with making a false report. She had previously accused her employer of rape.

While she was being interviewed, she broke down and confessed to making a false accusation.

The maid was sent back to Sri Lanka.

Maids making false accusations

Mr Rajan said that cases of maids making false accusations against their employers are not rare. These maids accuse their employer of failing to pay their wages, abusing or molesting them.

"They do this because they are unhappy or because they want to leave the country," he said.

"Making such false reports is dangerous, as there can be serious consequences. People may be imprisoned till their names are cleared," said Mr Tiwary.

So how are such false claims uncovered? Mr Luke Lee, a former police investigator-turned-lawyer, said that discrepancies usually arise when "victims" are questioned.

He said: "I had a case where my client was accused of molesting his colleague in the storeroom. Following further interrogation, it was discovered that she had consented to it."

And three years ago, lawyer Gloria James, of Gloria James-Civetta & Co, represented a woman who had accused her boyfriend, who was married to another woman, of raping her.

It resulted in a police investigation where officers recorded statements from the woman and detained the man for investigation.

The sex was found to be consensual and she was charged and sentenced to two weeks in jail.

Said Ms James of such false reports:"By getting another into trouble, you too are looking at bigger trouble for yourself."


Thursday, April 25, 2013

If you are accused (not found guilty) of a sex offense on campus, your government has instructed your school to give your accuser options to avoid contact with you--and to 'minimize the burden on' her in deciding who should be removed from their dorm or classes

The goal of the Dept. of Education's April 4, 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter is to make it easier for colleges to expel and suspend young men charged with sexual misconduct. It is a laudable goal to punish rapists, but the decision makers behind this letter didn't bother to consider that it also made it easier to punish the innocent for offenses they didn't commit.  The most famous feature of the letter is its mandate that colleges lower the standard of proof in disciplinary proceedings about sexual misconduct to a mere "preponderance of the evidence." (In other words, a disciplinary hearing committee might have a significant doubt about the accused's student's guilt, but if it believes the evidence tilts ever so slightly in favor of the accuser, it must find the accused guilty.) Although it is couched in gender-neutral terms, the overriding purpose of the letter is to remedy sexual violence against women.

Among the letter's other mandates, at pages 15-16, is one that is rarely discussed: it requires schools to give accusers protection from their alleged sexual perpetrators even before an investigation is completed:
Title IX requires a school to take steps to protect the complainant as necessary, including taking interim steps before the final outcome of the investigation. The school should undertake these steps promptly once it has notice of a sexual harassment or violence allegation. The school should notify the complainant of his or her options to avoid contact with the alleged perpetrator and allow students to change academic or living situations as appropriate. For instance, the school may prohibit the alleged perpetrator from having any contact with the complainant pending the results of the school’s investigation. When taking steps to separate the complainant and alleged perpetrator, a school should minimize the burden on the complainant, and thus should not, as a matter of course, remove complainants from classes or housing while allowing alleged perpetrators to remain.
Read it again: the school give the complainant options to avoid contact with the accused and "should minimize the burden on the complainant . . . ."  Why didn't it say that the school "should minimize the burden on the complainant and the alleged perpetrator"? Not only does the "Dear Colleague" letter make it easier to punish young men accused of sex offenses, both the guilty and the innocent, this "interim steps" measure initiates the punishment process from the moment of the accusation. But it's even worse than that: a comprehensive law review article that recently exposed the injustices of the "Dear Colleague" letter translated the "interim steps" provision as follows: "In other words, alleged perpetrators should automatically suffer life-upending punishments like expulsion from their residences upon accusation because they are likely guilty." The law review author explains that this mandate is just part of the letter's "formalization of a presumption of guilt in campus adjudications." S. Henrick, A Hostile Environment for Student Defendants: Title IX and Sexual Assault on College Campuses, 40 N. Ky. L. Rev. 49 (2013). (The article can be read here.)

At Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, when interim steps are taken against someone before a complaint is investigated -- such as a student being removed from his dorm -- the University's president and general counsel did not want the school to be required even to meet with the affected student to discuss the interim steps. According to the school's student newspaper, the university's president and general counsel wanted the policy to be that a meeting with the affected party could take place "as needed."

The school's faculty recently nixed the "as needed" weasel-words as "too lax" from a due process perspective. Accordingly, the school's new policy will require the person making the decision about "interim steps" to have a meeting with the accused student. “Taking someone out of the classroom but not giving them a logical reason is unjust,” said Prof. Anne E. Green.

That's a small but positive step. We've seen other examples of faculty members across America pushing back at the Dear Colleague letter, but short of a lawsuit (no one has filed one yet that we are aware of), they can't overcome its mandates, or the assumption of male guilt that underlies its policies.

Woman who falsely accused teen of rape and led vigilante gang to torture and brutally murder him is sentenced

A follow-up to this story and this one:

A trio convicted of the brutal murder of Harold Hill teenager Luke Harwood have been caged for a minimum of 57 years, a court heard today.

“Psychopath” James Danby, the ringleader, was told he must serve 25 years before being considered for parole.

His accomplices, baby-faced Emma Hall, 21, will serve a minimum of 15 years, and her boyfriend Tony O’Toole, 30, was jailed for a minimum of 17 years, the Old Bailey heard.

Hall instigated the attack on Luke, who was left resembling the Elephant Man, before she drove the victim from where they all lived in Crow Lane, Romford, to playing fields where he was finished off by Danby and O’Toole.

Danby bragged about the orgy of violence and planned to pull Luke’s teeth out to prevent the body being identified

Hall went to a phone box and rang police when Danby said he wanted to return to the body to disfigure it

Judge Paul Worsley told her: “You played your part in taking Luke Harwood from the house to be killed and were due to return to the scene the following night in order to mutilate the body.

“I bear in mind your good character and the fact you alone had the courage to call the police, which led to the arrest of all of you, though you down-played your role.”

Hall was also convicted of causing grievous bodily harm and perverting the course of justice, but cleared of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Danby was also convicted of causing grievous bodily harm, perverting the course of justice and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

He refused to leave his cell today.

The judge said: “James Danby is a controlling, manipulative and dangerous individual who manipulated others in the dock to support him in these dreadful events.

“He has shown no sign of remorse but only contempt for these proceedings.”

He added: “Luke Harwood was the subject of beating, punching and kicking for a period of some two hours which left footmarks on his skull and head such that he had the appearance of the Elephant Man.

“He was a vulnerable victim. He weighed only seven stone, was eighteen and no match for any of you, let alone a joint group attack.

“He was completely at your mercy - he had been rendered completely helpless.”

There were shouts of “yes!” from the packed public gallery as Danby’s sentence was announced.

Billy Duggan, 21, who was convicted of perverting the course of justice and conspiring to pervert the course of justice, was handed a two-year jail term, suspended for two years.

He sobbed and shook before collapsing in the dock as he was told he will walk free.


