Rape accusations and anonymity

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Rorschach
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Rape accusations and anonymity

Post by Rorschach » Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:03 am

See, one problem with the forums being so quiet these days is my occassonal ham-fisted attempts at serious discussion.

Also I know BtEO just hangs around waiting to hand my ass to me with facts and logic when it comes to these kinds of conversations. :)

Anyway, the background to this is that a British soap actor was cleared of some pretty horrific charges yesterday:

Brief story

Although intially arrested two years ago, charges were never brought to bear until fresh allegations were made and he was rearrested and charged in February of this year.

I've not really been following the story to be honest - in Britain at the moment it seems like a celebrity a week is outed as a sex criminal - so I'm not sure at what point his name would have been put into the public domain but the newspapers have been carrying the story of his trial so it would have been at least a fortnight ago.

My question is: should those accused of rape be granted anonymity until found guilty?

Listening to a Radio Scotland phone-in this morning which mooted that very subject, I was taken by comments made by a spokeswoman for Zero Tolerance, an anti- (male) violence charity, who was absolutely against this position.

Her reasoning being that naming the accused might encourage other victims of the same to come forward; that being found innocent would be the end of the matter; and that successful prosecution rates for rape/sexual assault are so poor that anything unsettling an unsatisfactory status quo would be undesirable.

My thoughts were that 'mud sticks'. If you look at this Sky story I've just linked you'll see that there were twelve charges. I find it difficult to believe - and I know with unshakable certainty that this goes against the basic tenet of our legal sysyem that innocent until proven guilty means that if you are not found guilty then you must be innocent - that he's not done something. I am populi. I have a vox. I am conditioned to respond in a certain manner. If I could fit a childseat into the back of it, I'd probably drive a white van. So, by dint of identification before verdict, I would imagine that most people have - at best - uncertainty about this man: I didn't know his name before the trial but I do now. And I associate it with child rape even though the courts of the land tell me he didn't do it.

Is this fair to an innocent man? Do you believe the accused of crime deserve anonymity until guilt is established (if such a thing is not already part of the American legal system although Jacko's trial would suggest not)?

You'll have to take my word for this as obviously the radio doesn't provide quotes but when asked if she sympathised with the accused, the spokewoman replied that she did not; that he's had a fair and unprejudiced hearing; that should any baggage be carried forward after this case it is the fault of not only the media but of society at large for displaying a similar attitude to the one I've just admitted to; and that any sympathy she has goes to the anonymous 'victim' who now faces the danger of identification and vilification.

Your thoughts please.
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Deacon
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Rape accusations and anonymity

Post by Deacon » Wed Sep 11, 2013 11:22 am

I'm not aware if any anonymity for the accused in any cases in the US.
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Re: Rape accusations and anonymity

Post by BtEO » Wed Sep 11, 2013 5:50 pm

Rorschach wrote:Her reasoning being that naming the accused might encourage other victims of the same to come forward; that being found innocent would be the end of the matter; and that successful prosecution rates for rape/sexual assault are so poor that anything unsettling an unsatisfactory status quo would be undesirable.
Yes, this. Many serial abusers will actively work to make sure their victims cannot connect the dots with each other. The concept of rape culture says that within are culture there are many small things people do and say to each other that on the one side convince many (but certainly not all) abusers that their actions are perfectly reasonable, not at all abusive — while on the other side convincing the abused that they deserved of have otherwise invited such behaviour, in the case of children this can also include more direct efforts by the abuser to convince them such behaviours are either normal, or that revealing them will get the abused in more trouble than the abuser. Rape culture however starts to break down when more people start to compare stories — deciding you deserve something is a lot easier then deciding that someone else deserves it, or two other people, or three, etc…[1]

If the initial accusations against Jimmy Savile for example had been done with his anonymity guaranteed we'd have had no clue as to the scale of his crimes; reports had been made to the police many times before 2012, but all were dropped for insufficient evidence — now we have hundreds of independently-made reports describing similar behaviours and situations (from victims who cannot have met and exchanged notes) creating a pattern that's impossible to deny.

On that basis I'd absolutely agree that anonymity for the accused is potentially counter-productive. Because also consider it a far more important goal that we should hammer into everyone's skulls — starting with the piss-poor media we've been lumped with in this country — exactly what is meant by innocent until proven guilty. It's such a fundamental pillar of our modern justice systems and people (not just the stupid ones either, pretty much everyone — including myself on occasion before I hopefully think a little deeper — will fall foul of this) get it wrong all the fucking time; not just in rape cases but across the full spectrum of crime. Notable however is that under these rules the aforementioned Jimmy Savile is currently "innocent" as no claims have yet gone to trial — but given that he's dead and there may likely never be cases brought weighing up the collective evidence of hundreds of reports as we have done seems a reasonable alternative (though I'd still like to see a trial if one could possibly ever be held without shrill cries of "waste of money") in this case to a jury of 12; a vastly different situation from 12 specific claims made by a single accuser.

