Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Motivational speaker wrongly arrested for sexual assault

Myles Himmelreich, a Calgary-based motivational speaker with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, was wrongly accused of sexual assault. Here is his story, as reported here:

Last October, Calgary police released a grainy photo that showed Himmelreich, along with a statement they were looking for the man in the photo as a suspect in a sexual assault. It ran all over the local media.

It's the kind of publicity no public speaker seeks, and since Himmelreich could prove he was speaking at a conference in Vancouver at the time, it should have been easy to clear up.

It wasn't.

Himmelreich told the story in Winnipeg Tuesday -- how he called the detective in charge, how he was forced through a humiliating arrest scene at his gym and cuffed in front of his friends, all before he could see the detective.

Worst of all, he was released without any official confirmation he'd been falsely accused. What he did next turned an embarrassing public episode and potential ruinous criminal record into a public success story that cleared his name.

Children and Youth Opportunities Minister Kevin Chief, in the audience Tuesday, nudged a reporter as Himmelreich launched into the ordeal and said "Listen to this. This is a powerful story."

Himmelreich said he didn't fall apart, nor did he sue the police.

He hired a lawyer, sought help from family and friends and gave the whole miserable incident a lot of thought.
Then he went to the police, got a TV interview with the local Global station and did what he does best: talk about the arrest, how a false accusation can damage an innocent person and offer a face-saving way for the police to make amends without spending a penny.

He gained a lot of new allies to his cause and a promise from the Calgary police to attend a talk of his on FASD.

"You know," Himmelreich said after the presentation, "I could have overreacted. As I sat in that van, I thought 'I can act differently or I can act in a way that it is going to make a change.' I sat in that van, and I knew I needed to do the right thing, which was keep calm and just keep moving forward."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sorry if I can't muster any sympathy for Missoula prosecutor who brought charges against Jordan Johnson

Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg is not happy that the the U.S. Department of Justice has singled him out  for perpetuating gender bias against women when prosecuting cases of sexual assault.

Van Valkenburg fumes that he's innocent, damn it!

Now read this carefully: he claims that people should "keep in mind that there are always two sides to every story." He also said his office has an "ethical obligation" not to file cases that lack sufficient evidence.

Excuse me if I can't muster any sympathy for you, Fred.

This is the same man who charged University of Montana quarterback Jordan Johnson with sexual assault -- that trial ended in an acquittal last year, and one alternate juror made the following chilling comment: "The lack of evidence was troubling . . . . there was no evidence that Jordan Johnson knew that he had sex without consent." Kirsten Pabst, former chief deputy county prosecutor before becoming one of Mr. Johnson's attorneys, said that the County Attorney’s Office charged Mr. Johnson with a sex crime just "to send a message."

Is it possible Fred Van Valkenburg made Jordan Johnson a sacrificial lamb to demonstrate that he's not soft on sexual assault?

You remember the Johnson case, I'm sure. Mr. Johnson and his unnamed accuser had been flirtatious, and at a university ball, the accuser purportedly told Mr. Johnson, “Jordy, I would do you anytime.” They went back to her apartment, and after their encounter, the accuser cried rape, Mr. Johnson denied it, and the accuser sent a text to a friend: "The reason I feel this whole situation is my fault is because I feel like I gave Jordan mixed signals which caused him to act the way he did." In another text message, the accuser told someone, "I don't think he [Johnson] did anything wrong." But she still expressed happiness that he was going to be charged with rape -- according to a defense motion filed in the case, the text message said: "It will hit him like a ton of bricks which I'm okay with [emoticon smiley face] so wanna get lunch Thursday?"

This is sufficient evidence to destroy a young man's life? What was that about an "ethical obligation," Mr. Valkenburg? About "two sides" to every story?

What you need to know is this: good old Fred Van Valkenburg assigned five prosecutors -- count 'em: five -- including an assistant attorney general and an attorney in private practice, to pursue this case against Jordan Johnson. He even brought in feminist sexual assault guru Dr. David Lisak to testify for the prosecution. (Dr. Lisak was a lot of help: he testified that trauma could explain the changing stories of an alleged rape victim, but that lying could explain the same behavior.)

Do you think that Fred Van Valkenburg assigns five prosecutors and flies Dr. Lisak in to testify every time a black woman claims a kid in the inner city raped her?

So what was all that about, Freddy? This "win at all cost" mentality in a case where there was so little evidence and two sides to the story?

Well, you do that math: the New York Times said the charges against Jordan Johnson were brought "against the backdrop of a federal investigation into how . . . the city and county of Missoula, handled sexual assault allegations . . . ." And then Freddy Van Valkenburg made a startling statement. While he claims he doesn't think the charges were filed because of the federal investigation, he candidly admitted: “I can’t say the atmosphere in Missoula didn’t operate in my mind somewhere” as he considered whether to file the charges.


We have no idea if this man is really soft on sexual assault. But it is troubling that someone could charge a high profile kid in a case that raised so many questions.

And notice that the Department of Justice isn't buying that the prosecutor is tough on sexual assault merely because he went after the big man on campus in this one case.

Here's the bottom line: the worst thing that can happen to presumptively innocent men accused of sex crimes is when officials give in to public outcries over rape. Innocence Project guru Mark A Godsey has said that "the risk of wrongful conviction is the highest when there’s public outcry. Most of the exonerations and wrongful convictions have occurred in rape cases."

It would be nice if we lived in a world where rape crimes are prosecuted fairly, but the sad fact is that rape hysteria is sometimes fomented over a legitimate perception that rape is tolerated. Ironically, one way to minimize rape hysteria is to insist that prosecutors like Fred Van Valkenburg diligently and fairly prosecute rape cases. If the public perceives that rape is taken seriously and that the cases are fairly prosecuted, the chances of a public outcry about rape that tempts prosecutors to charge innocent men is lessened. 

Prosecutors who turn a blind eye to rape are no friends of the wrongly accused. They are part of the problem.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

False rape claim gets woman deferred year in jail

A Somersworth woman received a deferred jail sentence on Tuesday when she admitted to falsely claiming she was raped by a specifically named man.

Cassandra Nickerson, 25, of 16C First St., pleaded guilty in the Portsmouth Circuit Court to a misdemeanor charge of making a false report to law enforcement. Her plea was part of a negotiated agreement with police prosecutors who dismissed a companion charge of unsworn falsification.

According to a police affidavit, Nickerson told investigating detective Rochelle Jones that a named man pushed her onto a bed in a Gosling Road motel, removed her clothing, then raped her. She alleged the rape occurred Feb. 23, 2013, and made the false report at the local hospital, police said.

During a subsequent interview, Nickerson told the detective she “made up” the story because she was “embarrassed” by her consensual sexual conduct with the man she accused of rape, the affidavit states.

Nickerson was given a 12-month jail sentence, which is deferred for a year providing she remains of good behavior and continues counseling. After the year, Nickerson is required to petition the court to suspend the jail time for an additional year.

She was also convicted for a charge of breaching bail conditions and given an identical sentence of one year in jail, first deferred, then suspended. That conviction was due to Nickerson's guilty plea to a charge of theft in Newington, while under bail conditions mandating she remain arrest-free.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Police say woman gave false report in sexual assault case

Portland police said Tuesday that a 22-year-old rape victim falsely told them the man who attacked her was a stranger.

Police said the woman told them that the Jan. 28 attack happened as the woman was walking past Grant High School on Northeast 36th Avenue.

She told police a man with light or tan skin in his 20s pulled up in his white or light colored Chevy Tahoe or Blazer SUV, got out and grabbed her. He then slammed her face into the side of the truck and dragged her to the north end of Grant Park and raped her.

