Saturday, August 31, 2013

If we want sexual assault to be taken seriously, it is not appropriate to let victims decide to keep it a secret

On American college campuses, resident assistants have a duty to report sexual assaults brought to their attention. This is, of course, the only reasonable response since sexual assault is a crime, an offense against the public, not just an offense against the individual victim. To fail to report is to allow a criminal to remain at large and to do it again to others. If the crime were murder or robbery or aggravated assault, no one would hesitate to agree that it needs to be reported.

But when it comes to sexual assault, some resident assistants are conflicted. "Forced to choose between a student’s -- perhaps a friend’s -- desire for privacy and contractual obligations, many R.A.s don’t know what to do. . . . some have expressed a disinclination to report on students who’ve confided in them while working."

In addition: "Some victims do say they don’t want to move through campus procedures of meeting with administrators or filing a complaint, . . . in which case officials will determine whether allowing that would endanger others on campus."

If a student were physically assaulted, would the college engage in a "balancing test" to determine whether the assault might endanger others on campus? The very question is ludicrous. So why is sexual assault different?

Feminist Naomi Wolf has decried treating rape victims differently than other crime victims by shielding their identities. So, too, if we want sexual assault to be taken seriously, we need to insist that it is not an appropriate response to keep it a secret. Serious crimes need to be reported to law enforcement authorities so that they can be met with serious responses. We owe that to the people who will be victimized if the perpetrators aren't removed from society. If we tell women that any sexual assaults they report to a resident assistant will not be reported to the proper authorities without the women's consent, we are signaling that sexual assault really isn't a serious crime.

Keeping sexual assault a secret not only endangers other women, it perpetuates the shame that has long stigmatized the offense.  When we insist that sexual assault victims can keep their victimization a secret because a victim might fear that "no one will believe me," we only give her fears credence and perpetuate a cycle that has to end.

Friday, August 30, 2013

False rape accuser's lawyer says 18 month sentence "too high," stressing the serious impact it would have on the woman's children

In Norway, an unnamed, 37-year-old woman has been sentenced to a year and a half in prison after she admitted to falsely accusing an innocent man of rape. The woman's lawyer, Linda Ellefsen Eide, said that the penalty was "too high," stressing the serious impact it would have on the woman's children.

The false accuser contacted police on September 30, 2011, claiming to have been raped next to a church by an unknown man. Then on December 1, 2011, she went to the police again and claimed she had been raped again, this time naming the alleged perpetrator.

Rudolf Christoffersen, the prosecutor in the case, said it was important for the courts to deal stiffly with such false accusations: "If it had not been for a thorough police investigation, this case could have had grave consequences for the man who was unjustly accused of rape," he said. "In cases of sexual abuse cases, it is of the greatest importance that the police can give credence to the information submitted."


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Almost two out of three college women in Canada say they've been sexually assaulted . . . .

From here: "Sixty-two per cent of university women in Canada say they have been sexually assaulted."

That's almost two-thirds.

Our mission is to give voice to the wrongly accused, not to insist that women routinely lie about rape. Sexual assault is a real problem, and it should not be trivialized by offhandedly asserting that the stats touting its prevalence are lies. But the 62 percent stat might suggest that a serious conversation about the subject -- one that is sensitive to the reality of sexual assault -- is overdue. Stats touting an astounding prevalence of sexual assault do raise concerns, and they might be telling people the opposite of what their purveyors are intending to convey. They might be numbing people into complacency about a serious problem.

If 62 percent of our daughters were victims of armed robbery at college, don't you think there would an international outcry over it? If 62 percent of our daughters were victims of serious car accidents while they were at college, their parents probably would be taking the keys away from them, or at the very least, they'd be calling the daughters every day to remind them to buckle up and drive safely. The reason parents don't do react with similar determination when it comes to sexual assault is not because they think rape is okay, they just don't think it happens that often.

When our insistence that something is an epidemic doesn't match the public's collective sense of reality or experience, aren't we hurting our own cause? Aren't we trivializing a problem that is serious for too many people? When most people hear that fully 62 percent of our college daughters supposedly are victims of sexual assault (however broadly that is defined), many, and probably most, parents will think the stats strain credulity -- and that kind of thinking undermines confidence in the way "sexual assault" is presented in news reports and public service announcements.

What's a more effective way to alert the public about the horrors of rape -- (1) keep insisting that it is happening to a massive segment of the female population when most people aren't buying it, or (2) show actual photographs of high school boys carting off an incapacitated girl to have their way with her while playing the audio of a boy giggling about how his friends used the girl as their personal sex toy (caption: "How would you feel if it was your daughter or your sister?")?  The second approach paints a picture that rightly offends the sensibilities of every decent person. The first is ineffective to the point that it may be hurting the cause.

The persons who truly think that 62% of all college women are victims of sexual assault ought to back up their claims with facts. Take a few hundred claims and subject them to rigorous testing -- don't just take the word of the accuser, evaluate all the evidence, including the narrative of the alleged perpetrator. (In the Campus Sexual Assault survey, 19 percent of the women reported experiencing a completed or attempted sexual assault since entering college, while 2.5 percent of the men reported being perpetrators. Why the disparity? The National Institute of Justice suggests as one possibility: "Men and women may have different perceptions of the same incident.") Then subject the evidence to an objective, unbiased evaluation. None of the polls relied on to reach these astounding statistics do that -- they typically rely on the assertions of the women they survey. If done correctly, the results of such analyses will reveal what every seasoned prosecutor already knows: some claims are demonstrably false or otherwise non-rapes; some claims are clearly rapes; the vast majority can't be classified one way or the other. This is the case for reported rape claims, and it wouldn't be any different for unreported claims (except there probably would be more "unknowns" among unreported claims).

Does any of that lessen the seriousness of sexual assault?

We hope, for the sake of sexual assault victims, that the 62 percent stat doesn't gain wide circulation among sexual assault victim's advocates. Here in the U.S., Heather MacDonald was famously skeptical of the claim that one-in-four American college women are raped or have been the targets of attempted rape* as was Christina Hoff SommersChad Hermann took the underreporting statistics commonly used by sexual assault victims advocates (he even used a percentage much higher than the percentage RAINN posits) to demonstrate that the one-in-four statistic isn't even in the same universe as reality. (One radical feminist blogger insisted that we were guilty of spreading "misinformation" by citing to Mr. Hermann's article, but didn't bother to explain why.)

We should all be offended by sexual assault, but that doesn't mean we should accept statistics that are suspect to the point of insulting people's intelligence.

*MacDonald wrote:
If the one-in-four statistic is correct—it is sometimes modified to “one-in-five to one-in-four”—campus rape represents a crime wave of unprecedented proportions. No crime, much less one as serious as rape, has a victimization rate remotely approaching 20 or 25 percent, even over many years. The 2006 violent crime rate in Detroit, one of the most violent cities in America, was 2,400 murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults per 100,000 inhabitants—a rate of 2.4 percent. The one-in-four statistic would mean that every year, millions of young women graduate who have suffered the most terrifying assault, short of murder, that a woman can experience. Such a crime wave would require nothing less than a state of emergency—Take Back the Night rallies and 24-hour hotlines would hardly be adequate to counter this tsunami of sexual violence. Admissions policies letting in tens of thousands of vicious criminals would require a complete revision, perhaps banning boys entirely. The nation’s nearly 10 million female undergrads would need to take the most stringent safety precautions. Certainly, they would have to alter their sexual behavior radically to avoid falling prey to the rape epidemic.

Woman convicted of falsely accusing boyfriend of rape was previously convicted of filing a false report of sexual assault. Her sentence this time: 60 days

Octavia Faustini was convicted earlier this month of falsely accusing her boyfriend of rape. At her sentencing hearing yesterday, the prosecutor revealed that Faustini has a prior criminal record that includes a 2002 conviction for filing a false report of sexual assault.

What do you think her sentence was for the 2002 crime? A $100 fine.

