Friday, June 28, 2013

Prostitute makes false rape claim

QUEENSBURY -- The young woman who told police she was abducted and raped at a Queensbury town park has been charged with falsely reporting the attack after police determined she had been working as a prostitute and had arranged a sexual encounter with a man that night, police said.

The 17-year-old from Glens Falls was charged with misdemeanor counts of prostitution, falsely reporting an incident and making a false written statement to police for her report that she was raped at Hovey Pond Park the night of June 15. Her name is being withheld because of her age.

The man with whom she allegedly met that night, James M. Skidmore, 38, of Moreau, was charged with misdemeanor patronizing a prostitute after Warren County sheriff's officers determined he was the person the teen met that night and that he paid her for sex, authorities said.

Police learned of Skidmore's involvement with the teen when determining her rape claim was inaccurate, police and court records show.

Warren County sheriff's Lt. Steve Stockdale said police still do not know why the teen reported she had been abducted and sexually assaulted.

"We've gotten several different versions and I don't think we've gotten the whole story yet," he said. "We still have a lot of questions."

Police were able to determine through computer records that the girl had posted an ad on the Craigslist online marketplace website soliciting clients. Even though Craigslist has taken steps to ban prostitution, the girl used code words to communicate with clients, Stockdale said.

She was paid $150 by Skidmore for an encounter in the Northway Plaza parking lot the afternoon of June 15, court records allege.

The girl turned 17 just three weeks before the June 15 encounter, and if she was 16 she would not have legally been able to consent to sexual relations and Skidmore could have faced a statutory rape charge.

Stockdale said police had no evidence she was engaging in prostitution before she turned 17.

Court records show Skidmore admitted to police he knew the girl was 17, and that 17 was the age of legal consent. He also told police he bought her underwear.

"How old was she? She told me she was 17," Skidmore told sheriff's investigators, according to court records. "I don't understand, I went step by step, by the letter of the law."

Both Skidmore and the young woman were released pending prosecution in Queensbury Town Court.

The Queensbury Town Court file regarding the girl's case was sealed because she is considered a mandatory youthful offender charged with a misdemeanor at her age. The Post-Star generally does not publish the names of those under 18 charged with misdemeanors or less serious charges.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A new era: it is acceptable to openly mock anyone who expresses concern about punishing innocents accused of rape

In the past few weeks, pieces by prominent writers at Jezebel, The Frisky, and Salon -- sites that otherwise skew progressive -- have hurled vitriol at, and openly mocked, persons who defend the rights of the accused in sexual assault cases. Ironically, each of these pieces could have been written by the kind of law and order right-wingers who have typically opposed the expansion of individual due process rights at every turn. The articles are unworthy of serious refutation.

Jezebel's Katie J.M. Baker thinks that keeping an open mind about a rape claim, and acknowledging that there are two sides to the story, is "rape apology." She mocked the posters created by friends and acquaintances of young men accused of rape that proclaimed: "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."

Jessica Wakeman at The Frisky labeled attorney Judith Grossman's thoughtful lament about the absence of due process protections for men accused of sexual assault at American universities as "rape culture" and "victim blaming." Wakeman didn't bother to discuss, much less challenge, Grossman's indictment of the college disciplinary system but, instead, changed 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.

Katie McDonough at Salon thinks that someone who dares to suggest that "prosecuting rape" in a case that "boils down to a 'he said-she said' dispute" is "rape culture." McDonough was attacking James Taranto's Wall Street Journal piece defending General Susan Helm's decision to grant clemency to an officer under her command who had been convicted of aggravated sexual assault. Taranto showed that the evidence in the case at issue was disputed, and that prosecutors had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the male officer did not reasonably believe the accuser had consented. McDonough mocked Taranto's defense of General Helms' decision and engorged the upshot of his article to say that "[w]hen the system sides with the accuser, something is terribly, terribly wrong with the system."  That Taranto did not say that is of no concern to McDonough.

Every civilized society must strive to achieve the critical balance of eradicating heinous criminality by punishing offenders while insuring that the innocent aren't punished with them. When writers are given prominent forums to mock and hurl terms like "rape apology," "rape culture," and "victim blaming" at those who remind us of the need to insure that the innocent aren't punished with the guilty, that's a sign of a culture rotting from within.

Man tries to comfort a crying woman, she falsely accuses him of rape and has him arrested

Phillipa Alice Costello, 28, has been sentenced by Teeside Crown Court to 8-months imprisonment after she falsely accused a young father -- a soldier -- of rape. The innocent man was arrested and held for 15 hours, had intimate samples taken, and had to wait two months before the investigation against him was dropped.

Costello made the false report on 12 April 2012 and continued with her cruel lie even though town centre CCTV footage proved the man was innocent. She did not confess until she was due to go on trial last month, in May 2013, on a charge of doing an act tending or intended to pervert the course of justice.

Judge Michael Taylor aptly said: "Regrettably, offences like this are not uncommon and a clear message has got to be sent out by the courts that those who make such allegations leading to the arrest and detention of perfectly innocent people must be marked out by way of being punished."

Why did she lie? Costello made the false rape claim after being spurned by the falsely accused man's friend. What did the falsely accused man do to deserve the rape lie? He tried to comfort her as she sat crying outside a nightclub.

Costello's lawyer said: "She accepts it is a serious offence but it was not a premeditated act. It was a spur of the moment act committed in drink."

If it was a "spur of the moment" act caused by alcohol, why did she wait more than a year to recant? Her lawyer offered this curious explanation: "When she found herself in that hole, she kept digging, and she regrets that."

According to a news report: "In an impact statement, the squaddie says his relationship breakdown means he now no longer sees his daughter as often as he did. 'It was not long before everyone I knew knew I had been arrested,' he says. 'That's when the name-calling began, and I got very stressed. I felt this was a personal attack, especially when it was from someone I didn't know. I don't think my partner 100 per cent believed me. Since my arrest my life has changed considerably as a direct result. The is a stigma attached to people alleged to have committed these offences. It may be years before I can remove that stigma.'"

Costello wept as she was being jailed.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Man sues Vassar for gender discrimination after being expelled for what he calls false rape claim, says all students are 'invariably found guilty' if they are accused of rape

By Sarah Rae Fruchtnicht, Wed, June 26, 2013

A Vassar College student, who was allegedly expelled after a fellow member of the rowing team accused him of rape, is now suing the school and claiming the accusation was false, Erin Calabrese and Bruce Golding of the New York Post reported.

Xiaolu “Peter” Yu claims he lost his virginity engaging in “clearly consensual sexual activity” with another student, Mary Claire Walker, in 2012. A year after the one-night stand, Walker accused him of rape.

Yu, a student from China, said Walker, whose father is a longtime geology professor at the college, knew it was his first time when they hooked up after a rowing team party on Feb. 18, 2012.

According to his suit, filed in Manhattan federal court, Walker told him “it’s okay, I know what to do.”

The claim states that Walker put a condom on Yu and they had sex until his roommate showed up. It states that after that she “began to lament about her ex-boyfriend and stated that she was not ready to jump into ‘anything new.’”

It also says she acknowledged taking his virginity before she dressed and left Yu’s dormitory.

Yu claims all students at the once female-only college in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., are “invariably found guilty” if they are accused of rape.

“Our student-conduct policies and procedures are closely reviewed by our attorneys, so they have strong legal grounding, and they’re also designed to consider the rights of all parties in matters like these,” spokesman Jeff Kosmacher told The Post.

The suit seeks unspecified damages for gender discrimination, breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Yu said he later learned that the night he slept with Walker, two other girls on the rowing team attempted to contact campus security when they saw him walking to his dorm with Walker, “who appeared to be drunk.”

Kosmacher would not comment on Yu’s case, stating “all student-conduct matter at Vassar are confidential.”

Cops: Teens fabricated story of kidnapping, attempted rape

WALTERBORO, SC (WCSC) - Three teens who told Walterboro Public Safety officers they were kidnapped at gunpoint and almost sexually assaulted made up the story to avoid getting in trouble, officers say.