But during an interview Tuesday, police said the woman admitted to falsely stating that the suspect was a stranger and that she provided a false suspect description to a forensic sketch artist.

Police said they have now withdrawn the sketch and CrimeStoppers is withdrawing its reward in the case. Police said they don’t believe the public is in any danger.

Detectives are continuing to investigate the incident and haven’t made any arrests. Police said they thoroughly investigate all reports of sexual assault.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Dartmouth defends administrator's hateful comment about expelling students based solely on a sex accusation

Here's a follow-up to the Kafkaesque, hateful comment by Dartmouth administrator's Amanda Childress we reported on last week. You might recall that Childress was speaking about alleged sex offenses when she said this: "Why could we not expel a student based on an allegation?"

Astoundingly, Dartmouth is defending the comment:
Dartmouth says that Childress . . . was speaking rhetorically and that the question did not represent a personal belief. 
"[S]he was not suggesting policy, but was asking a question—a provocative one—meant to generate dialogue around complex issues for which answers are necessary to continue to strengthen and promote fair and equitable processes at all colleges and universities,” Dartmouth College spokesman Justin Anderson told Campus Reform in an emailed statement.
Dartmouth's reaction only makes matters worse.

Dartmouth should have used the concerns expressed about Childress's comment as an occasion to affirm its commitment to long-cherished principles of due process. For starters, it should have unequivocally distanced itself from the comment. Instead, Dartmouth chose to endorse the comment and to insist that it raises important issues that need to be discussed.

It is one thing for a college to have a rogue administrator who makes hateful comments, quite another for the school to lend its imprimatur to them.

The question that Dartmouth thinks is legitimate "to generate dialogue around complex issues" is, of course, no more legitimate than asking why blacks aren't stripped of their due process rights when they are accused of crimes because of the prevalence of criminal convictions in the African American community. Even posing such a question would generate instantaneous, widespread, and justifiable outrage. That Childress's comment did not generate any, much less remotely similar, outrage outside of a small corner of the Internet is a chilling barometer of a stifling political correctness that has gripped the academy. Dartmouth's defense of Childress's comment is morally grotesque and an affront not only to the community of the wrongly accused but to all civilized notions of decency.

The question that Dartmouth thinks is legitimate to start a dialogue is reminiscent of the well-known, odious comments by Vassar's Catherine Comins, who suggested that false rape claims can be beneficial for their victims because they supposedly spark introspection:
Catherine Comins, assistant dean of student life at Vassar, . . . argues that men who are unjustly accused [of rape] can sometimes gain from the experience. "They have a lot of pain, but it is not a pain that I would necessarily have spared them. I think it ideally initiates a process of self-exploration. ‘How do I see women?’ ‘If I didn’t violate her, could I have?’ ‘Do I have the potential to do to her what they say I did?’ Those are good questions.”
Comins' bizarre comment has been quoted frequently as symptomatic of a hateful trivialization of the wrongly accused. We doubt that Vassar ever went so far as to officially endorse it as Dartmouth has endorsed Childress's similarly offensive comment.

The only legitimate questions that Childress's comment raises are these: Where are the Dartmouth parents who pay in excess of $40,000 per year to send their sons to that school? Do they think it's legitimate to ask if their sons should be expelled if they are merely accused of a sex offense?  Where are the Dartmouth alumni? Is this the kind of dialogue they think is appropriate? Where are the Dartmouth students? Do they think it's somehow appropriate to ask whether they or their male classmates should be expelled solely on the basis of an accusation?

Cue the crickets. Perhaps they all need to be reminded that due process is the greatest bulwark against tyranny ever designed by man, that it doesn't exist to protect the guilty but the innocent, and that to protect the innocent, it must be applied to everyone. Perhaps they never learned any of that.

Discussing ways to reduce sexual assault on campus is a legitimate and worthwhile endeavor. Suggesting that due process be discarded for one class of students should be cause to terminate the person who suggested it, not to defend, embrace, excuse, or legitimize the suggestion.

Seven years in prison for a rape lie

Story here.

Seven years after being falsely convicted of rape, Edgar Coker Jr., 22, of Mineral, said he’s ready to move on.

“To hear that you’re finally free, it’s like a reality check,” Coker said Monday afternoon in an interview at the University of Virginia School of Law. “I got so used to not going to certain places, and now I’m able to just live my life.”

A Fairfax County circuit judge vacated his sentence last week, and his name was taken off the sex offender list. It was the end of an ordeal that began in 2007 when Coker, then 15, pleaded guilty to raping a 14-year-old girl. He took a plea deal on the advice of his attorney because he faced a potentially long prison sentence in an adult facility.

The girl recanted her accusation just two months later, admitting she had lied. Coker’s legal team — attorneys with the Child Advocacy Clinic and the Innocence Project Clinic at UVa’s School of Law, as well as Legal Aid Justice Center and the McGuire Woods law firm — secured Coker’s early release from juvenile prison, which took 15 additional months. Despite Coker’s release, his name remained on the sex offender registry.

Coker said most of his classmates understood the situation and treated him well. But the long list of restrictions on sex offenders often kept him from socializing outside of school. He usually stayed at home, he said, while friends went out.

“I was just cautious, watching my every move,” he said, “not trying to do nothing.”

There were some missteps. Attending a high school football game in 2011 at his alma mater led to his arrest due to his lingering status. His family moved several times when neighbors found him on the registry and harassment began.

A note left at their house said a rapist lived inside. There was at least one death threat online.

Dierdre Enright, director of the Innocence Project Clinic, believed clearing Coker’s name — overturning the conviction and getting his name removed from the sex offender list — would be fairly easy. But a procedural obstacle forced a legal battle that went all the way up to the state Supreme Court.

“Getting him released was the easy part,” Enright said. “The tough thing was getting him vindicated.”

Coker’s lawyers filed for a writ of habeas corpus — a petition for release from mandatory detention — while he was on parole, but the suit was dismissed by a Stafford County judge on the grounds that Coker was not being detained.

Coker’s attorneys appealed to the state Supreme Court, where they argued that parole is a form of detention, which makes the habeas petition valid. In 2012, the court ruled in Coker’s favor, opening the door for a lawsuit against the state Department of Juvenile Justice that could clear his name.

“We had hope that something would happen, at some point,” she said. “We just didn’t know when and if it was going to happen.”
Enright said Coker’s case shows why threatening juveniles with adult prison can be problematic. Fear of the danger he faced in the adult system was enough to make him plead guilty in a weak case — Coker’s accuser, she said, has a history of false accusations.

Then there was the long battle over a procedural roadblock.

“There’s people who will say about this — ‘the system worked,’” Enright said. “That is the most empty response you can have to this situation.”

Coker said he wished police and prosecutors had been more thorough with their investigation.

“I just think on serious cases, they should really look into it … before they throw someone’s life away,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

'Woman stole her date's SUV, then falsely accused him of rape'

Story here.

A Valentine's Day tryst ended with an Ocala woman in jail, accused of stealing her date's car.

Lloyd Jackson Jr., 48, called police Saturday to report that Tammy Hamilton, 47, had stolen his Ford Explorer, according to Ocala Police Department reports.

When officers arrived at Hamilton's home at 2246 W. Fort King St., Ocala, Jackson told them he picked her up Friday and they spent Valentine's Day together. He said she spent the night at his apartment, reports state.

When he awoke on Saturday, Jackson said, Hamilton and his Explorer were gone. He called a friend who drove him to Hamilton's residence and a short time later she reportedly drove up in the Explorer. Jackson said that, when she saw him, Hamilton tried to put the vehicle in reverse but he was able to reach through the passenger side and remove the keys, according to reports.

