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Start By Believing

A hard-drinking and genius Senator from New York (Daniel Patrick Moynihan) was fond of saying that everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. When it comes to non-stranger sexual assault (the great majority), Moynihan’s admonition is no less true.  So here are the facts:

1. Most incidents of sexual assault are never reported to police.

2. False reports of sexual assault hover around the rate of all other violent crimes (between 2% and 10%)

3. Most rape is serial rape, meaning most men who commit rape commit more than one (the average is 6).

These are research-based statements, and they have been confirmed in subsequent research efforts.  This is what non-stranger sexual assault looks like, and it’s a plague.  Interestingly, it’s a plague spread by relatively few offenders.  Most men won’t commit what we understand legally to be sexual assault.  They may be immoral, they may be disrespectful, but most are not rapists.  They’ll stop when they recognize signs of fear, revulsion or discomfort on the part of their potential sexual partners (signs, by the way, that really aren’t hard to discern).  If they come across an unconscious or semi-conscious woman (or man), they won’t shimmy the clothes and underwear off of the person and sexually penetrate her or him.

Rapists, on the other hand, do what they do because it’s how they view sex and sexuality.  They usually aren’t “traditional” criminals, meaning they often aren’t tattoo-covered, grinning TV villains.  They don’t wear masks or jump out of bushes; they don’t have to.  Instead they rely on the myths that surround and permeate the notions we as a society have about sexual violence.  They employ remarkable cunning whatever their educational level in order to identify victims, and they usually use alcohol or other intoxicants to ready their playing field.  When they strike, it looks like exactly what they want it to look like- confusion, equivocation, and what some in the media have termed “gray rape.”  It’s almost never a clear-cut, “real” rape.  “Real” rape involves scary looking guys with darker complexions than ours who jump out of bushes and attack complete strangers.  Everything else is…well…a part of the dating ritual.  A rite of passage.  Just desserts for dressing slutty, drinking too much, staying out too late, and for leading on red-blooded American boys.  Because after all, boys will be boys.

Believe that tripe if you will, but you might as well insist the earth is flat.  The reality-based among us understand that things like terror or incapacitation really aren’t that difficult to recognize for most men, and that most men take those cues and back off when they see them.  Nevertheless, the deniers will insist that sex is kind of a game, and testosterone is a funny thing, and ordinarily good guys might sometimes push things too far even though they’re really solid, respectable men at heart.  And of course, the assumption is that ordinarily good gals will sometimes naturally regret sexual liaisons that threaten their reputations and sense of self, and thus naturally “mistake” a consensual act for a nonconsensual one, thus resulting in a call to the police.  Ah, and don’t forget the legions of gold-digging, devil-women who haunt the bars and dance clubs of the world, looking to sting athletes, actors and other celebrities with false charges of sexual violence for the chance at a civil suit payoff or a reality show debut.  It happens all the time.  Right?

No.  It really doesn’t.  No more than “gray” sexual situations involving force and incapacitation regularly produce reports to law enforcement and subsequent dramatic trial dramas.  In fact, the opposite is true.  Most women in clear-cut situations of sexual assault blame themselves and move on, let alone unclear situations where they really can’t remember or fully grasp what transpired.  That being said, are people capable of lying about sexual assault?  Of course.  Do they?  Of course.  But is there any reason to believe that most people who allege sexual assault are 1) mistaken, or 2) lying?  No.  There is zero replicable, scientifically based evidence to suggest anything like that, and quite a bit of evidence to the contrary.

That’s where Start By Believing comes from (a disclaimer- I sit on the Board of Directors of End Violence Against Women, International, the group behind the SBB campaign).  SBB is revolutionary, and it should be.  It represents a radical, new look at how we view cases of sexual violence.  The bottom line is that, in the vast majority of cases, there is no reason to doubt the victim making the allegation.  Further, even if one believes the victim, blaming her for “her part” in inviting her victimization is both wrong-headed and counter-productive.