So what do you think her sentence was yesterday for latest crime -- which the judge said had a potentially significant negative effect on her former boyfriend? 60 days in jail.

No, we're not kidding. Sixty days. She could have received up to 364 days, and the prosecutor only sought 90 days. (By the way, her criminal record also includes assaulting an officer, assault, criminal mischief and telephone harassment, the prosecutor said.)

How can a 60 day sentence be called "justice" to the wrongly accused boyfriend?

If we want to take sexual assault seriously, we need to take false accusations of sexual assault seriously. A society that doesn't think falsely "crying wolf" is a serious matter must not think the wolf is such a bad thing after all.

And giving false accusers a slap on the wrist does no favors to rape victims. When rape liars are given license to destroy innocent lives by not punishing them adequately, it undermines the public's confidence in the way rape is prosecuted. Rape is a very serious offense, typically carrying with it a very serious penalty. When prospective jurors see that rape lies, and even serial rape liars, are tolerated with only de minimis condemnation, they will be all the more wary about convicting even men and boys who deserve to be convicted, for fear of getting it wrong. Is that really what we want?

'West Bloomfield parents allowed to sue prosecutors over faulty sex-abuse case'

A U.S. Court of Appeals ruling on Wednesday allows a West Bloomfield couple’s lawsuit to proceed to trial over claims that their constitutional rights were violated after the father was accused of raping their autistic daughter, leading to a prosecution that a judge later described as a “runaway train.”

The appeals court said governmental immunity doesn’t shield Oakland County prosecutors, Walled Lake Consolidated Schools officials and staffers from the Michigan Department of Human Services from liability for their actions in the case.

The case, involving Julian and Thal Wendrow, drew nationwide attention because the rape claims were made using a controversial method known as facilitated communication. Their daughter, then 14, has severe autism and cannot speak. Through facilitated communication, known as FC, the girl would type messages on a keyboard with a facilitator holding her arm and guiding her movements.

Some of the messages typed in November 2007 included allegations that Julian Wendrow had repeatedly raped his daughter since age 6 and that her mother was aware but didn’t stop the attacks.

Julian and Thal Wendrow, who say they’ve been waiting more than five years to redeem their reputations, welcomed the appeals court decision.

“It’s been a long haul,” Thal Wendrow said. “All we ever wanted was to get to a place where we could tell our story ... a jury trial where we can be fully vindicated.”

Oakland County Corporation Counsel Keith Lerminiaux said county officials were disappointed by the ruling, which reinstated claims against former prosecutors Deborah Carley and Andrea Dean. Walled Lake Schools officials and the Michigan Attorney General’s Office didn’t respond to requests for comment.

“The court’s opinion simply states that their conduct needs to be further reviewed by the district court,” Lerminiaux said. “The court did not make any determination of wrongdoing on their part. We continue to believe that the actions of the prosecutors in this case were appropriate, and for that reason, we will continue to vigorously defend the claims made against them.”

Documents have shown the investigation into the rape allegations was flawed nearly from the start.

Walled Lake Central High School facilitator Cindi Scarsella helped the Wendrows’ daughter type messages in November 2007 that said her father had sexually abused her and her mother turned a blind eye.

Critics of facilitated communication say the facilitator is the true author of the messages. The messages typed using that method included a number of factual errors, such as a passage describing nonexistent relatives and an incorrect name of the family dog.

School officials alerted police and state protective services officials. Both parents were arrested, and the girl and her brother, who has a milder form of autism known as Asperger’s syndrome, were removed from the family home.

Thal Wendrow was jailed for six days before being released on an electronic tether with the condition that she not contact her children. Julian Wendrow spent 80 days in the Oakland County Jail before the case collapsed. The family was separated for 106 days.

But a nurse’s exam of the girl found no evidence of sexual abuse. And the use of facilitated communication caused problems. At a district court hearing, the judge had Scarsella leave the room when the girl was asked questions and then return to help her type answers. The girl was unable to answer a single question correctly when Scarsella couldn’t hear it.

Still, prosecutors pressed ahead, saying the family had advocated for facilitated communication to the point of demanding that the school district use it. FC isn’t widely used because studies have concluded the facilitator is actually typing for the disabled person, and the method has resulted in a number of false sexual abuse allegations.

The two Oakland County prosecutors, Carley and Dean, removed the girl’s brother from his classes during school hours to question him during the investigation. Even though he was considered a suspect in the case, he had no lawyer or guardian present with him.

“It was objectively unreasonable for Dean and Carley to subject (the brother) to an interview of this type without consent,” the court ruled.

The ruling went on to note: “There is evidence to suggest that Dean and Carley were aware of significant issues with the use of FC, as well as (the girl’s) cognitive abilities and that they chose to ignore appropriate protocols and chose not to make any effort to safeguard against the known dangers of FC.”

The ruling also said Rebecca Robydek, a social worker with the state Department of Human Services, isn’t entitled to immunity for removing the children from their home based solely on the girl’s statement made through FC.

“Robydek’s actions are especially troubling in this situation given the multiple documented errors in the facilitated statement used as the sole basis for Robydek’s recommendation,” the court ruled.

The ruling criticized Robydek for turning the girl’s 13-year-old brother over to police for questioning without alerting his guardian or a lawyer. During a taped interview, West Bloomfield Police Detective Joseph Brusseau attempted to get the brother to corroborate the rape allegations and repeatedly lied to him, telling the boy that investigators found videos of Julian Wendrow raping the boy’s sister.

No such tapes were ever found. The boy cried at points during the two-hour interrogation, saying he could never trust his father again.

The West Bloomfield Police Department was originally named in the Wendrows’ lawsuit, but in December 2010, the township’s insurance carrier settled the claim for $1.8 million. Township lawyer William Hampton told the Free Press the settlement was “nothing more than a business decision by the insurance carrier,” and the police acknowledged no wrongdoing.

The Wendrows’ lawyer, Deborah Gordon, said she was happy with Wednesday’s ruling, but even a trial can’t replace what the Wendrows have lost.

“You’ll never completely get your name back — there will always be allegations,” Gordon said. “Till the day they die, that will be part of their public face and public records.”

Julian Wendrow agreed, saying that on a recent visit to his native South Africa, the case followed him there through computer record checks.

“I was detained for more than two hours because this stuff is still in the system,” Wendrow said. “It really hurts. It’s very difficult to describe.”


Sexual assault claim near Harvard campus "erroneous," say police

A woman told Boston police that on August 18, she had been offered a ride to Cambridge by a man in a sedan after she’d tried to hail a cab. She said the man, an Indian male in his mid-thirties, sexually assaulted her near the Harvard University campus.

Boston Police determined that an August 18, 2013 report of an alleged sexual assault was -- in the words of the Boston Herald --"erroneous” -- and that "the facts of the case did not support the allegation as reported.”

The Herald: "Police did not say whether anyone will be charged with filing a false police report."

What does "erroneous" mean here?  Did the woman lie? Did the police get it wrong? By being vague when it would be very easy to be clear, the police and/or the Herald only make people think the worst. It certainly appears by the vague language in the article that the woman lied. If that isn't true, the public ought to be told.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Speech: Fifty Years Ago Today

Full Text:

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.

So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now.
This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning.

Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

North Carolina college officials having a conniption over the law allowing students to be represented by an attorney must not want the playing field leveled in school hearings

We reported yesterday on Allie Grasgreen's inappropriate reporting about the new North Carolina law that gives presumptively innocent students the right to legal representation, at the student's expense, during campus judiciary proceedings.

Here's more about that new law.

First, Grasgreen would do well to read how this -- from a student newspaper, no less. That is good, even-handed, reporting.

Second, an interesting explanation for the law is found in the Beaufort Observer. It starts by observing the obvious: "a number of non-libertarian conservatives will be appalled" by this law.

