Saturday, December 03, 2005

One More Disincentive for Women to Report Rape

Kevin Hayden at The American Street has a chilling story about a 17-year-old girl who was gang-raped by three men, all of them known to her. One of the men was her boyfriend. She reported the rape and filed charges, but the case never went to trial because the district attorney for Washington County, Oregon, concluded that all of the parties involved -- the victim and the three men who raped her -- lacked credibility, making it unlikely that they could get a conviction.

But the story gets much worse than this. After making the determination that they lacked enough evidence to prove the rape charges, the district attorney's office decided to file charges against the victim for false allegations of rape! The young woman did not at any time recant or withdraw the charges; the prosecution simply decided that, although both the alleged rapists and the rape victim were inconsistent in their statements, the victim was more inconsistent, and thus had to have lied about being raped!

Yesterday, the municipal judge ruled in favor of the city of Beaverton, Oregon: He found the rape victim (now 19 years old) guilty of filing a false police report of rape against her boyfriend and his two friends.

Kevin actually attended the trial: He has known the young woman since she was a baby.

You should also read Shakespeare's Sister on this story: She has more details about the history of the case and the people involved. One of the reasons (perhaps the major reason, although I'm not clear on that) that the young woman's allegations of rape were found "not credible" was because her mother and her friend told the authorities she "did not act traumatized" after the rape occurred. But these same two people were among those who urged the rape victim to file a police report.

Again: The judge decided that the victim was not credible because her friend and her mother said she did not "act traumatized" in the days after the incident. He then filed a charge against the victim which turned the two people he had deemed credible witnesses into criminal conspirators. That seems rather confusing, that two criminal conspirators could also be credible witnesses, and experts on post-rape trauma no less.

Melissa (Shakespeare's Sister) also provides some solid, factual information about how rape victims typically react after being raped (there is no typical reaction), and gives us the truth behind the widespread idea that lying about rape is common:

Here are some things we hear a lot: Vindictive women use rape charges to get back at men. Women's sexual histories can be informative in a rape case. Women who were "really raped" are easily identified by the way they behave.

None of them are true.

I like the way Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest summarizes this case:

A judge decides that since he doesn't know who to believe he'll convict the woman for filing the charges in the first place.

More commentary at The Heretik.

No comments: