Monday, June 30, 2014

Man wrongly imprisoned for sexual assault amid "terrible climate" for presumptively innocent men. Anti-sexual assault advocate says there is nothing wrong with "silence, secrecy and shame finally being challenged" and "if that is making some people uncomfortable then tough luck."

According to a news report, a man wrongly imprisoned for almost a year on false claims of sexual assault was released only after police dismissed another case where his accuser said she was gang-raped by a car-load of men. The man is suing the police, claiming they knew the sexual assault report was probably untrue. His accuser had told police that the man was circumcised when, in fact, he wasn't. Nevertheless, they persisted in strip-searching and humiliating him, and then they locked him up for months for something he didn't do.

The news report of the suit quotes a veteran attorney about the "terrible climate" for men accused of sexual assault, the worst he's ever seen. "The way in which sexual assault cases are being prosecuted, there is a real risk of miscarriage of justice. In this case, but for the false complaints that were made about other people, [the accused man] might be languishing in prison for crimes he didn't commit."

But then, the news report veers off into dark territory in the interest of generating heat. It quotes anti-pedophilia activist Hetty Johnston, who "said there was nothing wrong with 'silence, secrecy and shame finally being challenged'." She continued: "If that is making some people uncomfortable then tough luck."

I would like to see the actual question posed to Hetty Johnston that elicited this declaration. Did the reporter tell her that her quote would be used in connection with the case of a man wrongly imprisoned for almost a year? Regardless, Hetty Johnston's comments are jarringly insensitive in the context of this story. "Tough luck" that a man could be wrongly imprisoned for almost a year? This attitude is emblematic of a hostility to due process that not only imperils presumptively innocent men and boys but does no favors for rape victims. The public loathes rapists but does not tolerate callously mocking the rights of innocent men and boys in the name of waging war on rape.

But wait, the article isn't finished. It also quotes an anti-abuse campaigner named Anthony Foster who, the article says, "questioned whether lawyers were simply worried they were 'losing control' because it was becoming harder to discredit victims in sexual assault cases."

No, Mr. Foster, I'd say the veteran lawyer quoted in the story wasn't bemoaning the fact that he can't help rapists beat the rap. He was bemoaning the fact that a man was wrongly deprived of his liberty for almost a year.

If anti-rape advocates want the public to get behind their efforts, they need to denounce rape lies because every rape lie diminishes the perceived integrity of every rape victim, and they need to come up with more appropriate reactions when the lives of presumptively innocent men and boys are destroyed by selfish rape lies and incompetent police.