Canfield girl, 11, falsely accused of rape, suit says

If the lawsuit described in the news report below is correct, the wrong here is heinous and should give rise to a host of sanction.  The story was reported here: here.

A Canfield couple has sued the city of Canfield and some of its police officers and brass and an assistant Mahoning County prosecutor for at least $5 million in federal court, saying their 11-year daughter was maliciously prosecuted and falsely imprisoned on rape charges, of which she was later acquitted.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court by Michael and Renee Rubesich, of Willow Bend Drive, against Anissa Modarelli, an assistant county prosecutor assigned to juvenile court; Canfield Police Chief Chuck Colucci, Detective Brian McGivern, Sgt. Scott Weamer and officers Timothy Lamping and Lea Byers; the city of Canfield; and 20 John Doe defendants who the suit says are police officers, detectives, supervisors, in-charge officers or commanders.

“We’ll review the complaint and take whatever action is appropriate,” said county Prosecutor Paul J. Gains, adding that he hadn’t seen the lawsuit. “It’s pending litigation. I’m not going to comment” further, Gains said.

Colucci said he was aware of the suit, but added that the department had not been served with the documents so he could not comment.

None of the other named defendants could be reached to comment at the Canfield Police Department Tuesday evening.

The charges arose when “a well-connected political player” told former Canfield Police Chief David Blystone on April 16, 2012, that his daughter and two other 11-year-old girls said they were raped by the plaintiffs’ daughter; and Blystone told Colucci, who “applied political pressure” on McGivern to pursue the case, the lawsuit says.

“Defendants knowingly prosecuted an innocent person,” and violated her constitutional rights, according to the lawsuit filed by Attys. Steven M. and J. Michael Goldberg of Solon and Atty. Robert F. DiCello of Mentor.

McGivern told Modarelli that he didn’t believe the allegations, but Modarelli advised McGivern to custodially interrogate and arrest the plaintiffs’ daughter “even if she denied the allegations and they had no other evidence supporting her arrest,” the lawsuit says.

On April 20, 2012, the officers questioned the Rubesiches’ daughter for about five hours without food, water or rest as she was falling asleep on her mother’s lap, despite her consistent denial of the charges, and jailed her on multiple rape counts without probable cause through April 24, 2012, the suit says.

One of the accusers recanted and gave officers information “that showed the three accusers conspired to fabricate their allegation,” the suit says.

The city of Canfield purportedly failed to properly train its officers in juvenile sex-crime investigations, the suit says.

“Plaintiffs have been psychically harmed and require on-going psychiatric care as a result of defendants’ actions,” the lawsuit adds.

The complaint demands a jury trial.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Kangaroo court: the 'due process' for men accused of sex offenses at Brown

Read it here: http://www.browndailyherald.com/2013/04/24/sexual-misconduct-disciplinary-process-alienates-accused/

Teen's life thrown into turmoil after the New York Post suggested he was wanted for the Boston Marathon bombings

The New York Post was wrong every which way.

For starters, they should not have called Salah Barhoum a "Bag Man."  He's 17, and still a kid. He goes to high school and he works at Subway part-time. By all accounts he's a good kid. So "Bag Boy" or "Bag Teen" or "Bag Kid" but not "Bag Man."

More importantly, they never should have done the story.

Last Thursday, this kid -- this teenage boy -- gained international notoriety for reasons that aren't fair: his face, along a picture of a friend, were plastered on the front page of the New York Post in a way that suggested they were wanted in connection with the most highly publicized crime committed on American soil since September 11, 2001.

Why was Barhoum singled out? Because he has dark skin, that's why. He was born in Morocco. And because he was at the Boston Marathon, some people thought it was a good idea to check him out.

Here's what happened: Last Wednesday, some snoopy Reddit users ID’d the pair who eventually appeared as Post cover boys as possible suspects; almost as quickly, they deemed them innocent after finding their Facebook pages and other easy-to-find online information.

Nevertheless, because of all the chatter, a friend advised Barhoum to talk to the police. “He told me you have to stand up for yourself — you can't just let people talk," Barhoum said. “Yesterday I got more than 200 phone messages!"

At 1:30 a.m. Thursday -- when high school students should be sleeping -- Barhoum turned himself in to cops. They spoke to him for about 20 minutes and let him go. Their only advice: “They said I should delete my Facebook,” Barhoum said.

Nevertheless, The Post Barhoum splashed Barhom's face on its pages and suggested he and his friend were suspects. Even after the FBI cleared the pair, Post Editor-in-Chief Col Allan said, “We stand by our story.”

Barhoum was devastated. He couldn't sleep thinking about the consequences and about what people would think and say. A friend at Revere High School said a bully was picking on Barhoum, derisively calling him “an Arab” Thursday morning while they ran track together. “He really took it to heart — he's a really nice kid" said Renan Marchet, 18. "This is crazy. There's nothing bad about this kid."

Doing something as normal as walking down the street became stressful. “This guy saw me going to this track meet and he called his friend on the phone, 'Hey that's the guy on the news!' Then I ran away," Barhoum said.

“I just want everyone to know it wasn’t me. I’m just a high-school kid. It’s crazy. I love Boston. I love this country.”

And now, until the day he dies, people who Google Mr. Barhoum's name will learn of the vile accusation made against him by a major U.S. daily. All because he has dark skin, was carrying a bag, and was at the Boston Marathon.

It's enough to make me weep.

Woman charged with lying about sexual assault after male strip show

A woman has been charged with making a false statement to police after lying about being sexually assaulted after a male strip show.

The 25-year-old Masterton woman called emergency services last Wednesday night claiming to have been the victim of a sexual attack in Greytown, police said today.

She told police she had been at the Body Heat male strip show at the Greytown Rugby Club and shortly after leaving was approached by a man she had met at the show and was sexually assaulted.

Wairarapa Police began an "extensive and time-consuming investigation which did not lead to any corroborative evidence being obtained".

Two days later she contacted police to says he had made the story up, Detective Mike Smith said.

"It is always very disappointing to discover that people will waste a lot of police time, including time of support agencies and medical services, knowing that information they give to us is completely fabricated," Mr Smith said.

"Complaints of this nature inevitably tie up a lot of resources and leave the community very concerned and doubting their own safety.

"I want to reassure the public that all complaints made to police will be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated.

"I also wish to remind those who make complaints to police knowing that the information is false and misleading will face consequences."


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Guilty by reason of being Muslim: the news media's rush to judgment after the Boston Marathon bombing

How The Media Chose Its Boston 'Suspects'

Reported here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/04/22/the-ever-changing-muslim-boston-bombing-suspects.html

On tax day, Monday April 15, I was enjoying my daily ritual of watching General Hospital when my soaps were interrupted by the shocking breaking news that there had been a bombing at the Boston Marathon. As the chaos and carnage unfolded live on television, the media immediately began to guess out loud, the race and religion of the monster who had committed such a heinous crime. Before the smell of blood and smoke had cleared, they had come to the conclusion, based on little to no facts, that the bombings must be the work of Islamic extremists who hated America.

