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April 25, 2005

When Is Rape, Not Rape?

This sort of thing infuriates me:

A 23-year-old Brevard County woman was charged with making a false police report at Rollins College in Winter Park last year.

Nall told Winter Park police in November that she was raped by two men in a Rollins College bathroom, authorities said.

"The college was on high alert, and the neighborhood was in confusion because there was a lot of fear," Winter Park police spokesman Wayne Farrell said.

The rape report was made during rape-awareness week on the Rollins campus, Winter Park police Sgt. Pam Marcum said.

Nall is listed as president of the Brevard County chapter of the National Organization of Women.

We've come a long way, baby, since my childhood, when it was automatically assumed that "the little woman was asking for it". I can remember when in many states spousal rape was still legal. Despite my frequent (and ardent) defense of men on this forum, nothing makes me angrier than the continuing victimization of women and little girls by a small minority of males. It is something I don't talk about very much, one reason being that I know the vast majority of men neither engage in nor condone that kind of behavior.

The other is that it makes me absolutely furious.

But rape charges are not theatre, nor a political tool to be used by vengeful twits with testosterone issues. Via Advice Goddess, Wendy McElroy comments:

In the '60s, feminists fought to have rape taken seriously. But taking an accusation seriously is not the same as granting it automatic validity. Rather, it means investigating the facts and weighing them in an unbiased manner that favors no one and nothing but the truth.

A lot of ugly truth may surface in the coming months. The state of Florida seems determined to pursue its case against Nall, who seems determined to fight back.

Winter Park Sgt. Pam Marcum explained to the Orlando Sentinel that bringing charges against Nall had taken so long because the police department sought a second opinion from the State Attorney's office. It is rare for those who file false reports of sexual abuse to be prosecuted. In short, the prosecution is carefully constructing a case; the defense is loudly crying 'political persecution!' In the process, the definition and legal status of rape within our society continues to evolve.

Where it comes to rest depends largely upon the honesty -- not the NOW-like silence -- with which women confront the problem of false accusations.

Like abortion and "reproductive rights" this is a coming-of-age issue for feminists. Somewhere along the line, women are going to have to start taking responsibility for their behavior. Unfortunately, human nature did not change when Sex In The City came along. While simply wearing a low-cut blouse is not an open invitation to rape, women do have to face the fact that the increasingly in-your-face behavior of young females today is contributing to the increase in 'date rape' reports. And even more disturbingly, some of what is reported as date rape is really consensual sex when a young woman simply got herself intoxicated or exercised bad judgement.

Situations like this (where both the man and woman are drunk) make it virtually impossible for a jury to decide whether the woman truly "consented". And in today's "anything goes" sexual atmosphere where rough sex is increasingly common, even things like bruises or bite marks aren't necessarily evidence of force, though they may be disturbing to the more conventional among us.

One consequence of demanding freedom is that one has fewer protections. Women have aggressively demanded to be treated more like men, but then demanded protections not traditionally extended to males. If women want to take on the sexual behaviors traditionally practiced by men (promiscuity, casual sex, adultery) and combine those behaviors with risky behavior like drinking or drug use, then they are going to have to face the unfortunate fact that as the weaker sex, they may be preyed upon.

Real cases of rape should of course be prosecuted aggressively. But false accusations can ruin a man's career, destroy his family life and marriage, and damage his reputation beyond repair. Worse, they make it harder for real rape victims to obtain justice. I understand that there are public policy reasons behind the reluctance to prosecute false accusers, but if there is clear evidence that an accusation was brought forward maliciously or completely without cause, the accuser should have to pay court costs for the accused and a hefty fine on top of it.

Public penance in sackcloth and ashes would be a nice touch too.

Posted by Cassandra at April 25, 2005 12:20 PM

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h/t to Cass at VC for her post regarding a rape that authorities now allege didn't occur.A 23-year-old Brevard County woman was charged with making a false police report at Rollins College in Winter Park last year. Prosecutors on [Read More]

Tracked on April 27, 2005 08:15 PM

Comments

I believe that a false accusation - regardless of the nature of the crime - to be an offense against society worthy of punishment. Not only does it rile the community against an innocent individual, but it saps precious police resources. Being a neanderthal man, of course, my sensitivities are in question. But I felt for a very long time that those who falsely accuse should not only be prosecuted for their false accusation, but pull the jail time that the target of their falsehood would have pulled upon conviction. In this case, the young lady would do time for rape. Harsh as hell, but it sure would make people think twice.