If we could have the majority of people get they head round that concept properly and make some serious dents in rape culture there might even be a case that anonymity for the accuser is no longer necessary. Unfortunately you don't have to look too hard to find recent cases where the accuser has been illegally named and the barely evolved scum whose ability to operate a computer seems baffling come out in their droves to attack.
Rorschach wrote:Also I know BtEO just hangs around waiting to hand my ass to me with facts and logic when it comes to these kinds of conversations.
Robin didn't answer this, Lauren did. ;)

[1] It is however rather shitty to note that it is unfortunately far from impossible or even uncommon for victim blaming to occur, even in cases involving children. It's only once patterns start building that blame sits increasingly easily on the abuser rather than the abused.

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Re: Rape accusations and anonymity

Post by Healer24 » Wed Sep 11, 2013 7:04 pm

I don't know where I stand on who should get anonymity, but I'd just like to point out that for better or worse "Middle school teacher accused of molesting children" is front page news while "Charges dropped on middle school teacher after witness recants story" is not. People tend to remember the first one and not really notice the second one where it's revealed that the kids made it all up because they didn't like the teacher. That last part actually happened to my 8th grade history teacher.
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Re: Rape accusations and anonymity

Post by FirebirdNC » Wed Sep 11, 2013 9:07 pm

I like that I can come here and actually have a rational discussion without a lot of over the top abuse. When I was first reading the post by Rors I was kind of on the side of anonymity for the accused more so because especially in the case of a celebrity people are looking for fame or money. Reading further and seeing Bteo/Lauren response I did have to lean more towards that because it could lead to more people feeling safe to tell their story. I don't think there is any one clean answer because lets face it people are jerks who don't always tell the truth (I know your shocked). It is a shame however when someone is falsely accused not nearly as much is said about them being exonerated.
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Re: Rape accusations and anonymity

Post by BtEO » Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:57 pm

Healer24 wrote:I don't know where I stand on who should get anonymity, but I'd just like to point out that for better or worse "Middle school teacher accused of molesting children" is front page news while "Charges dropped on middle school teacher after witness recants story" is not. People tend to remember the first one and not really notice the second one where it's revealed that the kids made it all up because they didn't like the teacher. That last part actually happened to my 8th grade history teacher.
It's worse than you think. You could contradict headline completely at any point in the article and plenty of people would still only remember the headline — the longer you wait to contradict the more people are going to either not get that far, or get that far but having tuned out not really notice.

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Re: Rape accusations and anonymity

Post by Gowerlypuff » Thu Sep 12, 2013 10:50 am

In the bigger picture false accusations are few and far between when compared to legitimate accusations.

I don't know where I stand when it comes to anonymity. I don't think it's good in the long run, but at the moment people's reactions to rape cases are broken (which I think is where the anonymity issue stems from).

You've got groups that just think all rape cases are false claims, which hurts people that want to actually report these things.
You've got groups that want to harm people that are being accused, regardless of outcome.
And so on.

What I found odd about the La Vell case is that there are groups on my twitter using the tag #IBelieveHer and are saying that Not Guilty != Innocent.
This, I think, is setting a dangerous precedent.

The handling of the cases, obviously, needs looking at. You've got a Jury of 12 people with the same group prejudices as are out in the general population, and this is going to cause cases to be tried incorrectly. Lawyers are going to make it as hard as possible for the victims to get their justice (some of the words used by the defense were horrible), and the jury could end up buying into it.

So, in the long run, I don't think anonymity is good. As it stands, though, with the way people react to rape cases, anonymity for the victim I think could be useful, at least to stop any immediate prejudices coming out. By that I mean full anonymity. We still get their ages/genders/etc at the moment. I don't think even that is good.
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Rape accusations and anonymity

Post by Deacon » Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:25 am

Gowerlypuff wrote:In the bigger picture false accusations are few and far between when compared to legitimate accusations.
Source? And how many innocent should be punished in pursuit of the guilty?
You've got a Jury of 12 people with the same group prejudices as are out in the general population, and this is going to cause cases to be tried incorrectly. Lawyers are going to make it as hard as possible for the victims to get their justice (some of the words used by the defense were horrible), and the jury could end up buying into it.
Ok, first of all, it's the defense's job to defend the accused, while it's the prosecution's job to convict the guilty. In every case. Always. That sentence "Lawyers are going to make it as hard as possible for the victims to get their justice" amazes me. To combine that with what appears to be the first time it's dawned on you that the downside to a jury of your peers is that they're your peers, not always the smartest and most enlightened bunch, free of prejudice, it's kind of flooring me.
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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Re: Rape accusations and anonymity