Grotesque acts of violence are considered Muslim-esque by self appointed experts. The thought that such horror could be wrought by a white boy who wasn't hugged enough, doesn't seem to occur to them. Their rush to place the blame on shady brown people who hate bacon triggered a witch hunt. In the wake of this heartbreaking tragedy, at least three men were publicly, virally, and falsely accused.

A good Samaritan at the Boston Marathon claimed to have seen a Saudi spectator acting strangely in the direct after math of the bombings. Their definition of strange was the fact that the man was brown and running away from the blast. I'm in awe of the heroes who ran towards the victims of the explosion, but I cannot tell a lie I too would have run in the opposite direction, as fast as my palsy legs could carry me. Chatter on the interwebs suggested that the Saudi national was a prime suspect. Sources, who you should never tell anything to because she will always leak it, claimed he was being interrogated at the hospital by the police. The media parroted this, ignoring the fact that everyone being treated at the hospital for injuries sustained at the marathon was also being questioned. They were all witnesses. Several hours later, during one of the many press conferences, spokespeople made it clear that the Saudi dude was a victim, not a suspect. They said he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and by that they meant cheering on a marathon during a domestic terror attack.

Next to take the fall was a 17-year-old high school track star, who woke up to find his face splashed across the front page of the New York Post. The headline implied that the teen of Moroccan heritage was implicated in the bombings. The Post failed to mention that the kid, whose head they had circled in the photo on their front page, was not a suspect or even a person of interest at any point. His crime was simply being born brown which the editors found to be the equivalent of a full written confession.

The final accused was coincidentally also brown and possibly the saddest tale of all. Somebody on Reddit’s first cousin twice removed sister-in-law’s boyfriend’s cat heard on a police scanner that one of the bombing suspects was a Brown University student who had been missing for a month. Social media instantly called for his public execution. They accused his family of ignoring his depression, which they had publicly addressed following his disappearance, and unleashing their disturbed kid on society. The missing student's parents knew that their child bore no resemblance to the man in the grainy FBI photo being circulated; but there was nothing they could do to stop the online mob from calling him a child killer, a terrorist, and every slur for Indian you can imagine. Their son, who authorities later verified was never a suspect, remains missing and will forever have his name linked to this atrocity.

With no one left to falsely accuse, CNN's John King took it to the next level. Sources had been talking again and she told John, according to him, that the suspect was dark-skinned. I was hoping CNN would cue one of their legendary computer graphics to pop up and explain to me exactly what “dark-skinned” is code for. Are we talking Denzel or Boehner? Does orange qualify as dark? Was he implying they were Middle Eastern or Muslim? Middle Easterners come in all shades and sizes, so do Muslims. My mom has white, porcelain-doll skin and burns like a vampire in the sun. I, on the other hand, look like the lost Kardashian sister.

Aside from being accidentally racist, John King was also totally wrong. Following a car chase and manhunt that put OJ to shame, one suspect was dead and the other was in custody. We had the names no one could pronounce and faces of the culprits. I watched Islamaphobes tiny brains short circuit when they realized the suspects were white and Muslim. Their assumption had always been that Mohammedans were all brown and wore towels on their heads, not baseball caps. As the news was keen to remind us, the suspects were not born here. They were ethnic Chechens, which means they're originally from the Caucuses. That is where the word Caucasian comes from. You can't get much whiter than that. The media and peanut gallery missed that class and immediately cast them as “others.” On-air personalities referred to them as Chechen, even though the nineteen year old suspect, in custody, is an American citizen. They also made sure the viewing audience knew the alleged bombers were Muslim. To this day, I do not know what religion or heritage James Holmes or Jared Loughner is. No one in the media ever pointed to the Christmas decorations on the Lanza house as proof of Adam and Nancy's ties to Christian extremists; yet these two sociopaths religious affiliation was widely reported. If you are suspected of a heinous crime and you happen to be born Muslim, the media refuses to even entertain the notion that religion may not be the motive. Muslims can't just be deeply disturbed, as their non-Muslim murderous peers are so lovingly described and the concept of them being bullied until they snap is inconceivable. They must have been radicalized by a nefarious cleric on YouTube. That is the only logical explanation. This is absurd. You can't blame Islam for the terror attack in Boston anymore than you can blame Batman for the massacre in Aurora, but that did nothing to stop the media from doing just that.

Before I ever knew the Tsarnaev’s names, I knew their religion. The pundits bent over backward to find links between these monsters and America-hating islamists. They cast the older brother as the one who couldn’t fit in. He's quoted saying he doesn’t have one American friend. This was repeated ad naseum during the Boston manhunt coverage. What I didn’t hear was the fact that he was married to an American woman who he shared a child with. How's that for not fitting in? They also emphasized that he didn't drink and supposedly prayed five times a day, as if those were tell tale sign of extremism. His little bro was a much bigger challenge for those desperate to scape-goat Islam. He liked to Tweet and just like any average American ego-maniacal jerk-off college guy, his timeline was a mix of teenage musings, rap lyrics, and a sprinkle of misogyny. So-called experts analyzed his seemingly vapid tweets and managed to turn him into a textbook example of a jihadi among us.

I am in no way implying he is innocent, but as I listened, it occurred to me that it'd be fairly easy for the folks at Fox and Friends to morph me from a disabled clown into a terrorista based on my online presence. They could point out my Tweets on Palestine and those calling out white privilege. They could note I had posted several YouTube videos of the Quran being recited in Arabic, after the devastating loss of my father. They'd assume I had been radicalized by my grief and the fact I was barren and could not have children. My trips back and forth over the past three decades to the West Bank would be scrutinized. They'd show Facebook photos of me canoodling with refugees and paint me as an extremist by saying things like, “She would fast for an entire month from sunrise to sunset.”

We don't know yet what these brothers’ motives actually were, but law enforcement seems confident the duo acted alone. Their extended family was quick to distance themselves from the accused. When the flashing lights and cameras descended upon their doorsteps, the thick accented uncles of the suspects unequivocally condemned their actions and desperately tried to prove that they, unlike their loser nephews, were more American than apple pie. Muslim organizations, far and wide, put out statements condemning the bombings and distancing the faith from the brothers atrocities in response to the vitriolic hatred being spewed online towards the over 1 billion Muslims walking the earth. I have been called many slurs for Muslim in my time, but this week added an entire chapter to my lexicon. I still refuse to apologize on behalf of or for my faith. I wasn’t required to publicly state that I condemn Oscar Pistorius riddling his victim with bullets just because we are both from the tribe called disabled and I have just as much in common with these two lunatics.