According to an incident report, three female teens claimed they were kidnapped at gunpoint by four suspects from Edisto Terrace Apartments around 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 22.

The girls, aged 13, 13, and 15, said the suspects tried to rape one of them, but she was able to fight them off. The girls said they were later forced out of the suspects' car at Wal-Mart.

Officers say they noticed inconsistencies in the girls' statements after reviewing video from Edisto Terrace and Wal-Mart.

The girls were re-interviewed, where officers say they admitted to making up the kidnapping and rape allegations to avoid getting in trouble.

All three girls were charged with filing a false police report.

News report here:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Woman who falsely cried 'rape' so cops would give her a ride home is spared jail

An update to our report here.

Now we know her name. It's Helen Maree Bidlake. Bidlake falsely claimed to have been raped after a dalliance with a male stripper because she didn't want to pay for a taxi ride home and knew that the police would give her a lift.

Yesterday, Bidlake was convicted of making a false statement and sentenced to 100 hours' community work. Defence lawyer Jock Blathwayt said Bidlake had just broken up with her partner and was under stress at the time. "She has other issues," Mr Blathwayt said.

Judge Michael Behrens said Bidlake had been charged with a similar offence, where she had made a false statement, in 2010.

Bidlake's "other issues" are no excuse for unleashing a false rape claim. We still can't discern if the police actually targeted a hapless male in its investigation. And "community work" for a woman who was previously charged with a similar offense?  What wast the outcome of that charge?

News story here:

Monday, June 24, 2013

Can we stop trivializing the victimization of the wrongly accused in order to support rape victims?

Australian football star Stephen Milne has been charged with rape over an incident that occurred in 2004, and sports writer Geoff Lemon is not happy that his teammates and ex-footballers in the media are supporting him.

Lemon believes that a wrongful accusation is just as "distressing" as a rapist's false protestations of innocence: "Of course the presumption of innocence is anyone's right and any wrongful accusation of assault must be distressing," he writes, "but having an attacker deny the truth would be a no less distressing kind of wrongful accusation."

How could it be lost on Lemon that the stakes for the man accused of rape are infinitely greater than for the woman who accuses him? It is patently absurd to suggest that the distress experienced by a rape survivor when her rapist denies his offense is in any sense comparable to the horror of a wrongful accusation of rape. The wrongly accused stand to lose everything, including their good names and their liberty. We don't minimize the horrors of rape when we correctly assert that the loss to a rape victim from a wrongful acquittal isn't even remotely comparable.

Even now, Milne's name is splashed all over the news for the alleged offense while his accuser's identity is wrapped in the mantle of anonymity.

Lemon would do well to school himself on the issue before deigning to write about it again. He could start here. Pointing out the horrors of rape is one thing. Trivializing the victimization of the wrongly accused to make that point is not merely unjust, it is asinine.

Liberal Democrat MP: Removing requirement of corroboration in Scotland enhances the risk of wrongful conviction -- 'This is populism at its worst'

Reported here:

The Justice Secretary has backed the findings of the Lord Carloway review by publishing a bill to end the statutory need for corroboration in criminal trials, while balancing this by toughening the rules for a jury verdict from requiring a simple majority of 8-7 to a two-thirds requirement of 10-5 to convict.

The plans were condemned as "populism at its worst" by Liberal Democrat Sir Menzies Campbell, but Sandy Brindley, of Rape Crisis Scotland, said: "It can't be right to have a justice system where three-quarters of rapes reported to the police can't be prosecuted.

"However, we need to be realistic about the prospect of this leading to increased convictions. This bill will remove a barrier to cases getting to court but it will still be for juries to make a decision beyond reasonable doubt."

Bringing an end to the absolute requirement for corroboration in criminal trials, and the change in jury verdict rules, have dominated the post-Carloway debate.

Many in the legal profession are hostile to changing what they see as a defence against wrongful conviction.

The Justice Secretary, however, remains defiant. He said: "I have had a few run-ins with the legal profession but I think it's for the right reasons and I think Scotland will be a better place.

"If the price of providing justice for women and children is to ruffle a few feathers in the Faculty of Advocates then so be it. Laws are created by Parliament, which is elected by the people of Scotland.

"As Justice Secretary I am required to weigh up the representations from those who practise in the courts of law but also to weigh up the interests of those who are affected by the laws of Scotland.

"So I listen to the judiciary, but I listen to the police. I hear the concerns of the faculty and solicitors but I note the worries and anxieties of Rape Crisis Scotland, Scottish Women's Aid and Zero Tolerance."

Mr MacAskill said the dated nature of the law and its lack of application in any other western jurisdiction should give pause for thought.

He said he felt compelled to act for "women and children who have suffered in silence, often behind closed doors where justice just didn't take place", and insisted that the standard of proof would remain "proof beyond reasonable doubt" through "quality of evidence rather than quantity of evidence".

The Law Society of Scotland remains concerned about the possible change.

Raymond McMenamin, from the society's criminal law committee, said: "We believe that removing the requirement for corroborated evidence, without including sufficiently strong safeguards in the bill, could simply result in a contest between two competing statements on oath and, as a result, bring increased risk of miscarriages of justice.

"The requirement for corroborated evidence is not an antiquated, outmoded legal notion but is a fundamental principle of our justice system."

Liberal Democrat MP Sir Menzies Campbell, who practised as an advocate depute in Scotland's High Court, said: "If the SNP proceed with these proposals, it will confirm that they are not fit to have the stewardship of Scottish criminal law. This is populism at its worst. Corroboration is an essential component of the presumption of innocence and a necessary bulwark against false accusation and injustice."

Friday, June 21, 2013

Reaction to the James Taranto piece: the sexual assault debate has been taken over by "hysterics, paranoids, and boodlers"

The late, brilliant Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a progressive sociologist, was among the most important voices on the War on Poverty while serving in the Johnson and Nixon administrations. When critical issues facing African Americans became too politicized, and the rhetoric too extreme on both sides, Moynihan famously wrote: "The time may have come when the issue of race could benefit from a period of 'benign neglect.' The subject has been too much talked about. The forum has been too much taken over to hysterics, paranoids, and boodlers on all sides. We need a period in which Negro progress continues and racial rhetoric fades."

That sentiment could be applied to the current public discourse -- which is actually little more than a screeching monologue -- on sexual assault.  James Taranto wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal decrying contempt for the rights of the accused in the military, and he was viciously and personally attacked by the kinds of "hysterics, paranoids and boodlers" Moynihan was talking about.  Unlike the racial rhetoric Moynihan was trying to calm, the shrill voices in this debate are coming from just one side, and their rhetoric is both disgraceful and unpersuasive.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Woman wrongly accused of making false rape claim

Despite physical evidence that supported her story that a stranger had bound, gagged, raped and photographed her in 2008 in the transitional housing apartment in which she was living, an 18-year-old Washington state woman was disbelieved.

Pressured by police into recanting, she was criminally charged for making a false rape report in the Lynnwood case and, the woman says, forced to publicly admit, at a group meeting for Cocoon House participants, that she had lied about being raped. If she hadn't done so, she says, she was afraid she would lose her housing under a federally funded shelter program for young adults who had formerly been in foster care.

But the tide turned when Marc O'Leary, a former Washington state resident, was arrested several years later in Colorado and accused of committing a sexual assault there. In his possession were photos of the young woman and her identification card. O’Leary subsequently admitted he had raped her, and was convicted of that crime after Lynnwood police reopened their investigation. O'Leary was also convicted of three rapes in Colorado and another in Washington state, according to Courthouse News and the Seattle Times, and is serving a 327-year prison sentence in Colorado.

Now the woman has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Seattle, seeking compensatory and punitive damages for alleged civil rights violations, defamation and negligence.

It contends Lynnwood police ignored evidence, including a DNA sample, once they decided, based in part on statements from individuals with no knowledge of the case, that the young woman had lied and coerced her into recanting her rape complaint after interrogating her at the police station.

Then, when she tried to get support from Cocoon House in pursuing the rape complaint, workers there did not help her stand up to a police threat to charge her with making a false report or help her get a lawyer, the complaint states.

Had police pursued her criminal case, O'Leary might have been stopped before he committed more rapes, the lawsuit alleges.

Lynnwood's police chief declined to comment about the lawsuit, because it is a matter of pending litigation, when contacted by the Seattle Times. The CEO of Cocoon House expressed sympathy for the plaintiff and her family, but said: "We strongly believe that Cocoon House and its employees acted appropriately on behalf of the client.”

The plaintiff now lives in Wyoming. She is represented by H. Richmond Fisher.

She entered into a diversion agreement with Lynnwood in 2009 to avoid a conviction on the false-rape-report charge, the Times reports. After O'Leary was arrested, her $500 fine was refunded and the city struck the case from its records.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The presumptively innocent should not be vilified for outing their rape accusers

Brian Banks
Jose Canseco recently was charged with, then cleared of, rape. In between, the former Major League Baseball star tweeted his accuser's name, phone number, and work address, creating a national outrage. Mary C. Long wrote: "And if sharing one’s alleged rape victim’s name, photo, and (according to Atlantic Wire) also her work address and phone number ISN’T crossing that line [of Twitter's prohibition about sharing private information] – what is? Why have a line if you’re not enforcing it for everyone?" Barbara Holm wrote: "My least favorite piece of misogyny this week is Jose Canseco's public outing of his rape accuser."

We don't know if Canseco was wrongly accused, and we presume his innocence, but tweeting a private citizen's telephone number and work address seems inappropriate, if not illegal. A sports celebrity who provides this information to his legion of fans puts the subject of his tweet at potential personal risk. We think that Canseco went too far in providing that information.

The Canseco case aside, the wrongly accused not only have the right but the moral obligation to out their accusers' identities. A rape accuser should not have any expectation that the man or boy she accuses will keep her name private, short of a law mandating such privacy. Most jurisdictions in the United States have no such laws, but you'll need to check the pertinent laws of your jurisdiction before you try it.

Johnathon Montgomery
In the United States, the courtesy of extending anonymity for rape accusers is a policy adopted by news organizations. It was instituted in the 1970s by white male newspaper editors, but the thinking behind the courtesy is a relic of Victorian era chivalry when raped women were treated as damaged goods. Ellen Goodman wrote: "Rape victims and their advocates forced editors to understand that sex crimes carried a unique stigma. A victim might be reluctant to prosecute if it meant revealing her identity."

Four decades later, in 2013, the chivalrous courtesy of extending anonymity to rape accusers is in jarring contrast with our modern notions of women's sexuality, and it does no favors to rape victims. In an age when "slut-walks" defiantly, and correctly, proclaim that a woman's sexuality does not create an expectation of violence, institutionalized policies of anonymity for rape accusers both perpetuate and reinforce the notion that women should be rightfully ashamed of their sexuality, including even sex that is forced on them.

If society wants women to -- as Ellen Goodman put it -- "cry rape as coolly as they . . . cry thief," then we need to stop telling them that rape is so terribly embarrassing that the only way to preserve a rape victim's honor is for white male newspaper editors to hide the offense from the world. The practice hurts rape victims, and, more important, it is unjust to the wrongly accused.

Feminist Naomi Wolf correctly thinks it is time to end anonymity for women:
Feminists have long argued that rape must be treated like any other crime. But in no other crime are accusers kept behind a wall of anonymity. Treating rape so differently serves only to maintain its mischaracterization as a 'different' kind of crime, loaded with cultural baggage and projections. 
Finally, there is a profound moral issue at stake. Though children’s identities should, of course, be shielded in sex-crime allegations, women are not children. If one makes a serious criminal accusation, one must wish to be treated – and one must treat oneself – as a moral adult.
. . . .
It is wrong – and sexist – to treat female sex-crime accusers as if they were children, and it is wrong to try anyone, male or female, in the court of public opinion on the basis of anonymous accusations. Anonymity for rape accusers is long overdue for retirement.
Prof. Alan Dershowitz  put it in terms that are difficult to argue with:
People who have gone to the police and publicly invoked the criminal process and accused somebody of a serious crime such as rape must be identified. In this country there is no such thing and should not be such a thing as anonymous accusation. If your name is in court it is a logical extension that it should be printed in the media. How can you publish the name of the presumptively innocent accused but not the name of the accuser?
It is a barometer of the public discourse on rape that there is essentially no discussion about the appropriateness of continuing this outmoded practice.

By the same token, almost completely absent from the public dialogue is any discussion about the indisputable harm to the wrongly accused of publicly naming them after they are charged with, but before they are convicted of, rape. If, indeed, anonymity is in any sense appropriate for rape accusers, it is more appropriate for the presumptively innocent who are accused, but not convicted, of rape. If the stigma of rape is a concern for victims, the same stigma is so severe that it often destroys men and boys falsely accused of rape. Rape victims' advocates claim that rape is a unique offense warranting different rules, including anonymity for accusers. Yet, when it comes to men and boys falsely accused of that same offense, those advocates are quick to insist that a false rape claim is no different than a false allegation of any other crime. The dishonesty of the double standard eludes them.
Matt Folino

Far from concern about protecting the good names of the wrongly accused, there is a disturbing tradition of supporting rape accusers who seek "justice" by publicly naming their supposed attackers without affording the supposed attackers any opportunity to defend their good names.

For 17 years, the University of Maryland famously sanctioned a Clothesline Project where alleged rape survivors were permitted to publicly display shirts with the full names of men they accused of rape written on them. There was no discussion about even the possibility that any of the men named might have been innocent, much less a national outrage over it. The university stopped the practice not out of respect for the men named but only because it realized the practice subjected it to liability.

In Columbus, Ohio, a Web site was set up to give rape victims a forum to post information about their alleged attackers, due process be damned. Flyers were passed out that said: "Expose your rapist" and directed people to the site where they could out their purported attackers.

Similarly, feminist icon Germaine Greer called for an online rapists' register "because we know the courts can't get it right." The fact that the accuser would be the judge, jury, and executioner of such a register was of no concern to Greer. Greer, incidentally, once did a television special in the UK about the beauty of boys (as opposed to physically mature men). A full frontal nude 18-year-old male model posed while Greer waxed poetic about boys as sex partners for grown women: “There are many ways in which a boy is an ideal fantasy partner for a woman,” she clucked. “Any woman of taste would have a boy for a lover rather than a man. He’s easier to manage. His sperm flows like tap water, which happens to be a biological fact. And quicker recovery time and all that kind of thing. More rewarding in all sorts of ways. Conversation might be a bit lacking, but then, who does it for conversation?” That someone like this is in any sense respected is disturbing on a host of levels.

A group at Oberlin College once posted signs identifying its first "rapist of the month" -- a random male freshman. The young man not only had not been charged with any crime but was not even sexually active. The New York office of the Legal Defense and Education Fund of the National Organization for Women declined to comment on the issue.

Once at Brown University, a "rape list" scrawled on the wall of a library women's room named some 30 "men who have sexually assaulted me or a woman I know." Women were not happy that university janitors continually erased the names. One woman told a reporter that erasing the names reinforces the idea that "women are to blame for their rapes. . . . I think the writing on the wall was these women's way of taking control, of taking action and saying what they needed to say."

Women in a feminist art class at the University of Maryland once plastered the campus with fliers listing the names of numerous male students who had not committed rape under the heading, "NOTICE: THESE MEN ARE POTENTIAL RAPISTS." The women also set up large posters containing all of the names on the grassy mall at the center of the campus. The project angered some men on campus. Several advocates of the signs, however, declared that the men's anger was the point. "I think it's admirable that men in this school have been saying the word 'rape' and are being angry at the same time," said Jessica True, 23, a freshman from Takoma Park.

