Monday, November 13, 2006

Have some pity...

...for Katie Davis. On her way to prison after being convicted of making false claims of rape. Now I know it's wrong to make such claims, and of course it's traumatic for the guy who was tried for the crime, but:

(a) What kind of environment has she been brought up in to believe aged 18 that if she's accidentally pregnant her only option is to claim rape?

(b) Both parties had been drinking, neither remembered what happened fully. If someone is too drunk to remember what has happened I'm unconvinced that they can truly be said to have given consent.

(c) She was 16, only just over the age of consent, he was 24.

(d) The case was dropped because of "discrepancies and inconsistencies in Davis's accounts". Now if I was going to file a false rape claim I'd get my story straight and stick to it wouldn't you? On the other hand if I'd been raped, blocked half of the horror of it out and was trying to piece together the evidence I'm sure I would need to adjust my testamony as time went by.

(e) Even these inconsistencies only cast "serious doubt" on the verdict. No one has ever said that it was fully disproved.

(f) The guy spent 10 weeks in prison for whatever he did or didn't do. For just bringing the case against him she's been sentenced to six months.

And the police wonder why only a tiny percentage of rape victims report the crimes against them!


Jack Dumas said...

you have got to be kidding me, only 10 weeks in prison for doing nothing illegal. Wow, I have no pity and I am not sure why you do, the only thing I cant think of is because you describe yourself as a feminist and therefore do not care for male. That's the only way I can see you making these types of statements. What about the guy, how do you know what kind of life he had before, maybe he had a hard life to, but that does not matter to you because he is a guy. She should have gotten way more, and no, I don't think real victim of rapes will be affraid to come forward because a crimal that has chosen to use the state to kidnap someone for 10 weeks has gotten a better treatment than what she deserves.

I though the person(below) was completly nuts when I first read the quote below, but now I realize that she has some company and that her thinking might not be so unusual.

"Men who are unjustly accused of rape can sometime gain from the experience." ((Internet posting.) Catherine Comins, Vassar College Assistant Dean of Student Life in Time, June 3, 1991, p. 52.)

Cruella said...

As I thought I explained, I strongly doubt his innocence. At very best he is guilty of having sex with someone only fractionally over the age of consent on the basis of consent given or assumed under the influence of fear and alcohol.

Having listened to the tape of the 999 call she made it is blindingly obvious that we are not dealing with an evil criminal mastermind. We are dealing either with a woman so frightened of what is going to happen to her that she'll say anything to try to cover herself or, more likely in my view, a rape victim.

I have never suggested there was anything to gain from being unjustly accused of rape. I think however that suffering as a result of wrong accusal greatly underweighs suffering as a result of rape and of unresolved rape. Hence the sub-6% conviction rate in this country.

Braganza said...

There are many grey areas in this case that make it difficult to call. There's the question of consent (was it sought? was it given? is consent given whilst drunk acceptable?) there's the absence of clear recollection, and there is question of age. There are certainly more, but these are the ones that strike me as the hardest to pin down.
The question of giving consent whilst intoxicated is slowly developing a legal precendent, but it is still far from clear. Sadly this is as important to rectify as it is difficult. Whenever a couple have intercourse they must verbally consent if they have consumed alcohol within the last X hours? Should we have breathalysers installed on every bedhead? This is really important, but a legal minefield.
And the question of age. There is something unsavoury about a 24 year old man having drunken sex with a 16 year old. But there's also something unsavoury about a 24 year old man having sex with a sober 16 year old, that does not make it illegal. What strikes me as somehow fundamentally wrong is that this man walked away from this innocent, when he would have been found guilty of statutory rape if the girl had been a few weeks younger.
When does this cease to be rape? At 15 years and 364 days or 15 years and 365 days? There's something of a legal compromise there which does not reflect the reality of a child's gradual growth from innocent minor to young woman.
So we live in a world of moral ambiguity. Individually we make our own, but as a society we have the judicial system. It is an imperfect system which we must improve, undoubtedly. Individually we make our own, but as a society we have the judicial system. Only a Judge or a jury can say whether someone is guilty or not. If you can think of a better, fairer way, I'd be interested in hearing it. We must improve the laws and reform the sentencing guidelines, perhaps, (I'd argue that rape can be committed in the first, second and third, fourth, fifth, sixth degrees (as many degrees as you like) with corresponding punishments and corresponding burdens of proof).
Until a question of degree is introduced, such morally grey cases such as this one will continue to be seen in black and white terms of guilty of rape and innocent of rape, with the corresponding nonsense of an 'innocent' man serving 10 weeks in prison and being judged as deserving it by some.

Robert Jackman said...

I agree with the points you made - it always strikes me how people like Jack Dumas are always seem to jealous of victimisation. Women have higher illiteracy rates, are the victims of some of the most horrifying crimes in the world etc - and as a their protection is often prioritised by the law/police - and some males see that as somehow enviable. Perhaps if the middle class male majority experienced the other side of being part of a minority they'd change their mind.
Oh, I may be doing a piece on lads' mags for the uni paper (a comment on whether NUS should ban on them). I remember ages ago reading your thoughts on the matter (in the Guardian I think?); do you have a link to the piece?
Let me know on my blog.

