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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Date rape, and proof

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Author Topic: Date rape, and proof
John Doe
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Let me start out this thread by saying that I think that rape is a very serious crime. Precisely because it is a serious crime I think that this is important. Usually the more serious the crime, the higher the level of proof that should be required. Murder cases go through an endless series of appeals, particularly in capital cases, in traffic court the word of the cop that he saw you roll the stop sign is usually enough to convict.
How can date rape cases be prosecuted and still maintain the presumption of innocence. Almost by deffinition it is a crime that takes place with no witnesses present. Even if as a juror you found the girl more credible when she said it was not consentual, than the guy when he said it was consentual, how does he said/she said rise to the level of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?
A false accusation of rape can distroy a life as completely or more so than a rape itself. Rape sheild laws make it so that the accuser not be known publically, but the accused will be. Exoneration rarely gets as much press as the origional accusation. Even if the accused is found not guilty, a reputation is shattered. Obviously the situation is much worse if the it really was consentual, but the accuser had second thoughts the next day and called it rape, and the accused is convicted.

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Etch
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I find it extremely sad when someone's life is ruined because of false convictions, especially sex crimes. After someone is convicted for a sex crome they are labeled a sex offender for the rest of their life, and that can cause so many problems in that persons life.

Date rape is a very touchy subject. If you convict someone for date rape then the rest of their life is affected, but if you say not guilty and that person really was guilty then what about the victim?

I think in date rape cases they should need more then a he said, she said type thing. If all i saw was someone saying it wasnt consentual, and someone else saying it was then i could not say that person was guilty beyond reasonable doubt, even if i thought the person really was guilty. If i were a jurer i would need to hear testimony from friend, relatives, and anyone else close to those involved. Hear what the two might have been saying right before and after the incident. If the victim came straight out and told people that she said no, or that she really didnt want to then the case would hold a lot better. Especially if there was a history of sexual misconduct on the defendents part, or he had told someone something that made him seem suspicious.

But if the defendent had witnesses saying that he never had intentions of forcing anything, or that the victim had told people that the sex was wanted and welcome then i would have to say not guilty.

For me, date rape cases would have to be proved based other people's testimony and the history of those involved. And perhaps if there was any sign of a struggle left on the victim such as bruises or cuts.


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Beppie
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You do realise that making date rape non-prosecutable means that it would to all intents and purposes be legal? That is something that I find extremely scary.

According to these statistics only 16% of rape cases are ever reported- this indicates not that there is an abundance of false rape charges, but that the largest problem is that rape victims are not speaking up. Even more scary, the statistics indicate that among male students who admitted in the study that they had performed what is legally defined as rape, 84% claimed that what they did was not rape. As 78% of victims knew their attacker, it is clear that date rape makes up most rapes that occur. 35% of college age men said that they would commit rape if they thought they could get away with it. If date-rape was not prosecutable, they certainly could get away with it.

While I agree that false rape accusation is a serious matter, it is clear to me that far more common than false accusations is rapists getting away with the crime.

[This message has been edited by Beppie (edited 08-09-2001).]


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John Doe
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So how do you prosecute it without dropping the presumption of innocence? A conviction on the basis of an accusation, ie she is belived and he isn't, is a presumption of guilt, not a presumption of innocence.
Your link did not work for me so I can't comment on the statistics, other than to point out the coincidence that 84% of the men didn't think it was rape, just happens to coincide with the 16% figure you cite. Maybe some of the women invovled don't consider it rape either? and thats why it didn't get reported. What was the study and the methodology behind it?
Etch, in most criminal matters, the defendants history is considered irrelevent. If a person is charged with say burglary, even if he had been previously CONVICTED of burglary, using the exact same M.O. that fact would be inadmissible in court.

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Beppie
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See if this works: http://www.cs.utk.edu/~bartley/sa/stats.html

From my knowledge of how such statistics are usually gathered, I'd say it was probably a confidential anonymous survey type of thing.

Here is the full piece about only 16% of women reporting rape:

Only 16% of rapes are ever reported to the police. In a survey of victims who did not report rape or attempted rape to the police, the following was found as to why no report was made: 43% thought nothing could be done, 27% felt it was a private matter, 12% were afraid of police response, and 12% felt it was not important enough.

So you see, only 12% felt that it's not important enough to report, and even that doesn't indicate that they thought it wasn't rape- rather, it indicates that they may well have been taught that a woman's consent is not important.

Date Rape is also difficult because in order to presume the accused innocent you'd have to presume the accuser to be a liar- either way someone's getting the short end of it. To assume the victim is lying though, is scarily like the situation in some Islamic countries, where if a woman makes an accusation of rape she is more likely to face punishment herself for slandering the name of her rapist.