Then it provides a cogent rationale for the new law:
I am aware of a number of instances in which university officials have operated a virtual Star Chamber in dealing with students accused of violating both university regulations and even criminal offenses on campus. This has become a growing trend in sexual harassment cases. Many of these students, without knowledgeable legal assistance, simply were railroaded by university administrators whose fulltime job it is to handle such cases. Naive students were simply no match for the omnipotent administrators. HB 75 tends to even the playing field; again, at the student's expense.
Thus, the law is intended to level the playing field for naive students who are pitted against omnipotent administrators who do this for a living.

That this is a plausible explanation is evidenced by the words of the new law: the new law does not allow attorneys in hearings "fully staffed by students to address such violations." In that case, students have far less need for an attorney because the playing field is not so uneven.

The administrators that Allie Grasgreen quoted in her article seem to not want the playing field to be leveled.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

When young men are expelled from college for alleged sex offenses, that's not punishment, it's just teaching 'good citizenship'

That's just one of many astounding assertions that appears in Allie Grasgreen's strange article where university officials decry the new North Carolina law that gives presumptively innocent students the right to legal representation, at the student's expense, during campus judiciary proceedings.

Despite all their twisting and pounding, an expulsion is punishment, as is a suspension; in fact, an expulsion is often tantamount to life-altering punishment. But that's completely lost on the unnamed "officials" who harbor that view.

Most of the views in this article are the same old bellyache: on campus, the presumptively innocent accused of sex offenses get too much due process. Too much of that awful fairness-stuff thrown their way. This, coming from folks who would never say the same about any other class of persons accused of any other offense.

But wait, there's more. "A key component of the developmental process of responding to student misconduct is for the student to take responsibility for their own behavior and to learn from the incident," said Bill Haggard, vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

Mr. Haggard, you seem to be assuming the student is guilty by reason of an accusation, aren't you? I mean, an innocent student isn't going to "learn from the incident," is he?

Mr. Haggard isn't finished: "Part of that learning experience is being able to speak on their own behalf, take responsibility for their own behaviors and engage in a conversation about changing their behavior in the future." How can that happen with a lawyer in the room?

Again, if a student happens to be innocent, should he be forced to "take responsibility for his own behaviors" or "change" his behavior "in the future," Mr. Haggard?

This would all be comical if it weren't so infuriating.

The article goes on: "Officials worry that changing the rules will drag out the length of proceedings -- by who knows how long, if attorneys are able to do things like motion for stays -- and hike up the cost."

Yes, we wouldn't want to make sure justice is done if we could get a quick expulsion instead, now would we?

And pardon me for snickering, but a university official worried about hiking up the cost? Seriously?!

There's more: "Whoever's able to hire the best and most expensive attorney is likely to win the day," said Chris Loschiavo, president of the Association for Student Conduct Administration and director of student conduct and conflict resolution at the University of Florida.

Yes, those damn lawyers, always getting in the way of expelling "responsible" students! I mean, lawyers never help to clear innocent students who've been wrongly accused, do they? Unheard of!

Mr. Loschiavo isn't finished sharing his brilliance with us: "It raises lots of potential questions and problems and it makes what is an educational and administrative process now into a quasi-courtroom."

Yes, I mean, why try to turn a judiciary proceeding, where evidence is taken and the facts are weighed and where students are supposed to have at least some due process protections, into a proceeding that assures fairness and the orderly administration of justice? We wouldn't want that, now would we?

This is just more of the same old bullshit. Allie Grasgreen largely parrots university officials who are "concerned" that stupid things like fairness and justice will creep into their kangaroo courts the minute the lawyers get in the room!

Can't have that. Definitely can't have that.

It is time to stop blaming the wrongly accused for putting off women from reporting rape

Two sisters have been ordered to pay their uncle $125,000 in libel damages after they accused him of sexually assaulting them as children. Patricia and Sarah Vanderkooy, now in their 30s, say the abuse occurred during sleepovers at their uncle’s farm in Simcoe in the early ’80s, when they were four and six years old, according to the judge’s written decision. In 2006, they confronted their uncle, Jack Vanderkooy, and asked him for an apology. After he refused, they wrote a series of emails detailing their allegations to family and friends. Judge Andrew Goodman wrote that the sisters “did not like their uncle,” and sent the emails “in order to vindicate their actions or validate their historical claims of abuse.”

The news report says this about the libel award: "It’s a decision lawyers say has sent a 'chilling effect' through legal circles and will discourage sexual-abuse victims from coming forward in the future." While the report references "lawyers," it quotes just one lawyer: "It’s 'very rare' to see victims of alleged sexual assault found liable for defamation, said Elizabeth Grace, a lawyer who specializes in sexual abuse, but was not involved in this case. 'Predominately, the courts have wanted to encourage people coming forward with their allegations of abuse,” Grace said. “This decision gives added weight to the concern that (our clients) may face a defamation suit…. It’s going to have a chilling effect.'”

The disturbing implication is that the man who was libeled should not receive the same justice that every other victim of libel is entitled to receive, merely because the lies told about him involved sex.

The man in the instant case who was libeled did not choose to be victimized; nor did he choose the heinous manner of his victimization. He is no less deserving of civil redress than any other defamation victim. It is time to stop blaming the falsely accused for women who don't report their rapes. If anyone is to blame, it's the false accusers.

The lawyer quoted in the news report, Elizabeth Grace, is just the latest in a long line of sexual assault victims' advocates, prosecutors, and average citizens who suggest that the wrongly accused should be deprived of justice because of the possibility that some women won't come forward and report their rapes on account of it. See, by way of example, here and here and here and here and here.

Instead of addressing the real problem by discouraging the false accusers from lying, these sexual assault victims advocates are content to give them a pass, and thereby implicitly give them license to do it again to some other innocent man or boy.

First, the implication that we should deprive the innocent of justice because of the nature, and not the severity, of the harm inflicted on them is repulsive by any measure and unworthy of serious debate. The uncle is not the bad guy for suing his false accusers, Ms. Grace. The nieces are the ones you should be chiding. The fact that the victim is turned into the villain for seeking redress for harm inflicted on him is both maddening and a telling barometer of a justice system in free-fall.

Second, the persons who seek to deprive the wrongly accused of justice do no favors to rape victims. Giving liars license to harm innocent men and boys without consequence undermines the public's confidence in the way rape claims are handled. Jurors will be all the more wary of convicting even men and boys who should be convicted for rape if they believe that the system gives liars a free pass. If we want to seriously address sexual assault, we need to seriously address the false accusers.

Third, and perhaps most obvious, the persons who advocate depriving the wrongly accused of justice never offer evidentiary support for their assertion that rape victims will be put off from coming forward if the wrongly accused get justice. In fact, the principal reasons women don't report their rapes have nothing to do with fear of having a libel award entered against them. See here (the summary of the testimony of Scott Berkowitz, head of RAINN). But why let the facts get in the way of a good narrative?

In waging war on sexual assault, the insistence on treating the wrongly accused as necessary collateral damage is nothing short of morally grotesque, and all persons of good will need to speak out against it. It is time to stop blaming victims for the consequence of their harm, and to start blaming the persons responsible.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Rape charges dismissed, prosecutor does the right thing

Gregory Hartley's hands shake and he wipes away tears. Recounting the more than 50 days he spent in the Jackson County Jail as an accused rapist floods the Ashland resident with anxiety.

"I was in with the worst of the worst," Hartley said, taking a steadying breath. "I just lost all hope."

Hartley, 50, has no criminal record in Oregon, according to court documents. He has run a successful floor business in Ashland for years and is an upstanding community member, he said.

Hartley said his father's former wife made "unfounded and unproven allegations" that he assaulted her during a family visit at his home in July 2011.

The woman told her story to police a year later, following her second divorce proceeding against Hartley's father. Things went from bad to worse when her allegations caused Hartley to be arrested and lodged in jail on June 24, he said.

Hartley vehemently denies any sexual activity occurred between the two, even consensual acts, and said he remains stunned at the allegations.

