Tag Archives: abuse

For Some Victims, Reporting a Rape Can Bring Doubt, Abuse—and Even Prosecution False reporting is a crime, one that some police would like to make a priority. But history shows the police can’t always tell the truth from a lie.

The women accusing the Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct have faced doubt and derision. Other women, who have alleged sexual assault or harassment by powerful men in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and elsewhere, have become targets for online abuse or had their careers threatened. Harvey Weinstein went so far as to hire ex-Mossad operatives to investigate the personal history of the actress Rose McGowan, to discourage her from publicly accusing him of rape.

There are many reasons for women to think twice about reporting sexual assault. But one potential consequence looms especially large: They may also be prosecuted.

This month, a retired police lieutenant in Memphis, Tennessee, Cody Wilkerson, testified, as part of a lawsuit against the city, not only that police detectives sometimes neglected to investigate cases of sexual assault but also that he overheard the head of investigative services in the city’s police department say, on his first day in charge: “The first thing we need to do is start locking up more victims for false reporting.” It’s an alarming choice of priorities — and one that can backfire.

In 2015 we wrote an article for ProPublica and the Marshall Project about Marie, an 18-year-old who reported being raped in Lynnwood, Washington, by a man who broke into her apartment. (Marie is her middle name.) Police detectives treated small inconsistencies in her account — common among trauma victims — as major discrepancies. Instead of interviewing her as a victim, they interrogated her as a suspect. Under pressure, Marie eventually recanted — and was charged with false reporting, punishable by up to a year in jail. The court ordered her to pay $500 in court costs, get mental health counseling for her lying and go on supervised probation for one year. More than two years later, the police in Colorado arrested a serial rapist — and discovered a photograph proving he had raped Marie.

What happened to Marie seemed unthinkable. She was victimized twice — first raped, then prosecuted. But cases like hers can be found around the country. In 1997, a legally blind woman reported being raped at knife point in Madison, Wisconsin. That same year, a pregnant 16-year-old reported being raped in New York City. In 2004, a 19-year-old reported being sexually assaulted at gunpoint in Cranberry Township, Pa.

In all three instances, the women were charged with lying. In all three instances, their reports turned out to be true. The men who raped them were later identified and convicted.

In 2001, a 13-year-old in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, reported being abducted and molested. “You keep lying and lying and lying and lying,” a police detective told her. In 2015, a physical therapist in Vallejo, California, reported being kidnapped and sexually assaulted. The police called her story a hoax. One lieutenant said that she “owes this community an apology.” In both instances, video footage later surfaced affirming the victims’ reports.

In Marie’s case, and with some of the other cases, the victims hadn’t acted the way the police thought a victim should act. Their affect seemed off, or they declined help from an advocate, or they looked away instead of making eye contact. As a result, their stories became suspect.

In Lynnwood, the police have since changed the way they do things to prevent anything like Marie’s case from happening again. Detectives today receive additional training about trauma and cannot doubt a rape report absent “definitive proof” that it is false. In an effort to build trust, the department ensures that victims get immediate help from specially trained advocates. Those changes correspond with guidelines for rape investigations that sex-crimes experts have urged for police departments around the country. Those guidelines stress: The police should investigate thoroughly while reserving judgment. Evidence trumps assumptions. The police should be wary of stereotypes; they should not, for example, find an adolescent victim less believable than an adult. Some victims will be hysterical, others stoic; police should not measure credibility by a victim’s response. Police should not interrogate victims. They should listen.

Nationally, police departments, victim advocates and academics have experimented with ways to relieve the burden on rape victims who might fear dismissal, or even arrest, by reporting their attacks to the police. Perhaps the most influential campaign to change police procedures is known as Start by Believing, sponsored by End Violence Against Women International, an organization that conducts training for the police and victim advocates. The campaign asks participants to make a simple pledge: Start the process of investigation by believing those who come forward. Police agencies in nearly every state have joined up.