When the surviving Tsarnaev was captured, Congressmen Peter King and Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham called for him to be treated as an enemy combatant even though he was an American citizen, on U.S. soil, and no political motivations were established. The Administration was quick to let us know that the suspect in custody would not be read his Miranda rights immediately and we the people learned we no longer had the right to be read our rights; so we better know them. During the manhunt, Boston turned into a police state with absolutely no resistance from the residents. Images of Watertown on television reminded me of my days living under curfew in Bethlehem, during the Second Intifada. The government rolled in and the citizens rolled over. Terror continues to win as our civil liberties continue to dwindle.

There is still much to be learned about the motives behind the bombings on Patriots Day that left three dead and scores permanently disabled. But one thing we do know is that the Tsarnaevs had something undeniably in common with their murderous peers. Like Holmes and Lanza, they had an arsenal at their disposal. Their fourth victim, MIT police officer Sean Collier, was shot to death. No matter how the NRA and Congress try to spin it, easy access to guns is a far greater threat to American lives than Islam ever was.


"Dear Prudence" counsels a teenager whose sister-in-law tried to seduce him—then lied about it.

Posted here

Q. SIL Hit On Me: My older brother (by 10 years) is married with a 2-year-old daughter. I am a senior in high school. Last week, I baby-sat for them (as I often do) from when school ended until my SIL came home from work. We always have had a fun friendship, I think she and my brother are a great couple, and I have repeatedly joked about how my brother outkicked his coverage and I hope I am so lucky some day. We joke, it's flirty but harmless, or so I thought. But she walked in last week, sat next to me on the couch, grabbed my hand, put it on a non-gender-neutral area and told me she had to have me right there. I freaked out and walked out. I called my brother and left a message, but his wife had already spun a whole different story, and now my whole family believes I am at fault. Nobody believes my version. Other than waiting until fall to go to college and get away from the madness, any tips to cope?

A: Your brother outkicked his coverage all right, right into the depravity zone. In the years I've done this column I've had every variation of family-member violation including son-in-law coming onto mother-in-law and daughter running off with stepfather. It's grotesque when siblings-in-law voluntarily get it on, but it's actionable when one tries to molest the other. You are caught in a terrible trap here. Your sister-in-law, once rebuffed, put out the word that her younger brother-in-law tried to make a move. And now no one is believing your story because of sexism. It's just easier to accept that a horny teen acted horribly than a young mother. You need to sit down with your parents and tell them exactly what happened. Say the physical violation was against you, and now she's compounding it by spreading malicious lies to save herself. Frankly, I think you and your parents should sit down with a lawyer and discuss this. A false accusation of sexual assault is a dangerous thing. If your parents won't support you, go to your guidance counselor at school, explain what happened, and say you need some adults to help guide you through this morass. You should not become a pariah because you have an unbalanced new member of the family.

Prosecutor: Accuser lied, rape charges dismissed

As reported here:

Rape and kidnapping charges against a Gaston County couple have been dismissed.

The charges were dropped because the accuser made false accusations, according to defense attorney Rick Beam.

Jeannette Valero Vazquez was accused of tricking a woman into a bedroom to be sexually assaulted.

Vazquez, 47, and Carlos Sanchez Romero, 33, were charged in early February.

Report of rape

According to police at the time, Vazquez invited a 23-year-old woman to come to her apartment to look at pictures from Venezuela, Vazquez’s home country.

The woman said that Vazquez led her to the bedroom to see the pictures on her computer and that Romero was waiting for her.

The woman said that Romero locked the bedroom door and raped her while Vazquez watched her two small children in another room, according to police.

The accuser told police that the incident happened June 20, but she waited until August to report it because she was afraid of the couple.

Questionable photos

In late February prosecutors received photos of Romero and his accuser kissing and hugging in the back of a car.

The photos were reportedly taken after the alleged rape.

The pictures threw up a red flag for Gaston County Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Hamlin.

Hamlin called the woman in for questioning without letting her know about the photographs.

“She denied being in a car with him, denied hugging, kissing or hanging out with him,” said Hamlin.

Aside from the alleged rape, the woman said she’d only ever seen Romero at the flea market in Dallas.

Because there was a delay in reporting, there was no physical evidence of rape, only the woman’s statement.

When the woman started backpedaling on her story, Hamlin dismissed the charges against Vazquez and Romero.

“The story didn’t add up,” said Hamlin. “After speaking with her we realized that she just wasn’t being truthful with us. I couldn’t put her on the stand when she lied to me.”

Aftermath of arrests

Vazquez was arrested Feb. 7 and assigned a $500,000 secured bond. She spent a week in jail before a judge unsecured her bond, according to Beam, her attorney.

Romero was arrested five days after Vazquez and remains incarcerated because of immigration issues.

Beam speculated that his client’s health attributed to her release even before the charges were dismissed.

Vazquez gets dialysis three times a week.

In addition to her physical maladies, Vazquez has suffered mental anguish from the incident, said Beam.

“Right now she’s having to deal with reports that have shown up on the Internet that have made her life miserable,” he said.

Beam said Vazquez was dumbfounded and confused by the allegations. He said that the trio knew each other.

Hamlin said she doesn’t know what happened to lead to the allegations. Some of the woman’s friends said that she was in a relationship with Romero and the allegations came about after the relationship soured, said Hamlin.

“I hope she wasn’t raped but I can’t prove it,” said Hamlin. “We proved that she doesn’t tell the truth.”

Monday, April 22, 2013

Brown student newspaper: Because the common assumption is that only men commit sexual assault, men don't get a 'pass' in drunken sex

Though most reported cases involve male perpetrators and female victims, sexual assault does not discriminate by gender.
The numbers surrounding incidents of sexual assault are inconsistent, both because of its varying definitions and because of the methodologies used in leading studies. 
The common assumption that sexual assault is only perpetrated by men against women conditions how people assign blame, students said. 
Men “get less of a pass,” said Chris Latham ’14. “A male is held responsible for his actions when he’s drunk, no matter what he does, whereas a female — if she gives consent when she’s drunk — can retroactively say, ‘It wasn’t consent because I was drunk.’” 
Jacobson said making sexual assault solely a gender issue puts males on the defensive, disenfranchising a population that could work to prevent sexual assault. 
“Sexual assault is perpetrated by everyone,” he said. 
“Everyone involved — the perpetrators, the victims — they’re people,” Reynolds said, “and it’s coming from somewhere in our culture that can be changed if we all stand up together.”

'Prolific liar' guilty of false rape claim

Reported here: http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/s/2132727_prolific_liar_guilty_of_false_rape_claim

A PROLIFIC liar who admitted previously lying to get other people into trouble has been found guilty of making a false rape allegation against a Bramley care home employee.

Matthew Price, 23, was already serving a prison sentence when he alleged that a key worker at Apple Orchard care home in Birtley Road, Bramley, raped him on at least four occasions while he was a resident there between 2004 and 2008.

Following a week-long trial at Guildford Crown Court, Price was found guilty by an 11 to one majority verdict of perverting the course of justice last Wednesday.