Victims don’t invite rape; they are chosen by rapists who seek them out and recognize them as attractive targets.

A victim is never responsible for what “she did” to bring on a sexual attack.  I’m a lawyer.  I understand that the concept of “contributory negligence” (the idea that the injured person did something to contribute to his injury) is deeply embedded in the Anglo-American psyche.  But that’s not how sexual assault works.  Instead, sexual assault is a planned attack against an identified victim, chosen exactly because the offender figured she either 1) wouldn’t report and/or 2) wouldn’t be believed if she did.  Further, the initial reaction a victim of sexual violence experiences has everything to do with how easily she can relate her own experience to authorities, how effectively she can assist in the case against her attacker, and (most importantly) how quickly she can heal.

SBB is about changing the attitudes of the rest of us- those who will be the person a victim turns to when the unthinkable happens.  If we simply start by believing- not judging, not questioning, not rationalizing- but simply believing, then we will be contributing remarkably to the healing process of the victim and (possibly) to the prevention of further attacks.  In fact, it’s not that radical when we break it down.  We look at purse-snatchings this way.  We look at assaults and car theft this way.  When it comes to just about every other crime, we generally start by believing.  There is nothing- absolutely nothing- to lead us in any other direction where sexual violence is concerned.

Take the next step.  For your daughters, your sons, your sisters, your partners, your spouses, your neighbors,  your friends.  The damage being done is incalculable, but so are the rewards when the tide is turned.  It’s time.

19 comments

  1. First, a question: I followed the link that you included in this statement “False reports of sexual assault hover around the rate of all other violent crimes (between 2% and 10%)”. I skimmed the report and did some searching, but I can’t find where in that report it says anything about statistics for false reporting of sexual assault. I’d be interested in examining those studies: could you point me to them more specifically?

    Now, my thoughts: I agree that as those turned to by victims, we should “start by believing.” That’s not a reason to suspend all one’s individual judgment, but it is a reminder to act charitably and accept what they’re saying until you have evidence to the contrary. However, there are other times when we can’t “start by believing.”

    If you’re serving on a jury, you have to remember that the prosecution must prove the victim’s story. You have to approach it from a skeptical point, and ask whether there’s actually enough evidence to convict. You can’t “start by believing” that the victim is telling the truth and the defendant is guilty. You have to start by assuming that the defendant is innocent.

    And if you’re engaged in discussions about the policy concerning rape laws, you can’t “start by believing” that victims are always telling the truth. Even if there’s only a 2-10% false reporting rate…that’s the potential for a lot of wrongful convictions. Rape laws need to be written in a way that eliminates those wrongful convictions, even if doing so also makes some real rapes un-prosecuteable. The law has to create a higher standard for rape prosecution than simple unquestioned belief that the victim is telling the truth.

    My last thought, which I’m less sure about but I’ll mention anyways, concerns this: “Believe that tripe if you will, but you might as well insist the earth is flat. The reality-based among us understand that things like terror or incapacitation really aren’t that difficult to recognize for most men, and that most men take those cues and back off when they see them.”

    I agree that most cases should be clear-cut. But what about when significant amounts of alcohol become involved? Most states recognize that there’s a level of intoxication when people are no longer able to judge a situation well enough to consent to sex. If we accept that, is there also a point where people are no longer able to correctly judge the subjective cues of consent? Even if those cues would be perfectly obvious were they sober.

  2. Kim Marren says:

    An excellent article about a horrific subject. Thank you for writing and sharing it, Mr. Canaff. I hope members of the media and our government officials take the time to read it.

  3. Mr. Mackie-Mason, thank you for joining the conversation. Very good to see you here and I appreciate your points.

    Check out Page 2 of the article I cited. In the middle column at the top, in bold, it notes that strict, methodological research reveals a false report rate that ends up ‘gelling’ between 2 and 8%. Just under that notation, the article discusses the Making a Difference (MAD) project which revealed a rate of 7% for eight examined communities around the US. I used 2-10% just because I’ve seen a few other estimates (based on other information) that broaden the range somewhat. Of course no one can know for sure; the main point is that, when an objective coding system and a keen eye are put to the task of determining which cases were truly the result of fabrication, the rates end up around or somewhat below the 10% mark.

