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Comments

Alice

How heartbreaking. Good on you for finding out why she used those words; the usage makes perfect sense. I hope she was alright.

The Happy Feminist

She came through the trial like a champ and yes, we got a conviction. Rapist is doing 5 - 10, not quite as long as I'd like but the main thing for her was that the jury believed her.

Richard

Double edged sword as it can also make her look calculating and manipulative. She can choose who she wants to be depending on the situation, and "Bingo" (as you say), she's someone else.

Interesting how Alice thought the witnesses story was "heart breaking," and hoped she was "alright". So much for the presumption of innocence.

The Happy Feminist

Last time I checked Alice wasn't a juror.

Also, I don't think this victim was trying to manipulate anyone during her police interview. She was trying to reclaim some sense of dignity. If she were manipulating the cop, she WOULD have presented herself as a little innocent.

Thanks for the comment though. I think that perhaps I should do a post on the rape cases I've declined to prosecute. There is a real misperception out there that prosecutors pursue every charge when a woman "cries rape" without looking at the allegations in any kind of critical fashion. (I should also note that there are plenty of other types of allegations I've declined to prosecute in addition to rape allegations.)

The Happy Feminist

Another thing, I don't think the presumption of innocence is the same thing as a presumption that the alleged victim is lying . . . I'll elaborate on what I mean in a post sometime soon. You've inspired a whole potential posting frenzy Richard!

Alice

"Another thing, I don't think the presumption of innocence is the same thing as a presumption that the alleged victim is lying."

Thank you HF. That was my second thought as I read Richard's response; my first was, but this ISN'T an undecided case. The rapist was found guilty and sentenced, so YES, my sympathy is with the victim and yes, her struggle to reclaim control over her body and what happened to it IS heartbreaking. If this were a new case, one that hadn't gone to trial, well, that would be a horse of a different color... though I still wouldn't assume she were lying.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts on this.

Richard

Alice-- Read Happy Feminist's post again. Nowhere in the post does it say that the defendant was eventually found guilty of rape. We only learn that fact from H.F. seven minutes AFTER you felt "heart broken" and percolated sympathy for the witness. You merely assumed that the girl was telling the truth from the way H.F. told the story. Prosecutors can have a "good case" without the person necessarily being guilty of the charge. I don't know if that was true in this case, but shouldn't we be open to that possibility? Should we be very, very careful?

And okay H.F., I concede that Alice wasn't a juror, and that her "standard" for commenting on a blog is different from that if she had been deliberating on a jury. I just thought her presumption was interesting to note. Presumptions aren't random. A former prosecutor like youself knows this is true, and sometimes you count on it being true. I know you also realize that most folks assume guilt the minute they learn an arrest has been made, double trouble if the guy is black, or ugly, or needs extensive dental work.

The Happy Feminist

There are definitely people out there who don't really give the presumption of innocence its due. That's particularly unfortunate in the media, when talking heads, like Nancy Grace, publicly state, without having heard all the evidence, that a particular high profile defendant must be guilty. I like to think that most jurors take the presumption of innocence quite seriously-- especially given the formality of the proceedings, the judge's instructions, the defense attorney's exhortations, etc. But there are some jurors who are hopeless, like one who got booted off one of my juries because he thought the male defendant must be a criminal because he wore an earring.

I also think that the presumption of innocence (as people apply it) varies depending on the crime. I think jurors are much more skeptical of the prosecution in rape cases than in other types of cases.

Alice

Richard, the post says "victim," not "alleged victim." I assumed that meant the girl was telling the truth when I read the post the first time. Unconscionably unfair of me, I know.

Look, you have a point and I understand your frustration with me, but I guess we differ in that I think that one can believe an alleged victim has had trauma and is telling the truth, and still not presume that the alleged rapist is guilty. My first post hinged not on his guilt but on concern for her well-being. No matter whether she was raped or the guy was convicted (or, if I were on a jury, whether I believed he was guilty), she had a traumatic sexual experience, and yes, I feel sympathy for that. You'll notice that I only asked whether she was ok, not whether the rapist fried.

As I pointed out in my second post, by the time you posted we both knew that he had been found guilty. Plus-- and most importantly-- as previously noted, I'm not a juror. So... can we drop this now? Let's just wait for HF to compose her next post on this issue, shall we? She's already promised to address the presumption of innocence vs presumption of dishonesty, and the frequency of rape cases. I look forward to reading your thoughts when she writes that post.

The Happy Feminist

Alice, I hope you understood that I wasn't lumping you in with people who may not understand the presumption . . .

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