Tuesday, July 30, 2013

University publicizes anonymous accusations of sexual misconduct against professor going back decades

A University of Connecticut music professor has been placed on paid leave and is under investigation by police and school officials amid allegations of sexual misconduct involving university students and decades-old molestation involving children.

According to the Connecticut Law Tribune, the university announced that there are various investigations of the professor, and it distributed all sorts of documents containing accusations of sexual misconduct against him, and confirmed his identity." The Law Tribune says it is a problem that "the university has been too transparent, distributing horrible but uncorroborated accusations against someone by name. While police in Connecticut and Virginia are investigating, there has been no arrest and there is no arrest warrant. There seem to be no sworn statements from identified witnesses in the public domain, just the repetition of anonymous accusations — and state law exempts 'uncorroborated allegations' from disclosure."
Ordinarily, linking the professor by name with uncorroborated allegations against him would be libel. While news organizations are protected because a government institution has publicized the accusations, it is unfair all the same. And of course television news has compounded the unfairness with its usual idiotic practice in crime reporting, interviewing people who have no original knowledge of the case and inviting them to express disgust and speculate on someone's guilt.
. . . .
The church and schools alike have long and scandalous records on sexual misconduct by priests and teachers, with the most troublesome ones not removed from their professions and prosecuted but just quietly sent elsewhere to continue their predations.

But none of this justifies going to the other extreme — publicizing essentially anonymous allegations of sexual misconduct prior to the formal filing of charges.

The right responses to suspicion of such misconduct are ordinary conscientiousness and due process of law, not hysteria.

'A white woman's word was taken as absolutely . . . when the cry of rape is made . . . .'

The following is an excerpt from African-American journalist Ida B. Wells' pamphlet "Southern Horrors: Lynch Laws in All Its Phases," first published in 1892. It can be found in its entirety here:

The Cleveland Gazette of January 16, 1892, publishes a case in point. Mrs. J.S. Underwood, the wife of a minister of Elyria, Ohio, accused an Afro-American of rape. She told her husband that during his absence in 1888, stumping the State for the Prohibition Party, the man came to the kitchen door, forced his way in the house and insulted her. She tried to drive him out with a heavy poker, but he overpowered and chloroformed her, and when she revived her clothing was torn and she was in a horrible condition. She did not know the man but could identify him. She pointed out William Offett, a married man, who was arrested and, being in Ohio, was granted a trial.

The prisoner vehemently denied the charge of rape, but confessed he went to Mrs. Underwood's residence at her invitation and was criminally intimate with her at her request. This availed him nothing against the sworn testimony of a ministers wife, a lady of the highest respectability. He was found guilty, and entered the penitentiary, December 14, 1888, for fifteen years. Some time afterwards the woman's remorse led her to confess to her husband that the man was innocent.

These are her words:
I met Offett at the Post Office. It was raining. He was polite to me, and as I had several bundles in my arms he offered to carry them home for me, which he did. He had a strange fascination for me, and I invited him to call on me. He called, bringing chestnuts and candy for the children. By this means we got them to leave us alone in the room. Then I sat on his lap. He made a proposal to me and I readily consented. Why I did so, I do not know, but that I did is true. He visited me several times after that and each time I was indiscreet. I did not care after the first time. In fact I could not have resisted, and had no desire to resist.
When asked by her husband why she told him she had been outraged, she said: "I had several reasons for telling you. One was the neighbors saw the fellows here, another was, I was afraid I had contracted a loathsome disease, and still another was that I feared I might give birth to a Negro baby. I hoped to save my reputation by telling you a deliberate lie." Her husband horrified by the confession had Offett, who had already served four years, released and secured a divorce.

There are thousands of such cases throughout the South, with the difference that the Southern white men in insatiate fury wreak their vengeance without intervention of law upon the Afro-Americans who consort with their women. A few instances to substantiate the assertion that some white women love the company of the Afro-American will not be out of place. Most of these cases were reported by the daily papers of the South.

In the winter of 1885-86 the wife of a practicing physician in Memphis, in good social standing whose name has escaped me, left home, husband and children, and ran away with her black coachman. She was with him a month before her husband found and brought her home. The coachman could not be found. The doctor moved his family away from Memphis, and is living in another city under an assumed name.

In the same city last year a white girl in the dusk of evening screamed at the approach of some parties that a Negro had assaulted her on the street. He was captured, tried by a white judge and jury, that acquitted him of the charge. It is needless to add if there had been a scrap of evidence on which to convict him of so grave a charge he would have been convicted.

Sarah Clark of Memphis loved a black man and lived openly with him. When she was indicted last spring for miscegenation, she swore in court that she was not a white woman. This she did to escape the penitentiary and continued her illicit relation undisturbed. That she is of the lower class of whites, does not disturb the fact that she is a white woman. "The leading citizens" of Memphis are defending the "honor" of all white women, demi-monde included.

Since the manager of the Free Speech has been run away from Memphis by the guardians of the honor of Southern white women, a young girl living on Poplar St., who was discovered in intimate relations with a handsome mulatto young colored man, Will Morgan by name, stole her father's money to send the young fellow away from that father's wrath. She has since joined him in Chicago.

The Memphis Ledger for June 8 has the following:
If Lillie Bailey, a rather pretty white girl seventeen years of age, who is now at the City Hospital, would be somewhat less reserved about her disgrace there would be some very nauseating details in the story of her life. She is the mother of a little coon. The truth might reveal fearful depravity or it might reveal the evidence of a rank outrage. She will not divulge the name of the man who has left such black evidence of her disgrace, and, in fact, says it is a matter in which there can be no interest to the outside world. She came to Memphis nearly three months ago and was taken in at the Woman's Refuge in the southern part of the city. She remained there until a few weeks ago, when the child was born. The ladies in charge of the Refuge were horified. The girl was at once sent to the City Hospital, where she has been since May 30. She is a country girl. She came to Memphis from her fathers farm, a short distance from Hernando, Miss. Just when she left there she would not say. In fact she says she came to Memphis from Arkansas, and says her home is in that State. She is rather good looking, has blue eyes, a low forehead and dark red hair. The ladies at the Woman's Refuge do not know anything about the girl further than what they learned when she was an inmate of the institution; and she would not tell much. When the child was born an attempt was made to get the girl to reveal the name of the Negro who had disgraced her, she obstinately refused and it was impossible to elicit any information from her on the subject.
Note the wording. "The truth might reveal fearful depravity or rank outrage." If it had been a white child or Lillie Bailey had told a pitiful story of Negro outrage, it would have been a case of woman's weakness or assault and she could have remained at the Woman's Refuge. But a Negro child and to withhold its father's name and thus prevent the killing of another Negro "rapist." A case of "fearful depravity."

The very week the "leading citizens" of Memphis were making a spectacle of themselves in defense of all white women of every kind, an Afro-American, M. Stricklin, was found in a white woman's room in that city. Although she made no outcry of rape, he was jailed and would have been lynched, but the woman stated she bought curtains of him (he was a furniture dealer) and his business in her room that night was to put them up. A white woman's word was taken as absolutely in this case as when the cry of rape is made, and he was freed.

What is true of Memphis is true of the entire South. The daily papers last year reported a farmer's wife in Alabama had given birth to a Negro child. When the Negro farm hand who was plowing in the field heard it he took the mule from the plow and fled. The dispatches also told of a woman in South Carolina who gave birth to a Negro child and charged three men with being its father, every one of whom has since disappeared. In Tuscumbia, Ala., the colored boy who was lynched there last year for assaulting a white girl told her before his accusers that he had met her there in the woods often before.

Frank Weems of Chattanooga who was not lynched in May only because the prominent citizens became his body guard until the doors of the penitentiary closed on him, had letters in his pocket from the white woman in the case, making the appointment with him. Edward Coy who was burned alive in Texarkana, January 1, 1892, died protesting his innocence. Investigation since as given by the Bystander in the Chicago Inter Ocean, October 1, proves:

1. The woman who was paraded as a victim of violence was of bad character; her husband was a drunkard and a gambler.

2. She was publicly reported and generally known to have been criminally intimate with Coy for more than a year previous.

3. She was compelled by threats, if not by violence, to make the charge against the victim.

4. When she came to apply the match Coy asked her if she would burn him after they had "been sweethearting" so long.

5. A large majority of the "superior" white men prominent in the affair are the reputed fathers of mulatto children.

These are not pleasant facts, but they are illustrative of the vital phase of the so-called race question, which should properly be designated an earnest inquiry as to the best methods by which religion, science, law and political power may be employed to excuse injustice, barbarity and crime done to a people because of race and color. There can be no possible belief that these people were inspired by any consuming zeal to vindicate God's law against miscegnationists of the most practical sort. The woman was a willing partner in the victim's guilt, and being of the "superior" race must naturally have been more guilty.