    Your take on jury service is fair, and I agree completely. We cannot “start by believing” when it comes to judging a fellow citizen as a juror. Judges, as well, cannot subscribe to such a mantra. Fact-finders in legal cases must keep an open mind and weigh evidence as it is legally presented to them. As you note, ‘start by believing’ is more of an attitude that we are correct in taking when, initially, a person turns to us and reports sexual assault or abuse. Rather than being immediately skeptical or judgmental (for instance when we believe the allegation but suspect the victim did something to bring it on), we start by believing, supporting, and helping the victim toward healing and justice. And of course, SBB is not a call to suspend all judgment. If a person alleges sexual assault and that allegation later proves or appears to be patently false or the product of an honest but profound mistake (or some sort of mental illness) then we must switch gears and protect the accused person who has become so unjustly.

    As for cases involving large amounts of alcohol- this is most of them, actually, when we’re talking about non-stranger sexual assault, usually between individuals who know each other at least casually. I agree that significant alcohol intake on the part of an accused can perhaps affect his ability to perceive whether a person is consenting. However, I think most men, even when fairly intoxicated, can still recognize cues from a potential romantic partner. And frankly, if the man is beyond the point of being able to recognize such cues, he’s probably also beyond much interest in or ability to have sexual intercourse. This is arguable and somewhat subjective, but I think it bears out in practical experience for most people. Without getting overly medical here (not my area of expertise), I have discussed this with several MD’s and other medical professionals. It is generally understood that, if a man reaches a level of intoxication such that he really can’t recognize subjective cues involving consent on the part of a potential partner, he has probably also reached a level of intox such that he will not be able to obtain or at least maintain an erection. Understanding that sexual assault can and does happen regardless of penile penetration, if we have a case where an act of penile penetration has occurred, particularly to ejaculation or for some significant amount of time, then we almost certainly have a man who was not “out of his mind” drunk, as erectile dysfunction would almost certainly result from a sufficiently high BAC. I understand this doesn’t answer your entire argument; I think cases where the defense is “he was even more bombed than she was and doesn’t know what he did” need to be evaluated on a case by case basis. It should be noted, however, that in most places voluntary intoxication on the part of the defendant is simply not a defense to even general intent crimes. Again, thanks for your comment.

  4. Mr. Canaff,

    Thanks for the warm welcome. I found your blog from the blogroll at Really? Law? as I’m sure you guessed, and I look forward to reading what you write.

    As to the article: I think we may be looking at different things. The link on the word “around” sends me to this article: http://www.ndaa.org/pdf/the_voice_vol_2_no_2_08.pdf. The middle column on page 2 has no bold, so I’m guessing that the link is just pointing to the wrong place?

    As to the statistics: the methodology is one thing, and it’s something I’m interested in and would like to look at more, but assuming that the studies are reasonably correct…you cite it like you think that 10% is a low rate of false accusations. Do you really think so? That 1 in 10 rape accusations are(?) false seems like a troubling amount to me.

    I’m glad we’re on the same page regarding the legal context. I realize that your post wasn’t about that directly, but since “respect the victims” can quickly bleed over from completely appropriate conduct in public discourse to inappropriate bias in court, I thought it was an important point to bring up.

    Regarding alcohol: I’ll freely admit that I don’t have the medical background to argue about the biological feasibility of the scenario I’m suggesting. I will say, though, that it at least seems possible, given the varying ways that alcohol effects different people, that there could be sexual desire and sufficient performance (especially if other drugs are used in addition to alcohol) to create situations where a person is capable of having sex but incapable of accurately judging social cues.