Last year, teenager Savannah Dietrich violated a court order by tweeting the names of two teenage boys who pled guilty to sexual abusing her. She was treated in some quarters as a brave crusader for rape victims; the boys were treated as deserving of this smear that has reportedly ruined the life of at least one of them. The boys had been charged as juveniles, and their pleas were premised on an expectation that their cases would be kept confidential. The Innocence Project and the National Registry of Exonerations have taught us that many innocent young men plead guilty to crimes they didn't commit because they have no real choice. Brian Banks is a prominent example: Brian pled guilty to a rape he didn't commit because his lawyer convinced him he would lose if he went to trial on account of the fact he was a black teenage male. Brian, then 17, wasn't permitted to consult with his parents and was given just ten minutes to decide. He sat down and cried, then he decided 18 months sounded "way better than 41 years to life."  (Read the linked article about Brian -- an Innocence Project lawyer has written praising it.)  Dietrich's crusade did no favors for rape victims: now, even boys who ought to plead guilty can't be assured of confidentiality and may be more likely to proceed to trial, where rapists sometimes prevail.

Landen Gambill has been afforded international support in her college crusade to declare that her ex-boyfriend -- unanimously adjudicated not guilty of sexual misconduct in the only disciplinary hearing against him -- is a rapist. (She didn't mention his name, but it wasn't difficult to figure out.) The boyfriend, who went to class every day in fear of people who wanted to hurt him because of the crusade against him, received virtually no support and, in fact, has been branded a "rapist" by major on-line sites that ought to know better but, of course, don't.

We are not suggesting that there should be an exception to the First Amendment that forbids people from talking about their rapists. But in the public discourse about these issues, there is great concern about outing rape accusers and virtually no concern whatsoever about the indisputably horrid effects of publicly naming someone a rapist for a crime he didn't commit. For rape claims, the accusation becomes its own conviction in the court of public opinion because, given the "he said-she said" nature of the claim, it is often impossible to undo even the most far-fetched claim. Legion are the cases where the wrongly accused have suffered unspeakable atrocities due to the vile stigma of the claim -- we've covered them in our blogs. False rape claims have caused innocent men and boys to be killed and to kill themselves; to be beaten, chased, spat upon, and looked upon with suspicion long after they are cleared of wrongdoing. They lose not only their good names but, often, their jobs, their businesses, their spouses, and the affection of their families and their friends. It is often impossible for the falsely accused to ever obtain gainful employment once the lie hits the news: for the remainder of his life, a falsely accused man or boy will have prospective employers Googling his name and discovering the horrid accusation. Talk about "damaged goods."

There seems to be an implicit belief among rape victims' advocates and women's groups that granting anonymity to men and boys accused of rape would be a victory for rapists because it would spare them the punishment of public disgrace unless they are convicted. A UK newspaper reader summed up the feeling when she wrote: "Yes sometimes women lie but an overwhelming number of rape cases result in no sentence so there are men getting away with rape and the least they deserve is for their names to be dragged through the mud." The chilling implication is that the "few" innocents who might also be dragged through the mud are acceptable collateral damage in the war on rape.

COTWA advocates ending the antiquated courtesy of keeping rape victims' identities confidential -- a courtesy that treats women as children and rape as something to be ashamed of. Short of that, there should be a national dialogue about granting anonymity for men accused, but not convicted, of rape. We had our say on that issue here.

Bogus rape claim a cry for help

Police cordoned off the park and had forensic officers on the scene following the claim and put out an appeal to find the "suspect," described as aged between 40 and 45, 6ft tall, of large build and with wrinkles on his face, particularly around the cheeks.

But the following evening police said they were no longer appealing for information and revealed the woman who had made the allegation had been formally cautioned for wasting police time.

The bogus claim provoked fury on Facebook where people questioned why she had been cautioned rather than charged.

One post said: "The woman should have been named, shamed and charged. This is not only wasting police time but could have had a devastating effect on an innocent man who could have been subjected to the nightmare of being falsely accused.

"His name would have been all over the newspapers and this type of crime could have stigmatised him for ever."

Speaking from her Whitehall area home the woman's mother said her daughter had suffered since the false claim had come to light. She added that it was "a cry for help" related to an incident against her a couple of years ago.

A Kent Police spokesman said: "Due to the extremely sensitive nature of rape allegations we take all reports seriously and have a duty of care to fully investigate them.

"Kent Police always encourages victims of rape to come forward and we have specialist teams who can provide them help and support.

This false allegation generated many hours of police time that could have been spent investigating a genuine crime and the person who admitted making it was formally cautioned.

"Making a false allegation is a serious offence and can, in some circumstances, result in a prison sentence."

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Woman's rape lie leads to arrest of innocent man

A WOMAN has been interviewed by police after admitting making a false allegation of rape.

The 26-year-old claimed she was leaving the ground-floor level of the Wellington Square shopping centre car park in Stockton-on-Tees last week when a man approached her from behind and sexually assaulted her.

Police launched a media appeal for information and arrested, and bailed, a 22-year-old man in connection with the incident. However, the woman then admitted she had made a false allegation.

The man has now been released with no further action to be taken.

Police have passed the file for the case on to the Crown Prosecution Service, who will decide whether to prosecute the woman.

Jealous lover 'ordered his girlfriend to make false rape claim'

A JEALOUS boyfriend told his girlfriend to make up a rape allegation against the man she had been unfaithful with, a court heard.

The claim led to alleged victim Zabir Khan being arrested on suspicion of rape, interviewed and locked up in a police cell. He also had intimate swabs taken.

The claim was made by 23-year-old Husen Patel’s girlfriend, Jade Leech, after Patel punched her in the face when he found out she had been unfaithful with Mr Khan, her cousin’s boyfriend, Bolton Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Mark Savill said the case involved two couples, Mr Khan and Natalie Joint and the defendant and Ms Leech.

He said: “It would seem these were rather loose relationships, as sexual relations and infidelity took place with Mr Khan and Ms Leech.

“Patel discovered Ms Leech had been having sexual intercourse with Mr Khan.

“As a result, the prosecution say Patel became angry and sought revenge on Mr Khan.

“The means by which he sought revenge were a wholly unjustifiable course of action.”

The jury of six men and six women heard that when Patel assaulted Ms Leech when he discovered the affair.

He then called Ms Joint and told her he intended to get Ms Leech to make false rape claims against Mr Khan.

Miss Joint warned Mr Khan, who then called the police after receiving threatening text messages from the defendant.

But Khan was arrested on suspicion of rape on August 27, 2011.

It is claimed Patel, of Mancroft Avenue, Daubhill, told Miss Joint he was using Miss Leech to get Mr Khan in trouble.

Four months after being interviewed by police, Ms Leech, aged 21, from Blackrod, confessed to police she had made up the allegation.

She has pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and is due to be sentenced at a later date.

Mr Khan, giving evidence, said: “I felt absolutely distraught by the fact police came to my house accusing me of rape and assault.

“The embarrassment it has brought upon me and my family — I was really depressed, I lost my confidence and I don’t have the confidence I used to when talking to girls because I am scared someone may do something like this again.”

Patel denies perverting the course of justice.

The case continues.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Was a county attorney influenced by the 'public outcry' over rape to prosecute a college quarterback in a doubtful case? The county attorney said: “I can’t say the atmosphere in Missoula didn’t operate in my mind somewhere.”

On March 1 of this year, the sexual assault trial of University of Montana quarterback Jordan Johnson ended with an acquittal. After three weeks of testimony, it took the 12 men and women on the jury just a little over two hours to reach the "not guilty" verdict. The result didn't surprise those of us who followed the case from the beginning. An alternate juror's chilling words supported what this blog had thought all along: "The lack of evidence was troubling. The alleged victim's mixed messages and comments to friends cast doubt on allegations. The alleged victim even questioned events of the evening and there was no evidence that Jordan Johnson knew that he had sex without consent."

