Rape, lies, and videotape

Via Jeff Goldstein, a bizarre story (warning: the linked article contains sexually graphic material and some very bad language) with serious implications. An Orange County, California woman, Tamara Anne Mounier, goes to the police and claims she was abducted at gunpoint, gang-raped, and forced to perform degrading sexual acts on tape. A week later, six men are arrested. When they turn the videotape over to the police, it turns out that the sex was entirely consensual; the woman repeatedly laughs, directs the action, berates some of the men for being unable to perform adequately, expresses her enjoyment verbally and vocally, and at one points talks to someone on a cell phone, enthusiastically describing the goings-on.

Apart from the baffling question of what possessed Mounier to go the police with her story and mention the videotape, which she had to know would disprove her claims, there is also the issue of punishment. The most Mounier could have faced for her false accusation, which could have sent the men to prison for life, was a misdemeanor charge resulting in a maximum of six months in jail. In the case she has actually been charged with two felonies because she also defrauded the state victim assistance program out of several thousand dollars. If convicted — so far, oddly enough, Mounier has refused to take a guilty plea — she could go to prison for up to 44 months. (Should the case go to trial, with the videotape as evidence, this is going to be be one time people won’t be wiggling out of jury duty.)

Jeff asks what feminists, including yours truly, think about this. I’ll gladly answer.

In some legal systems, a false accuser faced the same penalty that the accused would have faced if convicted on the false charge. That may be excessive, but the penalties for false accusations — whatever the crime — do need to be tougher. There are legitimate concerns that women who are raped may not come forward if they have to worry that they’ll go to prison for a long time if unable to prove the charge. But no one is talking about punishing accusers whose charges cannot be proven (resulting in the accused going free). If a woman or a man is charged with a felony for falsely accusing someone of a serious crime, the prosecution will have to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person knowingly made a false charge. That’s a tough burden to meet, and it should be. But in those cases where the falsehood of the accusation is clear, the punishment should be fittingly serious.

There is another issue here as well. In response to pernicious myths and stereotypes about women routinely “crying rape” — stereotypes that, among other things, often branded any “unchaste” victim as a lying slut — many feminists have gone to the other extreme of asserting that women don’t lie about rape (or hardly ever lie about rape), and that women in he said/she said sexual assault cases should be given what feminist sociologist Margaret Gordon called “the benefit of belief.” In some cases, the very discussion of false charges of rape has been treated as misogynist hate speech. And while it’s certainly not true that, as some men’s activists claim, all it takes to send a man to prison these days is one word from a woman, the new rape myths — the feminists ones — have taken enough hold to result in some very substantial injustices.

We need a serious, honest, open discussion on false accusations of rape. Being able to accuse someone of rape is a form of power (of course that’s true of any accusation, but a charge of rape packs a unique emotional and legal punch); and it would be naive to expect women never to abuse the power they have, just as it would be naive to expect it of men.

For more on the topic see:

Prosecuting rape allegations (The Y Files, December 4, 2005)

Who says women never lie about rape? (Salon.com, March 10, 1999)

Kobe’s rights: Rape, justice and double standards (Reason, April 2001)

How much should we know about the sex life of Kobe Bryant’s accuser? (Salon.com, March 26, 2004)

53 Comments

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53 responses to “Rape, lies, and videotape

  1. William R. Barker

    Hmm… sounds like Mounier is either a moron or a nut. In either case it wouldn’t surprise me if she gets off (forgive the pun!) on diminished capacity or some variant.

    One thing confuses me about your position Cath, specifically your submission that:

    “In some legal systems, a false accuser faced the same penalty that the accused would have faced if convicted on the false charge. That may be excessive, but the penalties for false accusations — whatever the crime — do need to be tougher.”

    What is this “may” stuff? Could you be a bit more specific? Here… let me give you an example:

    *MY* opinion is that, assuming the accuser is legally sane and legally competent to stand trial and upon standing trial is found guilty… then yes, without a doubt the appropriate penalty is that the false accuser be sentenced to the maximum sentence the person he/she falsely accused would have faced.

    I mean… jeez… why is it so hard to just give a straight opinion???

    And yeah… as with EVERY exercise of our humanly flawed legal system there’s a chance that extenuating circumstances might make this “harsh” sentence “too” harsh. Well… that’s why the executive (governor or president) has the power of clemency/pardon.

    And yeah… aside from executive powers… I’d be open to consideration of judicial or jury sentencing descretion – perhaps with the advice (and consent?) of the originally wronged party.

    P.S. – And YEAH… I KNOW that I’m a bit wordy with this post, but I don’t want to open myself up to a never-ending argument about how clear I am myself. (*SMILE*)

    BILL

  2. Cathy Young

    William:

    I mean… jeez… why is it so hard to just give a straight opinion???

    Maybe because I think this is an extremely complicated issue and I haven’t quite made up my mind as to what the appropriate punishment may be?

  3. Revenant

    I’m not sure if there is a practical way to make the penalties for filing a false accusation more severe. In theory, a false accusation should pose little threat, since people shouldn’t be able to be convicted solely on the testimony of a single eyewitness. If that is not the case then perhaps it is the trial process itself which needs to be reformed.