    Whether or not alcohol should be a defense is an open question: I think it should be if intoxication is the only basis for the rape charge (how can you say that someone raped someone else when they were both legally incapable of consenting?), but probably not if there are other factors (an explicit lack of consent, force, abuse of authority, etc). But even if alcohol use isn’t a legal defense or a reason for moral exculpation, it’s still a reason to dial back the rhetoric: drugs can make people who aren’t monsters do bad things. That doesn’t excuse actions, of course, but it also might mean that the suggestion that there are “rapists” and “nonrapists” as almost fixed categories of men is a flawed one.

    Thank you for your thoughtful response, and I look forward to reading more from you. By the way, “Andrew” is fine. No “Mr.” is necessary.

  5. Whoops- my mistake. I set a link to the wrong article. That one (the wrong one) is a very good article by a good friend and colleague (Jennifer Long) but it’s not the one I intended. I have corrected the mistake- please try it now. And thank you for the heads up. More later-

  6. Thanks for the link. I did some reading on the MAD study, and at a first pass there are a few issues that I think I see. Basically, though, 7% is the number of reports actually conclusively reported as “Unfounded/False (based on investigative findings that crime did not occur, according to UCR criteria)” by the police agency. It doesn’t cover cases that are “Suspended/inactivated (but still technically “open”)”, as well as a few other categories. So while only 7% were determined by police to be false, that doesn’t mean that 93% were determined to be true.

    The report also separates out “Unfounded/Baseless (elements of the crime were not met, but not false, according to UCR criteria)” and “Closed as an informational report (elements of a sexual assault offense not met)”. While those present different issues than false reporting (because if the accusation doesn’t meet the elements of a crime, then it’s not likely to progress past the accusation point.) However, those numbers are relevant since it means that more than 7% of accusations fully containing the elements of rape are false. It’s also relevant that victims report things that aren’t crimes, thinking that they are.

    Finally, the report doesn’t count any case referred for prosecution, which could include cases where the main evidence for guilt is the accusation itself. This, then, wouldn’t give any reliable information about the percentage of false accusations.

    In general, the study seems to support a claim that at least 7% of rape reports are false. But there’s far from enough information to say that the rate or false reports isn’t significantly further. (I’m basing this mostly off of snippets from the website and such: I can’t find a version of the study published as a stand alone report yet.)

    I need to run, but I’ll write more later.

  7. Andrew: The methodology behind determining rates of false reporting is generally a coding process, where trained researchers and staff carefully evaluate individual cases from particular police departments and ‘code’ the case under protocols that help them make a judgment as to whether the case was actually fabricated by the alleged victim. Obviously, there is no crystal ball, and it can’t always be determined if a case was in fact fabricated, as opposed to dropped on incorrect suspicion of being fabricated, etc. Of course, there are some ‘easy’ cases, such as where a false victim believably recants and admits (or even explains) the fabrication.

    I don’t know what to tell you about the percentage range of false reports we’ve more or less determined; I’d note that the figure of 10% is probably on the high end. And compared to the rates that some in the defense community and some in “men’s rights” groups claim, 10% is low by comparison. Determining actual numbers to any certainty will probably forever elude us; the reason we have sought to do so at all is because so many people still assume rape and sexual assault are regularly and frequently fabricated. They assume that it is easy and rewarding to do so, and that making a false report (and enduring the subsequent process) is a great way to “get back” at a guy, regain their honor, etc. There is a permeating belief that the urge to report a sexual assault falsely is somehow ingrained in women in particular and something we as a society just have to confront as an unfortunate but natural reaction to regretted sexual contact. In fact, this kind of reaction is quite rare, but again, it’s suggested by many and has begged redress for years.