Police in Ashland, Ore., started a program called You Have Options. Agencies that participate handle sexual-assault complaints in a radically different way. Victims can report a rape but request that the police not pursue criminal charges. The idea is to give more control to victims, who might otherwise be reluctant to involve themselves with law enforcement. The detective who founded the program believes it will help the police in the long term by increasing the number of people who come forward and allowing police to collect information that could be used in future investigations if a victim changes his or her mind.

Both programs are controversial. For instance, Stacy Galbraith, the detective in Colorado who arrested the serial rapist in Marie’s case, told us her starting point isn’t believing: “I think it’s listen to your victim. And then corroborate or refute based on how things go.”

You Have Options is an even tougher sell. Many police officers are instinctively resistant to the idea of not immediately investigating a rape. Their job, after all, is to catch bad guys, not let them get away.

It is clear that some law enforcement agencies have begun to experiment with ways to be more responsive to rape victims. It is equally clear that there are no simple solutions. The path forward will almost certainly be contentious. But if we are going to make it easier for victims to tell their stories to law enforcement, change is essential.

By Ken Armstrong, T. Christian Miller / ProPublica

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Advertisements

Jeff Sessions Just Revived a Policy Nobody Supports

Every day, law enforcement officials across the United States seize cash from motorists stopped at the side of the road. It’s called “civil forfeiture,” and the stories of abuse are legion: over $17,000 seized from the owner of a barbecue restaurant in Staunton, Virginia; over $13,000 seized from a former church deacon in DeKalb County, Georgia; and over $50,000 seized from a Christian rock band in Muskogee County, Oklahoma.

Civil forfeiture allows government to seize property based on the mere suspicion that it is connected to a crime. For instance, the fact that the cops think someone has too much cash is enough to warrant a seizure. After the property is seized, in a complete reversal of the way the American justice system is supposed to work, owners must prove their own innocence to get it back.

Public outrage over the practice has grown as more tales of abuse have been reported. And fortunately, over the last three years, 24 states have passed reforms to protect property owners and curtail civil forfeiture. Less fortunately, on Wednesday Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new federal policy that threatens to undermine those reforms.

Speaking in a small conference room surrounded by law enforcement officials, Sessions announced the federal government was rolling back a Holder-era policy that had sharply curtailed so-called adoptive seizures. An adoptive seizure occurs when a state police officer seizes property and then transfers it to the federal government, which then forfeits the property under federal law. Importantly, state law enforcement gets to keep up to 80 percent of the proceeds of the forfeiture.

More from Politico Magazine

Posted by Libergirl

United Airlines CEO: Passenger Removed From Flight Was ‘Disruptive and Belligerent’

Image: Time Magazine

He said the passenger was “politely asked to deplane”

In an email to employees on Monday, the United Airlines CEO faulted a passenger who was forcibly removed and dragged from an overbooked flight for being “disruptive and belligerent.”

The airline faced a wave of backlash on Monday, after videos showed officers dragging the passenger off United flight 3411 because it had been overbooked. The man also sustained injuries to head when he struck an armrest while being carried out.

“This situation was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we politely asked to deplane refused and it became necessary to contact Chicago Aviation Security Officers to help,” CEO Oscar Munoz said in email to employees, reported by CNBC. “Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this. While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you.”

More from Time

Posted by Libergirl who says air travel is very shitty…

 

Nancy Reagan’s ‘Just Say No’ campaign was an absolute disaster — here’s how to end it for good

Image: Raw Story

The phrase with which Nancy Reagan will forever be associated came out quite naturally, when the First Lady visited some schoolchildren in Oakland, California in 1982. “A little girl raised her hand,” she recalled, “and said, ‘Mrs. Reagan, what do you do if somebody offers you drugs?’ And I said, ‘Well, you just say no.’”