"I was raised by my mom and my two sisters. You do not violate people," Hartley said. "If a woman is raped, you go 100 percent against that guy in court."

Bail initially was set at $1 million for the four Measure 11 charges, then reduced to $500,000. But Hartley was unable to raise the 10 percent required to bail himself out of jail, he said.

"I'm a big guy," Hartley said. "But you fear for your life in there."

Facing up to 25 years in state prison if convicted of first-degree charges of rape, sodomy, sex abuse and unlawful sexual penetration, Hartley said he refused to negotiate a plea deal. But he was terrified at the prospect of losing his case, his sanity or worse.

"At 3 a.m. when you can't sleep," Hartley said, "yes, I would have sold my soul to the devil to get out of there. But I didn't."

On Aug. 16, all counts against Hartley were dropped by Jackson County Deputy District Attorney David Hoppe.

At the request of Hartley's public defender, Kelly Ravassipour, Hoppe had a jailhouse meeting with Hartley just days before the case was slated for trial.

Hoppe said evidence that came in after Hartley's grand jury indictment, combined with the alleged victim's mental health issues, her drug and alcohol consumption the night of the allegations, and his duties as a prosecutor, caused him to drop the case against Hartley in the interest of justice.

"It's not about conviction rates," Hoppe said. "We need to sleep fine at night. Allegations are not proof. Every prosecutor wants to avoid the risk of sending an innocent person to prison, especially in a crime of this nature."

By the same token, Hoppe cautioned that his decision should not be over-interpreted. He stressed an unfounded allegation is not the same as a false one. The woman could have been victimized by someone or believed she was, he said.

Hartley said inmates cheered as word of his release spread through the jail and he walked toward freedom.

"It was like a unicorn had just passed by," he said. "They couldn't believe it."

Hartley wants to know why police and prosecutors are not charging his accuser with perjury or filing a false report.

"Put her in (jail) for 53 days," Hartley said. "Why isn't she being charged? It needs to be on her record."

Hoppe said no charges will be filed against Hartley's father's ex-wife. Just as Hartley is innocent under the law because of his constitutional protections, so, too, the same presumption of innocence applies to his accuser, Hoppe said.

"How would we prove it?" Hoppe said. "There was no confession or recantation."

Just because this woman had self-admitted diagnoses of bipolar disorder and post traumatic stress disorder, and that she consumed drugs and alcohol the night of the alleged incident, doesn't mean she was not victimized, Hoppe said.

"What I would say is that at the end of the day, I did not feel morally certain that these alleged crimes had occurred," Hoppe said.

Hartley said he's going to have to pay more than $1,000 to get his record expunged and his picture off

"It destroyed my life. And she might believe it happened," Hartley said, shaking his head and adding the thought of being accused of sexual assault again has him terrified.

Susan Moen, executive director of Jackson County Sexual Assault Response Team, said she is unfamiliar with the specifics of Hartley's case. But Moen detailed the legal process that tries to prevent incidents like this from happening, "including the need for a grand jury to believe there is credible evidence that a crime was committed before a DA can put forth a case to trial."

Hartley and the public should understand that false reporting is a rare occurrence, she said.

In fact, Moen and Hoppe said, sexual assault is underreported nationwide.

"The crime of sexual assault is different from many crimes, in that we see an underreporting of the crime much more than we see false reports," Moen said.

One study showed that the reporting rate in Oregon is about 10 percent. That means up to 90 percent of sexual assault victims never report the crime against them, she said.

"When I ask people what they guess the false report rate to be, I routinely hear '50 percent' or higher," Moen said. "However, the highest we have seen in a credible study puts that number at 6 to 8 percent, and many studies show it to be much closer to 2 percent. So if 2 to 8 percent of that 10 percent is the false reporting rate, we really can say it is a rare occurrence."

Hartley said the fallout from the accusations continue to haunt him. His mental and physical health, along with his personal and professional reputation, have all been negatively impacted by the ordeal, Hartley said.

"One day I'm on my way to work, then I'm gone," he said. "I'm not a rapist."

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or

Friday, August 23, 2013

Young couple has consensual sex, lies that woman was raped so she could get a free test for sexually-transmitted diseases

In Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, police filed charges this week against Scott Young, 22, of 120 Hilltop Drive, Franklin Township, and Brandy Beck, 21, of 402 Loop St., Ellwood City, based on the accusation that they made false statements to police to allege that Beck had been raped.

The following information is from this news account. Beck told police that she had been walking home from the Double Dealin' tavern when she was attacked and raped along a fence near the car wash on First Street. Later, she told police that the rape took place across Fountain Avenue near the Shelby tavern, police said in a criminal complaint against Beck. At first, Young corroborated her account, but recanted when police noted inconsistencies in his report.

Beck's description of the attacker was very specific: she told police that the man was roughly 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighed approximately 210 pounds. He was described as wearing a blue T-shirt with a firefighters' logo.

It all started Saturday evening, July 20th, Beck and Young had been at the Double Dealin' bar with another man, then they left to shoot pool at the Franklin Township fire hall, then they went to another tavern, the Oak Grove Inn, until it closed. Then Beck and Young, but not the other man, went to another location where they had consensual sex. Then came the rape lie.

In the criminal complaint, police reported that Young said Beck made the rape claim so that she could get a free test for sexually-transmitted diseases at Ellwood City Hospital as part of a rape investigation, and that she would later decline to press charges.

Beck told police that that she didn't want people -- specifically an ex-husband -- to find out about her dalliance with Young. The criminal complaint does not make clear whether Beck was still married at the time of the rape report.

Police filed charges of making false statements against Beck and Young.


Woman who tried to make it look like two rape victims lied, has her sentence cut


The Hull girlfriend of a convicted rapist who was jailed after trying to clear his name by framing two of his victims with fake Facebook profiles has won a cut in the length of her prison sentence.

Three judges at the Court of Appeal in London ruled that the original 30-month term imposed in the case of Ceri Shipman, now 26, was too long, and reduced it by 10 months.

Shipman was sentenced in April at Hull Crown Court after earlier pleading guilty to an offence of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice.

She set up the Facebook accounts and then used them to send messages to herself purporting to be from the two victims admitting they had made up allegations against her boyfriend Jason Savage, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2010 for offences including rape and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Lady Justice Rafferty, Mr Justice Griffith Williams and Mrs Justice Thirlwall were told it was conceded on her behalf that an immediate custodial sentence was inevitable, but that two-and-a-half years was "manifestly excessive on the facts of the case".

Although the judges reduced Shipman's sentence to 20 months, partly because of the "prolonged" period the offence was hanging over her before her case was dealt with, they emphasised that perverting the course of justice offences almost always result in immediate imprisonment.

Announcing the decision to allow Shipman's appeal against sentence, Mrs Justice Thirlwall, said that such offences "strike at the heart of our system of justice", and added: "It cannot be tolerated."

She said two of Savage's victims - who cannot be named for legal reasons - gave evidence against him at his trial and were believed by the jury.

At that time Shipman believed he had been wrongly convicted, said the judge, which was an "absurd belief".

Following the April 2010 sentencing of her partner, who was ordered to serve a minimum of nine years, she set up the Facebook accounts in the names of the two victims, copying pictures and profiles from their real accounts to make the false ones look genuine.

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

The women were arrested and held in custody, one for seven hours and the other for more than five hours before being granted bail. Mrs Justice Thirlwall said that after some months of anxiety they were told that no further action was being taken.

Mrs Justice Thirlwall said t he author of a pre-sentence report was "very firmly of the view" that Savage was behind the offence.

Shipman was of previous good character, aged just 22 at the time of the offence, and had pleaded guilty at the "earliest possible stage".

A sentence of 30 months after a trial would have been appropriate and the original term passed was " too long".

Woman lied that former boyfriend raped her, but prosecutor used wrong statute to charge her

A judge has dismissed a felony charge against a woman accused of falsely reporting that she was raped by a former boyfriend.