Back to your original post, I do agree that it's an injustice that the name of the accused can be released before a guilty verdict, but it doesn't change the fact that pretty much legalizing rape is not the way to deal with the problem of false accusations.


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John Doe
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Wait a minute, saying that you need more evidence than the word of the woman to distroy a mans life, is hardly like the situation in islamic countries you talk about. In this country, and I presume most of the rest of the west, very few women are ever prosecuted for makeing false rape accusations.
If the ONLY evidence needed to convict is the word of the woman, then women have the ultimate wepon in any quarrel. Heck what is the downside, your name never appears in the papers, nothing bad can happen to you for making the charge. Even if he avoids jail he has been through hell. IF as is so often chanted in the take back the night demonstrations, any man is a potential rapist, then it is just as true that any woman has the capability of making a false accusation of rape.
I don't know where the 16% figure comes from, but I do know where the 1 out of 4 college women figure comes from, the Koss/Ms. Foundation study. That study is based on a very expansive definition of the word rape. It includes the situation where the date bought the girl a beer and she later regreted having sex with him. For example, she thought it was the start of a lasting relationship, and he was just interested in a one night stand. The question about alchol was NOT worded to denote the intentional incapacitation of the victim. In the Koss study, only 27% of the women who Koss counted as victims, thought that they had been raped. Thus, if you adjust those figures for what the women in the study actually percived happened to them, the one in four figure for college women falls to about 6%.

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emsily0
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i think what beppie means about the rape situation being like the situation in islamic countries, is that if a woman is raped in one of those countries, she is almost certainly the one who will be punished. also, the fact that a woman who makes an accusation of rape, be it true or not, is similar to the way in which many woman here who make rape accusations are ostracised, not legally, but by society.

john, i think you need to keep in mind that it is TRUE that a low percentage of rapes are reported. this statistic has been corroberated by several surveys. obviously, not every woman who has a beer and then regrets what she does that night is going to charge her partner with rape - in fact, i would be willing to bet that very few of these women press charges.

furthermore, it is simply not true that in a court of law, if a woman says she has been raped the man will automatically be convicted, or even be convicted in a majority of cases. rape is difficult to prove, especially date rape; many women who have been date raped do not press charges because of this.

in addition, john, please try to cool it with the hostility towards women.

em

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Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk - real straight talk about souls - for life is holy and every moment is precious. I heard the Denver and Rio Grande locamotive howling off in the mountains. I wanted to pursue my star further. -Kerouac


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John Doe
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I am NOT hostile towards women. I have a ten year old Daughter, who in a few years will be a woman. I love her with all my heart and soul. I resent very much the accusation that I am being hostile to her or any of her friends. I am very much in favor of equal rights, but by that I mean just that, equal rights, which includes basic civil rights for men. I was not saying that date rape is not a crime, I was mearly asking how one could prosecute it and still maintain the presumption of innocence. That presumption is one of the absolute cores of civil rights. I think that Etch's reply was on the right track.
I am very much against hostility towards men, and statements such as "all men are potential rapists" are extraordinarilly hostile towards men, and stereotype men in the worst possible way. While I have not seen those statements made here, they are quite common in "take back the night" rallies and in the feminist literature.
False accusations are not treated as a serious problem, and they should be. What could be worse than being imprisoned for a sex crime which you did not commit? Ironically such a person would be highly likely to be raped himself, most likely repeatedly, while in prison. You talk of ostrisism, think of the ostrisism that the accused faces, even if he is exonerated. Rape shield laws insure that the accuser is not named publically, unless she wants to be. If you are not named, it is hard to be ostrisized. The same does not hold true for the accused.
A few years ago, several male students at Vasser College were accused of rape. Concience eventually got to the accusers and they recanted their stories. The assistant Dean of Students at Vasser publically called it a "good learning experience" for the men involved because it taught them that the could have been guilty of what they were charged with. The Dean was not even repremanded for her statements.
So far nobody has put forth any constructive suggestions as to how to deal with the problem of false accusations. The attitude has been that it must be so rare as to not be worth discussing. That is just not the case.

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Confused boy
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Yes I wish to back John Doe up on this particular point that he was NOT at all being aggressive towards women.

It is true that rapes are reported that are untrue and true rapes are not reported. It is pretty much impossible to prove that a rape took place when it was not at all violent and went unseen by witnesses. Therefore you cannot find someone guilty of rape in that case. Its how justics must work. Otherwise people wil have to start getting their partners to sign documents of consent so they can prove it later! The whole of the justiice system requires the prosecution to prove that someone is guilty. If you make it so that someone has to prove their innocence it all goes wrong.