We openly wondered why the county attorney rolled the dice with a young man's life. This was not an unfair question to ask since the charges were brought, as the New York Times noted, "against the backdrop of a federal investigation into how officials at the University of Montana, as well the city and county of Missoula, handled sexual assault allegations, several of which involved members of the football team."

In addition, Kirsten Pabst, who was the chief deputy county prosecutor before entering private practice was one of Mr. Johnson's attorneys in the case. She said that the County Attorney’s Office charged Mr. Johnson with a sex crime just "to send a message." The County Attorney took a garden variety "he said/she said" rape accusation and improperly credited some, but not all, of the statements of the accuser while ignoring substantial evidence that showed that no sex crime was committed. Ms. Pabst says that the County Attorney's office "cherry-picked" facts because of the pressure to respond to sexual assault.

Last week, Fred Van Valkenburg, the Missoula County attorney made a startling comment about the case that shouldn't be ignored. Van Valkenburg was asked if he felt pressure to file a rape charge against Johnson, given the ongoing federal investigation and the results of an outside investigation that found 11 cases of sexual assault at UM between September 2010 and February 2012. Van Valkenburg gave the expected response: his entire staff had reviewed the case and felt there was enough evidence to proceed. “I honestly do not think we filed charges because of the DOJ investigation was pending,” Van Valkenburg said.

But Van Valkenburg added this: “I can’t say the atmosphere in Missoula didn’t operate in my mind somewhere” as he considered whether to file the charges.

Read those words again. A less candid person would have ruled out even the possibility of any external influence on his decision to prosecute and would have insisted that "the atmosphere" did not play any role in the decision. Van Valkenburg's remark is chilling for its candor. Was Van Valkenburg, in fact, influenced by "the atmosphere" in Missoula?  We can't get inside his head, but even he has opened the door to the possibility that, on a subconscious level at least, he might have been.

Innocence Project guru Mark A Godsey recently said that "the risk of wrongful conviction is the highest when there’s public outcry. Most of the exonerations and wrongful convictions have occurred in rape cases." The "public outcry" that results when rape becomes politicized has been a cause of injustice to the wrongly accused likely since time began. One need not look back to the hanging trees of the Old South for such injustice. This blog has chronicled a veritable cornucopia of it in recent years.

We do know this about Van Valkenburg: he seemed bent on winning this case. He assigned five prosecutors -- count 'em: five -- including an assistant attorney general and an attorney in private practice, to pursue the case against Johnson. That win-at-all-costs mentality is troubling in a case where there was so much evidence in favor of innocence. Just to recap: you will recall that before the alleged sexual assault, Mr. Johnson and his unnamed accuser had previously been flirtatious, and at a university ball, the woman told Mr. Johnson – according to Mr. Johnson and a friend who said he heard it – “Jordy, I would do you anytime.” They eventually went to the house where the accuser lived with male roommates (one of whom was right outside the room) and had sex. The accuser told a close female friend the morning after the alleged assault that she "think[s]" she’d been raped “and that she didn’t want to report his name because" she, the accuser, "felt responsible." She said: "The reason I feel this whole situation is my fault is because I feel like I gave Jordan mixed signals which caused him to act the way he did." The woman’s male roommate and one of her best friends, testified that he was rattled when he got the text message from her that night that began, “omg … I think I might’ve just been raped.” At the trial, defense counsel asked him: “You did nothing to respond to her text. You were confused, the text was unclear to you, and you thought she was exaggerating.” The roommate answered: “Yes.” In another text message, the accuser told someone, "I don't think he [Johnson] did anything wrong." But, in a most cruel and bitter text to a friend, she expressed happiness that he was going to be charged with rape -- according to a defense motion filed in the case, the text message said: "It will hit him like a ton of bricks which I'm okay with [emoticon smiley face] so wanna get lunch Thursday?" Dr. David Lisak, one of the nation's most famous rape victim's advocates, testified at the trial that while trauma could explain the changing stories of an alleged rape victim, lying could explain the same behavior.

So, we return to Van Valkenburg's comment, and we ask the obvious: how could an elected prosecutor not be influenced, on some level, by a public outcry to get tougher on rape? The decision to prosecute or not prosecute can be difficult; it's often a judgment call that requires the exercise of discretion. If loud voices in the town square are insisting that rape is rampant and that more convictions are needed, is it surprising that a prosecutor will exercise that discretion by erring on the side of prosecuting doubtful cases, especially when the target is the starting quarterback on the university football team?

Even more obvious: is it proper to prosecute a rape case because of a public outcry? The question scarcely survives its statement. Justice in the particular facts of the Jordan Johnson case had nothing to do with whether rape, in general, is rampant.  What happened to Jordan Johnson seemed less like "justice" and more like a witch hunt.

Woman Who Falsely Accused Brian Banks of Rape Ordered to Pay $2.6M

A woman whose false claim of rape sent former prep football star Brian Banks to prison was ordered to pay a $2.6 million judgment in connection with the case.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge on Friday ordered Wanetta Gibson to pay a $1.5 million, plus an additional $1.1 million in fees, including for making a false claim and court-related costs, the Long Beach Press Telegram reported.

Gibson was a former high-school acquaintance of Banks in 2002 when she accused him of raping her at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, according to the California Innocence Project, an organization that helped exonerate Banks.

Gibson sued the Long Beach Unified School District claiming the school was not safe and won a $1.5 million settlement.

Gibson ultimately admitted she made up the story and a judge reversed Banks' conviction on May 24, 2012.

Banks signed this year to play with the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The tide is turning: serious legal writing takes issue with the assault on the rights of the presumptively innocent in campus sex charges

For several decades, serious legal writing on sexual assault has been dominated by scholars fervently advocating for fewer protections for the presumptively innocent in favor of more convictions. The pendulum had shifted so far in favor of victim's rights, and away from the rights of the presumptively innocent, that observers wondered when it would start to glide back somewhere toward the middle.

The Department of Education's infamous 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter might have been the tipping point. There has been a noticeable shift in serious legal scholarship taking issue with the attack on the rights of the presumptively innocent accused of sex offenses on American campuses. The critics of the trend to diminish the rights of the presumptively innocent can no longer be considered outliers.

One of the most prominent voices taking issue is that of Professor Dan Subotnik. Subotnik doesn't shy away from openly talking about the "Groupthink in which white males become the reviled community" on campus. Dan Subotnik, The Duke Rape Case Five Years Later: Lessons for the Academy, the Media, and the Criminal Justice System, 45 Akron L. Rev. 883, 891 (2011).  Prof. Subotnik pointed out that the Department of Education's "Dear Colleague" letter presents a double-edged sword:
More malefactors will be expelled from schools under this standard, and that is to the good; but would the Duke accused have had any chance of justice under a lower evidentiary standard for complainants that trumpeted the special heinousness of sexual assault? Or under the standard at Princeton where guilt can be found if the woman is merely "under the influence" of alcohol? Or the standard, in effect at Stanford, under which those judging the case are instructed that a "neutral stand" between complainant and accused is tantamount to siding with the abusive partner and that they should be "very, very cautious in in accepting a man's claim that he has been wrongly accused of abuse or violence" because "[t]he great majority of allegations of abuse. . . are substantially accurate"?
Id. at 920.