    With regard to alcohol, the scenarios you suggest probably are possible; again, it’s not my area of expertise and would involve data that I just don’t have (neither does anyone else to my knowledge). I’d have to address a defense like that case by case, and in fact I have addressed defenses like that. Most of the time I found them unconvincing, but I wasn’t always successful in beating them in court. I will stress this, though: One of the core principles we (in the anti-sexual violence community) teach is that alcohol and drugs do NOT create sexual assault; they merely facilitate it. Simply put (and tested against common experience this makes people smile as they realize how true it is) alcohol does not produce desire that is not already within us. Drugs like alcohol simply make us care less about what the people around us are thinking about our behavior. It lowers inhibitions, as I’m sure you know. Now of course, if a man is desirous of sex with a female, alcohol will perhaps make him seek to satisfy that desire more aggressively. He may make more assertive moves toward her, might act more amorously toward her, etc. He will, in short, do things he wouldn’t do sober- but not things he wouldn’t WANT to do sober. He’s just now encouraged. And if he is non-violent to begin with and someone who doesn’t have the instinct to physically impose his will on another, he almost certainly won’t just because his inhibitions are lowered. Again, this is because the desire to be violent or extremely sexually aggressive simply does not lie within. So if he IS violent or aggressive in a particular case and does impose his will in a way that qualifies legally as a sexual assault, a defense of “it was just the alcohol” is one I find unconvincing. I realize this isn’t necessarily legal reasoning and the admissibility of some of this stuff depends on the jurisdiction. But it’s how I analyze cases.

  8. It is fair to say that, simply because 7% of cases are shown to be false, 93% are NOT shown to be true. Again, the methodology gives us an idea, not a solid figure. I am acquainted with the designers of the study and will bounce your questions off of them. Thanks again for engaging and presenting good points for inquiry and discussion.

  9. Well, I guess it depends on the context of a few things. First, I think we have to consider what the rate of false reporting is for other crimes. I don’t have data, but as someone who prosecuted different cases for years and has trained and worked with literally hundreds if not thousands of ADA’s around the country and beyond, I’d be willing to bet that things like larceny (due to insurance fraud) are falsely reported more than sex assault. Car theft, robbery, even assault are falsely reported for a variety of reasons. From the data we do have, it would appear that false reports in sex assault cases are no more frequent than false reports in other types of persons crime. I guess what is significant about this for me is that it clashes with the myths out there that suggest rates that are much higher- and specific to rape as if it were something that invited lying. Could an argument be made that reporting rape or sex assault falsely is ‘worse’ morally that reporting other types of crimes falsely? Perhaps, due to the potentially damning nature of the accusation. So therefore, would it be untoward to ‘accept’ a rate of 7% as appropriate or sufficient? I suppose, but I also can’t change what is- assuming that’s what the rates really are.

    Second, consider what happens to reports that are false. If they are detected at the investigation stage (and I’d argue that the vast majority are) then we have an issue, but not one filling our prisons with the falsely convicted. Understanding that a false accusation can be damaging well prior to a conviction, I believe that most false allegations are detected quickly and early, preventing most of the fallout. I have found false reports I’ve seen or heard of to involve strangers that are never identified, or situations that quickly unravel before anything like a trial begins. (NOTE: I can only speak anecdotally here.) The obvious fear (and a huge one for any prosecutor with a conscience, which I can assure anyone is the overwhelming majority of us) is convicting an innocent person (of any crime, let alone rape). But I’d suggest that this is very rare. A greater danger, frankly, is convicting the wrong person because of misidentification in a stranger case (also rare, but very, very frightening). DNA has helped to prevent convictions and exonerate some for that kind of a tragedy, but it still lurks out there. But that frightens me more than taking a case to trial on the word of the victim (one I’ve worked and prepared with) and then finding out later that she lied. I’ve never had anything even close to that occur and doubt that I would, but of course it is possible. The system is many things- perfect is obviously not one of them.