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'An Anarchist is a Liberal with a bomb' Trotsky


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Olek
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The biggest problem with prosecution of rape, as John says, is that in 99% of all rape cases, you have witnesses that fit into 2 categories:

i)Perpetrator
ii)Victim

The problem here, is that certainly, a rapist will not, in all probablility, testify against him/herself, leaving the only other category, the Victim.

Because victims of rape have their identities protected (and rightly so) they stand everything to gain from an accusation of rape, if their motive is to fulfill some personal vendetta, and nothing to lose. I sympathise with everyone on these forums who has been raped, but unfortunately, I have a freind who was wrongly accused of rape, and very nearly wound up extremely badly for it.

Such is the hysterical hostility against rapists (and also peadophiles) that it is considered a crime worse than murder by most of society. Worse is the problem that 'evidence' in such cases usually takes the form of testimony. Juries sympathise with crying women, a jury is most likely to convict on a false rape charge than any other false allegation of criminal activity.

Rape is an odd crime from a legal persepective, it shares many of its prosecutory traits with witchcraft (I am sorry for the callous comparison, but I feel it to be necassary to demonstrate my point). In a witchcraft trial, as with rape, the testimony given by the victim is generally enough to shift the burden of proof. Testimony, as has been shown in witchcraft trials, is easily emotionally fabricated and manipulated.

It is an enormous problem also, the fact that if the prosecution can prove you had sex, you are almost certainly convicted, because the only peice of evidence left, is one that shows a non-consent. How do you show nonconsent in a court of law?

Defendant "I didn't rape her, she was willing"
Victim "He forced himself upon me"

Who do you believe? Unfortunately, a jury beleives tears, easily created with a little method acting.

Rape is a serious crime, but unfortunately, one that is quite easily tried on the notion that you are 'guilty until proven innocent', because the testimony of the victim is considered enough, in the abscence of a fly-on-the-wall.

English law is moving toward the notion that 'The dominant sexual figure must ensure that the recessive not only wants to participate in this act, but will not regret it afterwards'. Essentially, as a guy, I have to read your mind, read your fortune, read your history, and get you to sign a waiver before I can even buy you a drink.

Sad state of affairs...


This was the experience of my freind, a few tears and 3 words was all it took to convince his entire world that he was the devil incarnate. His life was all but ruined. He was about to be expelled from school, disqualified and blacklisted from his exams (highly serious, basically, blacklisting means you can never persue an academic career, or one in public services, or any form of white collar job, and most factories and manual workplaces dont want to know you if you are accused of sexual offences) lost a lot of freinds. You get the idea, no-one trusts him, and his rep as a rapist has spread like wildfire. All because of some pathetic tart who got a little tipsy at a party and a little jealous of his chances in life that she didnt have.


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Lisa D
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Ok, I'm going to reel this in a little before things get to hostile. I don't want that to happen, because I think both sides raise important points to consider.

First, I'd like to say that while i certainly do not belive that that the majority of reported rape cases are false accusations, it would be ridiculous of me to say that it didn't happen; not all men are monsters, and not all women are angels, which i will admit to seeing all too often in American Feminism. Drawing those black and white gender lines is useless and naive...

However, I do find it hard to believe that most women would go through the time, hassle, and utter embarrassment of hauling a man into court on rape charges for no other reason than spite. Quite frankly, most of us are too busy living our lives to invite humiliation or destroy someone for no reason. Again, I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but you will be hard pressed to prove to me that it happens with great frequency.

Honestly, there's just so much shame involved with rape crimes, that many times, women won't go to the hospital (until it is too late) to document evidence. Obviously, there's more to speak of than just sperm. Usually with rapes and sex crimes, there are other contusions, scratches, bruises, and things of the like. Usually, given the extreme domination/submission involved with such crimes, there are usually very clear marks.

I am ashamed to admit that there is very negative sentiment at many "take back the night" activities. I've witnessed it on several occasions. Of course, this was tied into the whole "porn as theory, rape as practice argument." i won't even go there, because that argument has more holes than a chunk of Jarlsberg cheese. Anti-sexuality feminists make me more than a little suspicious...

However,Olek, it is unfair of you to try to pin motives on the woman who alledged you friend committed rape. i have no details, so i won't comment further. bottom line is this; there are two people, usually, involved with a rape crime:

The Perpetrator
The Victim

Aside from them - no one knows the whole story, right? Your characterization of her as a "pathetic tart" is name calling, as well as unfair, and isn't the type of behavior we allow at the boards. Please bone up on the guidelines, should you have any questions.