Happily, Prof. Subotnik is not a lone voice crying in the wilderness. Stephen Henrick has written a wonderful law review article called A Hostile Environment for Student Defendants: Title IX and Sexual Assault on College Campuses for the Northern Kentucky Law Review, 40 N. Ky. L. Rev. 49 (2013). It is reprinted here, and it is must-reading. Among other things, Henrick notes: "Justifying institutionalized unfairness to a given defendant in the exercise of power because of a perceived need to reform a broader social problem is contrary to the very idea of civilized justice. . . . Even if sexual assault is as underreported as complainant advocates claim, 174 and while recognizing that sexual violence is reprehensible, convicting the innocent to atone for society's sins or to bring about change remains an unjustifiable use of authority and a dangerous judicial precedent." Id. at 87. He also posits:
Critics of changing the present system often argue that instances of false or mistaken accusations are not frequent enough to require colleges to burden meritorious complaints with excessive due process hurdles to overcome. Upon closer examination, such an argument made alongside the claim that sexual violence on campus is grossly underreported contradictorily posits that complainants are very often wrong in claiming they have not been raped, while rarely incorrect in claiming that they have been raped. 
Although it is true that society should strive to make justice readily available for rape victims, the argument that alleged victims are rarely incorrect cannot support the current college adjudication system. The most obvious problem is that because the precise rate of false or mistaken reporting is unknowable, the argument has no empirical support. In addition, it is indisputable that false complaints do happen: using OCR's "preponderance of the evidence" standard in determining whether probable cause exists, police concluded in 2010 and 2011 alone that a university complainant makes a false rape allegation more than once per calendar month. Relying on the good faith or accuracy of complaints does not protect the innocent in these situations, regardless of how often they happen.
Id. at 88-89.

In addition, Barclay Sutton Hendrix has written a great piece for the Georgia Law Review: Note, A Feather on One Side, A Brick on the Other: Tilting the Scales Against Males Accused of Sexual Assault in Campus Disciplinary Proceedings, 47 Ga. L. Rev. 591 (2013):
A balance must be struck between protecting victims of sexual assault and protecting students accused of assault who, if innocent, are themselves victims. Appropriate procedural due process protections during campus disciplinary hearings can strike this balance. But this cannot be accomplished until universities are allowed to use a higher burden of proof than preponderance of the evidence, students are allowed to cross-examine their accusers, and the system does not allow for appeals by accusers. Until that time, OCR's newest requirements for grievance procedures will continue to make it far too likely that those accused of sexual assault-who are disproportionately male-will not only have their reputations destroyed, . . . but worse still may be found guilty for what is really consensual sexual conduct.
Id. at 621.
There are good reasons . . . however, to doubt the existence of an epidemic of campus sexual assaults, despite the significant amount of attention paid to it. A closer look at the studies claiming a crises-level of collegiate sexual assaults reveals their dubiousness. For instance, one study that claims 90% of collegiate rapes go unreported explained that this was partly because the victims did not see the supposed assault as harmful or did not think that a crime had been committed. In other words, the rapes were not reported because, despite the researchers' categorization of the incidents as rapes, the individuals actually involved did not view them as such. Consequently, one of the most criticized aspects of sexual assault studies is the definition used to determine what constitutes an "assault."

Consider the study cited in a recent "Dear Colleague" letter issued on behalf of the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR). That study's definition of "rape" included "forced kissing" and "attempted forced kissing" as well as automatically counted any sexual contact with someone when they were unable to give consent because of intoxication or incapacity as "rape" or "assault." But the intoxication-or-incapacity question was framed in such a way that it likely included many gray areas: "Has someone had sexual contact with you when you were unable to provide consent or stop what was happening because you were passed out, drugged, drunk, incapacitated, or asleep?" One critic of the study explained why this question is unclear: "Does 'unable to provide consent or stop' refer to actual incapacitation- given as only one option in the question-or impaired judgment?" Another critic opined, "If sexual intimacy under the influence of alcohol is by definition assault, then a significant percentage of sexual intercourse throughout the world and down the ages qualifies as crime."

Bolstering the argument that overbroad definitions of sexual assault and ambiguous survey questions have greatly exaggerated the prevalence of sexual assaults is the fact that only 2% of the survey's respondents who reported being sexually assaulted while incapacitated also reported experiencing any emotional or psychological trauma. Given how low this percentage was, the authors of the report asserted that the percentage was actually much higher. Most victims of sexual violence suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the aftermath of their attack. Between one-half to two-thirds of victims develop PTSD post-attack, and the adverse effects can, and often do, last for years. As noted above, college students often do not report or classify their experience as sexual assault. And while some studies suggest that victims who do not acknowledge their victim-status suffer less negative consequences from their attack, other studies have found that as many as 30% of these victims suffer from PTSD. Given the prevalence of emotional and psychological trauma following both acknowledged and unacknowledged sexual assaults, one would expect the disruptive effects of sexual violence to be widespread on collegiate campuses if an epidemic existed, even if reports of the violence are not.
Id. at 596-97.

Ryan Ellis has also taken the "Dear Colleague" letter to task. See Ryan Ellis, Mandating Injustice: The Preponderance of the Evidence Mandate Creates a New Threat to Due Process on Campus, 32 Rev. Litig. 65, 90 (2013), where he writes that the Department of Education "would be well advised to temporarily cease enforcement of the mandate and subject it to comment by the affected public. A well-documented public dialogue could help the agency formulate better solutions to the sexual harassment and sexual assault problems found on college campuses - solutions that also pose less danger to student rights."

Woman Who Said She Was Raped In Riverside Park Yesterday Now Recants Her Story

A 44-year-old woman claimed she was raped in Riverside Park, but cops say she has since recanted her story.

The unidentified woman told officers she was walking near Riverside Drive and 74th Street around 5 a.m. on June 6 when a man approached her from behind, told her he was a "cop and an F.B.I. agent," and dragged her into the park where she said he raped her. But officials say the woman, who has been described in some reports as homeless, recanted her story last night.

No arrests were made after the claim.

Police: Woman falsely reported rape

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) - Police said a woman lied when she told them she was forced into a van and raped by two men in Cumberland County over the weekend.

Silver Spring Township police said Thursday that the woman filed a false report and no assault or rape occurred.

The investigation is ongoing and criminal charges will likely be pursued against the woman, police said.

The woman had told officers that she was walking in the 6600 block of Carlisle Pike when two men quickly approached her and forced her into the back of a van Sunday afternoon. She said the men then drove to an alley and raped her, according to police.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Woman spared jail time after her false rape claim has man arrested

A STROOD woman, who wasted more than 250 hours of police time when she falsely claimed she had been raped, has been ordered to pay £500 in compensation to Kent Police.

Stacey Wallace, 26, of Humber Crescent, was given a two year suspended jail sentence at Medway Magistrates' Court yesterday after falsely claiming she was raped by a man as she walked home from a Chatham nightclub in the early hours of Saturday, 20 October, last year.

Detective constable, Catherine Holmes, said: "Rape is an incredibly serious offence and police will always investigate reports thoroughly, leaving no stone unturned in the process to bring justice to the victims of this appalling crime. When someone falsely claims to have been raped it not only wastes a huge amount of police time but also ruin people's lives.

"Wallace's lies have led to the arrest of an innocent man who had to undergo extensive questioning and after which intimate forensic samples were taken from him. Her claims resulted in over 250 hours of police time being wasted, resources which could have been used helping victims of crime."

She told police four men had followed her over Rochester Bridge and that one of the men had raped her by the bridge.
The man under arrest said that the sex was consensual and that he even gave Wallace his business card, the card was later found in Wallace's pocket.

CCTV images also showed Wallace and the man walking with their arms around each other and further enquiries examined mobile texts revealing her allegation was false.

'Woman scorned’ pleads guilty to perjury in false sexual allegations against police officer

COURTHOUSE — A grand jury summed up its conclusion of a three-year investigation into claims a local woman was sexually harassed by a Lower Merion police officer in May 2011 with the words, “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

Those words spoke volumes in Montgomery County Court Wednesday when Gabrielle Drexler, 28, of the 100 block of Windermere Avenue, Lansdowne, pleaded guilty to perjury in a case that could have ended a Lower Merion police officer’s career.

Before Common Pleas Judge William R. Carpenter Wednesday, Drexler pleaded guilty to perjury, a third-degree felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.

In May 2011, a Montgomery County grand jury began investigating Drexler’s allegations of indecent assault, stalking and other related offenses by a member of the Lower Merion Police Department.

According to prosecutors, the initial claims were made in a very emotional and very public way – in front of the televised Lower Merion Township Board of Commissioners on May 18, 2011.