In Natchez, Miss., Mrs. Marshall, one of the creme de la creme of the city, created a tremendous sensation several years ago. She has a black coachman who was married, and had been in her employ several years. During this time she gave birth to a child whose color was remarked, but traced to some brunette ancestor, and one of the fashionable dames of the city was its godmother. Mrs. Marshall's social position was unquestioned, and wealth showered every dainty on this child which was idolized with its brothers and sisters by its white papa. In course of time another child appeared on the scene, but it was unmistakably dark. All were alarmed, and "rush of blood, strangulation" were the conjectures, but the doctor, when asked the cause, grimly told them it was a Negro child. There was a family conclave, the coachman heard of it and leaving his own family went West, and has never returned. As soon as Mrs. Marshall was able to travel she was sent away in deep disgrace. Her husband died within the year of a broken heart.

Ebenzer Fowler, the wealthiest colored man in Issaquena County, Miss., was shot down on the street in Mayersville, January 30, 1885, just before dark by an armed body of white men who filled his body with bullets. They charged him with writing a note to a white woman of the place, which they intercepted and which proved there was an intimacy existing between them.

Hundreds of such cases might be cited, but enough have been given to prove the assertion that there are white women in the South who love the Afro-American's company even as there are white men notorious for their preference for Afro-American women.

There is hardly a town in the South which has not an instance of the kind which is well known, and hence the assertion is reiterated that "nobody in the South believes the old thread bare lie that negro men rape white women." Hence there is a growing demand among Afro-Americans that the guilt or innocence of parties accused of rape be fully established. They know the men of the section of the country who refuse this are not so desirous of punishing rapists as they pretend. The utterances of the leading white men show that with them it is not the crime but the class. Bishop Fitzgerald has become apologist for lynchers of the rapists of white women only. Governor Tillman, of South Carolina, in the month of June, standing under the tree in Barnwell, S.C., on which eight Afro-Americans were hung last year, declared that he would lead a mob to lynch a negro who raped a white woman. So say the pulpits, officials and newspapers of the South. But when the victim is a colored woman it is different.

Last winter in Baltimore, Md., three white ruffians assaulted a Miss Camphor, a young Afro-American girl, while out walking with a young man of her own race. They held her escort and outraged the girl. It was a deed dastardly enough to arouse Southern blood, which gives its horror of rape as excuse for lawlessness, but she was an Afro-American. The case went to the courts, an Afro-American lawyer defended the men and they were acquitted.

In Nashville, Tenn., there is a white man, Pat Hanifan, who outraged a little Afro-American girl, and, from the physical injuries received, she has been ruined for life. He was jailed for six months, discharged, and is now a detective in that city. In the same city, last May, a white man outraged an Afro-American girl in a drug store. He was arrested, and released on bail at the trial. It was rumored that five hundred Afro-Americans had organized to lynch him. Two hundred and fifty white citizens armed themselves with Winchesters and guarded him. A cannon was placed in front of his home, and the Buchanan Rifles (State Militia) ordered to the scene for his protection. The Afro-American mob did not materialize. Only two weeks before Eph. Grizzard, who had only been charged with rape upon a white woman, had been taken from the jail, with Governor Buchanan and the police and militia standing by, dragged through the streets in broad daylight, knives plunged into him at every step, and with every fiendish cruelty a frenzied mob could devise, he was at last swung out on the bridge with hands cut to pieces as he tried to climb up the stanchions. A naked, bloody example of the blood-thirstiness of the nineteenth-century civilization of the Athens of the South! No cannon or military was called out in his defense. He dared to visit a white woman.

At the very moment these civilized whites were announcing their determination "to protect their wives and daughters," by murdering Grizzard, a white man was in the same jail for raping eight-year-old Maggie Reese, an Afro-American girl. He was not harmed. The "honor" of grown women who were glad enough to be supported by the Grizzard boys and Ed Coy, as long as the liaison was not known, needed protection; they were white. The outrage upon helpless childhood needed no avenging in this case; she was black.

A white man in Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory, two months ago inflicted such injuries upon another Afro-American child that she died. He was not punished, but an attempt was made in the same town in the month of June to lynch an Afro-American who visited a white woman.

In Memphis, Tenn., in the month of June, Ellerton L. Dorr, who is the husband of Russell Hancock's widow, was arrested for attempted rape on Mattie Cole, a neighbors cook; he was only prevented from accomplishing his purpose, by the appearance of Mattie's employer. Dorr's friends say he was drunk and not responsible for his actions. The grand jury refused to indict him and he was discharged.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Epidemic: Gang rape in India 'led to an unprecedented surge in filing of false rape cases'

NEW DELHI: A spurt in false cases has earned Delhi notoriety as the country's 'rape capital', a court here observed while acquitting a 75-year-old man of the charge of sexually assaulting his maid. The court said things have come to such a pass after the Nirbhaya gang rape in December that the mere statement of a woman about rape is taken as gospel truth, the accused arrested and chargesheeted.

"This led to an unprecedented surge in filing of false rape cases... It is these false cases which play havoc with the crime statistics, leading to the labeling of Delhi as a rape capital," additional sessions judge Virender Bhat said while acquitting Bhopal Sharma.

The court observed that as acquittals in such cases are hardly ever reported, the falsely implicated persons lose their honour, dignity and status in society, and while these cannot be restored, "these victims" can be compensated so that they can start life afresh.

It also noted that "it is a matter of intense regret that even the frail, sick and aged persons are not spared the false allegation of rape".

The prosecution claimed Sharma and his neighbour Anita became friends when they met in a hospital where his ailing wife was admitted. After Sharma's wife died, Anita arranged a maid for him. The woman, who is in her 30s, alleged that a few days after she started working for Sharma in July 2012, he raped her and then bought her silence with the promise of marriage. They remained in a sexual relationship, she claimed, till the time Sharma reneged on his promise. She lodged a police complaint on October 11, 2012.

However, during the trial, the woman turned hostile and said she had leveled false allegations at the behest of Anita and another person, Kuldeep, to usurp Sharma's property. Expressing the need for courts to be empowered to award compensation to false rape case victims, the judge also lamented that the media turn a blind eye to acquittals in such cases.

"Nobody bothers to see in how many cases the accused are convicted. The acquittal of an accused is not noticed at all and he continues to be labeled a 'rapist' even after his honorable acquittal."

The judge also said that right from the day the accused was first produced before him, he had wondered, "How such a frail old man, who cannot even stand straight, would rape a young lady in her mid-30s, jhaving lot more strength than the accused".


News report: "Las Vegas woman sexually assaulted by court officer, then arrested for reporting it"

Reported here: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/07/28/las-vegas-woman-sexually-assaulted-by-court-officer-then-arrested-for-reporting-it/

Several managers and employees of the Clark County Family Court in Las Vegas are under investigation in the wake of an alleged sexual assault on a woman in court and a subsequent cover-up. According to Las Vegas CBS Channel 8, a court marshal assaulted the woman, then arrested her in front of her two-year-old daughter for creating a disturbance in court as a judge looked on and did nothing.

The incident took place in August of 2011. Monica Contreras and her daughter went to family court as part of a routine divorce case. Contreras was approached by a Court Marshal, who ordered her into a side room for a random drug search. The Court Marhal allegedly groped her breasts and buttocks, then ordered Contreras to expose her breasts, at which point she fled into the open courtroom and requested a female marshal.

On courtroom video, a confrontation can be seen in which another Marshal arrests Contreras on charges of making false accusations against a police officer. A judge watched and took no action as court marshals allegedly hectored Contreras into recanting her story, then arrested her when she refused to repeat it over the courtroom public address system.

The court marshal who allegedly assaulted Contreras has since been fired and an investigation is attempting to find out exactly what happened that day nearly two years ago. The marshal is suing Clark County alleging wrongful termination.

I-Team: Cover-Up Alleged in Family Court

Friday, July 26, 2013

The George Zimmerman case in reverse? A black father was convicted for standing his ground and defending his son falsely accused of rape by an angry mob of white teens

Among the most tragic cases we've ever reported -- and that's saying a lot -- is the one that sent John White, a 50-something black father, to prison for for second-degree manslaughter for killing a 17-year-old, unarmed white youth named Daniel Cicciaro.

Some are now comparing the John White case to the George Zimmerman case, suggesting that the cases are substantially similar with only the races of the killers and victims reversed. See here and here. In the Zimmerman case, a white man shot to death an unarmed black youth named Trayvon Martin; in the John White case, a black man shot to death an unarmed white youth. Both killings occurred in the midst of physical confrontations; in both cases, the killer had a right to be where he was.

At his trial, John White testified that late in the evening of August 9, 2006, his 19-year-old son, Aaron, woke him up to tell him that he had just come from a party where a young woman claimed he had threatened to rape her. Aaron told his father that a group of angry white youths were headed to their house to beat Aaron because they wrongly believed the young woman.