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'rin
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am i the only one who watches "csi"? i know the cases they use are fake, but the investigation tecniques are real. if a woman acusing a man of rape comes forwards soon enough there are forensic tests that can be done that can help determine if sex was consentual or not, or if the woman has actualy had sex recently. they are not as 100% effective as some other forensic tests, but they can help clear up the picture a bit. unfortunately, many women do not come forwards soon enough for such tests to be done. i can see this problem from both sides, i've never been a victim of date rape but that's only because i broke his nose. one of my friends at school was involved in a very messed up situation. he was a strange guy, one of those goth vampire types. he went home from a party with a girl and they were both pretty drunk. they did not have intercourse but ended up having mutual oral sex. she asked him to stay the night, was friendly with him for a week or so afterwards, up until her friends started talking about what a weirdo/freak/scary guy he was. then she went to the campus cops and claimed he raped her. it never got to a criminal court, but he did have to take a semester off and finish the rest of his degree as a commuter student. considering her behavior directly after the incident (asking him to stay, hanging out with him) i'm apt to side with him on this one. it is a touchy subject, though, and i dont think there are any real black and white answers here. i don't think it is ever acceptable to force sexual advances upon someone, but it is equally unaceptable to ruin a person's life because when you wake up hung over they are not as attractive as you thought they were the night before.
'rin

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"-and i hope i'm not shooting my mouth off...again...and i pray i'm not tempting the fates....."
-james, off millionaires


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John Doe
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'rin,
Those tests are much better at telling if a woman has had sex than in determining if it was consentual or not.
Second, good for you in busting the guys nose. But that sort of gets to the different degrees of rape point I was trying to make. In a date rape situation, punching the guy in the nose, or screaming or doing other things to fight him off makes a lot of sense, and I think it also provides some of the proof beyond the he said/she said situation. However, in the dark alley at knifepoint, punching the guy would have been a remarkably stupid thing to do.
finally, i would have to say that hanging out for a week with a guy after a supposed rape has occured is pretty compelling evidence that it is a false accusation. If someone was really that horrible to you, you would never want to see them again, not hang out with them. What, if anything, happened to the girl who made the accusation?
Lisa,
people around here have no problem beliving it when somebody says that a friend of theirs was raped and saying very bad things about the guy who did it. Why should we disbelive Oleks friend when Olek says that he was falsly accused. It seems like a double standard to me, belive the girl, assume the guy is full of crap.
We are not talking about "most women". Most women don't do this, just as "most men" don't rape.

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Olek
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i agree entirely with JD, its a form of sexism, that men are rapists and women are victims. I personally trusted my friend, because i knew he wouldnt do such a thing (ffs, he choked the first time he wanted to ask someone out, and he still gets a bit queasy around girls).


ok, mabye i went a little overboard, but my fundamental belief, is that i'd rather see criminals walk, rather than innocent people go to jail. People have a hard time of pinning criminal charges on people, but the stigma is pinned on you for months if someone says those three little words. As treatment of rapists in prison shows, the stigma is worse than the conviction.

mabye it isnt as clear cut as I see it, perhaps its just that I hate the way accusations of rape are bandied about amoungst young people like the next piece of gossip.

Rape, as by its definition, sexual assault without consent, is a serious crime, but what is also included in many definitions, accusations and convictions of rape is the scenario "we had sex, i regretted it afterwards, so therefore i was raped". Personally I have no sypathy with girls who make mistakes and then seek personal reconcilliation with charges of rape against their partner.


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Olek
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i think partially the point here is "what is a punishable rape and what isn't?"

let me present a few hypothetical scenarios:

I force intercourse on someone in a dark alley with a knife, evidently rape.

I force intercourse on someone I know, possibly a friend, using physical coercion. Rape.

I force intrcourse on someone with mental coercion (blackmail). Rape.

I have intercourse with someone who fears what i might do to him/her.... hmmm, i'd say rape, because under other circumstances they wouldn't have had intercourse.

I slip rohypnol or some similar drug into someone's drink at a party and have intercourse with them. Rape, under other circumstances (being non-drugged) they would not have had intercourse.

I have sex with someone at a party who comes up to me a little out of their head. Hmmm, it isn't in their best interests, and under other circumstances they might not have, but either way, the burden is on me to decide wether it is his/her best interests and what they would have done under less drunk circumstances.