Hamilton went inside the house while Jackson waited outside for police to arrive. When officers spoke to Hamilton, she denied using the vehicle and blurted out that Jackson had paid her for sex, reports state.

Hamilton then accused Jackson of rape. After further investigation, including a trip to the hospital, Hamilton admitted she made up the rape claim, according to reports.

Hamilton was booked at the Marion County Jail on one count each of grand theft auto and giving a false report to law enforcement. She was being held Monday in lieu of a $5,500 bond.

'Woman made up rape story to cover for missing work, deputies say'

Story here.

A woman who didn't want to get in trouble for skipping work fabricated a story about being sexually assaulted on the side of the highway, leading investigators from multiple agencies to waste more than 100 hours searching for a suspect who didn't exist, deputies say.

Alexandra Anne Westover, 21, of West Boca, showed no remorse even after a deputy pointed out her lie created unnecessary work for the investigators, nurses and victim advocates, according to a Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office report. She did not return a call seeking comment Friday.

Advocates for victims of sexual assault say that while false allegations are extremely rare – making up only 2 to 10 percent of all cases – they harm true victims. Tracy Cox, spokeswoman for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, said such instances can stop people from reporting real assaults.

"Sadly enough, there is already a stigma associated with sexual assault and a lot of times, people who have been violated hesitate to come forward because they feel that perhaps they won't be believed," she said.

"There are a lot of barriers a survivor already faces coming forward, so when you have something like this happen, where someone made a false report, that can also impact them."

The story Westover told deputies was of a brazen attack that happened in broad daylight in the middle of the morning rush hour on Florida's Turnpike. She said she it happened after she had car problems around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday and pulled over between the exits for Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter, the Sheriff's Office said.

According to Westover's account, a man offered help, then asked if she had a sharp object to pull off a hubcap. She leaned inside her car to look. The man pushed Westover in, ripped her dress, tore her underwear and sexually battered her, the story went.

She gave a detailed description of her alleged attacker. He was a heavy-set, 5-foot-10, 40-something Hispanic man with salt and pepper hair, green eyes and bushy eyebrows. He wore dark blue work pants and a light blue, short-sleeved shirt with yellow stitching on it, and drove a white truck with a black rack.

On Wednesday, Westover showed a deputy the route she supposedly took the previous day, pointed out where she pulled over and demonstrated how she was battered.

But there was a problem: Florida Highway Patrol troopers found no video footage of her vehicle on the Turnpike from northern Florida all the way to the Keys, according to the report. Still, Westover stood by her story – even when the deputy asked if she was lying.

The Sheriff's Office put out her account that night and asked anyone with information to come forward. Westover's dad called the deputy the next day, Thursday, and said she admitted making the whole thing up. Soon after, she came clean to the deputy. She said she did it because she didn't want to get in trouble for not showing up for work at her great uncle's house that day.

Westover, who had no criminal history in Florida, is charged with false report of a crime and perjury not during official proceedings. She spent about six hours in jail before being released Friday without bail, records show.

'Rape hoax leaves community in shock'

Story here.

Detectives are trawling CCTV after dozens of hoax rape warning letters were left on car windscreens.

The letters, which are graphic in content, detail how two women have been raped in Shaw, Oldham.

But police have told residents in the area to ignore the letters, which officers now believe are bogus.

Detectives say they thoroughly investigated reports detailed in the letters which claim two sex attacks that took place late at night, and that the claims are ‘totally false’.

The police said that the accusations made in the letters had left residents in fear.

They said the letters were made on a computer and are now being forensically examined. Officers are now going through CCTV footage to see if they can trace who has left the letters.

Detective Constable Tony Anwas said: “There has understandably been a lot of anxiety and rumour as a result of these malicious letters being left on people’s car windscreens.

“Rumours spread in such a small area and can quickly become ‘fact’ so I want to reassure residents that we have investigated this matter thoroughly and no such rapes or sexual attacks have taken place.

“It is unclear why the author has gone to such trouble to make these accusations, but they are totally false and there is no need for residents to be concerned or worried.

“Police in Oldham take every report of rape or sexual assault very seriously and all reports are investigated. Our number one priority is to protect the people living and working in our communities and where evidence of any criminality is found, be it sexual or otherwise, we will take action.

“However, we also need to protect our communities from unnecessary fear from malicious rumours which is exactly what this letter is doing.”

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Wicked cycle: Prosecutor doesn't take rape seriously; public outcry over the prosecutor's lapses; prosecutor finds sacrificial lamb to charge to quell the public outcry

The Department of Justice claims it has substantial evidence that the Missoula County Attorney's Office in Montana systematically discriminates against female sexual-assault victims. See here.  The public outcry over that prosecutor's practices has been percolating for many months, and we fear that it led him to charge a college football star who should not have been charged. Even the prosecutor admitted: “I can’t say the atmosphere in Missoula didn’t operate in my mind somewhere” as he considered whether to file the charges. After the trial, which the prosecutor devoted inordinate resources to win, an alternate juror went on the record and said "there was no evidence" to support the charges against the football player.  Read about that disturbing case here.

In Great Britain, there is strong indication that a witch-hunt of male celebrities is afoot as the Crown Prosecution Service attempts to atone for perceived past failures to nail purported serial sex predator Jimmy Savile. Read about it here.

In the military, there is a public outcry over a perceived lack of concern about sexual assault, and that outcry puts pressure on authorities to find sacrificial lambs. See here.

It is a disturbing pattern that is at the heart of too many injustices we report on. Innocence Project guru Mark A Godsey has said that "the risk of wrongful conviction is the highest when there’s public outcry. Most of the exonerations and wrongful convictions have occurred in rape cases."

A rape witch-hunt is never justifiable. But rape hysteria is sometimes fomented over a legitimate perception that rape is tolerated. While the public recoils at the thought of prosecuting an innocent man, the public also has no tolerance for rape or patience for prosecutors who tolerate it. The public wants rapists behind bars and the innocent to be spared prosecution. It is a tough balance.

Ironically, one way to minimize rape hysteria is to insist that prosecutors diligently and fairly prosecute rape cases. If the public perceives that rape is taken seriously, the chances of a public outcry about rape that tempts prosecutors to charge innocent men is lessened. Accordingly, prosecutors who turn a blind eye to rape are no friends of the wrongly accused. They are part of the problem.

Friday, February 14, 2014

College Administrator Thinks A Sexual Assault Accusation is Enough to Warrant Expulsion

American colleges are animated by a disturbing hostility to the due process rights of young men accused of sexual assault. Usually, this hostility bubbles just beneath the surface, feigning interest in fairness. But more and more, it's become emboldened by efforts of the Department of Education to crack down on campus rape, and its been manifesting itself in more open, more blatant ways. This is one of those cases, and it's among the ugliest, most chilling we can recall.

This is from the news article where it appears:
Amanda Childress, Sexual Assault Awareness Program coordinator at Dartmouth College, [said] campus policies aren't going far enough to protect students. "Why could we not expel a student based on an allegation?" Childress asked at the panel, before noting that while 2 to 8 percent of accusations are unfounded (but not necessarily intentionally false), 90 to 95 percent are unreported, committed by repeat offenders, and intentional. "It seems to me that we value fair and equitable processes more than we value the safety of our students. And higher education is not a right. Safety is a right. Higher education is a privilege."

A lawyer was present to call Childress on it: "I think the ability of our communities to rely on the processes on both sides of the equation is inextricably connected to a fair, equitable process that is thorough and based on evidence, not just conjecture, speculation and rumor," said Gina Smith, a partner at Pepper Hamilton Law Firm who consults with campuses on how best to address sexual assault and comply with federal laws. "We cannot in individual cases just punt to statistics."

Childress' assumption of guilt based on an accusation is something that would have resonated with the grinning mob at the hanging trees of the Old South.  The motivating impulse of the lynch mob was that rape was an offense so heinous, it demanded “instant and severe punishment” — vigilante justice — without waiting for due process. As one lynching apologist wrote in the New York Times, lynchings “are extraordinary measures demanded by extraordinary occasions.”  Underlying the defense of lynchings was the assumption that rape accusers were “victims” just because they said so. The hangman and his sympathizers had no doubts about the guilt of the men and boys hanged–“their guilt was clear in every instance,” clucked one writer. Another explained: “. . . the utmost care is taken to identify the criminal and only when his identity is beyond question is the execution ordered.” And: “As the most careful precautions are taken against this result it is not a likely thing lest the wrong man is executed.”

Like the hangman and his devotees of old, Amamda Childress assumes guilt on the basis of an accusation, presumably because rape happens too often.

That a prominent college puts someone with that view in a position of leadership is nothing short of appalling. Welcome to the American college campus, 2014, where the tyranny of political correctness trumps fairness.

A misguided distrust of the legal system is behind much of the advocacy about rape

Reading Katie McDonough's tired, incredibly angry piece in Salon that repeats all the familiar mantras of radical feminist rape advocacy, it dawned on me that I simply can't respond to all of these things. It feels like we're living in a George Romero movie -- we shoot one slow-moving zombie, there are four more right behind her. Their latest lie is that you are more likely to be hit by an asteroid than to be falsely accused of rape.

I won't respond to any of it (but it occurred to me that  I would have a pretty damn difficult time filling up a blog with stories about asteroid hits -- I have no problem filling this blog with news of false rape claims). In any event, it occurred to that there is a fundamental belief among all of these writers that pervades the entire milieu even when it's unstated. It's that the criminal justice system fails victims of sexual assault on a massive scale. That's the elephant in the room and ought to be the focus of our attention.

The system does fail some victims--there are too many examples where law enforcement hasn't taken sexual assault seriously or investigated properly. These are gradually disappearing, and the need for standardized law enforcement protocols and practices is now well-recognized. Katie McDonough her ilk are grossly unfair to the vast majority of police departments that do make great efforts to treat these cases seriously.

But their gripe seems to go way deeper than that. Their gripe seems to be that there's not a conviction for every rape claimed by a woman on a survey.

First, assuming a one-to-one correlation between surveys and the actual incidence of rape poses all sorts of thorny issues. See here. (You know, one in five women also claim they've seen or been in the presence of a ghost -- just sayin'!)

Second, it's easy to declare in the abstract that justice isn't being done, but when the actual evidence regarding specific sexual assault claims is examined, in most cases where charges aren't brought or where a defendant is cleared, there are valid reasons for it. And I'm not talking about "the woman lied!" -- those are only a small portion of claims. The ideologues who write about this issue refuse to acknowledge the validity of these reasons. If we wanted to have an adult discussion about how terribly the system fails victims, we would need to do a careful examination of a few hundred claims. All the evidence I've seen tells me that when we talk about specific cases, it isn't nearly as black-and-white as the ideologues claim, in fact, it's usually pretty damn grey and messy.

Third, some rapists are going to walk because our legal system believes it is more important to protect the innocent from being punished than to punish an offender. The first time I raised Blackstone's Formulation in my blog, I was astounded by the level of vitriol hurled at me. Two feminists called for me to be brutally raped.

I can't stand the Oppression Olympics we are drawn into. But unfortunately, every measure to roll back the due process rights of the presumptively innocent in sex cases is accompanied by arguments like the ones Katie McDonough makes. We don't have a monopoly on the truth, but we think the issues we raise ought to make their way into the public discourse when these things come up. We report in this blog on terrible injustices that could have been avoided with greater fidelity to principles of due process, yet we are dismissed as a hate site.

It's not worth trying to respond to the Katie McDonoughs of the world. And it's not an either-or proposition. We ought to be minimizing sexual assault on a host of fronts, but that doesn't mean we have to make it easier to punish the innocent for something they didn't do.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

But, but, but . . . false rape claims are so rare, we shouldn't worry about them

Edgar Coker’s name to be taken off Va. sex offender list years after false accusation

By Susan Svrluga, Published: February 12, 2014

A Stafford County judge has ordered a Virginia man’s name removed from the state’s sex offender registry and his conviction vacated after the court ruled that he received ineffective counsel from his attorney.

Edgar Coker Jr. was 15 in 2007 when his attorney, Denise Rafferty, advised him to plead guilty to raping a friend rather than risk being sentenced to years in an adult prison. Two months after he went into juvenile detention, the then-14-year-old girl recanted her accusation. Nonetheless, Coker spent 17 months in a juvenile prison and his name was added to the sex offender registry.

But it’s not easy to undo a conviction.

“It took a team of half a dozen attorneys, dozens of law students, a pro bono law firm, a legal aid justice center and two clinics at U-Va. law school,” said Matthew Engle, director of the Innocence Project at the University of Virginia School of Law, which helped Coker.

“And several private investigators,” added Deirdre Enright, the co-director of the clinic.

“It took that team six years,” Engle said, “to undo what happened in 15 minutes in juvenile court.”

Circuit Court Judge Jane Marum Roush ruled that Coker’s court-appointed attorney failed to give him effective assistance because she had done “little or no investigation of the facts of the case” before advising him to plead guilty. Roush cited concerns about Rafferty’s work, including not finding the taped interview with a detective in which Coker said that the girl had invited him into her house and that the sex was consensual and not investigating the accuser’s reputation for honesty.

“The court does not believe Ms. Rafferty’s testimony that [Coker] made a ‘full confession’ to her,” Roush wrote.

Rafferty did not return a call seeking comment. In a July hearing, she told the judge that the family had not cooperated with repeated requests for school records or people who would defend him.

Roush gave Stafford Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Olsen 60 days to decide whether to re-prosecute Coker. A staff member at Olsen’s office said he had no comment on the case. The assistant attorney general and Coker’s attorneys have 21 days to file an objection to the ruling. A request for comment to the attorney general’s office was not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.

Enright said that Coker, 22 and living in Orange County, Va., has had trouble getting good jobs because his name is on the list and that his family moved repeatedly to avoid neighbors concerned that he might be a predator. After he was released from detention, he went to high school, where he was a track star. But when he returned to watch a football game after graduation, he was arrested because convicted sex offenders are not allowed on school grounds.

Michele Sousa, the mother of the girl who had accused Coker, said she was very happy “because there’s finally closure — this finally has come to an end.” When her daughter told her that she had lied, “I thought there was some sort of a way to just reverse everything, click the ‘undo’ button and — I didn’t expect to have to go through every court in Virginia and go on and on for years.”

When some of Coker’s attorneys reached him by phone to tell him about the judge’s ruling, he was relieved and pleased, Engle said. “This is all very overwhelming to him, and he is only just now beginning to understand . . . that he’s won, and the end is at least in sight.”


COTWA salutes Michael Sam for having the courage to come out, but why isn't Sam Wheeler's homophobic speech protected by the First Amendment?

The antidote to offensive speech isn't to toss the Constitution onto a scrapheap of indifference. The KSU administrators who suspended Wheeler from the wrestling team would do well to read this.

Frank Bruni said this about objections in the NFL to a gay football player: "When did the locker room become such a delicate ecosystem? Is it inhabited by athletes or orchids?" Unfortunately, college campuses have been a "delicate ecosystem" for a long time. They are places where many things are tolerated, but opinions that don't neet the approval of the thought police aren't among them.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tara Culp-Ressler: When a man and a woman engage in precisely the same conduct, he's a 'rapist' and she's a 'victim'

James Taranto has written a piece for the Wall Street Journal that is the epitome of common sense. Of course it has been purposefully misconstrued by chattering radical feminists.

Mr. Taranto writes about sex partners who engage in mutually reckless drunken sex; that is, both parties are intoxicated and mutually decide, in their drunken states, to have sex. Both of them engage in precisely the same conduct; the only difference is that one has a penis and one has a vagina.

Mr. Taranto thinks it is unjust to hold only the man responsible when two drunks mutually decide to have sex.

And this is controversial, how?

It's not. To label one drunk who decides to have sex a "victim," and the other drunk who decides to have sex a "rapist" -- based solely on the genders of the drunks -- is something out of "Mad Men." In Mr. Taranto's scenario, the male is every bit as much a "victim" as the female, and the female is every bit as much a "rapist" as the male. Mr. Taranto wasn't talking about a man who decides to rape or take advantage of an incapacitated woman, Mr. Taranto was talking about mutually stupid drunken sex. Period.

Mr. Taranto's take is common sense, people. Only someone dishonest, stupid, insane, or with an ideological agenda to pursue could disagree.

Cue Tara Culp-Ressler.

"In a Wall Street Journal column published on Monday," Culp-Ressler writes, "conservative commentator James Taranto argued that a 'balanced' approach to the college sexual assault crisis involves placing equal blame on rapists and their victims, if both of them were drinking alcohol."

What on earth are you talking about, Culp-Ressler?

Culp-Ressler, whose biography says she "advocated for women's issues" during college, wants Mr. Taranto's piece to say something it doesn't, so she rewrites it. She twists and pounds it beyond recognition. She holds it up to a funhouse mirror. I haven't seen so much straw man since Dorothy met Ray Bolger on the yellow brick road.

In the scenario posited by Mr. Taranto, the parties' genders, not their conduct, is the only thing that differentiates them. With no authority beyond her serene ipse dixit, Culp-Ressler has deigned to label the participants "rapist" and "victim" based solely on their genders -- the so-called "rapist" is guilty by reason of penis.  So much for gender equality, fairness, and objectivity.

So please explain, Culp-Ressler, is this what feminism is? A man and a woman engage in precisely the same conduct, yet one party is a felon, and the other is a victim, based solely on their genders?

And they wonder why so few people -- including so few women -- identify as feminist? It is pieces like Culp-Ressler's that engender disrepute of this tired movement.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Drunkenness and Double Standards: A balanced look at college sex offenses By JAMES TARANTO

The headline in the New York Times's Education Life section reads "Stepping Up to Stop Sexual Assault." The story, by reporter Michael Winerip, is more balanced than that.
Unlike many journalists writing about this subject, Winerip acknowledges the problem of wrongful accusation. He recounts the story of Dez Wells, who was a star basketball player at Ohio's Xavier University. A female student went to the campus police claiming Wells had raped her. He denied the charge, saying that the pair had consensual sex after a game of truth or dare. Investigators concluded no rape had occurred. "It wasn't close," prosecutor Joseph Deters tells Winerip. A grand jury declined to hand up an indictment.
Deters "repeatedly tried speaking with Xavier officials, but they did not respond." Instead, they hauled Wells before a campus tribunal, which expelled him: "When Mr. Deters read the transcript of that hearing, he says: 'It shocked me. There were students on that conduct board, looking at rape kits; they'd say, "I don't know what I'm looking at." ' "
The story has about as happy an ending as such a case can have. On the strength of a character reference from the prosecutor--"I told them he was a really good kid, he'd never been in trouble with the law and I didn't believe he'd done anything wrong"--the National Collegiate Athletic Association allowed him to transfer to the University of Maryland, waiving its usual one-year delay for such actions. "Several times last season at away games, including one at Duke when he scored 30 points, fans taunted [Wells] about being a rapist, shouting, 'No means no.' " (Mike Nifong, is that you?)
Wells is suing Xavier--which, for its part, seems to have learned a lesson from the incident: "Xavier now refers all assault cases to [Deters's] office."
At the other end of the spectrum is an incident last Labor Day at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. A young man allegedly "stopped a young woman heading home alone from a party," then "pinned her against a tree and began kissing and biting her neck." She told police that he throttled her so that she couldn't yell, and that "after 10 minutes, she was thrown to the ground . . . and raped." Passersby then broke up the alleged attack, took pictures, and contacted police. The defendant, Patrick Durocher, has been charged with aggravated rape; last month he pleaded not guilty.
Winerip makes clear that the unambiguous brutality of the alleged Amherst attack is atypical. "These aren't people jumping out of the bushes," Sgt. Richard Cournoyer, a Connecticut state trooper who's investigated a dozen assault allegations against University of Connecticut students, tells the reporter. "For the most part, they're boys who had too much to drink and have done something stupid. When we show up to question them, you can see the terror in their eyes."
The main topic of Winerip's piece is a preventive program called "bystander intervention": "Mostly it is common sense," he writes: "If a drunk young man at a party is pawing a drunk young woman, then someone nearby (the bystander) needs to step in (intervene) and get one of them out of there. . . . The goal is to stop bad behavior before it crosses the line from drunken partying to sexual assault. . . . The hope is that bystander programs will have the same impact on campus culture that the designated driver campaign has had in reducing drunken driving deaths."
It sounds quite sensible, not to mention shrewd. Bystanders are encouraged to favor subtlety over confrontation, to employ "diversions" such as "suddenly turning on the lights at a party or turning off the music; accidentally spilling a drink on the guy; forming a conga line and pulling him away from the woman he's bothering and onto the dance floor. . . . In the best of circumstances, a drunken aggressor won't realize he's been had."
Winerip recounts one successful intervention that was more forthright:
Matt Martel [was on] a taxi ride home with a friend and a very drunk woman they'd met at a UMass party. "The two of them were touching, cuddling, it was obvious she was down for whatever," says Mr. Martel, a junior. "She'd lost her inhibitions to the point that it really seemed like a good idea for her to go home with this guy she hardly knew."
Mr. Martel got between them to take her back to her dorm. "I said, 'Dude, come on, she's hammered,' " he recalls. His friend was angry. "It was outright awkward," Mr. Martel says. The next day the girl thanked him, but Mr. Martel didn't take a lot of pleasure from it. "I could tell she didn't remember what she was thanking me for," he says, "but someone told her she should, so she did."
The question arises here: Whom exactly did Martel save from danger? The answer is quite possibly both the young woman and his friend. Had she awakened the next day feeling regretful and violated, she could have brought him up on charges and severely disrupted his life. Both of them were taking foolish risks, and it seems likely that he as well as she had impaired judgment owing to excessive drinking.
Winerip notes that between 2005 and 2010, "more than 60 percent of claims involving sexual violence handled by United Educators"--an insurance company owned by member schools--"involved young women who were so drunk they had no clear memory of the assault." We know from Sgt. Cournoyer that the accused young men typically are drinking to excess, too. What is called the problem of "sexual assault" on campus is in large part a problem of reckless alcohol consumption, by men and women alike. (Based on our reporting, the same is true in the military, at least in the enlisted and company-grade officer ranks.)
Which points to a limitation of the drunk-driving analogy. If two drunk drivers are in a collision, one doesn't determine fault on the basis of demographic details such as each driver's sex. But when two drunken college students "collide," the male one is almost always presumed to be at fault. His diminished capacity owing to alcohol is not a mitigating factor, but her diminished capacity is an aggravating factor for him.
As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education notes, at some campuses the accuser's having had one drink is sufficient to establish the defendant's guilt:
Stanford's definition of consent to sex imposes a concept that is foreign to most people's idea of adult consent and inconsistent with California state law. Stanford policy states that sexual assault occurs "when a person is incapable of giving consent. A person is legally incapable of giving consent . . . if intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol." In other words, any sexual activity while intoxicated to any degree constitutes sexual assault. This is true even if the activity was explicitly agreed to by a person capable of making rational, reasoned decisions, and even if the partners are in an ongoing relationship or marriage.
In theory that means, as FIRE notes, that "if both parties are intoxicated during sex, they are both technically guilty of sexually assaulting each other." In practice it means that women, but not men, are absolved of responsibility by virtue of having consumed alcohol.
That is self-evidently unjust, yet it turns out to be a matter of high principle for many feminists. Last fall Slate's Emily Yoffe, the mother of a college-age daughter, was the target of a Two Minutes Hate for a post titled "College Women: Stop Getting Drunk," even though she offered the same advice to college men: "If I had a son, I would tell him that it's in his self-interest not to be the drunken frat boy who finds himself accused of raping a drunken classmate."
One might argue, as City Journal's Heather Mac Donald does, that there are reasons to hold men in particular to high standards of behavior:
A return to an ethic where manhood consisted of treating women with special courtesy would be a victory for civilization, not just for college co-eds. The chivalric ideal recognizes two ineluctable truths: men and women are different, and the sexual battlefield is tilted in favor of males. On average, males are less emotionally affected by casual sex; if given the opportunity for a series of one-off sexual encounters with no further consequences, they will tend to seize it and never look back. . . . The less that a culture signals that men have a special duty toward the fairer sex, the more likely it is that the allegedly no-strings-attached couplings that have replaced courtship will produce doubts, anguish, and recriminations on the part of the female partner and unrestrained boorishness on the part of the male.
But as Mac Donald notes, contemporary feminists "embrace the Victorian conceit of delicate female vulnerability while leaving out the sexual modesty that once accompanied it." That they do all this in the name of equality is downright Orwellian.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Woody Allen: The Final Word

"No one wants to discourage abuse victims from speaking out, but one must bear in mind that sometimes there are people who are falsely accused and that is also a terribly destructive thing."

Unfortunately, the people who dominate the public discourse on this subject don't think it's necessary to acknowledge the "sometimes."

Read it here.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Did you know that celebrating an acquittal in a rape trial is a bad thing?

This story is out of the UK. Beloved television star William Roache of the soap Coronation Street has been acquitted by a jury of eight women and five men at Preston Crown Court. Shortly thereafter, the owner of SysFix IT Support posted details of a 25 per cent offer on the company’s website to celebrate the acquittal.

But the chief executive of the Rape Crisis South London rape and sexual abuse support center, Yvonne Traynor, is appalled by the offer. She said: “It’s disgusting for someone to turn this [acquittal] into a media opportunity." She added: "I’m just hoping that this will not deter other women from coming forward that have been raped.”

Say what?

Expressing approval about an acquittal in rape case is disgusting and might keep women from coming forward? Seriously?

First, let's state the obvious. The suggestion that publicizing or celebrating an acquittal in a rape trial will keep women from reporting rape is absurd -- there is no evidence for this epiphany -- and attempts to shame those who do it are heinous. We hear similar glum pronouncements after many high profile rape cases end in an acquittal or where the accusation turns out to be false. After Duke lacrosse, some people were downright apoplectic when the accused young men were declared "innocent" by the state's attorney general. (Would they have preferred that the accuser actually be raped?)

Second, what this company did was scarcely a "media opportunity" until Traynor used it to her advantage. A "media opportunity" is what happened at Duke after false rape charges were lodged against three innocent lacrosse players. There were daily protest rallies, including the pot-bangers with their "castrate" banner, and relentless media coverage that assumed the players' guilt. Folks who advocate for sexual assault victims were fine with those media opportunities.

A "media opportunity" is what happened at Hofstra, where the news media appallingly jumped on a scary college rape story by presenting four minority young men as rapists. The young men turned out to be innocent, but even after that, they were booed on a national television show.

A "media opportunity" is what happens to men (usually, but not always, well known men) who are accused of rape and subjected to a perp walk. For well known men, police often tip off the news media, and then the suspects are intentionally paraded through a public place like war trophies so reporters can splash video of the humiliated suspects on the 6 o'clock news. The news media defends this barbaric practice despite the fact that it undercuts the presumption of innocence to the point that "even Mother Teresa" would like guilty in one. Prof. Alan Dershowitz has said: "The next time I have to defend a case where there’s any chance of a perp walk, I’m going to federal court to demand an injunction against it."

A "media opportunity" was the William Kennedy Smith trial, the biggest media circus trial this side of O.J. Or  the Tawana Brawley spectacle. Smith was aquitted, Brawley was a fraud, and people like Ms. Traynor were fine with the media circuses.

A "media opportunity" is any number of high profile cases where presumptively innocent men's names are dragged through the mud like this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one and this one, and this one. In each of those cases, the men were either innocent or at least cleared of vile charges, but not before their good names were scarred.

A "media opportunity"was Lorena Bobbitt's trial for slicing off her sleeping husband's penis. It was a mini-feminist Woodstock with a carnival atmosphere. Outside the courthouse, feminists sold buttons that read: “LORENA BOBBITT FOR SURGEON GENERAL.” Hundreds of Lorena Bobbitt supporters cheered their champion when she walked outside the courthouse, but the man she mutilated — the real victim — was greeted with boos and whistles. When the jury found Lorena Bobbitt not guilty of malicious wounding by reason of insanity, self-described feminists cheered and gave each other high fives. In Lorena Bobbitt’s hometown of Bucay, Ecuador, hundreds took to the streets, cheering and firing shots into the air the way joyous fans do when their team wins the World Cup or the Super Bowl. That was a media opportunity.

I don't know anything about Yvonne Traynor except what I read in the news story linked above, but it's fair to assert that "media opportunities" are just fine and dandy for a lot of people so long as a presumptively innocent man's name is being dragged through the mud or it's used to show support for a putative sexual assault victim.

Celebrating an acquittal of someone you love or admire, and even using the occasion to give a discount, is not "disgusting," and people who celebrate acquittals should not be shamed with unsupported assertions that it would put off rape victims from reporting. What's disgusting and appalling are attempts to use an acquittal in a rape case to fan the flames of rape hysteria.

Woman Charged with Making False Sexual Assault Claim

I've been seeing many articles recently questioning what someone would have to gain, in make a false claim. And while it doesn't state it in the article, you have to wonder if the claim of sexual assault was made as an attempt to get out of the burglary charges, which certainly would be something to gain.

Gabrielle Caughey made the claims while she was being investigated on theft charges.

A Massachusetts woman is facing charges that she lied to police about being sexually assaulted.

Gabrielle Caughey, 21, of 37 Vincent Road, Mendon, MA is charged with two counts of theft by unauthorized taking and one count of false report to law enforcement. She was released on $5,000 personal recognizance bail and is scheduled to be arraigned in Merrimack District Court on Feb. 25.

According to Merrimack Police, Caughey was arrested on Friday on a warrant stemming from an incident that was reported on Oct. 28, 2013. Caughey was a suspect in a theft from a residence. Upon investigating the allegations, it was found that the items in question were pawned at nearby pawn shops by Caughey.

Also during the investigation, Caughey claimed that she was sexually assaulted by a male subject. After further investigation, it was found that her allegations were false.

A warrant was later completed for Caughey's arrest and she surrendered herself to police without incident.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Amanda Marcotte gets it right

I give Amanda Marcotte a lot of credit for writing this. It had to be difficult for her to write because I am sure she doesn't enjoy taking issue with young feminists. She obviously thinks it was the right thing to do here. It was.

This is not the first time COTWA has been in agreement with Ms. Marcotte. Either she's slipping, or we are.