According to a news report: "Cicciaro Jr. and four friends descended on White's home to confront his teenage son because they were wrongly led to believe that in an online chat room Aaron had threatened their friend with rape. She later recanted the claim."

John White and his son walked to the end of their driveway to confront the youths, and in the heated confrontation that followed, young Mr. Cicciaro was killed. Mr. White claimed his gun accidentally discharged.

Mr. White said he considered the angry teenagers a “lynch mob.” He said their racist language recalled the hatred he saw as a child visiting the segregated Deep South and stories of his grandfather’s being chased out of Alabama in the 1920s by the Ku Klux Klan. He testified that his grandfather taught him how to shoot and bequeathed him the pistol he used.

The prosecutor acknowledged that the teenagers used epithets, but said that White fanned the gun menacingly at each teenager and that Daniel did not lunge, but rather defiantly slapped the gun away and was eventually shot point-blank in the face.

One boy is dead, and a father was imprisoned after a racially charged trial that divided a city. Eventually, New York's governor commuted Mr. White's sentence after he served five months.

We aren't sure if it is possible to assert that the George Zimmerman and John White cases are really mirror images of each other with the races of the principals reversed. Such comparisons make for interesting chat on the Internet, but fair-minded people know that every case is constructed of its own facts, which are complex and rarely interchangeable.

It is well to note this: if the Zimmerman case was the White case in reverse, then some prominent voices who are crying about the injustice to Trayvon Martin have much to answer for: the Rev. Al Sharpton, the NAACP, the Nation of Islam, and others were at the forefront in denouncing the injustice of the jury's decision in the White case. If the cases truly are mirror images, then those same voices should be proclaiming that the Zimmerman jury got it right, not that there was an injustice to Trayvon Martin. They can't have it both ways.

In any event, the White case was tragic on a host of levels. One boy is dead, and a father was imprisoned after a racially charged trial that divided a city. We have often cited the Cicciaro-White confrontation as an example of an unfortunate trait of masculinity -- a trait far more prominent than any urge to rape or to excuse rape: men and boys are prone to overreact, with violence and rage, to even unsubstantiated claims of rape. One need not look to the hanging trees of the Old South for evidence of this, there are innumerable recent cases of  such overreaction.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Feminist: Huma Abedin's free choice to publicly forgive Anthony Weiner is invalid

A self-described rabble-rousing feminist named Lisa Bloom said that Huma Abedin's choice to stand by her husband, Anthony Weiner, and to publicly declare that she had forgiven him for his inappropriate sexual exchanges on the Internet, was nothing less than "spousal abuse," no different than when a victim of domestic abuse returns "for more."

Bloom, deigning to speak for unspecified others, declares: ". . . we will not bless [Abedin's action] just because it is her 'choice.'" That choice is invalid, according to Bloom, because "a public figure's cheating on his wife, then bringing her to the mea culpa press conference, [is] not only offensive to her but a slap in the face to women in the electorate." (Note that Bloom somehow knows something the rest of us don't know -- that Abedin didn't come to the press conference on her own, Weiner brought her.)  Then Bloom refers to Abedin as a "voiceless partner" (even though Abedin spoke at the press conference) who sucks up her pride while Weiner tramples over her dignity (because forgiveness is never dignified). For reasons we can't fathom, Abedin is a stand-in for all women, and because she has decided to not march in lockstep with Bloom's metanarrative, it's a "slap in the face" to all woman.

Bloom believes that a woman's right to choose her own path should only be respected if Bloom approves of the path chosen. That seems to be a decidedly unfeminist response.

The College Student Charged with Disorderly Conduct for Displaying the Words of the United States Constitution

On December 30, 2010, Aaron Tobey, a 21-year-old college student, was set to fly from Richmond, Virginia to his grandfather's funeral in Wisconsin.

Aaron believed that the Transportation Security Administration’s enhanced airport screening procedures, which produced near-naked, full-bodied images of passengers, violated the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures, and he wanted to protest them. He had a hunch he might be randomly selected for enhanced secondary screening at the airport, so before he left home, he took a black marker and wrote words on his chest that he thought would be an apt protest.

Sure enough, Aaron was selected for secondary screening, so he stripped down to his running shorts to reveal the message he had written on his chest.

The message he had written was not a terrorist threat. It wasn't an obscene comment. It wasn't a call for violence.

It was the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution: "The right of the people to be secure … against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated."  Aaron explained to TSA agents that he was expressing his views that the screening process was unconstitutional.

How did the TSA agents respond when Aaron displayed words universally regarded as a bulwark against tyranny? They immediately called airport police and had him arrested. Aaron was led away in handcuffs, then held for ninety minutes. Then they questioned him about his "intentions and goals," and asked him if he was involved in any terrorist organizations. Then they charged him with disorderly conduct. His personal items – his toothbrush, deodorant, writing utensils, and the t-shirt he had removed – were discarded.

Did we mention that all this occurred in the United States of America?

Aaron subsequently sued two TSA agents and the airport police officers involved in his arrest. In his complaint, among other things, he alleged that the defendants violated his First Amendment rights by seizing him or causing his seizure "without probable cause because of the message conveyed by [his] silent, nonviolent expression of objection to the TSA's screening policies . . . ." In Tobey v. Jones, 706 F.3d 379 (4th Cir. 2013), earlier this year, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that Aaron's complaint "most certainly" sets forth a valid First Amendment retaliation claim. "[I]t is crystal clear," the court wrote, "that the First Amendment protects peaceful nondisruptive speech in an airport, and that such speech cannot be suppressed solely because the government disagrees with it."

The case settled earlier this month. As part of the settlement, the airport said that its security officers underwent a special two-hour training course on the First and Fourth Amendment rights of passengers. The Wall Street Journal wrote: "If his idea was to give airport security agents a lesson on constitutional rights, Mr. Tobey got his wish."

Airport security agents could have saved themselves the trouble of going back to school. Instead of treating Aaron like a criminal, they should have just read his chest.

Police on summer camp false rape claim: 'Sometimes students make up attacks because they want to go home'

The male summer camp student who reported a man attempted to rape him on the Iowa City pedestrian mall in the middle of the afternoon last week made up the story, police said Wednesday.

The Iowa City Police Department is not filing charges against the juvenile. The department also is not releasing his name, as it doesn’t identify juveniles. He was attending a summer camp at the University of Iowa, but left Iowa City after reporting the attack on July 15.

The alleged victim was taken to the hospital last Monday after he reported being attacked around 1 p.m. in an alley off of the pedestrian mall. He told police his assailant was a slender white male, about six foot three inches tall.

After interviewing three to five witnesses who knew the alleged victim, Iowa City Police Lt. Doug Hart said their stories were inconsistent with the information the alleged victim had provided. From there, the investigator on the case spoke with the juvenile who admitted the incident did not occur, he said.

Hart said he doesn’t believe a mental illness or malicious motive drove the young man to make up the crime.

"My impression from speaking with the investigator is that this was basically just a juvenile that made a bad decision," he said.

The young man was either 16 or 17 and is believed to be from Texas, Hart said. He said he didn’t have definitive answers on the person’s age or hometown because he did not perform the investigation in this case. He declined to name the officer who did perform the investigation.

False assault claims are rare for both the ICPD and UI. UI spokesman Tom Moore said in his 24 years at UI, he’s only heard of one other such claim.

The day after the student reported the assault, the university called the parents of all 110 students enrolled in the same summer program as the alleged victim, Moore said. He declined to say which program the student was in.

In determining whether to file charges in a false report case, police consider factors like the reporting party’s age, the disruption to the community it caused and the time dedicated to investigating the case, Hart said.

A false reporter also is less likely to be charged if he or she did not name a specific suspect, Iowa City Police Sgt. Dave Droll said.

"Since nobody was brought in an interviewed as a suspect and basically falsely put in, I would imagine that probably went into some of the consideration as well," said Droll, who was not involved in the investigation.

As far as the young man’s motive for his actions, Hart said he was in the dark. Sometimes, Droll said, students make up attacks because they want to go home.

“There have been athletes in the past that have done similar things because they’re homesick,” he said. “They want to create some sort of thing so that mom or dad will bring them back home.”


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The lynchings of innocent black men and boys in the Old South were the result of "white men’s need for sexual (well, and everything else) control of white women."

The lynchings of innocent black men and boys in the Old South were the result of "white men’s need for sexual (well, and everything else) control of white women."

If you are doing a double-take over this strange epiphany, go read it for yourself. It's written by white "lesbian housewife" Shannon LC Cate who acknowledges that false rape claims happened in the Old South, but that it was white men, not white women, who were responsible for the horrors inflicted on black men and boys.

I dare you to try to follow Cate's muddled logic: Most of the lynchings in the Old South were not about rape but other purported offenses. Only 30 percent of all lynchings of black men and boys were actually about rape, and very few of those were actually rape -- many of those encounters were consensual sex. Somehow, from all that, Cate concludes the following: "The fact is, throughout U.S. history—especially after the Civil War—white women have been the rhetorical foil white men have used to justify violence and terrorism against Black men."