I have sex with my girlfriend after a 10 month relationship. Hmmmm, how do I know it's in her best interests, i can't read her mind.

Someone comes to me at a party asking for sex. How do i know its in her best interests? Ive never even met her in my life.


you get the idea, I think the line has been drawn at a slightly too punitive point when concerned with date-rape, which is what this thread is about. The reason I have made these points, is that the last scenario is what happened to my friend. Due to him being inebriated, he was not in a sound state of mind to make such an important decision that ultimately got very serious.


I know this is going to make a lot of people very mad. Perhaps rightly so, victims of rape need to feel that they are not isolated, and what was done to them is a serious crime. Problem is, what do we define as rape today? probably all of the above, which I feel to be wrong.


People choose not to think about which of these categories a rape has fallen into, people just look at the tears and offer open arms. I know if I was accused of one of the scenarios at the bottom, I wouldn't consider it to be a rape, but the girl might...


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Heather
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Though I am officially on break, I feel the need to add a few things here, because I think to some degree women's responses to various rape scenarios and rape victim's responses to rape scenarios are starting to get typecast.

As a victim of forcible and violent gang rape as a young girl, I remember when date rape started hitting the news, and I remember being very, very angry about it. Why? Because I felt that it very much diminished cases like mine in making them seem to be the same thing, which they very much are not. And in truth, I think most women and most victims of varying sorts of rape would agree with me: they are not the same. And my anger subsided the more I realized that most people do recognize the differences, and at the very least, are willing to talk about them.

I also think that when it comes to how rape is prosecuted, it is rarely seen as the same: charges are specific (date rape, forcible rape, rape coupled with battery, rape coupled with murder, etc.), punishments are more or less severe, and the like. Certainly, there are miscarriages of justice, as there can be with any crime, because there are certain flaws in our justice system. But unless there is data I have not seen, I understand that to be the exception, not the rule. Most rape cases don't ever even end up being reported, much less prosecuted, and many violent rapists walk away from court with smaller sentences than folks up for a quiet robbery.

Don't leap to conclusions, especially when they are merely based on what your community thinks. The world is a very big place.

I also have to add that unfortunately, men are nearly always the perpetrator in rapes, though while victims are more often female, many are also male. There certainly arre exceptions to those things, but they are rare in comparison. I don't feel that is something inherent to the male biology or psyche, personally, it is likely a very complex social and cultural issue, but the facts are that men usually are the perpetrators.

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Heather Corinna
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My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 08-14-2001).]


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Olek
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I entirely agree with you, my point was that dispite the very different nature of those scenarios, at least here in our country, they are nearly always treated as the same, rape, be it in a judicial environment or a civilian environment (beleive me, it is just as bad, only you dont go to prison, people smash your face in when you walk down the street). Personally I think it is wrong that a guy who got the wrong idea about a girl gets the same treatment as a total psycho who had a gun in a girl's mouth.

Im not trying to pass off rape as something which is OK, or not a problem in today's world. I accept, my freind's story is the exception rather than the rule. But I disagree with your statment that people going to jail on false rape charges is the exception rather than the rule. Rape is the crime you are most likely to go to prison for if you are charged, and you can never say that false convictions are an exception to the norm, because the legal system has never been 100% accurate and never will be.

John origionally posted this thread, to highlight the fact that Rape is a very difficult crime to prosecute, because (no offence) the testimony of the victim can have a degree of reasonable doubt attached to it, while the whole aim of the criminal justice system is to "intend to prove, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the defendant is guilty as charged".

I dont dispute that in most cases, men are rapists, women aren't. Only one woman in this country has ever been successfully prosecuted as a rapist. However, picture the scenario that I am a girl, got a bit too drunk one evening, and had sex outside my relationship. Obviously the boyfriend is going to be a tad annoyed to say the least, and here I can see the alure of claiming it was a rape, to shift a bad situation, in which you were to lose your relationship, into a better one, at the expense of the one night stand you didn't care about.

Im not saying that all rape victims should be treated with this in mind, Im not saying that the legal system is wrong. All Im saying is that if someone with that kind of story was put on the stand, their testimony would still be enough to convict, and make criminal charges stick. For everyone, prison is the end of the line, once your in, there's no way out. However, on the outside, there's about a billion and one ways into prison, and personally, if there is any doubt whatsoever that the defendant is guilty, I'd rather see him walk on the presumtion that criminals get cocky, and innocent people get very careful.

It's a matter of personal opinion, if you would rather see a rapist walk, than an innocent person go to jail and get tortured for 10 years (prisons inmates have their own 'punishment system' for rapists). Im not saying we should let rapists walk, but don't treat them as rapists [b]unless you can actually prove it beyond all reasonable doubt[b], to do otherwise is to diminish all faith that anyone could possibly have in the judiciary.

Just a note; I appreciate everyone's take on this, your two cents is probably more experienced than mine, I don't know any rape victims, or any rapists, so I'm not in any real position to talk, I just thought that mabye you might see the view from another side of the story. The false conviction is a terrible fate to have inscribed on your soul, especially to be accused of being a rapist, a stereotype, which without exception is considered, and probably is, the solidification of evil.

We can always theorise about how we don't treat people as they should be treated. I think the statement that violent rapists walk away with smaller sentences than robbers is unfair, in reality, the sentence never ends, you are registered as a sex offender, and at any time could end up with a bullet in your head from the latest vigilante justice movement.
All of us would like to see evil people locked away for a very long time, but unfortunately none of us is perfect, and we aren't the people to decide if subject X is evil or not, every time we try something always goes terribly wrong, in every environment and crime an innocent person will go to jail/be exiled and ostricised/executed (depending on where you happen live), while a criminal walks. It is fundamentally dangerous to say that a prison sentence is not long enough, and not look at the sacrifices you are making that none of us have the right to make. It is the reason that execution is no longer practiced in England, rather predictably, a number of false convictions came up, and a pardon doesnt mean anything when you are six feet under.


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Etch
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False convictions resulting in execution is a whole different matter.

False convictions on rape charges is the EXECPTION, meaning that more often then not the charges are truthful. Saying it is the exepction by no means says that false convictions dont happen, because they do. They just dont happen as often as some people think.

While I think it is important to protect those who did not commit a crime but were falsy accused, I find that convicting those who actually DID commit a crime to be slightly higher on my list of priorities. Under our legal system we are supposed to have a trial based on the presumption of innocence. Unfortunately in rape cases that presumption often goes out the window because human insticnt tells us to. And that is extremely unfortunate for those who really were innocent. However, that human instinct has probably put away quite a number of rapists who wouldnt have gone to jail with a presumption of innocence because of lack of eveidence or what not.

It is unfortunate that no one has any statistics showing just how many known false rape convictions are known about. Of course everyone in jail is really innocent, or so they say.


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Olek
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I believe precisely the opposite, there are a billion and one ways to get inside and no ways out. False charges are never an exception, they are only a less common occurance, because by definition they cannot be truly exceptional, because they are wholly statistically predictable as we do not claim that the judicial system is 100% accurate. Maths, you cant disprove it.

Execution, 5 years in jail, its all the same in one way. Pardons dont mean jack when you pay the price anyway. I mean, what do you say, "err, sorry we let you get beaten up and gang raped in the showers for [#x] years cos we didn't beleive you when you told us you we were innocent". This is why I think exactly the opposite from you Etch, protecting innocent people is more important than punishing criminals, why do we lock criminals up in the first place? To protect innocent people. We lock criminals up because they are a menace to society, however, we can never let society become a menace to people. Human instinct may help, but human instinct is regularly wrong. The reoffence rate amongst criminals who walk is high, the chance they find themselves in a court again is high, smash their lives when you can prove what they did, but not before.

Jail is the end of the line folks, Im not saying that we should let criminally minded people walk (remember someone who leaves a courtroom pronounced innocent should be treated as innocent, despite what you think the truth may be, it is not your decision, it is that of the judge, the person we all agree is in the best possible position and expertise to decide), but its better to do so if there is any reasonable quantity of doubt (highly radical and offensive viewpoint, so you probably wont be seeing much more of me in here, im probably gonna pack up and move on after this thread).

The sacrifice we make by banging up more people in prison cells more often is that we send more innocent people for a ride inside. That decision is one that no-one has the right to make, do you have the right to send the next person you see on the street to prison on a rape conviction to drag a real rapist in with you?
Before you say that I have no right to make that point, I probably don't. However, it is a point that must be made, before people get the idea that it is a good thing to change our stance on rape, and make accusation an automatic conviction based on 'human instinct'.

Statistics on false convictions are hard to get one's hands on, because no public service, judicary included, likes to admit to its own failings, especially the judiciary, when its own failings often have dire consequences. Public record office is the only place, and even then its hard, and statistics only ever seem to be published on the false conviction rate overall, not for each induvidual crime (there is probably too much case law to make that feasible, feel free to correct me if im wrong). They do exist, I happen to remember that rape has the highest rate of false conviction, but again, it all depends on how the statistics are compiled, a falsely convicted burgular usually is content with riding out 6 months in a prison, wheras a falsly convicted rapist will fight to the end to clear his name.


