Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mother didn't mean to get someone in trouble when she told her son a rape lie, but . . .

Jane Steven, 41, came home after a night out and, for reasons that aren't clear, lied to her son that she'd been raped by strangers. Steven, who purportedly had been experiencing personal and medical problems at the time, presumably did not think she'd get a flesh and blood human in trouble when she uttered the falsehood, but she didn't count on her son calling the police.

Steven, her attorney said, felt trapped in a corner when police followed up the report. Instead of telling the truth, she stuck to her story that more than one person had sexually assaulted her.

Police launched a major investigation with extensive door-to-door inquiries and did a DNA test on an unknown male.  The investigation allegedly cost more than £10,000 (how do police quantify costs?). Officers checked CCTV footage, and mobile phone record.

The news reports don't detail what happened, but the police apparently zeroed in on a male. Steven eventually pleaded guilty to making someone liable to suspicion and accusation of rape (presumably the person subjected to the DNA test) and wasting police time.

Suspicions arose when inconsistencies began appearing during the investigation and Steven finally confessed that she had lied.

Many rape lies are told without intention to harm a particular person, but they often take on a life of their own and cause harm to real people. A gut-wrenching example of a "innocent" rape lie was recounted by Lauren Weedman.  Lauren had no intention of hurting anyone with her admittedly stupid rape lie.  But the cops found someone who, they claimed, matched her imaginary description.  How do we quantify the harm to the man she describes in her account? Do we dismiss it just because he wasn't convicted?  Here's what happened when she attended the police line-up -- trigger warning -- this is disturbing:

"They lined up a row of men, but I was sure of who they suspected; he was the only one who was told where to stand. . . . I felt sick. Thanks to me this man knew how it felt to be treated like a violent criminal.

"As they pushed the guy around to show me what he looked like in profile, I could barely breathe. I wanted it to be over as quickly as possible--for everyone. I said, 'No, that's not him. None of them.'

"The detective standing at my side kept telling me, 'Just wait. Let's bring him up so you can get a look at him.'

"When they finally pushed him up to the glass, he was crying. He looked terrified.

"'No,' I said sharply. 'That's not him. I'm 100% sure. . . .

"I went into the bathroom and sobbed."