So even when blacks were lynched for alleged offenses other than rape, women were the "rhetorical foil"? And when blacks were falsely accused of rape, white women had no responsibility? Really?

Oh, silly me. Why on earth would I think that Cate is concerned about insignificant things like evidence, logic, and clarity? It's presumably enough for her audience that she vilifies white men and panders to black men and boys without actually bothering to try and make sense. (Cate makes sure to capitalize the "b" in "Black men" and to use the lower case "w" in "white men." Well, at least she's not subtle about her bias.)

So, of course, she ties all of that gobbledygook into -- you guessed it! -- George Zimmerman. ". . . when George Zimmerman assumed, based on appearance that Trayvon was a criminal, a big part of why he assumed it was this history of Black boys and men being considered threats to white women."

The fact that there is no evidence whatsoever for Cate's loony conclusion is neither here nor there. Why let the facts get in the way of a good victim fetish?  You see, Cate gets to write a de rigueur piece that's ostensibly about the victimization of black males, but it's really about white women being controlled by evil white men.

Get it? Neither do I.

But wait, wait. I spoke too soon. It seems that Cate does offer proof for her conclusion: "Just go watch D.W. Griffith’s Birth of Nation, and you will see the story unfold there just a few years past the height of the lynching era. In that film, anxiety about white men’s loss of political and economic control to Black men is finally too much to bear when control of white women’s sexuality is added to the pile of straws."

Yes, you read that right. A film that memorialized anti-black racism in the early 20th Century is being cited by a progressive for its "truth." There are no words to describe this inanity.

Cate continues: "I say 150 years (at least) of being used as an excuse to terrorize Black boys and men is enough." What's Cate going to do about it? She advocates that "we U.S American white women [get] together to form a ring of love and protection around our Black boys."

You mean like you formed a ring of love and protection around Brian Banks? And the falsely accused minority young men in the Hofstra false rape case?  (Go read what some feminist writers said about that case, but don't do it on an empty stomach.)

Cate isn't finished: "It is time (way past time) for white women to ally with Black boys and men with all our hearts and minds, with every shred of power we’ve got." White men, presumably, are too far gone, too lost in their obsession to control white women, to ally with men and boys who don't share their skin color.

Cate's suggestions for allying with black males are so insipid, so flat-out stupid, that they need to be read for a laugh:

"1. Stop using the phrase 'I was the only white person there.'”

"2. Make a friend." Not just any friend, a black friend. What follows gives new meaning to the word "pandering": "Smile, and say hello to the Black man in front of you in the grocery store line, look those Black teen boys in the eye when they pass you on the street (whatever you do, don’t cross the street!), sit by a Black man, instead of another white woman, on the bus."

"3. Stop identifying with whiteness." If you are as confused as I am by this, read on: "Back when I was teaching race in U.S. history and culture to college students, . . . I told them there was no reason to identify with Thomas Jefferson and no reason not to identify with Frederick Douglass. Your heroes should be the people who share your values, not your melanin levels." And "I’m not saying Jefferson didn’t set it up sweet for you if you are white nowadays. . . ." (Get it? Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence = Bad; Frederick Douglass = Good.)

We need not labor over Cate's stupidity, and it needs no critique. We need only quote her to give witness to the puerility of her thinking.

Woman admits false sex assault claim

Reported here: http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/local-news/woman-admits-false-sex-assault-4868494

POLICE are considering what action to take against a woman who admitted making a false allegation of sexual assault.

Officers were called to the Cox Lane area of Ewell on Sunday (June 30) following a report by a third party about an incident which was alleged to have taken place between 6am and 6.30am that day.

The call as made after a woman in her late teens was found in a distressed state at around 6.45am.

Following house-to-house enquiries and other investigations carried out by officers, an 18-year-old woman from London admitted making the false claim..

Detective Inspector Antony Archibald said: "Surrey Police takes all allegations of this nature extremely seriously and it is deeply frustrating when reports like this are falsely made.

“A lot of officers’s time was put into this investigation and due to the serious nature of the allegation it was fast-tracked and taken to the highest level which took vital resources away from other people which may have needed them.

“We are carefully considering what action may be taken again against the woman who made the allegation."

He also thanked Ewell residents for their assistance and urged genuine victims of sexual assault to still come forward.

OCR: More Extreme Procedures Needed in Sex Cases? (Posted by KC Johnson at Minding the Campus)

Posted here.

The OCR is back in action, investigating new claims that college procedures dealing with sexual assault do not support accusers enough and so have violated Title IX. The Los Angeles Times reports that a complaint was filed against USC--by a student who had brought her allegations to police, only to have the DA's office conclude there was insufficient evidence to file charges. And Bloomberg reports that an investigation is continuing against Dartmouth.

In line with past practice from the mainstream media in reporting Title IX complaints, none of these articles, nor the mentions of the inquiries in the higher-ed press, actually describe the procedures that are allegedly so unfair to sexual assault accusers. Providing such context dramatically changes the storyline.

At Dartmouth: Unless simultaneous criminal charges have been filed, the accused student cannot have a lawyer participate in the proceedings. (Tellingly, the college itself does have the right to have an attorney present during the hearing, to offer "procedural or legal matters necessary to ensure a fair proceeding"; the college does not explain why this right is denied to the accused student.) A college-affiliated non-attorney "advisor" is allowed, but cannot speak during the hearing. "Formal rules of evidence and courtroom procedures are inapplicable"; the hearing chair has the right to make all procedural decisions, "including rulings on relevance and admissibility of material," which do not appear to be subject to appeal. The accused student doesn't have the right to cross-examine the accuser; whether he is allowed to do so depends on the discretion of the chair--who is, as noted above, not bound by formal rules of evidence.

The accuser has the right to close the proceedings to the public, even if the accused student wants the public right to clear his name. Perhaps most chillingly, guilt is determined by a preponderance of evidence and a majority vote of the five-member (two students, two professors, and one administrator) disciplinary panel. As a result, if three of the panelists conclude that the accuser is ever-so-slightly likelier than not to have told the truth, the college will brand the accused student a rapist, even if the other two members of the panel are 100 percent convinced that he was innocent.

At USC: By the standards that exist at today's universities, USC is rare, in that a student accused of sexual assault does have the right to cross-examine his accuser, and also has the right to an attorney--but the review "does not follow the formal rules of evidence and procedure attorneys may encounter in other judicial forums," with "academic decorum" (a term that's undefined) requiring "that the attorney play a different and a more limited role than in the courtroom." No explanation is given as to why this would be.

Among these non-judicial procedures is a right for the three-person judicial panel to "exclude 'expert' witnesses," who are often critical in sexual assault defenses. The accused student can examine the evidentiary file against him--but only if he gives written notice one day in advance, and does not retain any of the material. (The student's lawyer does not appear to have any right to examine the file.) In general, "Rules of evidence and discovery used by federal and state administrative proceedings shall not be applicable." And a student can be convicted if the panel decides that the evidence presented by the accuser, "when weighed against that opposed to it, has the more convincing force and the greater probability of truth." The guidelines do not specify whether a guilty verdict must be unanimous.

To reiterate: at today's colleges and universities, the USC procedures rank among the fairer to students accused of sexual assault.

It's easy to understand why those students who have filed complaints--or why the due process-unfriendly OCR--choose to obscure these procedures, since it's hard to imagine how any fair-minded person could construe them as unfair, much less wildly unfair, to a sexual assault accuser. But it's less clear why reporters covering the issue (including reporters in higher-ed publications) have chosen not to explain the specific procedures that have triggered the complaints. The procedures aren't difficult to find or read. And yet they're critical to understanding the complaints. The students who have gone to the OCR are alleging not merely that these procedures are unfair to accusers in sexual assault cases, but that the procedures are so unfair to accusers that they constitute a violation of federal law.

Depriving readers this necessary procedural context also deprives readers of the opportunity to see just how extreme these OCR complaints actually are.

- See more at: http://www.mindingthecampus.com/forum/2013/07/ocr_more_extreme_procedures_ne.html#sthash.USXSRJlc.dpuf

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The president's message was sound, his timing was off

Last Friday, President Obama spoke to reporters at an impromptu gathering in the White House briefing room about the reaction of black Americans to the Trayvon Martin verdict. The President said that all Americans should respect the jury's acquittal of George Zimmerman, but that white Americans should also understand that African Americans are pained by Trayvon's death and continue to face racial discrimination. The president told reporters that, like other African Americans, he has been followed by security guards while shopping, and has seen motorists lock their doors or women hold tighter to their purses as he walked near them. "Those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida." He said: "I think it's important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn't go away," Obama said, and "it's going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching."