Judge G. Todd Baugh has granted a defense motion to dismiss a charge of fabricating evidence filed against Christina Nadine Nelson.

The judge said in an order issued Tuesday that evidence clearly showed Nelson lied when she reported the rape to police and hospital staff, but the prosecution’s reliance on a report from a sexual assault examination
is misplaced.

“To apply (the law against fabricating evidence) to the occurrences in this case is a stretch at best,” Baugh said in the order. “Basically, what (Nelson) did was lie to the Billings Clinic and the Billings Police Department. There are specific statutes that cover conduct of this nature; perjury, false swearing, unsworn falsification to authorities and false reports to law enforcement come to mind and there may be others.”

Baugh gave prosecutors 30 days to amend the charge against Nelson.

Nelson was charged in December for an incident last August when she reported that her former boyfriend raped her as she left her workplace.

Nelson was brought to Billings Clinic later that evening after telling her husband about the alleged rape after the couple had unprotected sex.

An investigation revealed Nelson’s former boyfriend was out of state at the time of the alleged rape.

Billings police also said surveillance video from Nelson’s workplace showed her leaving work and driving away in her vehicle on the date of the alleged rape.

A review of Nelson’s medical records showed she made four other similar reports in recent years.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

White woman invents imaginary black rapist

Jillian Shea Moore, 24, who is white, has been accused of falsely reporting that she had been raped and stabbed in her home by a black man. She self-inflicted a minor stab wound to her own abdomen to "prove" the attack. According to a news report: "She told authorities she had been raped and stabbed by a masked black male in her home, who then stole jewelry items and fled."

The local sheriff’s office investigated and later determined the following:“Moore was not the victim of a crime and that her stab wound is consistent with being self-inflicted.” Moore's family attorney said that “from what we’ve seen, it appears that Jillian had a bad reaction to some prescription medicine she was taking, and she is now actively seeking the help she needs” at an inpatient mental rehabilitation facility.

Rape lies often include a "scary" black or Hispanic male suspect in an obvious attempt to lend plausibility to the fabrication. The underlying racial animus of these lies sometimes becomes a public concern. This is all the more pertinent in light of the recent public discourse over the Trayvon Martin killing. President Obama even 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.

In 2009, at Northwestern University, a bogus rape claim prompted two campus-wide emails: the first notified students that a female Northwestern student was sexually assaulted. It provided an explicit description of the suspect as follows: "African American male, approximately 25 years old, 5-6 – 5-7 inches tall, with a thin but muscular build, wearing a black leather jacket and dark jeans." The second email declared the first e-mail’s report as "false."

It was the first email's explicit description of the suspect that drew concerns and provoked a discussion about race on campus. "One student [at a panel discussion about the rape claim] said when she first read the e-mail she was more concerned about how it might reinforce racial perceptions than how it would influence perception of gender. She said she was surprised by the specificity, when previous cases have had more blanket descriptions that could apply to people of any race." A criminology professor said: "All black young men on campus become vulnerable to further suspicion."

The concerns expressed at Northwestern about notifying students that the accused rapist was black make for interesting discussion, but likely are misplaced. The Clery Act requires that reports of sexual assaults "shall be provided to students and employees in a manner that is timely and that will aid in the prevention of similar occurrences." At the time of this alleged incident, Northwestern's male population was roughly 47.1%, and its entire black population (males and females) was roughly 5.4%. Since the law mandates that the University community be apprised of sex crimes in a way that will aid in the prevention of similar occurrences, could the school not mention the alleged assailant's race?

And was the focus on the race of the imaginary rapist distracting from the real issue -- the fact that a woman invented an imaginary rapist in the first place? Put another way, are false rape claims not a big deal unless they are also politically incorrect?

It is well to be sensitive to concerns of the black community on this issue. The racial animus underlying lies that invent imaginary black rapists takes the prevarication to a whole new level of injustice. In 2011, a Brooklyn "nun" from a fringe Christian sect falsely claimed "that she was choked and raped by a black man." The New York Daily News reported that black men in the neighborhood were angered, but not surprised. According to the Daily News: "Cops even released a sketch of the phantom suspect and pleaded for the public to help catch him. After more questioning, [the accuser] admitted she concocted the assault to cover up her sexual shenanigans with a bodega worker."

The men in the neighborhood were, as one put it, "pissed."

"'I don't know why they must accuse falsely like that. I think it must be prejudice," said a 56-year-old advertising worker who lived across from the house where the "nun" lived.

There is a certain terrible, twisted logic of rape liars who invent a black man as their "rapist." Feminist Susan Brownmiller, in Against our Wills, demonstrated that disadvantaged blacks comprise a greatly disproportionate percentage of rapists. (A disproportionate number of rape offenders come from lower socioeconomic classes and are under-educated, under-employed, and under-skilled. See, among many others, Thornhill and Palmer, A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion; Batten, Sexual Strategies: How Females Choose Their Mates.)  But the fact that the inner city -- where every social pathology is heightened by fatherlessness -- sees a disproportionate number of rapes, of course, is small consolation to the overwhelming percentage of innocent black men who are painted with the same broad brush every time the group they belong to is stereotyped based on the misdeeds of some of its members.

And it is isn't just black men who are targeted. In 2010, WABC weather forecaster Heidi Jones, then 37, invented a Hispanic man as her attacker. Many expressed outrage on behalf of the Hispanic community.

That minority males are on the receiving end of injustice more often than anyone is scarcely a newsflash. Case in point: Brian Banks, who was urged to plead guilty to a rape he did not commit -- because his lawyer convinced him no one would believe a black teen male in a rape case.

The racial animus present when white women falsely accuse black or Hispanic men of rape is particularly repugnant because it taps into a time, not that long ago, of the hanging trees of the Deep South, when a white woman's word was a death sentence for an innocent black man or boy. It is a terrible and painful history. Its lessons about race have largely been forgotten; its lessons about gender have rarely been acknowledged. We will continue to remind readers of both.

Study: College students more likely to have sex at party than on 1st date

A new study sheds some disturbing light on college sex -- here is an excerpt from a news report about it:

A large group of the students told the researchers that it’s normal or acceptable to have sex at or after a party, but it’s inappropriate on a first date. They explained their reasoning, the study indicated, by saying parties and dates have “very different” rules and expectations. 
That’s because parties, which numerous students said may involve excessive drinking, create a “more sexually charged atmosphere” where casual sex can occur, but this is not the proper atmosphere for promoting a potential long-term relationship.

A date, on the other hand, would mean the participants wanted to talk in a more formal setting and learn more about each other. “The two only kiss because traditionally a first date ends innocently,” one student wrote. “The two situations were very different.”

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Yale advocacy group declares war on the presumptively innocent accused of sex offenses

Students Against Sexual Violence at Yale have proposed draconian measures against students merely accused of, and not found responsible for, sex offenses.

Regular readers here know that in April 2011, the Department of Education issued a letter telling schools that young men on campus must be found responsible for sex offenses if the evidence tips ever so slightly in favor of the accuser's narrative.

Now, a student group at Yale wants expulsion to be "the standard punishment" for perpetrators of sexual violence.

This is wrong for at least two reasons. First, when an accused is stripped of his Constitutional rights in adjudicating his case, as is the norm on American campuses for sex offenses, the punishment imposed after finding him "guilty" should be less than in settings where the accused is afforded the full panoply of due process protections.

Second, the proposal does no favors for rape victims. 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." 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.
It is well to ask if the advocacy group really wants to attack the problem or to make a statement.

The advocacy group also wants the school to "contract with a trained victim’s advocate to guide survivors through the process." They are not at all concerned with providing the accused student a trained advocate to guide him through the process. The reason for this is obvious. The advocates who are calling for a "trained advocate" have already decided the accuser is a "survivor." Their own language betrays an unfortunate bias that renders their demands suspect.

In addition, the school "must initiate a disciplinary hearing against students reported to the school for sexual violence more than once, whether or not the reports were filed formally."