Price was at Apple Orchard, where staff support adolescent boys who have been affected by sexually inappropriate behaviour, as a 14-year-old following sexual abuse by his father between the ages of six to 13. His father was convicted.

Price claimed that his key worker had come in to his bedroom to check it was tidy before sitting down to teach him some guitar chords, but then pinned him down to the bed and raped him. He said the other similar sexual assaults also took place in his room.

The allegations were made to the prison chaplain at Glan Parva, a young offenders institute in Leicester, in 2010.

The Apple Orchard key worker was suspended for five months during the police investigation, but later returned to work there.

Asked in court by prosecuting counsel Richard Germain whether anything happened that could have led Price to believe he had been raped, he said: “Absolutely not.”

The court heard that Price had twice previously pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice, having accused a neighbour of stealing a £5,000 necklace from him and an ex-girlfriend of assault.

He said he had made the first allegation after his neighbour threatened to tell social services he would be an unfit father to his unborn child. The second lie was made because he was ‘upset and angry’ after his ex-girlfriend cheated on him. Price is due to be sentenced on May 8.

The public discourse about sexual assault hits an all-time low: first, keeping an open mind about a rape investigation is 'rape apology'; now, calling for due process on campus is 'rape culture' and 'victim blaming'

The public discourse about sexual assault has hit an all-time low as evidenced by articles penned by two feminists appearing in major on-line sites in the past few days. Neither advances the public discourse on this critical issue in a serious or helpful way; both underscore a disturbing trend that seeks to silence anyone who dares to voice concern for the presumptively innocent when it comes to sexual assault.

First, Jezebel's Katie Baker suggests that keeping an open mind about a rape claim is rape apology. See our take on it here and Baker's article here.

Now, Jessica Wakeman at The Frisky is attacking Judith Grossman's perceptive article about the absence of due process protections for college men accused of sexual assault as "rape culture" and "victim blaming." She doesn't bother to discuss, much less challenge, Ms. Grossman's informed indictment of the college disciplinary system as grossly unfair to men accused of sex offenses. Instead, Wakeman insists on changing the subject to proclaim that rape is rampant on campus, that women don't lie about rape, and that rapists aren't punished severely enough. Wakeman is indignant that anyone would dare to speak up for the presumptively innocent, likely because, to her, an accusation is as good as an adjudication of guilt -- if only that pesky due process nonsense weren't in the way! Her biggest beef seems to be that Grossman self-identifies as a feminist, and she doesn't understand how a feminist can denigrate a system that was designed to help our daughters just because it is unfair to our sons. Grossman's take on the matter is the reasonable one: we need to have a system that is concerned about both our daughters and our sons, it's not a zero sum game. Wakeman's blather is not worthy of serious refutation. The unfortunate article is found here.

This blog frequently discusses the critical balance that is at the heart of sexual assault legislation: every civilized society must strive to eradicate heinous criminality by punishing offenders, but it also must insure that the innocent aren't punished with them. While the latter concern typically is absent from the public discourse, rarely have we seen such vitriol directed at persons who express concern for the presumptively innocent as in the Baker and Wakeman pieces.

Hurling terms like "rape apology," "rape culture," and "victim blaming" where they are not appropriate is the bow wow of extremists who aim to do one thing: silence voices the writers don't agree with.  Baker and Wakeman have exiled themselves from the adult table on these very serious issues.  Only people interested in the aforementioned critical balance need apply for a spot, not gender warriors spouting the clich├ęs of gender get-evenism.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

'Why Should I Care That No One’s Reading Dzhokhar Tsarnaev His Miranda Rights?'

And so the FBI will surely ask 19-year-old Tsarnaev anything it sees fit. Not just what law enforcement needs to know to prevent a terrorist threat and keep the public safe but anything else it deemed related to “valuable and timely intelligence.” Couldn’t that be just about anything about Tsarnaev’s life, or his family, given that his alleged accomplice was his older brother (killed in a shootout with police)? There won’t be a public uproar. Whatever the FBI learns will be secret: We won’t know how far the interrogation went. And besides, no one is crying over the rights of the young man who is accused of killing innocent people, helping his brother set off bombs that were loaded to maim, and terrorizing Boston Thursday night and Friday. But the next time you read about an abusive interrogation, or a wrongful conviction that resulted from a false confession, think about why we have Miranda in the first place. It’s to stop law enforcement authorities from committing abuses. Because when they can make their own rules, sometime, somewhere, they inevitably will.
Read it here: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2013/04/dzhokhar_tsarnaev_and_miranda_rights_the_public_safety_exception_and_terrorism.html

New low: Jezebel writer suggests keeping an open mind about a rape investigation is 'rape apology'

Jezebel's Katie J.M. Baker suggests that keeping an open mind about a rape claim is "rape apology." Here is how she starts her article:
What do you do with an untapped penchant for Clipart and rape apologia? Cover Rehtaeh Parsons' neighborhood with Pepto-Bismol pink posters proclaiming: "Speak the truth. There’s two sides to every story. Listen before you judge. The truth will come out. Stay strong and support the boys."
Rehtaeh Parsons is the teenager who was taken off life support after she tried to take her own life, 17 months after online distribution of photos showing her allegedly being gang raped while intoxicated. It is a tragic story that raises questions about the accused boys' possible criminal responsibility and the police department's handling of the matter. The case is being investigated, likely due to the public outcry.

Baker proceeds to quote the deceased girl's mother's Facebook post that suggests the boys are guilty. While it is perfectly understandable that persons who know and love the deceased girl will continue to support her, it is equally understandable that persons who know and love the accused boys will continue to support them. Baker seems to think the latter is unacceptable.

This site denounces the de rigueur rush-to-judgment that convicts innocents of heinous offenses in the court of public opinion; we are equally adamant in our denunciation of the rush to judgment that assumes an accuser lied about rape. Just yesterday, our site highlighted a story about two women who were falsely accused of making false rape claims.

An accusation is not a proven rape, and a suicide is not necessarily evidence that a rape occurred. There are two sides to this story, and it is, indeed, tragic that the deceased girl is not here to tell hers. The bottom line is that the girl should not be deemed a "slut," the boys should not be deemed "rapists," and trial-by-Jezebel is anathema to the due process rights cherished by a free people. It is hoped that the police will conduct a proper and fair investigation. Until that investigation is concluded, all of us would do well to withhold our uninformed opinions.

It would be difficult to fathom a more irresponsible assertion than the "rape apology" tag that Katie J.M. Baker lobs at people who dare to suggest there are two sides to a rape accusation. Baker's smear is an attempt to brand teen boys as rapists by reason of an accusation. That is disgraceful even for a partisan site like Jezebel.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Two women falsely accused of making false rape claims

As reported here:

The girlfriend of a convicted rapist has been jailed after trying to clear his name by framing two of his victims with fake Facebook profiles.