Obama's message was powerful and important, but the timing was problematic and raised issues the president didn't intend to raise. The Zimmerman case was anything but a bright line morality play; at best, it was about as clear as a dense New England fog. That this case has become a touchstone to "prove" black marginalization is peculiar, because there are an infinite number of better examples. We do no favors to marginalized people when we "prove" their victim status by pointing to murky cases, like the Zimmerman mess. Worse, insisting that the verdict worked an injustice may, itself, be unjust to George Zimmerman. The experience of marginalized people certainly colors their perceptions; it does not give them license to manufacture their own facts at the expense of others.

None of that lessens the points Obama made last Friday, except this wasn't the time to raise them. As but one example, Obama should have invited Brian Banks to the White House last year and used his case as an example of the sort of unjust stereotyping too well known to black teen males. Brian pled guilty to rape, even though he was innocent, because his attorney convinced him that a black teen male can't get a fair shake in a jury trial for rape. The Hofstra case also raised issues about our willingness to assume guilt when minority teen males are accused of heinous criminality. There are many, many other examples.

Unfortunately, the causes of, and the solutions for, unjust stereotyping of young black males don't make for a simple sagebrush melodrama.

First, stereotyping young black males as evil and prone to crime is unjust to innocent young black males and should not be tolerated by persons of good will.

Second, an honest discussion about race can't ignore the underlying reasons for this stereotyping, unjust though it may be. Even Jesse Jackson once said: "There is nothing more painful to me ... than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery, then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved."  Bill Cosby's famous "pound cake" speech was an unflinching indictment of a dysfunctional, mostly fatherless, culture that is a cistern of violence, dependency, and hopelessness.

The problem with raising the issues Cosby raised is that it can give fuel to racists looking to spread their odium, or to misguided people looking to suggest that young black males are inherently flawed -- how else to explain that they hold a monopoly on virtually every social pathology?

Could it be possible that we've played a role in the decimation of the black community? Glenn McNatt of the Baltimore Sun once explained that the "no man in the house" rule was a classic example of how a government social policy aimed at assisting poor families actually undermined them:
. . . conservatives were the ones who insisted on making family breakups a condition for welfare. Remember the "man in the house" rule? That was the one that said families couldn't get assistance if there was an able-bodied man in the house. It was enacted because opponents of welfare, particularly Southern conservatives, simply couldn't abide the idea of government "handouts" to male heads-of-household. 
So if a man lost his job, he literally had to leave home if he wanted his children to be eligible for government surplus cheese, beans and peanut butter. Somehow conservatives persuaded themselves that this encouraged "family values." 
With the advantage of 20-20 hindsight it's easy to see how the policy had exactly the opposite effect. It accelerated the fragmentation of poor families at just the time low-skilled factory jobs were disappearing. The expansion of the welfare state in the 1960s coincided with the decline of the factory economy in the worst possible way because the no-man-in-the-house rule actually encouraged the breakup of stable, two-parent families.
When it comes to race, the problem is incredibly complicated and doesn't lend itself to a simple solution.  George Zimmerman is a red herring, a distraction that keeps us from talking about the real problems.

The biggest hurdle may be that well-intentioned people looking for a villain are searching for Snidely Whiplash twirling his handlebar mustache and tying a helpless damsel to a railroad track. In fact, the problems are much more complicated, much bigger, and much scarier than that.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sexual assault victim is sentenced to three years and nine months in prison after attacking perpetrator with knife

A 20-year-old woman was sexually assaulted in her sleep after passing out at a party. When she awoke, someone showed her cell video of the attack, and she flew into a rage. She sought out her perpetrator, punched him in the face, then slashed him with a knife, leaving a visible scar on his face.

The woman, who is not named because she was the victim of a sexual assault, was convicted of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. Yesterday, she was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three years and nine months. The perpetrator of the sexual assault has not been charged with a crime.

In passing sentence, Judge Howard Crowson told the woman: "You reaction was wholly wrong." The judge acknowledged that the woman had been provoked but "perhaps your perpetrator did not appreciate how humiliating his actions were."

If you are wondering why there has not been a public outcry in support of this sexual assault victim as there was, for example, when Lorena Bobbitt allegedly was raped and then dismembered her perpetrator in retaliation, it's because we cheated a little in reporting this story. In the real story, which is reported here and here, the victim of the sexual assault was a 20-year-old man, and the sexual assault was labeled a "prank."

While we do not believe that the sexual assault victim in the real story acted in self-defense to justify wounding his perpetrator, we suspect the story would have been reported differently if the victim had been a 20-year-old woman.
A Bakersfield College student who claimed she was sexually assaulted twice by a man on campus last week has recanted, saying the sex was consensual.

At 1:09 p.m. Tuesday, BC reported the student’s claim. But by 5 p.m. the college said Bakersfield police had determined that a crime had not been committed.

The female student said she was approached by the man on the north side of the Student Services building last Wednesday afternoon. She said the suspect walked her to the GET bus stop on Panorama Drive, then to the Fine Arts building, where he sexually assaulted her in a men’s restroom.

Some time after the first assault, the woman claimed she left the building and encountered the man again. He assaulted her a second time, in a men’s room of the Student Services building, she said.

The woman described the suspect as black, 5 feet 9 inches tall and slightly overweight, with black, curly hair and a moustache. She said he had tattoos on his right wrist and right upper chest, and was wearing a gray shirt, black shorts and black shoes with white laces.

Amber Chiang, BC spokeswoman, said earlier Tuesday that the woman was attending summer school and had talked to a mental health professional on campus after the supposed attacks.

Chiang said the woman had walked around campus with officers and showed them exactly where was taken by the suspect. The woman also said she saw the man at the Campus Center around 11 a.m. a day after the alleged incidents.

Bakersfield Police Department spokeswoman Michaela Beard said no charges will be filed against the woman.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

New York Times: Obama's zealous comments to beef up punishments for military sexual assault could hurt sexual assault victims

WASHINGTON — When President Obama proclaimed that those who commit sexual assault in the military should be “prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged,” it had an effect he did not intend: muddying legal cases across the country.

In at least a dozen sexual assault cases since the president’s remarks at the White House in May, judges and defense lawyers have said that Mr. Obama’s words as commander in chief amounted to “unlawful command influence,” tainting trials as a result. Military law experts said that those cases were only the beginning and that the president’s remarks were certain to complicate almost all prosecutions for sexual assault.

“Unlawful command influence” refers to actions of commanders that could be interpreted by jurors as an attempt to influence a court-martial, in effect ordering a specific outcome. Mr. Obama, as commander in chief of the armed forces, is considered the most powerful person to wield such influence.

The president’s remarks might have seemed innocuous to civilians, but military law experts say defense lawyers will seize on the president’s call for an automatic dishonorable discharge, the most severe discharge available in a court-martial, arguing that his words will affect their cases.

“His remarks were more specific than I’ve ever heard a commander in chief get,” said Thomas J. Romig, a former judge advocate general of the Army and the dean of the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kan. “When the commander in chief says they will be dishonorably discharged, that’s a pretty specific message. Every military defense counsel will make a motion about this.”

At Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina last month, a judge dismissed charges of sexual assault against an Army officer, noting the command influence issue. At Fort Bragg in North Carolina last month, lawyers cited the president’s words in a motion to dismiss the court-martial against Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, who is accused of forcing a lower-ranking officer to perform oral sex on him, among other charges.

In Hawaii, a Navy judge ruled last month that two defendants in sexual assault cases, if found guilty, could not be punitively discharged because of Mr. Obama’s remarks. In Texas, a juror was dismissed from a military panel on a sexual assault case after admitting knowledge of the president’s words. In Alexandria, Va., Eric S. Montalvo, a former defense counsel in the Marine Corps who is now in private practice, has cited the president’s words in motions to dismiss two sexual assault cases, one against an Army sergeant and the other against a Navy seaman.

“Because the president is the commander in chief, it’s going to come up in basically every imaginable context in sexual assault cases,” said Eugene R. Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School.

Mr. Obama’s comments come at a time of intense scrutiny of sexual assault in the military. A recent Pentagon survey found that an estimated 26,000 men and women in the military were sexually assaulted last year, up from 19,000 in 2010. At the end of the last fiscal year, Sept. 30, there were roughly 1,600 sexual assault cases in the military either awaiting action from commanders or the completion of a criminal investigation.

White House officials said Mr. Obama’s remarks, made in response to a reporter’s question, were meant to demonstrate his concern about the issue and were not intended to recommend penalties for offenders.

“The president was absolutely not trying to be prescriptive,” said Kathryn Ruemmler, the White House counsel. “He was listing a range of examples of how offenders could be held accountable. The president expects all military personnel who are involved in any way in the military justice process to exercise their independent professional judgment.”