During that meeting, a tearful Drexler alleged that an officer groped her breasts in August 2010, sent her unwanted e-mails and would often park his patrol cruiser outside her house, stalking her.

The investigation lasted nearly six months, and when a Montgomery County detective first contacted Drexler, she claimed she had proof of her allegations in the form of e-mailed messages sent to her from the officer that she retained.

Yet, two copies Drexler provided to the district attorney’s office contained discrepancies, with the later e-mail containing additional language that the first did not.

“What turned out was, as proof of the officer stalking, Ms. Drexler retained e-mails from him and turned them over to the police,” said Assistant District Attorney John Gradel, lead prosecutor in the case.

“Now, the thing about the e-mails was, she – on her own computer – added sentences, which, if believed, would have resulted in that officer’s arrest. They were basically confessions to what she was alleging.”

According to the grand jury presentment obtained by The Times Herald, in one e-mail, Drexler added the sentence, “I am sorry for groping and trying to kiss you as you backed away in confusion that day at the park…I knew you were my dream girl…”

“The officer’s alleged statements were basically confessions to that sexual assault and would have been used against the officer at his trial,” said Gradel.

“The pair had a consensual relationship for a period of months, and at some point, Drexler learned the officer was married with children and the relationship soured.”

When questioned about the discrepancies in the e-mails on the witness stand, Drexler reportedly lied to the grand jury, claiming that they “just mysteriously appeared.”

In the days after she made the allegations, Drexler filed civil claims against the Lower Merion Police Department and the township in the millions of dollars for violating her rights.

Gradel said the officer lost seniority as a result of the accusations against him.

“He went from the head of the line in promotion to the back of the line,” he said. That officer’s duties have since been restored to patrol.

Sentencing in this matter has been deferred for 90 days to allow time for a pre-sentence investigation to commence.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

After Innocence: Jeffrey Deskovic Was Incarcerated At 17, Exonerated At 33

By Laura Candler, reported here:

Jeffrey Deskovic was 16 when one of his female classmates, Angela Correa, was found murdered in the woods in their hometown in upstate New York. He says didn’t know her well, but she was always friendly to him in the school hallways. At the girl’s funeral, Jeffrey broke down in heavy sobs and visited her wake multiple times. It was there that some people started to suspect that he might have had something to do with the murder.

Three weeks after the crime, the police approached Deskovic and asked him to submit to a polygraph test. He agreed, not knowing that the polygraph business was run by an officer of the local Sherriff’s Department. Later, that officer testified that he’d been hired to “get the confession.”

Jeffrey took the polygraph test and was questioned for nearly seven hours with no lawyer present. They gave him nothing to eat. Interrogators told Deskovic that he was guilty of the crime, fed him information about Angela’s death, and provoked him into confessing for the murder he did not do. At the end of the interrogation, he curled up in a fetal position on the floor, crying, and made a false confession.

Based on that confession, Deskovic was convicted of murder and rape and sentenced 15 years to life in prison.

“I lost most of my friends when I was convicted,” Deskovic said in an interview with WUNC at the Innocence Network Conference in April. “I had a couple of friends that stuck with me for a couple of years, but…you end up essentially by yourself. My mother was the only one who consistently came to see me, but in the last six years I was lucky if I saw her once every six months.”

In 2006, the Innocence Project decided to take on Deskovic’s case. The Innocence Project is a national organization that litigates for wrongfully convicted people on the basis of DNA evidence and whose work has led to the exonerations of hundreds of innocent people nationwide.

Deskovic’s case became stronger when DNA evidence collected at the original crime scene turned out to match another inmate in one of New York’s prisons named Steven Cunningham, who was convicted of murdering another woman. Based on this evidence, lawyers with the Innocence Project helped overturn Deskovic’s original conviction at his retrial, and Jeffrey was released in September of 2006. It was a moment he’ll never forget.

“The judge told me that the conviction had been overturned and I was free to leave,” Deskovic recounted. “I got ready to get up to leave the courtroom, and after I took a step, the enormity of the moment kind of hit me. I was just overcome. I mentally couldn’t accept that this was over.”

When he stepped outside of the courtroom, the press was waiting.

“I gave an off-the-cuff two and a half hour spiel of everything I ever I wanted to say over the years but could never quite get anyone to hear me. Those were my first words of freedom. I stepped to the microphone, and I actually asked ‘Is this really happening?’”

But Deskovic had a long road ahead. He hadn’t gone to college. He’d never even been on the internet or used a cell phone. He’d never paid rent. He was 33 years old and had to learn basic skills that most adults take for granted. While he had a little support from his mother, they often ended their conversations in fights. Jeffrey became despondent and terribly lonely, struggling deeply with how to fill his time.

As the days passed, Deskovic started accepting speaking engagements, something that felt empowering to him. He enrolled in college and started writing newspaper columns about his experience.

After he received compensation from the state for his wrongful incarceration, Deskovic started the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice, to assist others who’ve been wrongfully convicted. The Foundation investigates cases of wrongful conviction both with and without DNA evidence, and they also provide support for exonerees once they leave prison.

Deskovic earned a masters degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice on May 28 of this year.

Lies of women who 'play Russian roulette' with their victims' lives

By Annie Brown, posted here:

STEPHEN McLaughlin was 23 when he killed himself after being falsely accused of rape.

He was a gentle, intelligent and dignified man who had been damaged irreparably by the lies of a vindictive young woman. Stephen would have been 40 this year, perhaps a father and husband enjoying the love and the life he deserved.

I think of Stephen every time I see a case like that of Linsey Attridge, 31, who falsely accused two strangers of raping her in an attempt to win back her boyfriend. She picked two men at random on Facebook and threw a grenade into their world.

Last week, Attridge was convicted and sentenced to 200 hours of community service.

Stephen’s accuser was a former girlfriend and she had sex willingly with him on his birthday.

She too admitted that she had cried rape to make her new boyfriend jealous.

Police had picked up Stephen in the middle of the night and subjected him to an intimate and degrading medical examination. The next morning when he returned home, he vomited, wept and repeated with incredulity the word “rapist”.

A few weeks before he died, Stephen told me that he was haunted by the prospect of that split-second of doubt, the potential for there to be any pause, any question, in any mind that he was capable of such a heinous crime.

On his sister Alexandra’s 30th birthday, he left her party, drove to a remote spot in the Galloway forest and killed himself.

The lies of women like Attridge have the same destructive impact on genuine rape victims. Victims fear that flicker of scepticism, that they may not be believed. As Attridge has shown, there are women low enough to cry rape. But she is the exception, not the rule.

It is beyond the comprehension of the vast majority of women to wreak such havoc on an innocent man’s life.

To Stephen, neither his accuser’s confession nor the court’s conviction, could restore the honour he valued with his life.

Let’s hope that the vindication of the court is enough for Attridge’s victims but it will take them years to recover – if they ever do.

As Stephen’s tragic suicide shows, to falsely accuse a man of rape is to play Russian roulette with his life.

For two months, Attridge’s victims were investigated, forensically examined and questioned. She plucked them from Facebook and for that time they were tarnished with the label of alleged rapists.

She punched herself in the face and ripped her own clothes to add credibility to her lie that the men had raped her in her Aberdeen home.

It was cruel, it was vindictive and manipulative and a betrayal of men and women. Attridge’s ex-boyfriend feels she deserves jail but it is difficult to see what purpose prison would serve.

The prospect of jail time is not going to deter any other woman like her, who is willing to swing a wrecking ball through men’s lives in a perverse attempt to keep her bloke.

She needs psychological help and to know that the consequences of actions like hers can be fatal.

I hope she will think of her victims and of those like Stephen who paid the ultimate price in the petty politics of another’s relationship.

