Monday, November 19, 2007

Rape: a little reminder...

As we have been discussing rape recently, I thought it worth reminding ourselves, via Timmy, as to why we should not even consider changing the presumtion of innocence or any other kind of weighting.
No woman would ever accuse a man of rape if it hadn’t actually happened now, would they? A simple system of accusation and conviction should be suitable, don’t you think? For we must always listen to the voice of the victim. This insistence upon evidence is simply so patriarchal, testament does, after all, share the same root as testes.

Of course, we men are all rapists, you know; we just haven't been caught yet. However, whilst I know that these amount, in effect, to anecdotal evidence, here are a few reminders of what women have done.

So, to kick it off, here's the case of Paul Haslam, falsely accused by Gemma Gregory. [All emphasis mine.]
The worst day of Paul Haslam’s life began at 3.30am with a loud knock on the door from the police. They told him he was being arrested on suspicion of rape, and took him to Charles Cross police station in Plymouth.

There, he was questioned about what had happened the previous evening, when he had spent the night with a girl he had known for only a short time. He knew he had done nothing wrong, but he did not know how he could prove it.

Later that day Mr Haslam was released without charge. Three weeks later he received a letter telling him that no further action was being taken. By then he had lost his job and had to tell his family about the arrest.

Mr Haslam, 30, had hardly thought about that day nine years ago until he read in his local newspaper this week that the woman who made the false allegation against him had since done the same thing to seven other men.

Gemma Gregory left a trail of disrupted lives across the city of Plymouth. A judge gave her a 12-month suspended jail sentence for perjury for her latest false accusation and ordered her to undergo psychiatric treatment.

And now, the case of Aftab Ahmed.
A teenage girl destroyed a taxi driver's life by crying rape at the end of a drunken night out and then refusing to withdraw the claim out of embarrassment.

Married father-of-two Aftab Ahmed, 44, lost his house, livelihood and good name after a 16-year-old passenger accused him of attacking her when she was senseless through drink.

The teenager dialled 999 after being dropped off at home, believing the discomfort she was suffering indicated she had been sexually assaulted by the cabbie.

The court heard she realised Mr Ahmed had not touched her before police arrived to take her statement, but she was too scared to change her story.

Once sober she continued the pretence and took police to the remote moorland spot where she claimed the rape took place and officers carried out a full forensic examination in search of evidence.

Mr Ahmed, who was worried about the girl's health and made sure she got home safely, was immediately arrested in front of his family and locked up as a suspected rapist.

He was released on bail after spending 15 hours in police cells, but his taxi licence was revoked and he was shunned by members of the Muslim community in Bradford where he lived.

It took six weeks and an investigation costing £6,000 before police were satisfied he was innocent.

Although the girl, now 17, was charged with perverting the course of justice, she did not admit her guilt until last month - 14 months after the original incident

Yesterday the teenager from Shipley, West Yorkshire, was sentenced to a four month detention and training order at Bradford Magistrates' Court and told she would be locked up for half that period.

And now the case of Dr Jan Falkowski.
A consultant psychiatrist who was falsely accused of rape by a deranged stalker has called for men accused of sex attacks to be granted anonymity.

Dr Jan Falkowski was 'terrorised' by Maria Del Carmen Marchese who threatened to kill him and his fiance in what detectives described as one of worst cases of harassment they had ever investigated.

The 45-year-old waged a 'prolonged and malicious' campaign against the father of two, bombarding him with sinister phone calls, emails and texts.

And now the case of Frank Chisholm.
An 18-year-old woman convicted of making a false claim of rape has been sentenced to six months in a young offenders' institute.

Katie Davis, of St Leonards, East Sussex, was sentenced at Lewes Crown Court on Monday after being convicted of perverting the course of justice.

Her claim that a stranger attacked her in an alleyway led to Frank Chisholm, 24, spending 10 weeks in a Sussex jail.

The judge said her "wicked lies" still had a dramatic effect on his life.

And the tragic case of the late Mr Gee.
A MUSIC teacher who died while serving an eight-year jail sentence for raping a pupil has been cleared posthumously by the Court of Appeal.

Darryl Gee was convicted in 2001 on the word of his accuser about incidents that she claimed happened more than a decade earlier, when the woman was 11.

Mr Gee, who always protested his innocence, died aged 55 in his cell in Armley prison, Leeds, from an undiagnosed blood cancer a month after his second appeal was turned down in 2002. He had served 18 months.

The woman made similar allegations against another man, John Hudson, who was jailed for 12 years at Leeds Crown in 2000. Mr Hudson’s conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal last year after a psychiatric expert concluded that his accuser’s recollection of abuses was “implausible”.

