Thursday, May 04, 2006


Rape, Rape Shield Laws, and False Accusations

I must admit I have a kneejerk reaction to reports of rapes that involve high profile/wealthy people. The assumption I hold is that the charges are false. This is especially true if the two people knew each other. The reason for this is that I have known two men who have been falsely accused of rape, both while in college. I heard these men's stories 18 years apart from one another but they are remarkable similar. Both men are mild mannered, one is a committed supporter of Howard Dean the other was from a wealthy family who could not hurt a fly. He had dedicated his life to happy hour. Not once did I see him exercising but he was always smoking usually with a drink in his hand. Both new their accusers and, though not dating, were friendly enough to be friends with benefits.

For the lefty, this accusation was especially difficult to take. He identified with those who fought the oppressors and now he was one of them. When he first started telling me his story I didn't believe him because he knew of my belief in the cause of men's rights so I thought he was just winding me up. His pained expression and pleas of sincerity made me change my mind. He detailed how his "friend" had changed her mind about a sexual encounter between them because alcohol was involved and later she had felt coerced.

My carousing, cocktail wielding friend was far more matter of fact about the incident even though it had happened relatively recently. His attitude was that she was crazy because she had accused another of the same before him. The college we had both attended had treated him so badly and his family was so wealthy that they managed to hire a lawyer who cleared him and forced the school to give him the rest of his education gratis.

Over the years I have found that my friends experience is not all that uncommon.

For the past six months, I've been staring at a 30-pound box filled with court documents and what's left of a young man's life following one college night and a 5- to 15-second disputed sex act.

That is, 5 to 15 seconds into the act of sexual intercourse, she said, "Stop."

He stopped immediately.

She claimed rape.

Thus, before his 23rd birthday, Rich Gorman of Orlando was locked behind bars in the Liberty Correctional Institute near Tallahassee, serving a five-year sentence for sexual battery.

Maybe my friendship has clouded my judgement but these men are the least likely to have assaulted anyone that I know. It is hard to know what might motivate someone to bear false witness. I do know that it occurs and that many men have spent years of their lives in jail because of it. I think part of the problem is that Americans delude themselves too often about their sexuality.

She found that 73 percent of those who signed a virginity pledge and then went on to have premarital sex disavowed ever having signed such a pledge.

The teens were initially surveyed in 1995, and again a year later.

She also found that adolescents who'd had premarital sex and then decided to make a virginity pledge were highly likely to misreport their earlier sexual history, which makes it difficult to accurately assess virginity pledges' effects on early sexual intercourse. [Emphasis added.]

Perhaps it is our puritanical past but many Americans have a difficult time admitting that they have sexual needs. The most famous case of a false rape accusation in Illinois involved a man named Gary Dotson.

In July 1979, Gary Dotson was convicted of aggravated kidnaping and rape. He was sentenced to not less than twenty-five and not more than fifty years.


In March 1985, the victim recanted her testimony. She said she had fabricated the rape to hide a legitimate sexual encounter with her boyfriend.

Dotson was not the poster child for good behavior however he did serve a total of 8 years of his life for a crime he did not commit. That is bound to make anyone a little bitter. Dotson languished for six years because a girl was caught by her parents having sex and through the course of a trial could not bring herself to tell the world that she had sex with her boyfriend. I am not condoning what Cathleen Crowell Webb did but it is interesting that her guilt over accusing an innocent man could not overcome her shame. It shows what a powerful force shame about sex can be for a woman.

There are few studies of the number of false vs. true rape accusations but what there are show that the number might be at least 1 in 4. With such high numbers of false accusations it is very important to have physical evidence and it is important to consider the character of the person making the accusation. Women who have been caught lying in the past either about rape or some attempt at fraud should be considered suspect. This is why I oppose rape shield laws. They are supposed to protect the alleged victim but they also prevent the alleged rapist from defending himself against the charges. Our legal system, for the most part, goes out of its way to protect the rights of those accused of crimes. 'Better to free one hundred guilty men than to jail one innocent man,' or something like that. Feminists have successfully turned this principal around in the case of rape and convinced others out a sense of chivalry to toss aside the rights of men accused of rape. This must end. Some women lie about rape and men must be allowed to defend themselves against false charges. Also, women who are caught lying should suffer the penalties of false accusation. Rape shield laws were supposed to keep shame about being raped from stopping a woman from bringing charges. I ask, is a woman's desire to keep her rape secret more important than a man's right to defend himself against a crime? Tilting the scales of justice in the favor of any one protected class does a lot to tarnish the reputation of our legal system.

By the way, the accuser is hardly anonymous at this point.


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