Never mind the merits of the initial informal or subsequent complaints. The accused must be put on trial because other young men have gotten away with rape.

The extremists have tasted blood following the April 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter, and they are going in for the kill. Let the witch hunts begin.

Dez Wells the latest young man to file suit against a college for wrongful expulsion

In the story  below, the emphasis added is COTWA's -- a chilling point that echoes this case. It is possibly the most important point this blog tries to make. Before you read the story below, you should know how unfairly Dez Wells has been treated, see this -- but don't read it on an empty stomach.

And, now, the latest on Mr. Wells' lawsuit. Source of story:

Maryland guard Dez Wells has filed a lawsuit against Xavier, his former school, and the school’s president, Father Michael Graham, in federal court seeking damages for what Wells alleges was a wrongful expulsion last summer.

The lawsuit was first reported by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports.

According to Wetzel, Wells alleges in the suit that Xavier failed to follow their own policies when they expelled him following a false allegation of a sexual assault.

“From the moment this nightmare began, I’ve been trying to get everyone to understand that I am innocent,” Wells said in a statement given to Yahoo! by his attorney Peter Ginsberg. “The supposed leaders at Xavier destroyed my reputation. It needs to make this right. Xavier needs to set the record straight.”

A quick summation of what happened last summer: Wells was accused of sexually assaulting a student, which resulted in his expulsion from the University. But there was so little evidence that local prosecutors not only declined to file charges, but they went to the media to voice their displeasure with how Xavier handled the case. Hamilton (OH) County prosecutor Joseph Deters called in “fundamentally unfair” and “seriously flawed”.

A week after the news broke, Wells told the same story that is in the lawsuit. A game of ‘Truth or Dare’ led Wells’ accuser bringing him back to her room, where she asked him if he had a condom before they had sex. The next day, she reported to campus police that she had been sexually assaulted. Cincinnati police investigated but declined to press charges. Deters still decided to look into the case, which is where the crux of Wells’ lawsuit begins. From Yahoo!:
Deters, according to the suit, quickly “developed serious concerns about [the] truthfulness of the allegations.” He left messages with Father Graham, the Xavier president, in an effort to convey those concerns but the messages were not returned, the suit alleges. He later discussed with another Xavier official and instructed his concerns be passed on Graham. 
Before the prosecutor finished his work and a grand jury cleared Wells, however, the player was called before Xavier’s University Conduct Board, where the lawsuit alleges a group of administrators, faculty and students “impermissibly placed the burden on Wells to prove his innocence.” 
The suit runs through a litany of what it alleges are breaches of the UCB rules and procedures. It also hammers the group for either dismissing or ignoring the concerns of the prosecutor’s office, failing to wait for “vital laboratory tests” and allowing for just a brief, two-day appeal process. It also alleged UCB members “had received woefully inadequate training” to make a ruling on these kinds of cases.
The complicating factor here was that Xavier was already being investigated for the way that they had handled previous sexual assault allegations. As Ginsberg told Yahoo! Sports, ”it was much more anxious to appease the Department of Education then satisfy its own obligations to fairness for its own students. Unfortunately, Dez was the sacrificial lamb,” He also added, ”it should have been clear to university officials on their own that the accusations were fictitious.”

None of the information that Wetzel provided about the lawsuit that Wells filed is new.

It’s not a secret that Wells — and many others, including this writer — believes that he was railroaded by a University that was looking to cover their own behind.

Kudos to Wells for bringing the fight to them.

A sexual assault allegation is serious. An expulsion as a result is even more so. The fact that Wells is a public figure who will forever be one simple google search away from being assumed to be a rapist is tragic and unfair.

Xavier owed it to him to be more diligent.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Outrage: Woman whose monstrous rape lie sent an innocent young man to prison for four years is sentenced to two months behind bars, to be served on weekends

Elizabeth Paige Coast, the woman who sent a random young man from her past to prison for four years for a supposed rape that never happened (she made it up as a way to explain to her parents why she was visiting pornographic websites), was sentenced this afternoon to serve just two months behind bars, on weekends only. She will also have to pay Mr. Montgomery $90,000 in restitution for the years he spent in prison. See herehere and here.

The story of Johnathon Montgomery's ordeal not only is heart-breaking, it's a cautionary tale about how an innocent young man can be destroyed with no evidence beyond the very shaky say-so of his false rape accuser. If it can happen to Johnathon, it can happen to any young man.

Today's sentence worked an intolerable injustice to Johnathon and the Montgomery family. Although Hampton Circuit Court Judge Bonnie L. Jones said she was deeply disturbed by the case, and added that "this goes to the very heart of our judicial system," it is impossible to see how the actual sentence imposed fit the crime, given that the guilty person was given two months (weekends only) jail time for a crime that sent an innocent man to prison for four years. The prosecutor, Hopewell Commonwealth's Attorney Richard K. Newman, wanted Coast to serve the same amount of time behind bars that Johnathon served, but the court opted to give Coast a slap on the wrist instead. According to one news report: "Just prior to sentencing Coast, Jones asked, 'What do I do? Is it an eye for an eye, or is there room for compassion?'"

It is well to note that there was no room for "compassion" in sentencing Mr. Montgomery when he was convicted on the flimsiest of evidence for a crime that never happened. It is unfathomable how the horrors of spending years in prison on a false rape claim could be lost on the judge. Those are horrors that Ms. Coast will be spared on her weekend sojourns to the local lock-up.

According to a news report, "Coast cried repeatedly during her sentencing hearing; her lawyer tried to portray her as a naive, then 17-year-old, who feared her parents." (So much for accepting responsibility for her actions.) "Coast says she never thought the lie would hurt Montgomery, and only said it was him because he had moved out of the area." (In fact, Coast sat silent after Johnathon was charged, and she allowed him to  twist in a false rape hell for four years. It is one thing to make a split-second stupid decision, and quite another to refuse to correct it after it's apparent that an innocent person is going to suffer because of it, much less suffer for four years because of it.)

The sentence today also does no favors for rape victims because it undermines the public's confidence in the way rape claims are handled. Jurors have no hesitation in holding young men accountable for rape when the evidence is clear. But when the system botches it -- when false accusers and their families, police, prosecutors, and courts allow innocent young men to be convicted for rapes they didn't commit -- it has a chilling effect on juries deciding rape cases. It underscores the uncertainty inherent in charges based on he said/she said facts.

In this case, the justice system needed to send a clear and unmistakable message that such mistakes are not tolerated, that they are not "business as usual." It needed to manifest its outrage, belated though it may be, by punishing the false accuser appropriately. It didn't do that. Now, the next jury called upon to decide a rape case will know that, when it comes to this particular crime, the system tolerates injustice to innocent young men -- and jurors will be all the more wary about convicting even young men who deserve it. If we want to treat rape as a serious crime, we can't tolerate false rape claims.

Punishing Coast in a serious way would not have deterred rape victims from coming forward, and it would not deter recantations by other false accusers. We've dealt with both arguments many times. See here.

All persons of good will need to be outraged about this sentence. Judge Bonnie L. Jones not only has denied Johnathon Montgomery justice, she's done a disservice to the community of the wrongly accused, and to rape victims.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

What message do we send our sons when we insist that a silhouette of a building on a college logo is too "phallic"?

It is an accepted tenet of modern feminism that school dress codes restricting what girls wear "contribute to slut-shaming and rape culture" because they "tell [girls] that they will 'distract the boys' and that their attire is 'slutty' or 'unladylike.'" This message "teaches young girls that their sexuality is wrong" and that "their own bodies are inherently shameful."

Those same feminists would do well to silence the loons in their community who insist that a silhouette of a building on a college logo at Brooklyn College is inappropriate because it vaguely resembles a penis. They are not alone in spewing the lunacy that images generally resembling a penis are somehow threatening to women.

If it is wrong to tell our daughters that the female body is inherently shameful, why is it acceptable to tell our sons that the male body is inherently evil?  It should not be, of course. The question is not even worthy of serious debate, and the vast majority of Americans who are not immersed in "gender" issues would have no difficulty in coming to the same conclusion.