And, finally, the case of Warren Blackwell.
Sleep does not come easily to Warren Blackwell. Instead of drifting off when his head hits the pillow, his thoughts return to the time he spent behind bars. “My mind races constantly,” he says. “When I do fall asleep, then I dream that I am banged up again and not able to see my kids.”

Seven years ago, the 36-year-old engineer began a jail sentence, having been falsely accused of sexual assault. Every evening, in order to aid the oblivion that so eludes him, he drinks a glass or two of wine. And sometimes, according to his long-term girlfriend Tanya, “a bit more than that”. And, after what he has been through, who can blame him? Sentenced in October 1999, he spent three years and four months on a special wing for sex offenders.

But the battle to clear his name has taken a lot longer. That ended only two months ago in the Court of Appeal after an investigation by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) led to the quashing of his conviction.

His alleged victim was dubbed a fantasist whose injuries were self-inflicted.

Blackwell’s anger is compounded by the knowledge that while he was vilified and placed on the sex offenders’ register, anonymity laws meant that his alleged victim continued to be known as “Miss A” even after her claims were found to have been spurious. The appeal judges who found in Blackwell’s favour wanted to name her to warn the public, but were powerless to do so.

It was only when Lord Campbell-Savours, a Labour peer, used parliamentary privilege that she was identified as Shannon Taylor. He also took the opportunity in the Lords to condemn the police investigation that landed Blackwell in prison as “shabby and inadequate”.

Taylor, who is said to have a history of false accusations and multiple identities and may now be living under another name, is said to have made at least seven claims of sex attacks in the past, including one against her father.

False accusations of rape are not uncommon. Nor is it uncommon for those who make them to be punished. Last week, for instance, saw Katie Davis, a teenager from St Leonards, East Sussex, jailed for six months after a bogus rape claim. Her alleged attacker had to spend 10 weeks in prison on remand. Despite cases like this, police have told Blackwell that Taylor is unlikely to face charges of perjury or wasting police time, citing “insufficient evidence”.

s I said, this is a reminder, that's all. But these men were wrongly convicted under our current system, and often on the say-so of women who had done this more than once.


purplepangolin said...

I was quite struck by David Cameron's assertion that a survey had indicated that one in two young men believe that there are circumstances in which it is permissible to force a woman to have sex. I find this very difficult to believe. Does anyone have a link to the survey in question? I think that the wording of the question is critical here.

It reminds me of a similar survey that has been cited in the past, which showed that a surprising proportion of women had been raped. In actual fact, what it showed was that many of them had given consent whilst their judgement was impaired (drink, drugs, etc.). If we are now saying that unless you ask "Will you have sex with me?" and she answers "Yes" and she must also be totally sober, then nearly every man in the country could be classed as a rapist.

Newmania said...

Interesting DK I dealt with this undre the total " No means no" no presumption of guilt

Anonymous said...

Accepting that it is common ground that the offence of rape is one of the most serious in the criminal calendar, then should it not follow that making an unfounded allegation of such a crime against a wholly innocent man should be regarded in a similar light?

And by this, I mean that women (or men, for that matter) convicted of making manifestly false allegations of rape - ones such as those highlighted in your post - should be subjected to the same level of sanction as those suffered by convicted rapists.

In other words, a period of imprisonment - remember we are talking about perverting the course of justice here and potentially ruining an innocent man's life - of between two and five years, dependent on the effect their allegation had on its innocent victim.

Isn't that only fair?

verity said...

I agree with the Anonymous above. Penalties for false accusations of rape should be as severe as those for rape, because the girl/woman has raped this man's life.

I might even throw out the suggestion that she be placed on a sexual offenders list.

And long as there is anonymity for the accuser, there should be anonymity for the accused.

Woman are vulnerable to rape. Men are vulnerable to accusations of rape. They should be treated on a parity.

Surely, too, men proved innocent should be able to bring a civil action for slander?

verity said...

It is a sign of the fascist times that I wrote, "Surely, too, men proved innocent should ...".

My apologies.

No one under British law, until now, has had to be "proved innocent" a la the Continong and Napoleonic law. We have to be "proved guilty".

If our ancient law prevails for ten more minutes in the face of the European tendency to fascism, I will be amazed.

Anonymous said...

Quite easily the best piece on rape stats was published in The Times in February. I'd be surprised if Cameron was unaware of it before he pronounced; I wouldn't be surprised if he pretended to be. Without further ado:


Judge Rufus Peckham said...

Most everyone would agree that people lie about every subject under the sun -- excecpt, according to the radical feminists, when it comes to the subject of rape. In that singular instance, one gender supposedly is incapable of telling a lie while the other is comprised of pathological liars.

The false allegation of rape is perhaps the more frightening of all crimes for men who would never dream of hurting anyone or participating in criminal activity. The sad reality is that anyone born male is at risk. The police need to quit being so "politically correct" and stop taking sides -- men should never be jailed merely on the accuser's say-so.