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Lynne
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This is a really tough question, actually. I tentatively agree with Olek in that it's better to err on the side of innocence when prosecuting accused rapists. Why? Because going to jail is generally worse than being raped (disclaimer: the exception is when some sort of fatal condition occurs as a result of the rape). Jail takes away a person's physical freedom, and a criminal record will tie down the accused for the rest of his (or her) life. The person might also be tormented by the other prisoners. Those are real tangible problems. Rape's physical problems are limited to the possibility of STDs and pregnancy, and possibly bruises and cuts from struggling. (Although if those are severe, I'd reclassify them as a crime unto themselves. Raping a woman and raping a woman while beating her up in the process are two different things.) In terms of pure physical consequences, the accused stands to lose more.

As for emotional ones, I will grant that rape is probably more damaging than a false conviction. However, I think that the tangible consequences of a false conviction are still so severe that they not only outweigh the physical consequences of being a rape victim, they outweigh the emotional consequences. Emotional problems can be fixed, after all. A sense of security can be regained eventually. A clean record can't ever.

One last thing, though: I think that if somebody is repeatedly accused and acquitted of rape, then the accusations of the previous alleged victims should be taken into account.

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Etch
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Olek, you dont have to leave on the account of a different point of view. Unless you start saying things that are outwardly and purposfully hurtfull to someone then your opinions are yours and you have every right to them. It is just my job to tell you my opinion as well

Please believe me when i tell you that false rape accusations are a SERIOUS problem to those who face it. And also remember how I was one of the first who posted saying that you should need a lot more evidence then simply the women saying that she was raped to convict someone. I honestly dont know how i would react if i were a juror myself and i saw a young woman sitting on the stand crying her eyes out accusing someone of rape. Would I still be able to hold the presumption of innocence? I dont know. But i know i SHOULD. But unfortunately that doesnt always happen because of our human nature to protect those who are hurt. But that human nature has probably put a few in jail that should be there. It doesnt make it ok to consider a person guilty right off the bat though.

Olek, I actually agree with a lot of what you are saying. False accusations can really mess a person up for life. However jail is not the end of a life. Countless people have left prison fine. What is the worst part for falsly convicted rapists is the label "sex offender" that will fallow them the rest of their life uless they are pardoned. Being pardoned DOES help if you were accused of a rape crime. It doesnt fix what happened, but it will not make it any worse either.

Its a shame the boards are going down for a while soon. I will actually miss these friendly debates. as soon as i can though i am gonna take my penny jar and turn it into a money order


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Dzuunmod
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Can we really say that being raped is worse than being falsely accused, or vice versa? Unless one of us has experienced both, I personally don't think we really can, and even then, we could only say that one of them is worse for us...

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Lynne
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So we can't form opinions on things without personally experiencing them? That's a ridiculous stance. If faced with a choice of eating eel or rabbit, I'm rather sure that I'd like the rabbit better, even though I've never eaten either of them. Why are rape and false incarceration so different? It's entirely possible to form reasonable opinions on something by simply looking at the facts. In this case, the facts are that the physical and emotional damage caused by rape can be healed, and while any emotional and physical wounds from false incarceration can be healed, the damage done by spending time in prison and having a criminal record can't. This doesn't mean that every time somebody is falsely sent to prison for rape they have it worse off than somebody who's been raped -- circumstances are different with each person, after all -- but generally, false convictions carry with them more tangible problems.
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Olek
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cheers all of you btw,


its good to talk these things thru with people, especially those who dont have the personal bias of knowing the parties involved in my freind's situation.

Etch, I appreicate yer comments .

However, Lynne, I disagree that the damage due to false incarceration can't be healed, its more that society isnt there to help. There are pleanty of rallies for rape victims, but not falsely convicted rapists. The world prefers to brush them under the carpet. Also the persistent nature of prison can make it a problem.
A rape is over in an day, a prison sentence is much longer. Convictions have more social problems, I think that's the thing yer trying to hit on the head; A rape victim is not ostricised and removed from society, to be subjected for a large period of time the worst treatment our conscience will let us dish out, but a convict is.

Unfortunately the damage done by rape is also extreme, taking often years to recover from completely. Like everyone in this thread says, Rape is a very serious crime, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone, and wouldn't stride into it thinking i could take the emotional stress of it. Rape victims are often left traumatised, for that, rapists should go to jail, no doubt about it. However, people who decide that last night's partner was a bad bit of rep, they aren't traumatised, they havent been violated in the same way as a victim of a real rape, so they and their cases should not be treated in the same way, to do so is not only unfair on the defendant, it is also insulting to those who have been raped in the true sense of the word.