FIRE: 'This Crystal Ball is Clear: OCR Cannot Issue a ‘Blueprint’ Without Following APA Rulemaking Procedures'

In an article published today in Inside Higher Ed, Allie Grasgreen reports on efforts to force colleges and universities to respond to sexual misconduct cases more aggressively. Grasgreen provides an overview of the efforts of the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in this vein, including OCR's April 4, 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter (mandating use of the low "preponderance of the evidence" standard of proof in campus hearings for sexual misconduct allegations) and the "blueprint" for sexual harassment policies issued last month by OCR and the Department of Justice.
In the article, Daniel Swinton, senior executive vice president of the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management (NCHERM), believes that university officials should take the blueprint "into account when reviewing or revising their own policies." According to Swinton:
"A lot of those letters tend to be talismans to help us understand how OCR interprets the law, and they say it's specific to that institution, and it's true, but you can see a general set of principles and approaches in those letters that are transferrable to many institutions. ... We look to those as more informal guidance."
The Greeks had their oracles, the Romans their augurs, the Chinese favored omens, and later Western Europeans opted for reading tea leaves. Now university administrators have OCR's "talismans" to direct their decision-making? We hope not.
As we have explained, federal agencies can issue informal guidance to signal how they are thinking about particular policy issues. But if an agency wants to impose its view of the law on those it regulates, then it must go through the process of notice-and-comment rulemaking, as mandated by the federal Administrative Procedure Act (APA). This involves soliciting comments from those who will be affected by the proposed change in regulation and responding publicly in writing to their concerns. Swinton is missing this critical point—one that OCR wants everyone to forget. 
OCR has no authority to set policy unilaterally, especially if it imposes a facially unconstitutional definition of sexual harassment on virtually every college and university in the country. But that's what OCR is trying to do. If the educational consultant community is planning to advise its clients to simply go along without insisting on the protections guaranteed by federal law, then higher education in this country will be poorly served indeed. 
Serious problems deserve serious thought. That is why FIRE has led the criticism of the  blueprint. And it's why we have been joined by many other voices, including The Washington Post, the American Association of University Professors' Committee on Women, and a former OCR lawyer, to name just a few. But there is a silver lining. As we have pointed out here, the blueprint is not legally binding on any institution except the University of Montana. The danger is that university administrators will follow it anyway. Fortune cookie, anyone?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Due process be damned: Villagers bury teen alive because he might have raped and killed a woman

Villagers in Bolivia's southern highlands buried a teenager alive in the grave of a woman he was suspected of having raped and murdered, an official has said.

Police had identified 17-year-old Santos Ramos as the possible culprit in the attack on 35-year-old Leandra Arias Janco last Sunday in a Quechua community near the municipality of Colquechaca, said José Luis Barrios, the chief prosecutor in Potosí province, where the community is located.

More than 200 enraged locals seized Ramos and buried him alive alongside his alleged victim on Wednesday night, according to Barrios. He said that the following day, residents blocked the road to the community, preventing police and prosecutors from reaching it.

A reporter for an indigenous radio station, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, told the Associated Press that Ramos was tied up at the woman's funeral. Mourners threw him into the open grave, placed the woman's coffin in it and filled the grave with earth.

Colquechaca is a town of 5,000 inhabitants located 200 miles south-east of Bolivia's capital, La Paz.

Also in Potosí on Wednesday, residents of the Quechua indigenous community of Tres Cruces stoned to death a suspected thief and burned his accomplice alive, Barrios said. The official said the two had earlier robbed a car and killed its driver.

Harrisburg, PA: False rape allegations affect police, the community and future victims

In the past year there have been at least three times where someone reported a rape or abduction in our area, which turned out to be false.

On June 6, Silver Spring Township police dealt with a false rape report after a woman said she was thrown into a van and raped on June 2.
On May 24th, in Lancaster City, a woman told police she was abducted and shoved into a trunk. It lead police on a five-hour manhunt. Turns out, she was allegedly making the whole thing up.

Also in May, police say a 15-year-old girl lied about an assault and fighting off her four attackers. That one happened in York County.

And who could forget the report that put the community on edge about an alleged rape at the CVS parking lot on Allentown Boulevard in Dauphin County back in 2011. Amber Adams later admitted she made up the story.

Kristen Houser is with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape. She says national statistics show that it's estimated between two and eight percent of reported rapes are false.

"People have a lot of things going on in their life. They may be looking for a distraction, they may looking for support from other people," said Kristen Houser, PA Coalition Against Rape.

Sergeant Shawki Lacey is with the Susquehanna Township Police Department. He says falsely reporting a crime not only effects the person accused and the alleged victim, but it takes a toll on the community as well.

"It causes an uproar in the community, no one wants crime in their community, especially crimes of violence against persons," Sergeant Shawki Lacey, Susquehanna Township Police Department.

When someone reports a fake crime, that also takes police away from real crimes they could be investigating.

"Basically you have officers, detectives, forensics of multiple jurisdictions potentially, labs are all working on this common goal to try to identify who committed this crime, arresting that person," said Sgt. Lacey.

Sergeant Lacey says if you report a false crime, you could be charged with anything from a misdemeanor to a felony and face jail time.

In addition, the person who you falsely accused could file a civil lawsuit against you.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Police: False rape claim squandered law enforcement resources

YORKTOWN — Police say a Mount Pleasant Township woman “terrified the community” with a false claim she had been sexually assaulted by an intruder in mid-May near Yorktown, Ind.

Kaitlyn Elaine Thompson, 20, was arrested Tuesday on preliminary charges of obstruction of justice and false informing.

According to an affidavit, Thompson called 911 dispatchers on May 16 to report she had been attacked by an unknown man who had “forced his way into her home and raped her.”

Yorktown police and Delaware County sheriff’s deputies raced to her home, in the 8300 block of Ashford Lane.

Thompson was taken to IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, and “the home was roped off to be processed as a crime scene,” Yorktown Marshal Todd St. John wrote.

Yorktown police spent more than two weeks investigating the crime and trying to find the assailant, reported to be a white male in his 20s.

“After reviewing the crime scene and interviewing witnesses and speaking to the victim, several inconsistencies began to appear,” the marshal wrote.

During a Monday interview, Thompson allegedly “admitted to lying about being raped and stated she manufactured the crime scene.”

Later in the discussion, the affidavit said, Thompson again maintained she had been assaulted, adding she had provided false details about the crime “because she was scared.”

“Ms. Thompson has lied during the entire investigation and admitted to that during the interview,” St. John wrote, causing “hours of unneeded work by several police officers.”

Contacted Wednesday, St. John said he could not provide additional information about the case while it is being reviewed by the Delaware County prosecutor’s office.

Thompson was released from the Delaware County jail after posting a $6,000 bond.

Court records reflect no prior charges against Thompson, a former resident of the Modoc area.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Woman picks out two random men on Facebook and falsely accuses them of rape

Linsey Attridge claimed that two men broke into the home she shared with her boyfriend, Nick Smith, and raped her.

Attridge's relationship with Mr. Smith was on the rocks, and Attridge thought she could get Mr. Smith to be more caring towards her by claiming to be a rape victim. So one day, while Mr. Smith was playing football, Attridge punched herself in the face, ripped her own clothes, then pointed out two random male strangers on Facebook to police as the alleged rapists.

The two random men were detained, questioned, and forced to undergo forensic and medical examination. The rape lie hung over their heads for two months before police dropped the case against them because there was no evidence to support the allegations.

Attridge has been sentenced to do 200 hours’ community service. Mr. Smith was upset that she wasn't jailed.

“I think the sentence was ridiculous. I actually walked out of the court as soon as I heard it. I think the justice system has let us all down," Mr. Smith said. "I also feel sorry for the two guys on Facebook. I don’t know who they are, she just picked them off Facebook. They didn’t deserve that, no one deserves that. These poor guys were tormented. They won’t get any compensation for this." He added: "She should have been locked up."

Mr. Smith is correct that the two falsely accused men will not be compensated. Britain pays crime victims, including women who claim they've been raped (some false accusers have been paid), substantial sums of money as "compensation." The alleged rapes need not have involved violence to trigger the payments. Britain does not compensate men for the harm they suffer after being falsely accused, no matter how egregious. We examined this stark double standard here: