Friday, January 1, 2016

Victims' advocate uses Cosby indictment to explain why rape victims often not believed by others

I have followed with interest the large number of women who allege they were victimized by Bill Cosby.  Many of them describe the same modus operandi:  Cosby invites them to his house or hotel room at night and gives them some wine and pills, which they consume.  He is a married man who is known to hang out at the Playboy mansion.

Many of them described how Cosby assisted them financial.  Some might say he paid them off to buy their silence.  So, Cosby was never arrested for sexual assault and, if these claims are true, was permitted to continue using alcohol and drugs to facilitate sexual assault on other women.

Julie Bornhoeft from WEAVE,  a Sacramento agency that supports victims of domestic violence and rape, laments that many victims do not report sexual assault when a person has a prominent position or a high profile in society because nobody believes them.  She uses a person's high position in society and the low rate of false allegations as proof that victims are to be believed.

Bornhoeft's assertion ignores the allegations that some of these women did report it, got paid off, then stopped pursuing charges.  So, Bornhoeft blames the system for not believing women who say they were sexually assaulted by a person who has a prominent position or a high profile in society. So, it's the cops fault when they receive a report of sexual assault and drop the case after the complaining witness is paid off and stops cooperating.  And, cops should never consider for a moment that a person is making a sexual assault complaint in order to be financially compensated because that notion would be absurd.

And, if people rarely lie about sexual assault, then why are victims being disbelieved?  Either the false allegation rate of 2-8% is inaccurate, the epidemic of victims not being believed by the cops and District Attorneys is inaccurate, or cops and District Attorneys are highly illogical when investigating sexual assault.  Why does the media always seem to indicate that studies show that the rate false allegations range between 2% and 8% when other studies indicate they are far higher? 

Could the reason why some complaints are not believed by law enforcement because there is a very high rate of false allegations?  If so, then perhaps more victims should advocate harsh punishments for those who make false allegations because they cause law enforcement to disbelieve actual victims.  Could the reason that some complaints are not believed by law enforcement because they see a high profile person as a target for unscrupulous people who extort money?  Then, advocates should condemn the practice of victims taking hush money from their rapist.

And, as a former prosecutor, I question the inferred widespread fragility of sexual assault victims who shrink away and stop cooperating when asked difficult questions.  I have worked with victims of sexual assault.  I have asked them tough questions prior to trial.  I preceded these questions with an explanation as to why I am asking the questions, which is that the defense attorney is certainly going to ask this question, so I would prefer to know what the answer is before I go into the courtroom.  I have NEVER had a victim give up and say they did not want to proceed because they perceived I didn't believe them.  Ever.