Some military law experts said that while defense lawyers would naturally use the president’s words to try to have cases dismissed, they would be pushing legal boundaries. Mr. Obama, they said, used the phrase “dishonorable discharge” as a catchall for getting assailants out of the military and not in its strict, technical meaning.

“There is a point at which the statements of civilian officials could be so specifically directed, or so inflammatory, that a military defendant is deprived of due process,” said Diane H. Mazur, a professor emeritus at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. “But I don’t think the president’s remarks come close to that level.”

But others said it was hard not to see the potent meaning in Mr. Obama’s remarks, particularly on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are contemplating making dishonorable discharge an automatic punishment for convicted offenders.

“There is a tension created between trying to give the victim their day in court, but you can’t ignore the defendant’s rights,” said Victor M. Hansen, a former military lawyer who is now an associate dean at the New England School of Law in Boston. “Whatever efforts are made to better address sexual assault, there is always the other side of the equation if someone gets too out front of the issue.”

The president’s comments have not been the only ones cited as influencing sexual assault cases. Last year, lawyers in more than 60 Marine Corps sexual assault cases filed motions claiming “unlawful command influence” because of a series of remarks made by Gen. James F. Amos, the commandant of the Marine Corps, according to a McClatchy-Tribune news report.

Lawyers said it was too soon to know how many judges would grant motions for dismissal because of Mr. Obama’s words. They said that in many cases, judges might stop short of that and rule that defendants should stand trial but not be punitively discharged — as the Navy judge, Cmdr. Marcus Fulton, did in the Hawaii case. (The prosecution is appealing the ruling.) Lawyers said that some judges might simply instruct jurors to disregard the president’s remarks.

But at Shaw Air Force Base, the judge dismissed the case last month against the Army officer based on a motion filed by the officer’s defense lawyer, Scott M. Somerset. In a military built on obeying the orders of commanders immediately and without question, Mr. Somerset made this argument in his motion: “The president publicly stated that a particular court-martial punishment is the correct response to the crime of sexual assault.” He further argued, “What choice would that seem to give” a judge “if the commander in chief is telling him to dishonorably discharge anybody who has engaged in sexual assault?”

In Hawaii, Commander Fulton wrote that Mr. Obama’s comments raised “concern” because “they may indicate that a particular result is required of the military justice system.”

In his comments on sexual assault, Mr. Obama said, “I expect consequences.” He added: “So I don’t just want more speeches or awareness programs or training, but ultimately, folks look the other way. If we find out that somebody’s engaging in this, they’ve got to be held accountable.”


Monday, July 15, 2013

We do no favors to black Americans by 'proving' their victim status with murky cases

We do no favors to marginalized people when we try to "prove" their victim status by pointing to murky cases, like the George Zimmerman mess. The social media pundits looking to turn a case that was about as clear as a dense New England fog into a bright line morality play only reinforce the beliefs of those who think that progressives exaggerate the victimhood of groups they seek to promote. (That the pundits' anger is misplaced over the outcome of the Zimmerman trial was demonstrated by this New York Times analysis. In addition, read what Prof. Dershowitz said about the case here and here.)

Unfortunately, the causes, and the solutions, for the marginalization of black Americans don't make for a simple sagebrush melodrama. The real villain confronting black America isn't an angry, gun-toting white guy looking to pick off a few "n*ggers" but a dysfunctional -- mostly fatherless -- culture that is a cistern of violence, dependency, and hopelessness.

George Zimmerman is a red herring, a distraction that keeps us from talking about the real problems. The biggest hurdle to tackling those problems is that progressive pundits are looking for Snidely Whiplash twirling his handlebar mustache and tying a helpless damsel to a railroad track when the problems are much more complicated, much bigger, and much scarier than that.

Robyn Urback: Sometimes, assault accusations are false. A little awareness is OK

Posted here: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/07/10/robyn-urback-sometimes-assault-accusations-are-false-a-little-awareness-is-ok/

The minds behind a crop of new posters displayed around the University of Alberta campus in Edmonton were undoubtedly looking for a reaction. They’re bound to get it, and then some. Hold onto your hats, folks; this might get messy. Riffing off of a successful anti-rape campaign in which men were warned not to “be that guy” (that is, ostensibly, he who commits a sexual assault), these new amended posters warn women not to “be that girl.”

“Just because you regret a one-night stand doesn’t mean it wasn’t consensual. Lying about sexual assault = crime,” reads one of the new posters.

“Women who drink are not responsible for their actions, especially when sex is involved.”

Uh huh. I suppose Men’s Rights Edmonton, the group that has claimed responsibility for the posters, decided to forgo the “gentle” approach in delivering its message. Either way, observers have already expressed their outrage over the posters, denouncing the campaign as “shocking,” “offensive” and “sick.”

It’s shocking, all right. And arguably provocative to a fault. After all, Men’s Rights Edmonton could have made the same point without making a parody of an existing anti-rape campaign, a move that will rub salt in the wounds of those already sensitive to the issue. But despite the tactless presentation, the message remains fair: Sometimes, women falsely accuse men of rape.

The idea, needless to say, doesn’t make for delicate dinner party conversation. The notion of false accusations is often dismissed by rape-prevention advocates as a complete falsehood. Indeed, speaking with the CBC, executive director of the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton, Karen Smith, was eager to dismiss the message of the new posters as untrue.

“I want to make clear that that is so inaccurate,” she said. “It just doesn’t happen. Nobody would report sexual assault needlessly because it is a grueling process to go through.”

Actually, people would. And they do. Statistics show that false accusations of sexual assaults occur about as frequently as false accusations of other crimes — somewhere between two and four per cent. Granted, two per cent may seem like a paltry figure compared to the number of legitimate claims (and the majority that are left unreported), but to those falsely accused, it is no insignificant matter.

There are countless stories of innocent lives being derailed by illegitimate accusations, including a recent story of a woman who made five false rape accusations in the past few years. One of the most high-profile cases, however, is that of Atlanta Falcons linebacker Brian Banks. Banks was poised to attend the University of Southern California in 2002 on a football scholarship when a classmate, Wanetta Gibson, accused him of sexual assault. Faced with the prospect of more than 40 years in prison, Banks took a plea and spent five years in jail. Fortunately, Banks was eventually able to clear his name, but there are undoubtedly other innocent men currently serving time for assaults they didn’t commit. The new posters around Edmonton inadvertently bring attention to their plight.

Still, there are those who will claim that discussion of false accusations will further poison the climate of “rape culture,” wherein victims are blamed for the actions of their attackers. It’s a possibility. But there’s also another sort of “rape culture” whereby any sort of critical analysis of an accusation is immediately rejected as “victim blaming.” The mere question of the legitimacy of a claim, in other words, is illegitimate.

The concept proved itself in April when Postmedia’s Christie Blatchford wrote about the tragic case of Nova Scotia teen Rehtaeh Parsons, who committed suicide after months of bullying stemming from an alleged gang rape. In her report, Blatchford detailed the prosecutorial challenges that had faced investigators looking at the alleged rape, which included conflicting reports from Parsons, an ambiguous photo of the scene and an eyewitness account that the sex may have been consensual. While the merit of these claims are, indeed, debatable, the mere mention of their consideration was enough to incite public fury. Blatchford was called a traitor to women, a rape-apologist and a slut-shamer — the takeaway being that any and all accusations of assault must be treated as fact, no questions asked.

But sometimes, we need to ask questions. To do so, of course, is not to blame the victim, but to afford due process to those accused of wrongdoing. A little awareness of the challenges facing those who have been falsely accused is not a bad thing. Indeed, sometimes women do, in fact, allege assault when no actual crime has been committed. The new posters in Edmonton (however crudely) remind us of that.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Adam Cohen at Time: The Lesson of George Zimmerman’s “Not Guilty” Verdict

Read it here: http://ideas.time.com/2013/07/14/the-lesson-of-george-zimmermans-not-guilty-verdict/?iid=tsmodule

Trayvon Martin’s killing has served as a morality tale, wrapping in it questions of racial profiling, self-defense, and gun ownership. But the fact that Zimmerman was found not guilty does not mean young black men are not being racially profiled in large numbers – any more than a conviction would have meant that they are. It does not mean we need more guns – or fewer guns. It does not mean self-defense laws need to be changed – or that they do not.

And therein lies the real takeaway of the Zimmerman case: it is telling us as clearly as it can that for all of these months, we have been paying too much attention to it. Like a badly prepared teacher who is overly reliant on in-class movies, we use glitzy trials to raise obliquely things that we should be talking about directly.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Woman who allegedly solicited her own attack then falsely cried rape is offered plea deal: 60 days and a written apology

Last February, when Morgan Triplett was attending a conference for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgendered students, she reported that she was raped on the UCSC campus by a man who came out of the woods and attacked her behind the student union. Several people were detained and questioned. The report terrorized women on campus and led to community meetings about safety fears.