Daughter: I lied and sent my dad to prison for rape

Chaneya Kelly is on a mission: she wants the world to know about a horrible lie she says she told almost 16 years ago – a lie that cost a man his freedom.

“I'm 24 years old and I made this mistake when I was nine years old,” Chaneya told NBC News, “but it's never too late to try and right your wrong.“

Chaneya says that in 1997, she falsely accused a man of raping her. That man – who has always maintained his innocence -- is Daryl Kelly, Chaneya’s father.

“All I think is, ‘One day the truth will set me free,’” said Kelly, from Green Haven Correctional Facility in upstate New York. “All I have to do is hold on.”

In October 1997, Daryl Kelly was living with his wife, Charade, and their five children in Newburgh, N.Y., 90 miles north of New York City. Chaneya, their oldest child, was two months shy of her ninth birthday.

At the time, Daryl -- a Navy veteran who owned a local electronics repair shop -- says he was trying to kick a drug habit to take care of his kids. But Charade was at rock bottom, even turning to prostitution to feed her addiction.

Chaneya remembers being downstairs with her father one morning before school when she had to use the bathroom. When she was done, she went upstairs, and that’s when Chaneya says her mother asked her a question that came out of the blue.

“She repeatedly asked me, has my dad touched me,” recalled Chaneya. “I was like, ‘What do you mean, did he touch me?’ And she was like, ‘Did he touch you in your no-no spot?’ And I would repeatedly say no.”

Chaneya says the more she denied any abuse, the more irate her mother became – and even threatened her with a belt. According to Chaneya, her mother said, “If you don’t tell me the answer that I want to hear, I’m going to beat you.” To avoid a beating, says Chaneya, she told her mother that her father molested her even though it wasn't true.
On the morning of October 29, 1997 Newburgh police took Kelly downtown for questioning. They found some of his answers suspicious.

For example, when they asked him why his semen and fingerprints were found on his daughter, Daryl scrambled for an explanation. According to a police report, he said, “My wife is doing drugs and alcohol. Maybe she’s setting me up.’“
He didn’t know until later that no semen or fingerprints had been found.

In fact, there was no definitive forensic evidence that Chaneya had been raped. While a doctor's report did conclude that there was "possible sexual abuse" because of some redness, Chaneya’s hymen was intact even though she claimed her father had penetrated her.

But with both Chaneya and her mom telling police the same story, it was enough for police. Daryl Kelly was charged with multiple counts of rape and sodomy.

Kelly -- who had never before been convicted of a felony -- refused a plea deal that would have made him eligible for parole in six years, and within a year he faced a jury. Based on Chaneya’s graphic testimony, it took them just hours to find her father guilty, and he was sentenced to 20 to 40 years and barred from having any contact with his children.
After her father’s conviction, authorities removed Chaneya from her mother's custody, citing Charade’s drug abuse, and she was sent to live with her grandmother, Pat Thomas, a Pentecostal minister. It was there – six months after her father’s conviction -- that Chaneya told her grandmother that she was never raped, and that the story had been born out of fear of her mother.

Grandmother Pat took Chaneya to Daryl’s appellate attorney, who videotaped her recantation, in which she says she learned words like “penis” and “vagina” from the prosecution team, and the mechanics of sex from pornography stashed under her parents’ bed. On the tape, she looks uncomfortable, mumbling short, hesitant answers like, “No,” and “I think so.”

Her mother, Charade, also submitted an affidavit to the court, swearing she threatened to beat Chaneya unless she said her father raped her.

The prosecutor argued that the recantation looked coerced, and the same judge who oversaw his original trial a year earlier agreed. He refused to vacate Kelly's conviction.

As the years went by, Daryl began studying the law in prison, and began the long slog of filing appeals -- all of which have been denied.

Meanwhile, Chaneya never gave up on her father. When she was 15, she convinced the courts to allow her to once again have contact with him – and that’s when she went to visit him in prison.

“The first thing my dad did was that he hugged me and he told me that he loved me and … that he doesn’t blame me for anything,” Chaneya recalled. “It was priceless to me.”

Today, Chaneya’s mom Charade says she’s been drug-free for many years. In a recent interview with NBC News, Charade confirmed that she threatened her daughter with a beating, and said she can’t remember why she was so determined to make Chaneya say she had been molested. She blames the incident on a drug binge. “I [had been] gone for three days. And I was really deep in the grip of my addiction.” When asked why she would threaten her daughter if she didn’t lie, Charade said, “I have no idea, I really don’t.”

From behind prison walls, Daryl Kelly has written to anyone who will listen to his story. Last year, one of those letters landed on the desk of Thomas Schellhammer, the head of the newly formed Conviction Review Bureau at the N.Y. Attorney General's office. Schellhammer contacted Orange County District Attorney Frank Phillips, the county’s elected chief prosecutor for almost 30 years, who was in charge when Daryl Kelly stood trial.

In an interview with NBC News, Phillips strongly defended the integrity of the original prosecution, saying he trained his prosecutors “that truth is the most important thing,” and stressing that a jury had found Kelly guilty.

“The system says he’s not innocent, that the credibility of Chaneya was tested, that the issues surrounding her testimony back in 1998 were addressed,” said Phillips.

Phillips also said it was “not unique” for the victim of a crime like rape or molestation to want to protect the abuser by withdrawing an accusation. “It’s part of a dynamic that we deal with. Whether it’s sex crimes or crimes of domestic violence, that is not unusual.”

After hearing from Schellhammer, Phillips recused himself from reexamining the Kelly case and referred it to a committee of the state association of county district attorneys for review. Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick is currently leading a re-investigation; his office told NBC News it declined comment while the review is underway. Detective Thomas Mancinelli, who led the original police investigation in Newburgh, also declined to comment on the case.

Is it possible that Chaneya is simply repressing a horrible memory, that her father really did rape her, and she feels guilty about putting him behind bars?

She says no, that she’d have no problem with her father remaining in prison if he were guilty. “I wouldn’t be here having this conversation.“

As for Daryl, he says he won’t truly be free until he’s vindicated. “This fight will never end,” he said. “I will continue to fight for this. This is my reputation. This is my decree. This is the truth. It's not just for me. It's for my daughter as well.”

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Woman makes false rape claim, cop: 'We run into that all the time'

A news report out of Rexburg, Idaho states that a 20-year-old woman lied about being raped after "an attack of conscience" following consensual sex. (That is certainly a bizarre way to put it: we assume it means that the woman experienced regret after having consensual sex and that she then made up a rape claim to explain it.)

According to the news report: "After interviews of the woman and roommates, it was revealed that she wasn’t truthful, said Capt. Randy Lewis."

In addition: "Lewis said this is not an uncommon occurrence in Rexburg. 'We run into that all the time,' he said."  The woman won’t face any charges for making any false claims, and police consider the matter closed.

Two important about this case:

Regret: The false claim was driven by regret. A perceived need to cover up an illicit sexual encounter is a primary motivation for false rape claims, and it's the one kind of "false rape claim" that is preventable. One of the common motives cited by experts for false rape claims is "remorse after an impulsive sexual fling . . . ." Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case, S. Taylor, K.C. Johnson at 375 (2007).

An unlikely source, feminist gadfly Amanda Marcotte, once wrote that "the idea that it's shameful to just have sex because you want to" is "the reason that you have false rape accusations in the first place." Marcotte noted that "women who aren't ashamed of having sexual adventures like group sex-even ones that go bad-don't use rape accusations to cover up their choices. It's the women who are afraid they'll be called sluts if it gets out that make up these rape stories." Amanda Hess similarly talked about women who make false claims to defend their "femininity." There is much truth in what they say. Without excusing the false accuser (who, like the rapist, must be held accountable for her actions), false rape claims are largely culturally induced.