Cruella said...

Yeah the issue is at best very cloudy. Which is what makes it so shocking that she was convicted for bringing it. It's difficult to draw a parallel to other crimes but I accepting the best I can do:

Suppose you prosecuted someone for assault and they were declared innocent because it was deemed that although they threatened you with a weapon your major injuries were self inflicted, perhaps from stumbling as you went to escape. Would you expect to be sent to prison for even bringing the case? I doubt it.

We have to let the courts decide and if every time they decide that situation X does not constitute rape, we can't then prosecute the person who brought it.

Zola_Malay said...

Sounds like the UK is pursuing a not so dissimilar law to that which fortunately is being ammended in Pakistan!
See my blog for my views on that!

Jack Dumas said...

At very best he is guilty of having sex with someone only fractionally over the age of consent.

Not a crime, not a gray area.

She accused him of a vicious attack that did not happen if thats not lying, I not sure what is, no gray area there either.

She is not the victim in this place, she is the aggressor in this case, she got the state to effectively kidnap someone and secestrate them for 10wks. Somehow, we are to beleive her reason, I don't think so... It is likely that she is still lying and only sorry about getting cut. The only gray area in this matter are generated because you still insist on making the victim in this case the aggressor. Its the blame the victim game. He was asking for it because she was over the age of conscent, but since I don't want him to be the victim, I will say that she still was not old enough ???

Since at best he is guiltly of no crimes, and at best she is guilty of crimes, I choose to keep my sympathy for the real victim here.

It is easy for me to see why you seem to think that 10 weeks in jail is nothing.

"I think however that suffering as a result of wrong accusal greatly underweighs suffering as a result of rape and of unresolved rape"

You make this statement way two easily. Being wrongly jailed to me is the same as being kidnap, whith fear for your life added there just as a bonus. Even taken into account the sexual abuse that I suffer as kid, my abuse was way less then 10wks. Of course, I do grant that not all rape have the same level of violence, and my abuse had no real violence just fear wich does make me one of the "lucky" as far a people who suffer abuse go.

Given what I know, I still believe that he had it worst than me and cannot easily dismiss to wrongly accused.

It's a good thing, that poeple in general don't think like you because the guilty untlil being innocent would not exist (it barely does now in some cases).

I do beleive we do agree about one thing, "that she'll say anything to try to cover herself " , since she was lying then however, I just think we are dealing with an average actress that knows how to act as a victim. (I say average, because its not hard to make yourself pass for a victim like she did since many poeple will believe you no matter what once you've finish your performance)

As for byRobert Jackman "jealous of victimisation". That one did make me smile. After all, being black, already qualify me as victim to many and people like you and cruella for that matter are considered the oppressor. Believe me, many circles I have been in would see you and cruella as the opressor because you appear to be white, including many people in my own family. I of course don't see it things that way and have been the considered the "black sheep :)" at more than one family reunion for my unwilligness to paint all white people with the same brush (a white brush that is:)

no pity jack

Cruella said...

She's far from an average actress, she's a very poor actress since she wasn't consistent with her story. Much like a rape victim might not be.

And how odd that you can suggest your family would consider Robert and I "opressors" without even suggesting what crime we might have commited? I'd say thats false accusations, making yourself out to be a victim when you're not. How about six months?

Andy said...

To answer your points in turn:

a) I agree she must have been brought up in a terrible environment to feel she needed to falsely claim rape. But would you extend the same mitigation to a rapist, almost all of whom have been brought up in a terrible environment as well?

b) If neither remember fully what happened due to drinking, does not the man have as strong a basis for claiming he was raped as the woman has?

c) Totally irrelevant. The law states that 16 is the age of consent. You may find it morally abhorrent but I'm sure you wouldn't want to live in a world where justice was meted out at the whim of an individual's personal ethics.

d) Are you arguing that the verdict is incorrect and that he did rape her? - if so I've no interest in the debate as I don't know any more details than were reported in the news. Unless you know more than this I'd say you're not in a position to criticise the verdict. Your other points seem to be mitigation of her crime rather than blind faith that she didn't commit it.

e) There is no such thing as "fully disproving" somthing in law. If I accuse you of robbing my house at 3am on the morning of 14th July 2002 then can you disprove it? Or are you just able to present a logical argument that at least creates reasonable doubt in the mind of a reasonable person of your guilt?

f) she hasn't been sentenced to 6 months for bringing the case, she has been sentenced for perjuring herself and trying (successfully) to ruin an innocent person's life. I'm sure you know the statistics about how few rape cases are successful in court (is it about 6%?) The other 94% don't regularly end up being prosecuted for making false claims so can't you entertain the possibility that maybe the evidence was extremely strong in this case that she was lying?

There is so much injustice towards women when it comes to rape, I can't understand why you'd make a point of defending one of the small minority of women that are the aggressors rather than the victims.

Cruella said...

Oh please. I haven't said that the guy SHOULD have gone to jail. i'm saying she shouldn't have.

Here is my original article with fully-clickable links of the rape numbers:

6% it is and the main reason for women not persuing cases is that they weren't believed by prosecutors, exactly as Katie Davis wasn't...