Post by Gowerlypuff » Thu Sep 12, 2013 1:18 pm

Deacon wrote:
Gowerlypuff wrote:In the bigger picture false accusations are few and far between when compared to legitimate accusations.
Source? And how many innocent should be punished in pursuit of the guilty?
Wikipedia wrote: Crown Prosecution Service report (2011–2012)

A report by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) examined rape allegations in England and Wales over a 17-month period between January 2011 and May 2012. It showed that in 35 cases authorities believed there was enough evidence to prosecute a person for making a false allegation, while in 5,651 cases there was enough evidence to prosecute for rape. Keir Starmer, the head of the CPS, said that the "mere fact that someone did not pursue a complaint or retracted it, is not of itself evidence that it was false" and that it is a "misplaced belief" that false accusations of rape are commonplace.[3] He added that the report also showed that a significant number of false allegations of rape (and domestic violence) "involved young, often vulnerable people. About half of the cases involved people aged 21 years old and under, and some involved people with mental health difficulties. In some cases, the person alleged to have made the false report had undoubtedly been the victim of some kind of offence, even if not the one that he or she had reported."[4][5][6]
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Rorschach
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Re: Rape accusations and anonymity

Post by Rorschach » Thu Sep 12, 2013 2:48 pm

Dianne Whitfield from Rape Crisis England & Wales: "False accusations account for only 5% of all reported cases."

To be honest, I was surprised it was even as high as that. And in the confusion between 'false accusation' and 'not enough evidence to convict', that's coming from a spokeswoman from Rape Crisis, who's unlikely to fudge the numbers, which would only make it higher.

Is there any difference between 'not enough evidence to commit' and 'innocent'?

I dunno. I understand a lot of what's being said. I just wish the official line of so many rightly outraged rape campaigners on falsely accused men wasn't 'tough shit'. I sympathise with rape victims. Christ, I'm human. I even sympathise with the possible reasons a girl might have to falsify such a claim. They can't be in good places.

Men who've had their lives ruined by such an accusation just seem to be acceptable casualties though, which I think is unfortunate.
LtEO wrote:Unfortunately you don't have to look too hard to find recent cases where the accuser has been illegally named and the barely evolved scum whose ability to operate a computer seems baffling come out in their droves to attack.
The reverse is also true. The first page of google search gives you a young man being stamped to death only this year after being wrongly accused of rape in the Independant. Although quite a lot of search results link to the Daily Mail, which I won't reference out of principle. As it's only asylum seekers that commit rape or lie about it don't you know.

Not that it proves anything one way or the other, but anonymity at least offers these girls some modicum of protection. Wrongly accused men on't have even that.

Healer - what happened to your teacher, just out of curiosity?
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Rorschach
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Re: Rape accusations and anonymity

Post by Rorschach » Thu Sep 12, 2013 3:08 pm

Oop. Too late to edit.
Rorschach wrote:a young man being stamped to death only this year after being wrongly accused of rape in the Independant
That's poorly phrased: the story was in the Independant. Not the accusation.

While I'm here, I'm confused by the difference between the numbers quoted by Gowerly and me.

It showed that in 35 cases authorities believed there was enough evidence to prosecute a person for making a false allegation, while in 5,651 cases there was enough evidence to prosecute for rape.

False accusations account for only 5% of all reported cases.

My mind's frazzled. Can anyone explain this?
FirebirdNC wrote:I like that I can come here and actually have a rational discussion without a lot of over the top abuse.
You know, I was thinking along the same lines after I'd posted this. We just don't see any flaming any more. I don't know if it's because there are fewer of us or because we're aware that there's not necessarily someone to stop it from getting completely out of hand always available or because there's just not that many argumentative posters on the forums any more. It's an ill wind, I suppose.
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Re: Rape accusations and anonymity

Post by Healer24 » Thu Sep 12, 2013 4:28 pm

Rorschach wrote:Healer - what happened to your teacher, just out of curiosity?
This happened before I was old enough to even have him so I was only told about it later by my dad. He was still teaching history at our middle school when I got old enough for 8th grade though. So I guess in the end he was "fine" and didn't even lose his job. Still must have sucked horrendously though.

Somewhat off topic, but that incident played a big part in my dad's policy of never being alone with the people he coached. Always have witnesses. Waiting with a kid for his/her parent's to pick him/her up? Make somebody else wait with you. He didn't want the same thing to happen to him.
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Re: Rape accusations and anonymity

Post by Rorschach » Fri Sep 13, 2013 1:01 pm

Healer24 wrote:
Somewhat off topic, but that incident played a big part in my dad's policy of never being alone with the people he coached.
Indeed. It was something that was told to me when I was teaching children and it's something I still adhere to now I'm teaching adults. And not only from a litigious point of view, but also from a cultural one.
I make sure I'm never between a lone student and the door - which is always open if there are only two of us - and I try to minimise the time that this is necessary. Particularly with female students.
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