Men and women view casual sex differently, and women feel remorse more than men following one-night stands. A study shows how common remorse is for women following one-night stands: "Overall women’s feelings were more negative than men’s [about one-night stand casual sex]. Eighty per cent of men had overall positive feelings about the experience compared to 54 per cent of women. . . . . The predominant negative feeling reported by women was regret at having been 'used'. Women were also more likely to feel that they had let themselves down and were worried about the potential damage to their reputation if other people found out. Women found the experience less sexually satisfying and, contrary to popular belief, they did not seem to view taking part in casual sex as a prelude to long-term relationships."

A recent study shows that women lie about having sex to meet societal expectations. When women believe they can lie and get away with it, they understate the number of their sexual partners. When they were hooked up to a lie detector and thought they had to be truthful, they reported more sexual partners than when they felt no such compulsion to be honest. For men, the result was exactly the opposite: when men thought they could lie and get away with it, they reported more sexual partners than they reported when they thought they had to be truthful. Researcher Terri Fisher, an Ohio State University professor of psychology, explained: "Sexuality seemed to be the one area where people felt some concern if they didn't meet the stereotypes of a typical man or a typical woman."

Similarly, last year in Ohio State University's student newspaper The Lantern, Amy Bonomi, a professor of human sexuality at OSU specializing in domestic violence and assault, said: "Women tend to feel bad after having a random hook up," she said. Typically men are not upset by these occurrences. Bonomi attributed this situation to society's "gender double standard" that men are expected to be more sexually forward than women.

The fact that only women can get pregnant should not be discounted as the primary reason why women seem hard-wired to have greater ex post facto regret than men.

Police Officer's Comment: Police officers sometimes note, in a moment of either candor or frustration, that a significant percentage of rape claims are false. Police officers generally are careful not to make statements that might put off women from reporting their rapes, and such a comment probably isn't necessary even if the police officer believed it.

A police officer must not only be fair but must have the appearance of being fair.  In any given case, it is not at all important about what happens in other cases. Women who cry rape should not be automatically believed (as some advocates suggest -- because they insist women don't lie about rape) nor disbelieved (some people believe women routinely lie about rape). Regardless of a police officer's views about other cases, he is supposed to be investigating this case. Justice is fact-specific, and police should have no preconceived notions going into a case about whether a claim is true or false -- the goal should always be to do justice by getting at the truth in the case at hand.

Woman who murdered her allegedly abusive husband as he lay in bed with his eyes closed is denied parole

The case of Niki Rossakis, who is serving time in prison for murdering husband Gary as he lay in bed with his eyes closed in their Astoria home in 1993, became -- in the words of the New York Daily News -- "a cause celebre for advocates of battered women nationwide . . .." Rossakis maintains that she was regularly sexually assaulted by him. Earlier this week, Rossakis was denied parole.

Rossakis, who was addicted to pain killers, never produced witnesses or physical evidence that she was terrorized by her husband, a 6-foot-2 auto mechanic and gas station owner. “Despite your assertions of abuse being rejected by a jury after hearing you testify ... you continue to blame your victim for his death,” the parole board wrote in its decision.

According to the New York Daily News:
In May, Rossakis’ eldest son, John, told the Daily News that he grew up believing his mother’s version of the tragedy: that his father was a monster and she acted to protect herself and her children. He was 4 years old in 1993 when his father was killed. 
Last summer, John pored over trial testimony and police evidence. Now a 24-year-old law student, he became convinced his mother assassinated his father in cold blood, he said. 
She lied about the abuse, he says he believes. She was worried her husband was about to discover she had blown the family’s savings on drugs, the son says.
Gary’s younger sister Tina, said her large and tight-knit family was relieved that parole was denied. “I’m fearful that she has the capacity for that kind of violence again,” Tina said. “This isn’t about punishment. It’s about protecting our family.”

Rossakis's attorney says she has consistently taken responsibility and expressed remorse for her actions.

According to the Daily News: ". . . 20 years after Gary Rossakis’ murder, she still has her ardent supporters. Dozens have written in support of her getting parole."

We will never know for certain what happened in the privacy of the Rossakis marital bedroom, but it is grossly unjust to Gary Rossakis --  who is not here to defend himself against his wife's allegations and has no victims' advocates speaking on his behalf -- to assume he was an abusive husband just because the woman who killed him in cold blood says he was.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Rape is not 'normalized': expert says the vast majority of men would never commit rape

Dr. David Lisak, one of American's most respected experts on sexual assault and a darling of feminist bloggers, gave the opening address to a large crowd at the 2013 Summit on Sexual Assault, called Not in Our State, at Montana State University on Monday.

Dr. Lisak explained that over 90 percent of all rapes are committed by serial rapists. Their crimes are purposeful and planned, and are not the result of confusion.

According to the news report -- and this is important: "The silver lining is that only a small percentage of young men crossed the line, and the vast majority would never commit rape, he said. They are potential allies who can be educated and motivated with bystander training to help prevent rape." (Emphasis added.)

Read it again. "The vast majority would never commit rape." Lisak's words buck the meme that rape is "normalized" among young men. Jessica Valenti, a once-prominent gender blogger and one of the purveyors of the maleness-is-broken crowd, has written: "Rape is part of our culture. It's normalized to the point where men who are otherwise decent guys will rape and not even think that it's wrong. And that's what terrifies me."

Snarky anti-rape campaigns directed at "men" in general (e.g., posters that "remind men" not to rape etc.) have sprouted up, and they always draw waves of indignation from male readers at Reddit. (Claims that these campaigns have actually worked are dubious at best. Dr. Lisak has elsewhere stated that de minimis sexual assault education isn't going to stop these serial sociopaths who commit almost all the rapes. "These are clearly not individuals who are simply in need of a little extra education about proper communication with the opposite sex," he has said. "These are predators.")

Rape is not normalized, it is aberrant criminal behavior that is almost universally detested. Contrary to Jessica Valenti's hysterical and misplaced views, "otherwise decent guys" don't so easily forget their decency and do such a vile thing, and Dr. David Lisak, who actually knows what he's talking about, confirms that. Sociopaths -- who know they are doing wrong when they prey on the innocent -- are the problem. Every sane and rational person already knew what Lisak said before he said it: the vast majority of men would never rape, but there has been an invidious campaign afoot for many years to make masculinity, not the rapists, the villain in the gender passion play of sexual politics. Masculinity does not need an overhaul. Masculinity, per se, is not the problem (in fact, many studies have shown that in the inner city, the absence of masculinity -- in the form of male role models -- has a direct correlation to disproportionate rates of rape and every other social pathology). The rapists are the problem, not "men."

We would go further and suggest that far more characteristic to masculinity than the urge to rape is a strong visceral reaction of anger, and sometimes tragic overreaction -- including vigilante beatings and killings, to mere accusations of rape.

Instead of demonizing young men as potential rapists-in-waiting, we would do well to view them as critical allies in the war on rape.

Dr. Lisak's speech on Monday revealed nothing new. He's been saying the same thing for years. Moreover, in the surveys about campus rape that are frequently relied on to show that rape is a serious problem, there is a statistic that is rarely ever discussed, but it may hold the key to addressing the real problem. According to the National Institute of Justice: "Surveys of men and women on college campuses show a striking disparity in the proportion of women who report being assaulted and the proportion of men who report (even anonymously) being perpetrators. For example, in the Campus Sexual Assault survey, 19 percent of the women reported experiencing a completed or attempted sexual assault since entering college, while 2.5 percent of the men reported being perpetrators."

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

The National Institute of Justice, however, suggested this possibility: "Relatively few men sexually assault women . . . ." Page 5-28 at

That possibility has been confirmed by Dr. David Lisak.

Rape is a serious problem in America because of a relatively small group of sexual predators who use both alcohol and unsuspecting women to accomplish their vile plans. To the extent we ignore the real problem, and concentrate on how it's necessary to reconstruct masculinity, we do a grave disservice to rape victims, and we reduce young men to gross caricature.