  10. Tracy Bahm says:

    Roger– Well said. Thanks for all you do on behalf of victims & the professionals who work so hard for them! Keep at it!!!!
    Tracy

  11. There may very well be crimes that are falsely reported more often than rape. However, I suspect (completely without data, I admit) that those crimes often don’t involve an accusation towards a specific individual. Falsely reporting a crime for insurance purposes (larceny, car theft, arson, etc) gives no motive to identify a specific person, and in fact a significant motive to identify no one. I also suspect (and it’d be interesting to see data on this) that most of the rape reports determined to be “false” involved an individualized accusation. And while falsely reporting a crime is in itself a bad thing, it’s far more reprehensible (and threatening to the justice system) to falsely accuse a specific person of a crime.

    The point at which we discover that a report is false is also important: if it’s almost immediate, then all the victim of the false reporting suffers is embarrassment and, potentially, some police harassment. If it gets further, the person may end up with an arrest on their record, or even formal charges. Even before conviction the criminal justice system has many tools with which to damage lives.

  12. ksf says:

    A man gets out of his brand new Mercedes Benz down at the unemployment line. He’s wearing a crisp Valentino suit, Bally shoes, and a Rolex. He takes a wad of $100 bills out of his front chest pocket and starts waving the money around, going up and down the unemployment line saying, “Look at this money! Don’t you wish you had it? Hmmmmmm…smell it! It smells good, doesn’t it!”

    A mother of three who lost her job last week and hasn’t eaten a decent meal since, asks the man in line in front of her, “Who’s that?”

    He replies, “Oh, we call him ‘Daddy Warbucks’ because he is always down here giving money away. Shoot, he gave me $1,000 about a month ago.” The man behind her says, “He gave me $2,000.00 last week. He loves to give away money, especially when he’s had a few.”

    Warbucks, who appears to be a little inebriated, stumbles up to the mother of three and says, “Mmmmmm. Don’t you wish you had this money? Look at how big your pocketbook gets when I put it in there? I can tell you want it.”

    The mother of three says, “It’s been awhile since my checking account has seen any money. Why don’t we go back to my bank, and I’ll let you write a deposit?”

    Everybody in line sees Warbucks and the unemployed Mother of three leave the unemployment line together in Mr. Warbuck’s Mercedes.

    A week later, the Mother of three is approached by law enforcement, “Ma’am, you need to come with us. You are suspected of robbery. Mr. Warbucks says you forced him to give you $3,000.00. He says that you choked him until he almost passed out, threatened to kill his family if he didn’t give you the $3,000, and that he was too drunk to fight you off.”

    When the Mother of three says she wants an attorney, the officer replies, “Of course, you do. That proves to me that you are guilty because only guilty people request attorneys. Oh by the way, we checked with people who know you, and we learned that you forced your estranged husband to give you money, as well as some guy who you lived with for 5 months. Even though they never reported the robbery until we spoke to them and told them you are a serial robber and have robbed several people in the past, we are charging you for robbery against them, as well. Finally, we saw that you were accused of shoplifting from K-mart when you were in high school. While the officer investigating the charges believed you did not commit a crime because the clerk who accused you was a friend of yours and was mad that wouldn’t stop shopping at Target and that the statute of limitations has run, we found that clerk and he is going to testify under MRE 413 allowing evidence of similar robberies. Good luck! Hope you find a good attorney because you are going to need one.”

    The Mother of three goes to the public defender who takes one look at the charge sheet and says, “You’re screwed.” She calls an attorney who specializes in Robbery cases, works cheap, and will take monthly payments from the Mother of three’s unemployment even though he knows the payments will stop if she is convicted.

    At the grand jury, the Attorney decimates the 3 victims, and the grand jury recommends that the charges be dismissed because: Warbucks has no marks on him despite the description of a severe beating and choking. He had no explanation why he did not cry out to bank officials who were in the other room when he and the Mother of 3 were making the deposit. He also admits that he made the allegation after his wife started asking where the $3,000 she gave him went.

    The estranged husband, who just wants a divorce to marry a woman employed by the company that fired the Mother of three, lies about sending an e-mail to the Mother of three’s Father, which states, “If she does not sign the divorce papers, I’m going to have to start fighting dirty, and I do not want to because of all the trouble she is in.” When the Attorney confronts him with the e-mail at the grand jury, he admits that he sent the e-mail, then went down to the police station the next day to report the “Robbery.”