After investigation, UCSC Police linked her to an ad posted on Craigslist asking for a strong man to exchange beating her in return for sex. On Feb. 16, Triplett had broken up with a boyfriend. That same day, she posted ads twice on Craigslist for someone to harm her, according to prosecutors. "I am looking for a gun owner to shoot me in the arm/shoulder with the smallest caliber bullet possible," according to the post, which was quoted in court records. "No charges will be filed and I am willing to compensate you. I need this to happen tonight, Feb. 16." A second post that night titled "Seeking Strong Hand" said she wanted someone to "beat me up," including "punches, bruises and kicks."

According to the criminal complaint, on February 17 on UCSC’s campus, a man answered the ad. "Ms. Triplett directed him to hit her repeatedly in the body and face. They had sex and afterwards she used his cell phone screen reflection as a mirror to see if the injuries were bad enough and then directed him to hit her some more.” They parted ways, and Triplett called 9-1-1. Then she called police.

Triplett has been offered a chance to go to jail or a work program for 60 days by the Santa Cruz County District Attorney's office. In the deal offered before Judge John Gallagher, Assistant District Attorney Johanna Schonfield asked for a doubling of the hours of mandatory counseling Triplett would receive to 60 hours. Triplett didn't appear in court. Her public defender Jack Lamar will discuss the terms with his client and they are due back in court July 25.

The new terms passed by Judge Gallagher include a possible ban from social media sites including Craigslist for the remainder of her probation. The terms also include a written letter of apology to UCSC and its faculty, staff, administration, and students, the admission of a false report, and standard fines.




Thursday, July 11, 2013

Saint Joseph’s University Sued for Bias by Accused Rapist

As reported here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-09/saint-joseph-s-university-sued-for-bias-by-accused-rapist.html

Saint Joseph’s University, a private Catholic school in Philadelphia, was sued by a student suspended for an alleged rape over claims its sexual-assault policies virtually ensure that accused males will be found guilty.

The student, Brian Harris of Clifton Park, New York, is seeking more than $75,000 in damages in the complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Philadelphia accusing the school of negligence, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and violations of Title IX, the law that bars sex discrimination at schools.

“SJU, in the manner in which it approaches the investigation, adjudication, and appeal of allegations of sexual misconduct and related claims made in connection to sexual misconduct, creates an environment in which a male accused is so fundamentally denied due process as to be virtually assured of a finding of guilt,” Kenneth Dubrow, an attorney for Harris, said in the complaint.

Title IX, known for guaranteeing women equal access to sports programs, bars all forms of sex discrimination on campus. Colleges across the country, under pressure for using antiquated procedures to prevent and investigate rapes and other campus sexual assaults, have been hit with federal complaints in recent months for violating Title IX or the Clery Act, which requires universities to report violent acts on campuses.

Alleged Victims

Alleged victims have filed complaints with the U.S. Education Department against Dartmouth College, Swarthmore College and Occidental College, among others. It’s unclear how many accused assailants have filed similar complaints alleging bias, although experts say such an action is rare.

Title IX is typically cited by female students who say their colleges aren’t doing enough to investigate rapes and sexual assaults, creating an unsafe campus environment for women, lawyers and victim’s rights advocates said. It’s unusual for a man found responsible for sexual assault to claim he’s been discriminated against under Title IX, said Susan Stuart, a professor of education law at Valparaiso University Law School in Indiana, who has studied the statute.

“What I typically see are cases in which it’s not the offender who’s suing under Title IX, it’s the individual who’s been the alleged victim,” Stuart said in a telephone interview. “This really is an odd sort of situation.”
Joseph Lunardi, a university spokesman, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Superficial, Biased

Saint Joseph’s allegedly conducted a cursory, superficial and biased investigation of allegations against Harris and failed to give him an opportunity to confront his accuser before suspending him for a year in January, according to the complaint.

Harris claims that he had consensual sex with a member of the Saint Joseph’s girls’ soccer team in November during his freshman year. Texts between the two led to a late-night tryst at the girl’s dormitory on campus, where he spent the night. The next day, Harris said, he was informed by a dorm manager that there would be an investigation into the girl’s claim of sexual misconduct, according to the filing.

Harris explained what occurred in an initial meeting with a campus investigator two days later, providing the text messages corroborating his version of the events, according to the complaint. The investigator allegedly was abusive, “unnecessarily comparing Harris to Jerry Sandusky,” the former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach convicted last year of abusing boys, according to the filing.

Sexual Offenses

Saint Joseph’s, in the Wynnefield section of Philadelphia, requires that allegations of sexual offenses are reported to the Office of Public Safety and Security, which is then required to conduct an investigation and prepare a report for the Student Life Administrator.

Complaints of sexual offenses are resolved by an administrative hearing officer or by the Community Standards Board, a 17-person panel consisting of seven students, five faculty members and five administrators, according to the complaint. The accused isn’t permitted to be accompanied by parents, counsel, or by any person other than a Community Standards adviser during the hearing.

The accused is notified in writing after the standards board reaches a decision and the result may be disclosed to others including the Saint Joseph’s community, according to the complaint.

Harris was found guilty after a Dec. 4 hearing and suspended from the university. He was denied the opportunity to confront his accuser despite evidence contradicting the “baseless accusations,” his lawyers said.

Text Messages

In January, an appeals board found the text messages critical to the investigation and remanded the matter to the standards board, which later upheld its earlier finding of guilt, according to the complaint. At no time did the university contact police or other governmental authorities about the incident, Harris said in the filing.
A “biased and one-sided” investigation process at Saint Joseph’s deprives male students of educational opportunities on the basis of gender, Harris’s attorney said in the complaint.

Men who have been found responsible for sexual assaults often claim that they haven’t been given due process under the law, said Laura Dunn, founder of SurvJustice, an advocacy group for sexual assault victims. She said it was unusual for an assailant to say that the reason for the lack of due process was discrimination against men.

‘Rare Outcome’

“Title IX is a tool that many women have been using to get justice on campus,” she said in a telephone interview. “It’s kind of bold to take that tool to try to overturn a case in which a man receives consequences for sexual violence, which is a pretty rare outcome.”

Harris claims he has suffered from having an improper conviction on his school record, marring his ability to enroll in another college and stigmatizing him with a finding of guilt, according to the complaint.

The university’s handling of the matter was intended not only to “deprive Harris of his good name and bring him into scandal and disrepute amongst his neighbors and peers, but also to limit Harris’s future education and employment prospects,” Dubrow said in the filing.

It may be difficult for Harris and his attorney to establish that the investigation was discriminatory, said Stuart, the Valparaiso professor.

“I don’t see any factual allegations that males as a general rule are being picked on,” she said. “The process seems to be gender bias-free.”

The case is Harris v. Saint Joseph’s University, 13-cv-03937, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

To contact the reporters on this story: Sophia Pearson in Philadelphia atspearson3@bloomberg.net; John Lauerman in Boston at jlauerman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net; Lisa Wolfson at lwolfson@bloomberg.net

Salon: False rape claims do happen, but the Edmonton posters are not the appropriate vehicle to talk about them. (Okay, so tell us WHEN we can talk about false claims without being vilified)

The "Don't Be That Girl" posters in Edmonton have sparked great controversy and deserve this blog's attention. I preface my remarks with this: I would like to see a serious discussion about rape, consent, assuming the guilt of anyone who happens to be accused of rape (man or woman), and regret. These are issues that can't be reduced to poster slogans. What's needed is education about rape. Women lie in acquaintance rape settings often to defend their "femininity," their assigned gender role -- they are lying to cover up having sex because, the consensus goes, women aren't supposed to have sex. (Men defend their "masculinity" by lying that they have sex more than they actually do -- but those sorts of lies usually don't hurt people.) Young women, and young men, need to be taught that young women experience regret following casual hook-ups at rates much higher than their male peers, and that this can lead to false rape claims.  It's all fairly complicated, and doesn't lend itself to poster-sized slogans.

While I didn't create the "Don't Be That Girl" posters, it has injected false rape claims into the public discourse, and that is a good thing.

A writer at Salon is not happy about the posters. She trivialized the false rape problem, but offhandedly and grudgingly acknowledged that false rape claims do happen. Her remarks are telling: "It’s not that false accusations don’t happen, or that the havoc they wreak isn’t real. The problem is the idiotic defensive assumption that a campaign expressly created to educate men and women about consent merits a hateful, finger-pointing response." The headline called supporters of the posters "dopes."

In my experience, it is almost impossible to inject the topic of "false rape claim" into the public discourse without something like this being the standard response: "Well, yes, false rape claims do suck for the people they happen to, but it's not appropriate to talk about them in this instance."

Okay, so tell me: when can we talk about them? 

Tell me what's an appropriate occasion to raise the subject without being insulted or libeled?