Ceri Shipman, 25, was accused of “despicable conduct” as she was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison. The judge said there had never been a case like it.

Shipman, from Hull, set up the accounts and then used them to send messages purporting to be from the victims admitting they had made up the rape allegations.

One read: “Maybe I did make up the rape but he broke my heart.”

She then brought the messages to the attention of the police, claiming that they were proof her boyfriend, Jason Savage, 29, had been framed.

The false accounts were so convincing that the two women were arrested and quizzed for 13 hours before being held on bail for four months.

Judge Mark Bury, sitting at Hull Crown Court, said that there was no legal precedent for Shipman's behaviour.

"If the victims had been convicted of lying, then they would have been vilified as young women who cried rape,” he said.

“It is despicable conduct. You are the only individual that has lied. There is no precedent in a case like this and there has not been a case like this. It gives me no option but to impose an immediate custodial sentence."

Savage was jailed indefinitely in 2010 for a string of violent rapes. He was branded “cold, calculating and sadistic” by a judge.

The two victims had already endured the ordeal of giving evidence at his trial when Shipman decided to act.

She accessed their real Facebook accounts and copied pictures and profiles into the false ones to make them appear genuine. She also created fake email addresses.

In one message, the victim was alleged to have asked Shipman: “You want to know about your loser boyfriend yet?"

She replied: "I have nothing to say to you."

Another false message said: "He got what he deserved. Maybe we did lie, but there is nothing you can do about it."

Shipman retorted: "See what I mean? You lied and you just admitted it. How can you live with yourself?"

Another fictitious message said: “You should have met up with us, lied and got comp.”

The messages were sent between May and August 2010.

Police traced them back to Shipman's computer's IP address and the internet connection to her postcode, which proved that both sides of the conversations originated from the same place.

Shipman pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.

After the hearing, Michael Waudby from the Crown Prosecution Service said that Humberside Police had liaised with Facebook and MSN in America to unravel Shipman’s lies.

He said: "It is disturbing to think that anyone could put victims of violent and sexual abuse through further torment but Ceri Shipman decided to take on the criminal justice system. She has failed and now, like her partner, finds herself having to serve a prison sentence."

Woman acquitted: dog scent evidence not sufficient to prove guilt

As reported here:

On August 7, 2004, the body of Murray Burr, a high school custodial worker, was found on the floor of his trailer in Coldspring, Texas. He had been stabbed 28 times.

Richard Winfrey Sr., 49, and his two children, Richard Jr., 17, and Megan, 16, came under the suspicion of San Jacinto County law enforcement after a neighbor reported seeing them visit Burr’s home occasionally and because the elder Winfrey had a lengthy criminal history that included assault and involuntary manslaughter. At the time Burr was killed, the elder Winfrey had been out of prison on parole for nine days.

After no physical evidence could be linked to the Winfreys, investigators called in Keith A. Pikett, a self-trained dog handler from the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department, who claimed that his bloodhounds could help police link suspects to unsolved crimes through scent lineups.

Pickett’s dogs smelled samples of Burr’s clothing and then smelled samples from the clothing of Richard Jr. and Megan and “alerted,” meaning, according to Pikett, that the scent profiles of the two younger Winfreys were on Burr’s clothes.

No charges were brought, however, until more than two years later when the elder Winfrey was back in jail on unrelated charges. A cellmate told authorities that Winfrey had told him that some guns were taken from Burr’s home after he was killed. Police believed only someone who had committed the crime would have known about the guns.

All three Winfreys were placed in a scent lineup and Pikett’s dogs—named James Bond, Quincy and Clue—alerted to all three.

Richard Winfrey Sr. was the first to face trial in 2007. Based on the scent evidence, he was convicted and sentenced to 75 years in prison.

Megan Winfrey went on trial next, in 2008. Along with the dog scent evidence, prosecutors presented other circumstantial evidence -- allegations that Winfrey shaved her pubic hair in order to thwart DNA testing of hair found at the crime scene, and testimony from teachers who said they had overheard her talking about Burr and his money. On October 9, 2008, she was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

In 2009, when Richard Winfrey Jr. went on trial, his lawyer brought in an animal behaviorist who testified that the dogs were responding to Pikett’s cues, not because they had found a scent. The younger Winfrey was acquitted after the jury deliberated for just 13 minutes.

In September 2010, Richard Winfrey Sr.’s conviction was set aside by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which ruled that the dog scent evidence was insufficient to sustain a guilty verdict. The court ordered Winfrey Sr. acquitted and he was released in October 2010.

In February 2013, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals acquitted Megan Winfrey of the murder, ruling that, as in her father's case, the dog scent evidence did not sufficiently prove her guilt. In April 2013, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied a state petition for rehearing and Winfrey was released.

– Maurice Possley

Arabic men removed from plane for speaking Arabic, conservative radio talk host says men were 'rude' to speak Arabic

In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, several marathonerson were on an American Airlines flight from Boston to Chicago. Two Arabic men were escorted off that plane -- because they were speaking Arabic. According to a news report, the men were not sitting together on the flight. That is all we know. See here and here.

This morning on a syndicated conservative radio talk show that will go nameless, one of the hosts said this about the Arabic men speaking Arabic on that flight:

". . . You know, that's just rude. Whether they were involved in anything or not has nothing to do with it, they KNOW that people are shell-shocked right now, they know that edges -- their nerves are raw right now, and they did that?"

I couldn't make that up.

Teen Made Up Rape Report, Bath Police Say: Girl will be charged for saying she was assaulted at Revere High School basketball game

Reported here: http://fairlawn-bath.patch.com/articles/teen-made-up-rape-report-bath-police-say
By Debbie Palmer

A 15-year-old girl is being charged with making a false police report after claiming she was raped at a Revere High School basketball game in December.

The girl told police she was assaulted by a white male teen during a boys basketball game Dec. 7.

But Police Chief Michael McNeely said in a press release that "the allegation was determined to be false after a lengthy and thorough investigation by Bath police."

Evidence collected during the investigation disproved her report, and the girl later admitted the report was false, the news release said.

The charge against the girl, a first-degree misdemeanor, is pending in Summit County Juvenile Court.

Bath police credited cooperation by the Revere Local Schools administration with helping close the case.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Woman, 21, faces life in jail after leading vigilante gang who murdered teenager falsely accused of rape

A follow-up to this story:

A woman is facing a life sentence for leading a vigilante gang who tortured and brutally killed a teenager wrongly accused of rape.

Emma Hall, 21, of Romford, showed no emotion as she was found guilty of murdering Luke Harwood, 18, at the Old Bailey.

Her friends James Danby, 27, and Tony O’Toole, 30, were also convicted of murder.

Mr Harwood was savagely beaten to death in May last year after an 18-year-old girl pointed him out to Hall during a chance meeting and claimed she had been raped by him two years before.

She had made a complaint to police but the matter was dropped when she withdrew the allegation.
Police found no evidence that a rape had taken place.