Trixy said...

I think that both parties in a rape case should be entitled to anonymity. The very nature of sexual cases means that they get nasty and both sides can use previous sexual history or reputation against the other side, so if we want to make sure women who have been raped come forward and men who have been falsly accused are protected as much as possible, surely this is the best way?

Anonymous said...

Trixy - the case for not allowing the defendant anonymity is based on the idea that publicity about the charge will make witnesses helpful to the Crown (but sometimes to the defence) come forward.

Danny Vice said...

Although this case exposes the outlandish miscarriage of justice towards the wrongly accused in the UK, we wish this were an isolated incident. The fact is, even in the United States, restitution for those incarcerated is certainly not guaranteed.

In fact, in many states, there are more government resources for those released on parole than there are for those who have been wrongly incarcerated and later exonerated and released.

Currently, an overwhelming number of people who have been exonerated of a crime are not compensated for the toll the incarceration took on their lives socially and economically.

Thus far, only 22 states in the US have laws in place to provide some level of compensation for those who were wrongly convicted. This means a majority of those who went back to court and proved their innocence are then required to sue for this compensation.

This process utilizes significant resources that a recently released inmate typically does not have. For those who do have the knowledge or financial ability to bring a case, the enormous cost of the additional legal wrangling involved may soak up much of the payout. Many victims of this outrageous process are handed the more daunting challenge of simply restoring their name, let alone consideration of a lawsuit that may or may not result in restitution for the time that has been lost.

What's more, the payout often times received is meager in comparison to what is usually lost. Marty Tankleff for example was sentenced to a New York state prison after being wrongly convicted of killing his parents. Although his case was recently overturned, Marty just recently visited his parent's graves for the first time since their deaths.

Ronnie Taylor, a Houston man who was recently exonerated of a crime he didn't commit was engaged to be married before his arrest in 1993. DNA testing proved his innocence 14 years later - allowing him to finally marry his bride Jeanette Brown. (source)

The Innocence Protect, one organization established in 1992 utilizes DNA testing as a means to force new hearings for those who are wrongly accused. It's website lists hundreds of cases of wrongly convicted individuals who's cases were overturned after a conviction.

While the Weekly Vice does not subscribe to every point of view of the Project's mission statement, one has to wonder where our culture would be without such advocates. Many wrongfully accused individuals have languished in prison for decades before their faulty convictions were tossed out.

Here are a few more examples of justice gone horribly wrong:

Dennis Brown from Louisiana was convicted of a 1984 rape and spent 19 years in prison before DNA testing confirmed that he could not have been the rapist.

Marvin Anderson became the ninety-ninth person in the US to be exonerated of a crime due to post-conviction DNA testing. Even when another individual confessed to the crime Lamont was accused of, the Judge upheld the conviction until DNA evidence finally confirmed Lamont's innocence. He wasn't exonerated until 1992, nearly 20 years after his arrest.

Orlando Boquete's wrongful conviction of attempted sexual battery was vacated a staggering 24 years after his arrest back in 1982.

Robert Clark, wrongly convicted of rape, kidnapping and armed robbery in 1982, languished in prison primarily by mistaken eyewitness. Mistaken identity seems to be a common theme with the cases that later get overturned by post-conviction DNA evidence. Clark was finally vindicated 24 years later.

Luis Diaz was wrongly convicted in 1980 as the 'Bird Road Rapist', where 25 women were attacked, many of them sexually assaulted. Diaz was convicted for 8 of them. His case was overturned 25 years later in 2005.


These are only a handful of the cases you can view HERE, however they are a sampling of the many instances where our legal system goes horribly wrong to such degree that compensation for one's life cannot be calculated as a mere loss of wages as most restitution awarding states provide.

The Weekly Vice supports tough sentencing guidelines for all sexual assault cases, particularly those of minor children. We also believe however, that states should be equally aggressive with some level of state subsidy, restitution or other adjudged compensation that is deemed appropriate for each individual case. A dismal 22 states is not a goodwill showing for a nation who prides itself on a Justice For All philosophy.

Danny Vice
The Weekly Vice

Anonymous said...

I was accused by an ex girlfriend of sexual assault, she basically stole money from me, and accused me in an effort not to pay it back. I spent 3 wks on remand and 15 months on strict bail. i was put through a 3 day trial and the jury heard how she didn'nt want to admit to her "error of judgment" when she came to my house the day before and slept with me something she denied to police. It was all a pack of lies and I was found not guilty by unamimous verdict after an hour, Sam Waller was never charged with perjury and now lives in the oppisite of where we once lived together and I have been forced to move....What a disgrace this Country is!