Duke lacrosse? I recall a very prominent feminist blogger wrote the following when the case was collapsing on the prosecution: "I had to listen to how the poor dear lacrosse players at Duke are being persecuted just because they held someone down and fucked her against her will—not rape, of course, because the charges have been thrown out. Can’t a few white boys sexually assault a black woman anymore without people getting all wound up about it? So unfair."

Hofstra? A writer for a major US daily wrote this about the falsely accused, innocent men after their false accuser confessed: "The five were freed after getting the good scare that they well deserved."  A prominent television host told the young men to their face: "Maybe if you held yourself to a higher level of conduct," this would not have happened to you.

How about the recent atrocity visited on Matt Folino in Pittsburgh?  KDKA-TV was criticized by a reader for even airing the story. She wrote the following: "While I sympathize with this young man's plight, I find it disturbing that KDKA chose to run with this story in light of the recent events in nearby Steubenville.”

Frankly, I am not sure that there is ever a good time to talk about our issue without someone trivializing the plight of the wrongly accused, or worse, ridiculing and insulting them. The only time it is politically correct to raise the subject is after a man has served years in prison and DNA evidence exonerates him. Those of us who want to talk about keeping the innocent from suffering unjust ordeals (e.g., the erosion of due process rights for college men accused of sex offenses) are branded "rape apologists" and "misogynists."

You think I'm joking? When will a progressive blog talk about this site without assuming we regard unfounded rape claims as false rape claims?

The reactions to the "Don't Be That Girl" posters are offensive. Here are some that appear to be typical:

*There is a "fear it could deter victims of sexual assault from reporting their incidents to police."

There is no evidence to support this. Rape victims know they aren't lying about rape, and they know these posters aren't addressed to them. But rape victims invariably express disdain for false rape claimants. The sexual grievance industry does no favors to rape victims when it excuses false claims by pretending they are a myth when everyone knows they aren't a myth. It is critical -- not just for innocent men who might be wrongly accused but also for rape victims, too -- that a woman's cry of "rape" be reserved for those times when rape happens. Every rape lie diminishes the perceived integrity of every rape victim. It is sadly ironic that the sexual grievance industry has no interest in addressing this problem given that, in almost every false rape case, a judge admonishes the rape liar about the harm she's done to rape victims.

*The Executive Director of the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton, Karen Smith, said: “I’m really disappointed that these people would decide to not recognize that there’s a significant problem of sexual assault in our community.”

Smith's purported concern is the epitome of a non sequitur. It does not follow that telling women not to make false rape claims implies a belief that rape is not a problem. This is the leading blog in the United States dedicated to giving voice to false rape claim victims, and any suggestion that rape is not a problem is not tolerated here. Rape is a problem; false rape claims are also a problem. It is not a zero sum game, and society is sufficiently mature to have concern for victims of both.

*Telling women not to make false rape claims is "rape apology," according to Lise Gotell, chair of the University of Alberta's department of women’s and gender studies.

Gotell's name-calling is nothing short of morally grotesque and an affront to the community of the wrongly accused. Her attempt to trivialize the victimization of the wrongly accused is designed to silence any advocacy for them, and she ought to be sanctioned for it. Sadly, the academy's fealty to group identity politics and political correctness suggests that won't happen.

*Rape is a more serious problem than false rape claims, so the posters are offensive.

Cancer is worse is than emphysema. That doesn't justify silencing any discussion about the latter.

It is time to have a mature discussion about these issues without reducing advocates for the wrongly accused to caricature.

The sexual grievance industry is justified in taking issue with anyone who insists every unfounded rape claim was a lie, or who tries to change every discussion about rape into a discourse about false rape claims.

But the community of the wrongly accused is justifiably unhappy that even suggesting that false claims are a problem elicits over-the-top outrage and name-calling.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Another story on serial false accuser Leanne Black

A woman who made a string of false rape allegations against five men in eight years was behind bars last night.

Leanne Black, 32, repeatedly cried rape with bogus sex assault reports to police after rowing or breaking up with her former partners.

In one case, Black claimed she had been drugged and raped. In another she told police a boyfriend kidnapped and molested her.

A court heard that her innocent partners would have faced up to five years in jail if they had been found guilty of such serious sexual allegations.

However, Black was herself jailed for two years, with a judge condemning her actions, telling her that genuine rape victims would be undermined by her lies.

The court heard that, in the most recent case in March, her boyfriend Kevin Crowley was held on suspicion of rape after he had called police to report she had thrown plates at him in their flat.

David Wooler, prosecuting, said officers arrived at the scene of the domestic argument at the home shared by Black and her boyfriend – and she turned the tables on him.

Mr Wooler said: ‘When she was questioned by police she told them her boyfriend had raped her while she slept at his flat.

‘It was the most recent in a number of repeated false rape allegations against men since 2005.’

Newport Crown Court heard that, in June 2005, Black had made a rape allegation but the case did not proceed.

In July 2006, she accused her then partner of raping her twice and also claimed she had been kidnapped and raped. In 2009, she claimed she had been the victim of a serious sexual assault.

And in 2010, she fabricated a story about being drugged and raped. Then, earlier this year, she made the accusations against Mr Crowley.

But she finally owned up, admitting one count of perverting the course of justice against Mr Crowley.
Judge William Gaskell told Black, of Cwmbran, South Wales, she had made it more difficult for genuine rape victims to be believed. He said: ‘Police have to take all allegations of rape very seriously.

‘Rape, when it happens, has a devastating effect for victims and causes great trauma. Many women never get over it.

‘Women who make false allegations like you undermine the whole system and police investigations.
‘It undermines the public’s belief in the truth when allegations are truthfully made.’

Gareth Driscoll, defending, said Black had entered an early guilty plea and made a full admission.

She will serve half her sentence before being released on licence.

Inspector Rory Waring, of Gwent Police, said the sentence should act as a warning to anyone thinking about making false allegations of rape.

He said: ‘As well as causing distress to innocent people accused of this terrible crime, cases like this distract officers from supporting real victims and prosecuting real offenders.

‘Those who have suffered from genuine offences are also undermined.’

. . . .

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Duke jacks up the penalty for sex offenses, COTWA says the greater the penalty, the better

Duke University administrators are stiffening the penalty for students who are found guilty of sexual assault. A board that sets the standards for the Office of Student Conduct has revised the university policy so that expulsion is the “preferred sanction” in cases of sexual crimes.

“We’re really confident that this new change is a step in the right direction toward both preventing and addressing sexual assault on campus, as stricter sanctions are a critical aspect of gender-violence prevention,” said Duke’s student government president Stefani Jones.

Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta said that expulsion is the “normative sanction expected” and there will be some determination by the hearing panel as to whether or not some factor should influence a change to that expectation.

Vassar College immediately expels any student found responsible for rape.

Theoretically, the result is that if disciplinary boards at Duke, Vassar, and any other schools that jump on the bandwagon find students responsible for sex offenses by even a preponderance of the evidence (per the Obama administration's "Dear Colleague" letter), they are expected to impose the academic equivalent of the death penalty: expulsion.

The potential injustice to accused students under the minimal standard of proof mandated by the Department of Education is manifest and has been written about extensively. See, e.g., hereherehere, and here.  If the Duke lacrosse case happened today? The accused likely would be expelled, suggested Prof. Dan Subotnik.

COTWA isn't so sure about that. Where schools mandate extreme punishments for sexual assault, triers of fact are less likely to find guilt in doubtful cases because they know the consequences for the accused are extreme.  In A Separate Crime of Reckless Sex, 72 U. Chi. L. Rev. 599, 655-56 (2005), Professors I. Ayres and K. Baker explained:
. . . if the . . . sanction is too strong, there is not likely to be widespread enforcement. . . . attempts to change a norm by severely punishing that which has previously been unaddressed or underenforced are often unsuccessful. 
The simple fact is that the public at large often refuses to see the "nontraditional" [acquaintance] rapist as a rapist at all and therefore refuses to either mark him or punish him as such. After an acquittal in a well-publicized college gang rape, one juror explained that the main concern of some jurors was not wanting "to ruin the boys' lives." 214 Decisionmakers may be willing to ruin the life of a "real rapist," but they will not impose comparable punishment for what they see as a less severe crime.
The bottom line: in schools that mandate expulsion for sex offenses or make expulsion the norm, it is our guess that even in cases where, technically, it is more likely than not that the accused is guilty, if there exists reasonable doubt about his guilt, or a very real chance that he's innocent, most triers of fact will withhold the "death penalty" of expulsion and will hold the accused "not guilty." And that's exactly how it should be. It is our guess that Duke and Vassar and the others have institutionalized a sort of jury nullification for doubtful sex cases -- an unintended antidote for the harsh "Dear Colleague" letter. The get-tough-on-rape crowd has unwittingly struck a blow for the accused. Expulsion generally will only be ordered where it is clear rape occurred, and that's how it should be.

Given the injustices on campus to the presumptively innocent who accused of sex offenses, COTWA says, the greater the penalty, the better.