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The Happy Feminist

That's why the prosecutors have greater ethical rules limiting what they can say to the press. Our office policy prior to trial was to confirm only the bare bones of the indictment. While I think it was a good policy, it was obviously very annoying when the defense attorney is making all sorts of misleading statements in the press trashing your victim and you can't do anything about it.

evil_fizz

"What bugs me is just how quickly people (like the security guard in the story) will leap to the conclusion that a woman is lying about rape. "

That really works both ways. People want to jump to conclusions prior to getting all of the evidence.

Yes, but if you go to the police station and say you were mugged, they proceed based on the assumption that you were, in fact, mugged. That standard seems to get tossed out the window in rape cases. Here, you get "Well, she might have been raped, but she might also be lying. We'll wait and see." You have to start somewhere. I fail to see why the fact that occasionally some people lie to the police means that we should begin with assumption that all statements to the police should be treated as suspect.

Chipmunk

Interesting how we're judging this case based on news reports. THF, you of all people should know that a prosecutor does not put all evidence on the table during the initial investigation of an alleged crime. We are also forgetting some of the "seedier" aspects of the story which raises questions in some people's mind about the alleged victim. She is a black sex worker (exotic dancer) in the South who is raising charges against white youth who attend a prestigious university (we forget that she too is a college student, but she attends a less prestigious public institution). To middle class white America, that raises all kinds of red flags calling her credibility into doubt. At least it does not appear that the prosecutor is falling in to this trap.

The DNA question is also interesting. With the number of exonerations that have occurred from DNA, we have come to believe that it is the panacea that will prove/disprove all crimes. That's not the case. Bodily fluids from a rapist may not be left on the victim if he wore a condem. Body hair or skin cells from a rapist may or may not be left on a victim. More importantly, in most cases DNA is not the deciding factor. Even Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld would agree with that. The innocence project addresses more than just DNA cases. Scheck's, Neufeld's, and Dwyer's book point that out (for those unaware of it, the title is "Actual Innocence").

The defense attorneys have been playing to public opinion. It will be interesting to see, if this case goes to trial, whether the defense will seek a change of jurisdiction based on the negative publicity (even though they've started to contaminate the jury pool right from the start).

TangoMan

Happy,

You were a former prosecutor so you must be aware of the types of charges that could be directed at all of the players in order for them to offer up testimony. Do you think that conspiracy charges are viable, do you think that pleas have already been arranged with some players, if not, why not? If you run a prisoner's dilemma with 47 players, you'd expect there to be serious flipping up the chain, especially as the pressure increased on the late flippers because the early flippers pointed to their guilt or complicity.

will

"Here, you get "Well, she might have been raped, but she might also be lying. We'll wait and see." You have to start somewhere. I fail to see why the fact that occasionally some people lie to the police means that we should begin with assumption that all statements to the police should be treated as suspect."

The place to start is hearing all of the facts before you make your conclusions.

If you came to see me about a legal problem, I would need to hear all of the facts before I can give you good advice. If I give you advice before I hear the facts, then I run a high risk of giving you bad advice.

The Happy Feminist

I don't mind judging the case to some degree based on news reports because I am not making a decision as to conviction or sentencing. However, I am very much aware, and obviously I hope my readers are too, that I am basing this only on the published reports and my opinion could change as other facts come out. Again, my main goal in even discussing this is exactly what Evil Fizz said, to counter this notion that we should automatically presume the victim to be lying.

I am sure there are a ton of facts that we don't know anything about, including a ton of facts that favor the prosecution.

will

"Again, my main goal in even discussing this is exactly what Evil Fizz said, to counter this notion that we should automatically presume the victim to be lying."

Very interesting. Once again, perspective is important. I feel like the people presume guilt when someone is charged with a crime.

"I am sure there are a ton of facts that we don't know anything about, including a ton of facts that favor the prosecution."

I agree completely. It ain't over until it's over.

The Happy Feminist

TangoMan, I have never been a big fan of charging people criminally just to get them to offer up testimony. First of all, you need to be able to establish that they committed some sort of criminal offense. Secondly, any testimony that is offered as part of a plea bargain is suspect.

So, I don't know if there is any evidence to charge any players besides those who have been charged with the actual rape. I don't know what the criminal law in North Carolina is, but to charge the other players as accomplices or as part of a conspiracy, they prosecution would probably have to show that the players intentionally did something to allow the crime to occur. Here it isn't clear that the other players would even have known the rape was occurring, much less that they did anything to promote it. Even if they knew about it and didn't say anything, that doesn't make them guilty of conspiracy or aiding & abetting.

chipmunk

one analysis you might find interesting:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writers/lester_munson/04/18/duke/index.html

The Happy Feminist

Yep. I think that article is right on the money-- although I think there is perhaps too much stress on the rape kit exam. Again, I wouldn't necessarily expect to see injury in a lot of rape cases. Also, a victim who actually comes forward soon enough to have a rape kit exam done is a gift!

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