Prof. Althouse on Woody Allen

"I feel empathy for Dylan Farrow, but I think we are living in a fallen world, and we are surrounded by human beings all of whom have their sins, known and unknown. To purport to know what cannot be truly known is also a sin. To punish and shun one person out of preference for another when the truth is not known is surely not an exalted virtue, if it is a virtue at all."

Isn't this a lovely spectacle? Male animals forced to fight each other for the enjoyment of spectators

This is disgusting beyond words.

Statue of sleepwalking man at Wellesley College is "a source of apprehension, fear, and triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault"

At Wellesley College, a statue of a sleepwalking man has got the feminists in a conniption.

If someone actually thought this inanimate object was a real man even for a few seconds,would they assume he's a rapist? A rational person would not. He's groping around almost naked in the snow, unable to keep his eyes open. More likely someone would think that he's (a) drunk, and (b) not a threat to anyone but himself. But presumably because he's a man in his underwear, that's enough for hysterical young women to assume he's a rapist.

The reaction reminded me of the Harvard women in the snow phallus story.

A reader sent us his reaction to the sleepwalker, and I laughed out loud, so I repeat it here:
"[It has] become a source of apprehension, fear, and triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault... It has already become a source of undue stress... People see this as assaulting... It's making students on campus feel unsafe." 
Read those words. Over and over and over. And then tell me that, even if I gave you a thousand tries, you would guess that they were describing a statue. 
A statue, Pierce. 
A fucking statue. 
If the guy in the statue were black, it would be racist and dehumanizing as well. 
If the statue were a woman, it would surely be misogynist and demeaning.
If the statue were a red-throated loon, it would be a Wellesley student.
Now that's funny.

The overreaction to the statue is sick and unhinged. To the extent this story is seen by middle America, the overreacting women are seen as a laughingstock, as man-haters, and as a coddled mess.

And they actually wonder why so few people -- including so few women -- identify as feminist? Seriously?

If this were a statue of a life-like bear that provoked fear and alarm on campus, would objections to it carry the same politically correct weight?  If this were art that mocked Christianity, would objections to it be respected? I don't have to tell you the answer to those questions.

But make the statute look like an average looking guy in his underwear, and feminists have an absolute conniption.

We are stranded in an era where feminists can find "rape" in the snows; where rape hysteria trumps the First Amendment; and where art is only deemed appropriate when it discomforts mainstream sensibilities, irrational feminist sensibilities are protected at all costs.

Let's only hope these young women don't ever take a field trip to Florence. There's no underwear on the male statues in the Piazza della Signoria, and they would have a stroke if their sensitive eyes accidentally glimpsed the Rape of the Sabine Women.

Woman who made false rape allegation is fined £90

£90 (or about $146 U.S.). That is the punishment for a rape claim that resulted in three men being arrested. So that means that the punishment for falsely crying rape works out to less than $50 per person arrested. And yet people question what would someone have to gain by falsely claiming to have been raped? My question is, what do they have to fear? It's obvious that the level of punishment, regardless of the damage the claim may cause to those accused/arrested, doesn't mean much to those making the claim.

Perhaps the charges should be equal to those being claimed. A false charge of a felony level crime results in a felony charge of false reporting, with a higher level of punishment attached, and a false charge of a misdemeanor level crime results in a misdemeanor level charge.

Regardless, the damage to the falsely accused needs to be taken into account when levying charges to those who level the false accusation.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Add Anne Theriault to the list of anti-intellectual writers who assume a man is a rapist just because a woman said so

Read it here, if you have the stomach.

This goes way beyond "wrong," or "stupid," or "unjust."  To assume Woody Allen is a rapist, as this proud feminist does, is downright evil. Yes, evil.

Are you noticing a trend here?

*Jessica Valenti

*Roxane Gay

Where are the fair-minded feminists? Seriously. Are there any fair-minded feminists out there who will take issue with this idiocy?

Woman who made false rape claim sentenced

A WOMAN claimed she had been raped to cover up an affair, a court has heard.

Jessica Gore, 32, of Curtis Road in Ashford has been given an eight month suspended prison sentence after she falsely claimed she had been raped in September last year.

Gore reported the sexual assault to police on September 24.

She said a man had come up behind her in an alleyway near Curtis Road when she was on her way back from babysitting.

At the time of the claims detectives in Ashford were investigating a series of sexual assaults in the area.

Detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate took on the investigation after a description of the man given by Gore resembled an efit image issued by police.

Enquiries revealed, however, that Gore had been seeing another man and the claim of rape had been made up as an excuse to her husband for her returning home late.

A week after the complaint was made. Gore was charged with perverting the course of justice and at Canterbury Crown Court on Tuesday Judge Heather Norton sentenced Gore to an eight-month suspended prison sentence.

After the conclusion of the case Detective Inspector Richard Vickery said: "Kent Police takes very seriously all reports of rape and sexual assault and all are fully investigated by experienced detectives.

"In this case, the allegation of rape proved to be untrue but was not admitted until after extensive enquiries had been carried out by detectives at a time when there was understandable public concern about a number of earlier assaults being carried out in the Ashford area.

"I would echo the comments made by Judge Norton in court that this is a very serious type of offence and by its very means strikes fear into the hearts of women, undermining actual victims. Gore had lied to family, friends and the police and her deception was uncovered by the police investigation and not her own admission."


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

If Jessica Valenti's latest piece is representative of "feminism," then "femimism" is laugh-out-loud ridiculous

Jessica Valenti has penned the most anti-intellectual piece I can recall reading -- but don't take my word for it, read it yourself here.  She's done something I would not have thought possible on the topic of Woody Allen: she's topped Roxane Gay's piece for irresponsibility, hatefulness, and plain old forehead-slapping stupidity.

It is one thing to be respectful of a woman who says she was sexually abused and to insist that she not be dismissed as a liar or a fraud -- all persons of good will should insist on that. It is quite another to suggest, however so obliquely and coyly, that "we know" that a presumptively innocent man who has never been charged with, much less convicted of, any crime, and who certainly may be innocent, is guilty of sexually assaulting a woman more than two decades ago just because the woman says so.

Valenti's clear and palpable implication is that "we know" Woody Allen is guilty because other women -- who have no relevance whatsoever to the facts of this case or the parties at issue -- have been abused by other men, a fortiori, this woman was abused.

The idiocy at work here is breathtaking, chilling, and laugh-out-loud funny, all at once.

Valenti's piece makes one especially outrageous statement. She says we need to "start to believe victims en masse . . .." What she really means, of course, is that we should believe that every accuser is a victim based solely on the accusation. In Valenti's world, there is no difference between an accuser and a victim. That, alone, should exile Valenti from the adult table on this very serious topic.

Valenti has a habit of writing things about rape that are, by any rational measure, inane, presumably to keep herself relevant in the feminist community without regard to how her comments play to the general public. For one thing, she believes that rape is normal for even decent men: "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."

Valenti is wrong, of course. Dr. David Lisak, a researcher on sexual assault whose work is widely touted by feminists, instructs that rape is committed by a relatively small group of repeat-offender sociopaths: "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." See here.

But why let the facts get in the way of a meta-narrative? Given Valenti's irrational, wholly incorrect, world-view, it's little wonder that she's suggested America follow the lead of Sweden, where "some activists and legal experts . . . want to change the law there so that the burden of proof is on the accused; the alleged rapist would have to show that he got consent, instead of the victim having to prove that she didn’t give it.” In other words, the act of lovemaking that has gone on around the world countless times a day since the beginning of time would be presumptively rape any time a woman cries rape -- guilty until proven innocent.

I have no idea if Woody Allen is guilty or innocent, and neither does Jessica Valenti. Accusations of this nature are troubling, and in these sorts of "he said, she said" cases where it's not clear who is being truthful, especially where decades-old allegations are concerned, the accuser should never be branded a liar, and the accused should never be branded a rapist. But one article after the next, all penned by persons with the same world-view as Valenti, seek to tilt public opinion against Allen by doing exactly what Valenti has done: ignoring the facts of the actual case they are writing about. One of the few articles that has bothered to analyze the facts is this one, and it makes a compelling argument for doubting the accusation. There is also this, which casts doubt on the accusation. We point out these sources not to endorse them but simply because the persons who dominate the public discourse on this issue don't bother to mention them at all. In fairness to the accuser, we have no idea if these sources paint an accurate picture. Questions of guilt and innocence in the sexual assault milieu should never be tried in news articles.

When writers like Valenti insist that a man is guilty of rape in a particular case because some other men commit rape in wholly unrelated cases, I wonder if they realize how foolish they come off.

Sadly, my guess is that the thought never occurs to them. Let's all be for gender equality and fairness and justice, but stick a fork in feminism, it's done. If this is a shining example of it, there is nothing remotely salvageable.

Rape charges dropped 'in interest of justice'

Charges have been dropped against a Medford man accused of raping a developmentally delayed neighbor who falsely reported the alleged crime.

Erroneous prosecution in cases of sex abuse are "extremely rare," said Deputy District Attorney David Hoppe, who filed a misdemeanor count of initiating a false report Tuesday against the 28-year-old female complainant.

"In the interest of justice," Hoppe dismissed charges of first-degree rape and sex abuse, as well as second-degree sex abuse, against 38-year-old Kenneth Daniel Reynolds.

Arrested Dec. 2, Reynolds was released Thursday from the Jackson County Jail, where he had been held on $1 million bail. Reynolds was scheduled to stand trial this week in Jackson County Circuit Court.

The woman initially told her counselor that Reynolds had raped her several times in November. The counselor reported the case to the Medford Police Department.


Monday, February 3, 2014

Writer has a conniption because college women use restrooms where men use urinals

Right-winger Pamela Geller is having a conniption because major universities are instituting "non-gender specific bathrooms" that have both stalls and -- horrors! -- urinals. That's right, urinals.

What's the problem with urinals, you ask? Geller explains that unless your daughter is the type who will "fellate any guy who asks her to, and if she actually respects herself, her body and her self-worth, this could be – sexually traumatic."

You read that right. "Sexually traumatic." But wait, it gets better.

"A young girl finishes class, goes to the bathroom to refresh herself and she opens the door to the restroom to find a male student whom she has never met relieving himself in a urinal. What is going to protect girls from sexual predators in such a situation?"

Right. Because evil college men use urinals to lie in wait, sexual organs in hand, to rape and sexually traumatize unsuspecting women. I mean, what better opportunity is there to commit sexual assault than in a public restroom where, at any given moment, anyone -- students, professors, campus police -- might walk in?

If you don't think Geller has sufficiently reduced college men to vile caricature yet, here comes the topper. Geller honestly wonders: "How many college frat boys might use this venue to masturbate or expose themselves to victims?"

Read it again if you have to, then ask yourself, what does this woman's concern say about her view of young men? To Pamela Geller, our sons are nasty walking sex machines. More amusing is her twisted fantasy about what goes on at urinals. She'd be crestfallen if she knew how boring they really are, and that men have one goal at the urinal -- to get done as quickly as possible.

She sums it up: subjecting young women to the sight of young men at urinals "is sexual abuse." Geller declares: "It is scary."

No, Ms. Geller, it's you that is scary. Your post is intended to oppose public accommodations for marginalized students. In so doing, you've unwittingly paraded your contempt for half the population of planet earth -- the half that uses urinals.

This may be the most outrageous rush to judgment in a sex case we've seen in a long time

It is time for all persons of good will to boycott Salon and like-minded Internet sites that never met a rape accusation they didn't believe. Roxane Gay's article on Woody Allen is among the most irresponsible, poorly-reasoned, and outrageous articles I've ever seen, and that's saying a lot.

It is one thing to be respectful of a woman who says she was sexually abused and to insist that she not be dismissed as a liar or a fraud. It is quite another to declare that the presumptively innocent man she accuses -- who has never been charged with, much less convicted of, any crime, and who certainly may be innocent -- is a "sexual predator." That's what Roxane Gay has called Woody Allen.

Gay's piece is yet another of those somber, hand-wringing columns that doesn't bother to deal with silly things like evidence. In fact, Gay doesn't even mention, much less analyze, the particular facts of the case at issue. She assumes from the first word that the accused man she's writing about is guilty of years-old sex offenses based on nothing more than the accusation.

What's Gay's supporting evidence for this epiphany? The "pervasiveness of sexual violence around the world is overwhelming," rape is underreported, and there is "little . . . to be gained from false accusations of sexual assault."

I'm not making this up.

Prof. Alan Dershowitz, a titan of the criminal defense bar, once wrote that in sexual assault cases, "don’t assume anything until all the evidence is in. The story is almost never what it appears to be on first impression."  In the Woody Allen case, at least this article cites actual evidence -- and it casts serious doubt on the accusations. I have no idea if it paints an accurate picture. Gay's article, on the other hand, relies solely on feelings, or more accurately, biases and predispositions, to convict Allen.

That none of Gay's blather even touches upon the actual case she's supposedly writing about likely won't be noticed by her like-minded readers. But just imagine the reaction if a writer for a major internet site assumed that a black man was guilty of a crime because, she writes, blacks commit a lot of crimes. That writer would be fired that day, and rightly so.

To show how silly and one-sided Gay's piece is, she takes to task New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof for having the temerity to state the following completely factual statement: “Allen’s defenders correctly note that he denies the allegations, has never been convicted and should be presumed innocent.”

Gay is also upset that in the reporting about the story, reporters refer to Allen's adopted daughter as Allen's adopted daughter.

I'm not making this up.

But the real problem may be that Gay doesn't just think Allen is guilty, she wants Allen to be guilty: "I know I would rather stand where I stand and eventually be proven wrong than support Woody Allen and eventually be proven wrong."

Folks like Gay do survivors of sexual assault a grave disservice by holding up unproven, doubtful cases as examples of rape culture. Fair-minded people don't like to see men who might just be innocent destroyed on the basis of an accusation. If the Woody Allen case is all they've got, most people aren't buying it. Sadly, people like Gay do this all the time. It could be worse: sometimes, they try to prove the existence of rape culture by citing cases where the accusation was proven false. See here.  Which begs the question: aren't there are enough actual rape cases to write about without latching onto a doubtful case and smearing a presumptively innocent man with vile assumptions?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

One of the great speeches: President Obama's Speech at Notre Dame in 2009

". . . I said a prayer that night that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me. Because when we do that -- when we open up our hearts and our minds to those who may not think precisely like we do or believe precisely what we believe -- that’s when we discover at least the possibility of common ground."

It's words resonate in these divisive times.

The entire speech is here.

It is unjust to assume Woody Allen's guilt

Here are two articles about the accusations of sexual misconduct being lobbed at Woody Allen: On Woody Allen Abuse & Victim Shaming and The Woody Allen Allegations: Not So Fast.

The first article assumes guilt in this case because bad things happen in other, unrelated cases.

The second painstakingly lays out the facts applicable to this particular case, facts that most people aren't aware of, facts that suggest we should not assume Woody's guilt.

We are stranded in an era where the public discourse about these sorts of cases overwhelmingly assumes guilt based on other, unrelated instances, and assumptions about men in general, as opposed to the facts of the case at issue. These sorts of witch hunts are unjust, anti-intellectual, and a sad barometer of how society views men.