Or maybe not. People are so stupid.

Posted by: spd rdr [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 26, 2005 08:14 AM

I largely agree spd. I do think, however, that an generalized fasle accusation, like this one, is less damaging than one with a specific victim. She didn't finger a rapists falsely, she just cried wolf, and that should be punished less harshly than falsely accusing an actual person (or even standing by while someone is accussed b/c of the generalized accusation). In any event, false accusations are a real problem with various social ills. It is to the point now that I assume the most extreme of "hate crime" incidents are fake until fully investigated and proven valid. In Atlanta, there have been many high profile cases of racially motivated graffiti, theft or assault incidents that were staged by the victim. I recall one recent one in which a Jewish girl reported catching skinheads writing anti-jewish graffiti near her school and being assaulted as they ran away. It dominated the news for days. Then it turned out that she did it and reported it for attention.

These things hurt legitimate claims. I used to do lots of insurance fraud litigation. I went after people who faked accidents and home break ins in order to make insurance claims. It is amazing what people will do for, in this case, money. The most frustrating thing, though, was that it was seldom (never as far as I know) prosecuted. I had one judge say he was reporting a case I tried to the D.A., but I was never contacted. And no, my insurance clients never wanted to report these claims. They didn't want to get sued for defamation if the case wasn't prosecuted. They just put the name in a data base so everyone would know the next claim was probably fasle as well.

The false claim increases the costs of police work, it increases the skepticism of the person who hears the accusation, and thus it causes some real accusations to go unbelieved and some fake ones to be taken seriously. Nothing good comes out of false reports and they should be prosecuted.

Posted by: KJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 26, 2005 10:38 AM

She didn't finger a rapists falsely...

Huh?

If she's going to finger a rapist, she should at least have the courtesy to do it truely, dadgummit.

Posted by: Cassandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 26, 2005 09:42 PM

When Is Rape, Not Rape?

That's a tough one. But as I'm teaching my boys, the moment she says no, then stop. Just plain stop.

Posted by: Angie [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 26, 2005 10:00 PM

Boy, Angie I have a funny story about stopping when told "no" but I just don't think I'm telling that one in public. Let's just say that if she says "no" but didn't mean it, she might get upset. Being a guy is tough, except for the fact that we get to belong to that Old Boys Network eventually.

Posted by: KJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 26, 2005 10:23 PM

This is the new law, which was passed in Illinois in July, 2003: "Under the law, if an individual says "no" at any time during the sexual act, the other person must stop or it becomes rape."

http://womensissues.about.com/cs/rap1/a/aarapelaw.htm

I recall the talk radio hosts talking about it, at the time the law was passed, but I wanted to refresh everyone's memory. To me, this could render just about ANY act of consensual sex into the RAPE category, with a simple, "command," from the woman (or man?) not being heeded immediately. I wondered what others think of this.

Posted by: JannyMae [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 27, 2005 12:33 AM

I think it is much ado about nothing. Given the difficulty prosecutors have in this CSI era, I don't think juries will allow it to be abused. If you let someone "in" then demand a pull out, I think juries will be skeptical and unpersuaded by some immediate time demands. It might be different if the initial entry was before the "no" but if not, once you are in, you're in. It is like trespass. If you let me on the property, then tell me to leave, I can't be liable for trespass because it takes me a minute to walk off the property. If I wasn't allowed on the property to begin with, it is immediately trespass, and my leaving is trespass also.

I'm sure some clever attorney will work up a "reasonable pull out" defense which will be based in some way on how close he was to finishing anyhow.

Posted by: KJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 27, 2005 12:02 PM

Take a look at my TB'd post, Cass - you may be surprised. Heh! Or not.

Posted by: Dan [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 27, 2005 08:34 PM

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