The teenager and Hall were visiting friends at a house in Romford, Essex, where Mr Harwood was also staying.

He was beaten up in a room and dumped on wasteland in Woodford Green, east London.
Simon Denison QC, prosecuting, said: 'She told the others that he was the person she had told Hall about at the time who had raped her.

'The men, over a prolonged period of time, severely beat him up by punching and kicking him to the head, so he was bleeding heavily from his injuries and his face was terribly swollen.'

Hall then drove Danby and O’Toole and Mr Harwood to a lane where he was taken to the bank of a stream and 'finished off'.

Mr Denison said: 'They killed him by punching and kicking him and stamping on his head many, many times.

'The bones in his face were crushed.'

The killers then bought petrol and set fire to their bloody clothing, before cleaning up bloodstains at the house.

The following evening, Hall drove them and another man to the spot where the body had been covered with a mattress and other rubbish.

Mr Denison said: 'They had with them knives and a pair of bolt cutters that they were intending to use to mutilate his body to make it more difficult for him to be identified by cutting off his fingers and removing his teeth.'

But Hall had secretly tipped off police to divert guilt from herself, and officers were waiting for them when they arrived.
Mr Denison told the jury: 'His murder was quite extraordinarily callous, violent and brutal.'

Two years earlier, the teenage girl had claimed she was raped 'but when what she was saying was examined more closely by police, it was clear that she was not in fact saying that he had raped her', added Mr Denison.

Hall and Danby were also found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and perverting justice.

O’Toole was also found guilty of perverting justice and conspiracy to pervert justice along with Danby.

Billy Duggan, 21, was found guilty of perverting justice and conspiracy to pervert justice.

The defendants, who were all from Romford, were remanded in custody to be sentenced next week.

Jovan Roberts, 28, was cleared of murder and causing grievous bodily harm with intent, and Khalid Hassan, 20, was cleared of conspiracy to pervert justice. They were discharged.


Crime novel inspired woman to falsely accuse priest of rape: A priest has been cleared of rape after a court heard the woman made up the allegation based on the violent books of a popular crime writer

Reported here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9998572/Crime-novel-inspired-woman-to-falsely-accuse-priest-of-rape.html

Father John Taylor, 49, found himself accused of raping the woman after meeting his accuser on Facebook and going on a dinner date which ended in sex.

The woman reported him for rape and he lost his job, found himself shunned by parishioners and had his car vandalised three times.

He was also banned from seeing his two young children who live with his ex wife Zsanett, 34, in her native Hungary because of the allegation.

Father Taylor was due to stand trial for rape on Monday but the case collapsed minutes before it was due to start.

Canterbury Crown Court heard that the woman, in her late 20s, told police she identified with the characters in the novels by Martina Cole which feature violent rape.

The most recent book she had read was 'The Ladykiller' which tells of a victim being raped by a man who grabs her hair with one hand and undresses her with the other.

The woman, in her late 20s, had accused Father Taylor of a similar attack and Cole's other novels also portray priests as abusers.

The woman told police the catholic priest had pinned her on his sofa and forced to have sex but DNA evidence proved she had never been on the couch.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it was offering no evidence against Father Taylor and he was formally found not guilty of rape.

Prosecutor Christopher May said: "The forensic evidence undermines the prosecution case and therefore the Crown offers no evidence."

Jonathan Simpson, defending, told the court: "She said in her statement that she identified with the characters in the novels by Martina Cole.

"They all feature violent rapes."

After being cleared a relieved Father Taylor, from Margate, Kent, said: "I met her on Facebook and I thought we were just going on a normal date.

"Yes we had sex, but it was consensual.

"Two days later I was arrested and accused of rape.

"I think there are three possible reasons why she accused me. One is that she already had a boyfriend.

"Another is that she thought she would get thousands of pounds of compensation from the church.

"Or the third that she was worried that she had told me too much private information about her family that she didn't want to get out.

"She wrote in her police statements that she had read the Martina Cole books. I think the sick story lines got in her head and she used them to base her made-up story on."

He added: "This is the worst crime a man can be accused of because you are automatically prejudged.

"This has done my health in for 14 months just waiting. I have put on weight and even gone grey."

Father Taylor, who a community priest in Thanet, Kent and chaplain at Margate Magistrates' Court, said he hoped to return soon to his charity work.

He added that he was now planning legal action against the woman.

He said: "As the person being accused your life is over.

"People cannot just make stories up like that. She has to face up to what she has done.

"I want the police to take action against her for wasting officers' and the court's time."

Finding innocent students guilty of sex offenses is not acceptable 'collateral damage'

Colleges Must Promote Personal Responsibility, Not 'He-Said, She-Said' Trials
By Harry Lewis & Jane Shaw
Posted here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2013/04/17/colleges-must-promote-personal-responsibility-not-he-said-she-said-trials/

Only she and her sometime boyfriend know for sure whether he raped her, as she claims and he denies. Her allegation was never tested in criminal court, because she never went to the police. Instead the matter was adjudicated in a campus court at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where both were students.

This story is a tangled mess that recently made national news. But it belongs to a large genre, familiar to the first author from his years as dean of Harvard College.

First, an accusation of rape, made to college officials long after the event in question. Then, differing accounts told by the only two witnesses. Never a confession, since anything stated to the campus court could be handed to a prosecutor and lead to criminal conviction and imprisonment. No forensic evidence or contemporaneous police report.

A campus court is then stuck with the job of fairly deciding between the conflicting accounts based on credibility alone. Bitterness is inevitable on the part of whichever party is not believed.

Rape cases are hard enough to prove in a criminal court with an experienced prosecutor and good forensics. They are certainly beyond the capacity of campus courts, which were designed to punish the age-old forms of undergraduate misbehavior—cheating on tests, peeing on the president’s doorstep—not felonies that carry lengthy terms in the criminal justice system.

In this case, UNC dismissed the woman’s charges and acquitted her ex-boyfriend. The outcome of a fair, properly run campus trial could not have been any different in the absence of a confession, other witnesses, or any physical evidence.

The federal government has intervened in an apparent effort to raise the conviction rate in such campus sexual assault trials, using the gender equity provisions of Title IX. In 2011 the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Education advised colleges that they must use the “preponderance of evidence” standard of civil court proceedings, not the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of criminal trials. Within a year, almost all institutions, including UNC, had complied rather than risk the loss of federal funding.

The lower standard of proof will result in more convictions—of both guilty and innocent individuals. For some, perhaps, a few false positives are merely the collateral damage of outcomes that are more just in aggregate. But this is not a convincing argument in a society that values individual rights. The lower penalty for a conviction in a college court—a “rapist” label and career-shattering expulsion, rather than imprisonment—does not justify a lower standard of proof.

The dismissal of the UNC woman’s complaint means that the honor court not only harbored reasonable doubt—it concluded that her version of events was the less believable.