    The man she lived with for 5 months says that, even though he has lived in the town for 26 years, has friends in law enforcement, has a strong family presence in the town, and apparently had visible black eyes from when the Mother of three allegedly punched him, he was ashamed and afraid that those people would not believe that the Mother of three was robbing him on a daily basis, even though the Mother of three is a member of the community’s transient population. He also appears very angry that the Mother of three never contributed one dime to the apartment that he was paying for.

    However, the Assistant DA convinces the DA to go forward with all the charges. It appears that the Mayor and Police chief are being sued because Robbery is perceived as such a huge problem in their jurisdiction. The mayor appears before the City Council and explains that they have spent $2 million on hiring and training 15 special victim prosecutors and 3 highly qualified experts to assist them in being successful at getting convictions. Meanwhile, the Mayor has spent exactly jack squat on hiring experienced public defenders to ensure that the rights of those falsely accused of robbery are protected. Moreover, the Mayor touts that Robbery prosecutions have increased from 30% in 2007 to 52% in 2009.

    The Defense Attorney asks the DA why he moved forward on the charges against the unemployed Mother of three despite the grand jury’s recommendation, and he replies, “I don’t have to answer that question; in fact, I am not going to answer that question.”

    The case is set for April, which just happens to be “Robbery Awareness Month.” The judge denies the defense request for the witnesses who Warbucks gave money to in the unemployment line under the Robbery Shield Statute 412. The judge states that it does not matter what Warbucks did with those people, the only thing that matters is what Warbucks did with the Mother of three. The Judge lambasts the Defense attorney for “attempting to victimize the victim,” and states snarkily, “Perhaps, you should focus on your client’s conduct! And, if you call Mr. Warbucks a ‘philanthropist’ one more time, I will hold you in contempt!” Meanwhile, the judge allows the clerk from Kmart to testify under MRE 413.

    At trial, all of the accusers take the stand and cry while describing how the Mother of 3 ‘robbed’ them. The Defense attorney brings up all the issues he did during the grand jury, but the prosecution is armed with a Highly Qualified Expert who testifies about the counterintuitive behavior of Robbery victims and how delayed reporting is normal, victims lying about “ancillary issues” is normal, and it is possible that Warbucks would have no marks on his neck from being choked to the point of almost passing out. The Defense’s request for an expert who has testified in 100 trials is denied, and the DA hand selects a replacement who has testified in one (1) trial. The Defense expert is impeached because he wrote an article back in college stating that not most woman do not rob, but the one’s who do rob are ‘serial robbers.’

    The unemployed Mother of 3 is convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison where she has to register as a Robbery offender for the rest of her life. When she gets out of prison, she cannot live within 500 yards of a church or financial institution. Her children are now in foster care in Georgia, and she will not be able to see them grow up because she has been sent to a prison in Kansas.

    Does this sound fair to you? It doesn’t to me, and a result like this in a robbery trial would make blood shoot out of my eyes. This is what Article 120, MRE 412, and MRE 413 does to the accused serving our country on a daily basis. I’m curious, at what point would you stop believing, Roger?

    Do Accusers have a tough row to hoe in rape prosecutions? Yes. Do I believe that there are different degrees of rape? Yes. Does the sympathy I feel for a victim decrease in correlation to the increase of their voluntary consumption of alcohol, flirtation, placing themselves into precarious positions, and style of dress? Yes.

    But, if we attempt to change our laws to guarantee convictions in sexual assaults, then where do we stop? The Confrontation Clause? Right to an Attorney? Proof beyond a reasonable doubt?

    Feel free to share this with Mr. Clark.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for encouraging us to listen to those who are courageous enough to admit sexual trauma and for your contribution to the open, accepting environment at EVAW conference this week.

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