Sunday, May 29, 2011

NYPD: Sex crime 'victims' often tell only part of story or 'make it up altogether'

Newsweek shines a light on how the cops in NYPD's Special Victims Division decide whether a rape claim is true or false.  The story centers on the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case (the cops think he's guilty), but the more interesting comments concern rape and false rape claims in general. Please bear in mind that too many false rape reports that we chronicle here, in this blog, involve cops who initially thought a woman was telling the truth, only to find out she lied.

My comments are interspersed:

Excerpts from "To Catch a Creep" found here
Does a woman who claims to have been raped ask for a female detective? That’s taken as a sign of possible deception. “I am betting nine out of 10 times, when a woman asks for a female detective the story is going to be untrue,” says [Lt. Adam Lamboy, commander of the Manhattan Special Victims Squad, the unit handling the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case]. The operative theory is that women who are lying think female cops will be more receptive to their stories.

[Some police departments have women cops especially assigned to deal with rape "victims" -- the idea being that women can only feel comfortable talking to another woman.  The NYPD suggests that's the wrong approach.]
. . . .
Inevitably, some detectives sympathize with the accusers. “People with power take advantage,” says a detective in Brooklyn who is not part of the Strauss-Kahn investigation but finally couldn’t resist making a point about it. “The defense is always that those people are a target because they have money. Well, I am glad that a victim who has no power, an underdog in society, is being believed.”

[At least the cops are up-front with their biases.  People with power are assumed guilty. This includes college lacrosse players barely older than boys who happen to be completely innocent.]
. . . .
In sex-crime cases, victims often tell only part of the story. Or they make it up altogether. If they’re drunk or drugged, they often don’t remember enough to make a case . . . .

[Um, if they are "making it up," how are they "victims"?  That aside, when I write things like this, I am accused of being a rape apologizing misogynist. When Newsweek prints a cop saying it, the whole country takes it seriously.  As well they should, because it is correct.]
. . . .
The last thing any detective wants, says Lt. Robert Johnson of Brooklyn Special Victims, “is to paint someone with that rapist brush and find out they are not, because the paint never comes off.”

[Again, I make this point all the time only to be pooh-poohed by the people who dominate the public discourse about rape.]
. . . .
One afternoon last week, a Mexican immigrant arrested for sexually molesting his 7-year-old stepdaughter sat in “the box,” as the detectives call their interview rooms. He was at the same round table with two mismatched office chairs where Strauss-Kahn spent his first night in custody, and one detective asked another if he should be moved to the holding cell on the other side of the office. “Leave my perp alone,” said Liz Gutierrez, the only woman detective left on the squad.

[Liz Gutierrez's atrociously insensitive comment will not be the subject of any national outcry calling for her job, but it should be. The man is not a "perp," Ms. Gutierrez. He's a presumptively innocent human being. And you should be fired for your comment.]
. . . .
A crucial part of the picture is “the outcry,” short for the witness who is the first person the victim tells about a rape or assault. Did the outcry hear the same story the victim is telling the cops? In a recent high-profile case, Special Victims detectives grew suspicious of Heidi Jones, a local TV meteorologist who claimed she’d been raped in Central Park, when the outcry’s story didn’t match up with hers. Jones now faces charges of filing a false police report. In the Manhattan Special Victims Squad last week they were interviewing the outcry for a 14-year-old girl who’d been gang-raped by seven men and boys the day before. Unlike Strauss-Kahn’s, her case didn’t make any news.

For the maid at the Sofitel, the outcry was a hotel employee, according to law-enforcement sources not in Special Victims. The maid told the same story to everybody. Sandomir says that when he interviews a victim he tells her, “Let’s play a game: you are a camcorder.” He’s looking for a minute-by-minute, even second-by-second, account of the location, the sex acts, and not only the attacker’s appearance, but his smell—of alcohol, of dirt, of cologne, of anything that can be used as a clue. Along with the details come contradictions, and over repeated interviews the anomalies multiply if the subject is lying. “When people come in to make allegations,” says Steven Lane, the other lead detective on the Strauss-Kahn case, “they don’t realize we are going to go frame by frame.”

[All very interesting. But they make it sound too scientific. Law enforcement in general needs to do a better job with rape cases; cops are too often too quick to arrest and to destroy before the investigation is completed.]