After her “Just Say No” tagline caught on, she launched a high-profile, long-lived campaign by that name in 1982, traveling around the US and the world and across the airwaves to promote it. PBS noted, “The movement focuses on white, middle-class children and is funded by corporate and private donations.” She visited rehab and prevention programs and oversaw the formation of thousands of Just Say No clubs in schools and youth organizations, some of which still operate to this day.

Her don’t-do-drugs message, a reassuringly simple balm to a nation’s fears, was widely embraced. It can also legitimately be blamed for a huge amount of human misery.

More from Raw Story

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Why Bill Cosby’s Criminal Case May Now Be Dismissed

If former Pennsylvania District Attorney Bruce Castor made a promise not to prosecute Bill Cosby in 2005, this could doom prosecutors in the sexual assault case filed against him in December.

Here’s why.

Cosby’s attorneys say he ONLY agreed to testify in a sexual assault civil case based on this prosecutorial promise. You would expect, at the time, if Cosby’s attorneys thought he might be charged criminally in connection with that case, that they would have advised their client to invoke his right not to incriminate himself. They would have been crazy not to do so.

Instead, Cosby testified – describing in detail his various sexual encounters with young women and use of drugs – which he claimed were (basically) consensual. And now, those very admissions by Cosby, are the heart of the criminal case brought by Kevin Steele, the newly elected Montgomery County district attorney. (Side note: Steele was elected based on a campaign promise to prosecute Cosby)

More from Mediate

Posted by Libergirl

Protests Erupt as First Trial Begins in Freddie Gray Case

Image: Time Magazine

Jury selection began for the first of six indicted Baltimore police officers

Protests erupted outside a Baltimore courthouse Monday as jury selection began for the first of six police officers being tried in the high-profile death of Freddie Gray.

Some of the roughly 50 protesters could be heard shouting “All night all day! We will fight for Freddie Gray!” as prospective jurors were being screened for Officer William Porter’s trial, the Washington Post reported.

Gray, 25, died in April after suffering an injury in the back of a police transport van, sparking protests in the city and across the nation.

More from Time

Posted by Libergirl

Are We Slighting Black Women By Celebrating the NWA Biopic? –

“Straight Outta Compton” is having great success and surprising many as it rakes in nearly $60 million during its opening weekend. While the movie is riding on its theatrical high, there are some pretty low downsides for Black women.

In Kimberly Foster’s Black Women Are Never Priority: N.W.A, the Politics of Misogyny and My Battered Body she brought up a valid point about the discussion of N.W.A. “One of the most discomforting truths about living as a Black woman is that there is no safety from said violence. Those who continue to profit from it spread the lie that being “good” offers protection. It’s the kind of falsehood people like 46-year-old Ice Cube perpetuate when they speak of “bitches,” “hoes,” “despicable females,” and “upstanding ladies.”

Before groups like N.W.A. hit the scene, hip hop as a genre was far less negative than it is today, especially lyrics regarding women. But at some point venting about racism, violence, gangs and drugs was intertwined with disrespecting our Black women. And while the murder of Black men seem to be (and rightfully so) the focal point of racist acts of violence such as police brutality, the misogyny woven in the lyrics of gangsta rap and hip hop terrorizes Black women and is never really confronted.
“The trouble is there are few real consequences for unmitigated misogyny,” Foster writes. ” Ice Cube can still call women “bitches” and “hoes” and Dre can still produce woman-hating music. Their legacies will not suffer.”

In many ways, writing lyrics about abusing and objectifying women is just as compromising as writing lyrics about killing people of your own ethnicity. It kinda makes you wonder if these negative concepts about women can ever be forgotten when a biopic about a pioneer group that started these concepts, and gangsta rap that promotes them, hits the big screen.
The next time you sing along to an N.W.A. song, listen to the lyrics. How can we as Black people strive together for equality as a community when we ourselves reduce our women to “b*tches” and “hoes?”

By Joshua D. Copeland

Posted by The NON-Conformist