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KittenGoddess
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I'd think it needs to be pointed out here that for victims of rape, the ordeal doesn't end as soon as an arrest or a conviction is made. I've counsled with girls who were terrified about going forward because what do they do if nobody believes them? What happens to them when the accused tells his (or her) friends about it? What happens if he doesn't get a conviction? Will they become a social outcast or will someone decide to righteously retaliate? These are scary questions, and contrary to what anyone may believe, they're not just things that are addressed in Lifetime movies of the week. They really are issues. And a rape isn't over in a day. I've never been raped, but I've been involved with quite a few victims, and for some of them, it won't ever be over.

Yes, false convictions and false accusations are terrible things. And that doesn't by any means say that I think everybody accused should be convicted. But, at the same time, is it really better to just write it off as if every victim is lying just to make sure that nobody who really is innocent gets a conviction? If we're going to say that, then we may as well just say that it's ok to rape whoever you want to. And I, for one, will be investing in some titanium underwear and a large gun if that's the way things are going to be.

It's a very difficult issue, and not one that's probably going to be solved completely until somebody comes up with a foolproof lie detector test.

~KittenGoddess

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Dzuunmod
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Lynne, I'm not saying that you can't form personal opinions, but they have to be just that, personal.

I can't really say that jail is worse than rape, because certainly, there will be some people out there who'll think it isn't so. I'd be willing to say that I think jail is worse than rape (I don't necessarily, I'm just making a point...), because it's a subjective viewpoint, not objective fact as stated in a previous post.

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"...we're all thinking the same thing/let's not settle for satisfaction/we are women and men of action/let's stop clapping let's start doing/a dream for the teens and in-betweens and twenties yet unseen"
-Braid


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Etch
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Rape and jail can have very similiar affects on a person. The only difference is that the person in jail did something to be there and therefore has much less love and support then the rape victim.

Jail is a loss of freedom, a place that keeps you out of trouble with society. Inside prisoners often get hurt, and raped themselves, and hey can get diseases from other prisoners. They will get what they did to someone else who never did anything to deserve it.

Rape can be like prison for some victims. Like Kitten said women can often become very scared for their lives. Phobias have been known to occur. Not to mention the emotional responses that happen to a rape victim. Not only are diseases a threat to rape victims but because most rape victims are women pregnancy is also a factor. A rape victim can be a prisoner of her own psyche.

Oh yeah, lie detecter tests are actually very very accurate unless you are quite skilled at knowing how to fool it. But being able to fool it is quite difficult. And false readings are very rare.

And one more comment that will likely get my head chewed off (good thing i decided to say it right before the boards close down) I dont think that waking up and regretting haveing sex is grounds for rape. I have known a few girls ready to press charges because they were drunk and the guy wasnt as cute as they thought he was. I think when we have cases like that they shouldnt be looked at as rape. Even if the guy could have read her mind before they had sex he likely wouldnt have heard anything saying she didnt want to have sex. Accusing someone of rape because you regret having sex with them is like trying to press a Reset button on life.

I do want to mention though that there are lagitiment cases where the girl was under someone elses infuence, by drugs or strong coersion, where rape charges would be appropriate.


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Olek
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lie detectors are horribly innacurate.

The polygraph can't tell if you are lying, only if you are under emotional stress. The PR-300 can be fooled with sufficient preparation. EMR scans can be fooled with sufficient rehersal.
Also, none of these tests are considered conclusive, and you have the right not to convict yourself, so they can't make you take one (yes, you have the right to essentially lie and dodge the truth).

I could write 2000 words here on how to fool various lie detector tests; but I wont for two reasons, 1; it is totally off topic and 2; although it isnt illegal in this country (UK) to discuss how, it probably is in America, so if you want to know, well, tough, unless you email me.


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the-old-soldier
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1) The crime of rape is hard to prove. For that reason, every woman should learn to defend herself. I have for years taught women to defend themselves. I taught my wife, my mom and others. My mom was attacked at the hospital where she worked. I was happy to learn she handled the guy with the training I gave her!
2) Since rape is hard to prove, the guy might be brought up on assault charges; woman has scratches, etc. I am in a state where assault is a 4th degree felony with a sentence up to 10 years in jail.
3) Those on the board have brought up possible false accusations. Therefore, guys should think prior to trying to get into a girls pants. As I see it, a guy isn't much of a man or stud if he has to resort to alcohol, drugs, etc to have the woman do something against her will.
accusations

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