Outraged by the honor court’s amateurish questioning and its findings, she and other aggrieved students then filed a complaint with the OCR about the entire UNC process, prompting a federal investigation.

And then UNC made its no-win situation worse.

After the disappointed complainant publicly criticized the honor court, the honor court put her on trial for disparagement under the UNC honor code, which prohibits “disruptive or intimidating behavior” if it “willfully abuses, disparages, or otherwise interferes with another.” As applied to this woman’s characterization of the honor court, that clause is plainly an abridgement of her First Amendment rights. She then charged UNC with retaliation, another Title IX violation. The university wisely took a step back and suspended the honor court action.

Has the flagship public university of one of the thirteen original colonies forgotten that the Founders disparaged King George in the Declaration of Independence, and then wrote guarantees into the Bill of Rights that Americans forever after could disparage authorities with impunity?

There are large lessons here, and not just about freedom of speech. One of the woman’s grievances about the honor court is that a student judge asked her why she had not left her boyfriend as soon as he started abusing her.

She is right that this was an awful question to ask as part of the judicial process. No answer could have helped settle the factual question of whether she was raped on the occasion in question. She was not on trial.

But this is exactly the kind of question that college-aged women learning to navigate their freedom would be wise to ask themselves early and often. Men might ask themselves a parallel set of questions about agreement and consent, perils and risks, how to begin and whether to stop. Part of growing up is learning to avoid situations that should not be dangerous but are. The fairest and most sensitive judicial process is no substitute for responsible choices made in advance.

The Office for Civil Rights should get out of the business of dictating the terms of college sexual assault trials. Colleges should stop the practice of “he-said-she-said” trials. And rather than undermining students’ autonomy with attempts to seem “responsive,” colleges should help students learn that caution and judgment are elements of wisdom and maturity—not white flags in a battle of liberation.

Harry R. Lewis is professor of Computer Science at Harvard University and Jane S. Shaw is president of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, Raleigh, NC. Lewis served as Dean of Harvard College from 1995-2003.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

This is why we have this blog . . .

Judith Grossman: A Mother, a Feminist, Aghast
Unsubstantiated accusations against my son by a former girlfriend landed him before a nightmarish college tribunal.

As published in the Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324600704578405280211043510.html


I am a feminist. I have marched at the barricades, subscribed to Ms. magazine, and knocked on many a door in support of progressive candidates committed to women's rights. Until a month ago, I would have expressed unqualified support for Title IX and for the Violence Against Women Act.

But that was before my son, a senior at a small liberal-arts college in New England, was charged—by an ex-girlfriend—with alleged acts of "nonconsensual sex" that supposedly occurred during the course of their relationship a few years earlier.

What followed was a nightmare—a fall through Alice's looking-glass into a world that I could not possibly have believed existed, least of all behind the ivy-covered walls thought to protect an ostensible dedication to enlightenment and intellectual betterment.

It began with a text of desperation. "CALL ME. URGENT. NOW."

That was how my son informed me that not only had charges been brought against him but that he was ordered to appear to answer these allegations in a matter of days. There was no preliminary inquiry on the part of anyone at the school into these accusations about behavior alleged to have taken place a few years earlier, no consideration of the possibility that jealousy or revenge might be motivating a spurned young ex-lover to lash out. Worst of all, my son would not be afforded a presumption of innocence.

In fact, Title IX, that so-called guarantor of equality between the sexes on college campuses, and as applied by a recent directive from the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, has obliterated the presumption of innocence that is so foundational to our traditions of justice. On today's college campuses, neither "beyond a reasonable doubt," nor even the lesser "by clear and convincing evidence" standard of proof is required to establish guilt of sexual misconduct.

These safeguards of due process have, by order of the federal government, been replaced by what is known as "a preponderance of the evidence." What this means, in plain English, is that all my son's accuser needed to establish before a campus tribunal is that the allegations were "more likely than not" to have occurred by a margin of proof that can be as slim as 50.1% to 49.9%.

How does this campus tribunal proceed to evaluate the accusations? Upon what evidence is it able to make a judgment?

The frightening answer is that like the proverbial 800-pound gorilla, the tribunal does pretty much whatever it wants, showing scant regard for fundamental fairness, due process of law, and the well-established rules and procedures that have evolved under the Constitution for citizens' protection. Who knew that American college students are required to surrender the Bill of Rights at the campus gates?

My son was given written notice of the charges against him, in the form of a letter from the campus Title IX officer. But instead of affording him the right to be fully informed, the separately listed allegations were a barrage of vague statements, rendering any defense virtually impossible. The letter lacked even the most basic information about the acts alleged to have happened years before. Nor were the allegations supported by any evidence other than the word of the ex-girlfriend.

The hearing itself was a two-hour ordeal of unabated grilling by the school's committee, during which, my son later reported, he was expressly denied his request to be represented by counsel or even to have an attorney outside the door of the room. The questioning, he said, ran far afield even from the vaguely stated allegations contained in the so-called notice. Questions from the distant past, even about unrelated matters, were flung at him with no opportunity for him to give thoughtful answers.

The many pages of written documentation that my son had put together—which were directly on point about his relationship with his accuser during the time period of his alleged wrongful conduct—were dismissed as somehow not relevant. What was relevant, however, according to the committee, was the unsworn testimony of "witnesses" deemed to have observable knowledge about the long-ago relationship between my son and his accuser.

That the recollections of these young people (made under intense peer pressure and with none of the safeguards consistent with fundamental fairness) were relevant—while records of the accuser's email and social media postings were not—made a mockery of the very term. While my son was instructed by the committee not to "discuss this matter" with any potential witnesses, these witnesses against him were not identified to him, nor was he allowed to confront or question either them or his accuser.

Thankfully, I happen to be an attorney and had the resources to provide the necessary professional assistance to my son. The charges against him were ultimately dismissed but not before he and our family had to suffer through this ordeal. I am of course relieved and most grateful for this outcome. Yet I am also keenly aware not only of how easily this all could have gone the other way—with life-altering consequences—but how all too often it does.

Across the country and with increasing frequency, innocent victims of impossible-to-substantiate charges are afforded scant rights to fundamental fairness and find themselves entrapped in a widening web of this latest surge in political correctness. Few have a lawyer for a mother, and many may not know about the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which assisted me in my research.

There are very real and horrifying instances of sexual misconduct and abuse on college campuses and elsewhere. That these offenses should be investigated and prosecuted where appropriate is not open to question. What does remain a question is how we can make the process fair for everyone.

I fear that in the current climate the goal of "women's rights," with the compliance of politically motivated government policy and the tacit complicity of college administrators, runs the risk of grounding our most cherished institutions in a veritable snake pit of injustice—not unlike the very injustices the movement itself has for so long sought to correct. Unbridled feminist orthodoxy is no more the answer than are attitudes and policies that victimize the victim.

Ms. Grossman, an attorney and mother, lives in New York City.