    In any case, I definitely think that anyone convicted of filing a false police report should have that fact mentioned in any future trials they are involved in. I’m not sure if it is currently legal to mention that the woman charging you with rape has falsely filed reports of rape in the past, but certainly it ought to be.

  4. mythago

    What is there about the current penalties that makes them too little?

    I’d note that ‘false report’ is only one issue here; an accuser who signs a report under penalty of perjury, or who offers false testimony, is opening him- or herself up to perjury–a far more serious crime

  5. Cathy Young

    Rev: juries can and do convict on the testimony of a single eyewitness/complainant. I know that in some states such as California, juries (I’m not sure if it’s in all criminal trials or just rape trials) are specifically instructed to that effect.

    Mythago: I see your point, but it seems to me that even an initial false report of a very serious crime should be treated pretty seriously.

    I am unaware of any cases in which false accusers were given what I would consider adequate penalties, even when the charges resulted in the accused being injustly imprisoned.

  6. beenaround

    It is hard to resist the temptation to say that this is a spectacular case of morning-after regrets that she attempted to alleviate in the time-honored way of crying foul …

    However, it seems to me that some sensitivity is needed in dealing with the case. I do not see why she should be made into a cause celebre by those who
    think that morning-after regrets turning into a rape charge is an issue. The number of cases is small and there are bigger fish to fry …

  7. mythago

    juries can and do convict on the testimony of a single eyewitness/complainant

    Juries are supposed to convict if the evidence presented shows the accused person’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the eyewitness/complainant’s testimony establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, then it’s appropriate for the jury to convict. Otherwise, no.

    I’d be interested in seeing the jury instruction that tells jurors they can convict on the basis of a single eyewitness’s testimony.

    I am unaware of any cases in which false accusers were given what I would consider adequate penalties, even when the charges resulted in the accused being injustly imprisoned

    Again, you’re mixing up multiple crimes here–not merely the false report, but perjury, if the accuser produced a signed statement and testified. In your original post, you’re talking about a complainant who (fortunately) only got as far as lying in an initial report to police–which is a misdemeanor.

  8. Cathy Young

    Civil Jury Instructions

    If you believe it is true,
    the testimony of a single witness is enough to prove a fact.

    Admittedly these are civil jury instructions but I’m fairly certain similar ones are given in criminal cases. Some years ago, there was a case before the California Supreme Court in which the defendant in a rape case tried to argue, unsuccessfully, that these instructions prejudiced the jury against him.

  9. Revenant

    If the eyewitness/complainant’s testimony establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, then it’s appropriate for the jury to convict. Otherwise, no.

    Huh. To me it goes without saying that a single witness’s testimony cannot possibly establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Any one person can be wrong and/or deliberately untruthful. It sounds like the justice system needs reformation in that area, if that’s true.

    Again, you’re mixing up multiple crimes here–not merely the false report, but perjury, if the accuser produced a signed statement and testified.

    The penalty for perjury in California is a maximum of four years in prison. That’s a pretty trivial punishment, too.

  10. mabman

    . . . the appropriate penalty is that the false accuser be sentenced to the maximum sentence the person he/she falsely accused would have faced.

    I mean… jeez… why is it so hard to just give a straight opinion???

    Perhaps because bearing false witness, while a reprehensible crime, is nonetheless far less damaging than actually beating and raping someone – especially if the liar is caught at it?

  11. Revenant

    Perhaps because bearing false witness, while a reprehensible crime, is nonetheless far less damaging than actually beating and raping someone

    I don’t happen to agree that sending an innocent man to prison for years — possibly for the rest of his life — is worse than beating and raping somebody. I’d rather be raped than spend ten years in prison.

    Indeed, we deliberately try to make the punishment for rape worse than the act of rape, to discourage rapists from committing the act.

  12. Anonymous

    Bearing false witness is less damaging than rape/assault. But if these 6 men were convicted they would have faced 10-20 years of assault and rape. The potential consequences of Mounier’s act should factor into her punishment.

  13. jw

    I think there are several things which apply here:

    - in cases where the false charge is, in and of itself, a weapon – a tool- used to cause harm, then the assault laws should apply: Changes should be made for that reason.

    - rape is normally far more harmful than false charges: That said, false conviction, with its high suicide rate, is often more harmful to the victim than rape … there are certainly good cases which suggest that. In cases of false conviction, there should be provision for felony conviction of the accuser, given the accuser KNEW the accusation to be false.

    - it seems to me that there are a lot of people with nasty agendas roving around this topic. As Cathy points out there are multiple feminists saying that women don’t lie and men who say that most women lie (about sex crimes). I think it is critical that we all discount a lot of what is said, there are too many “spins” around the topic.

    - also, the data I’ve seen says that the most common reason for false conviction is a real rape wherein the victim (or police) identified the wrong man. The massive error in first person sighting is a known problem in justice issues. There’s been multiple studies done on sighting error and it is a BIG problem. Something has to be done to solve that error.

    - furthermore, the treatment system used with sex offenders has a known and predictable risk of causing suicide in the falsely convicted (one of the VERY few known causes for suicide). We need to think seriously of laying charges against the prison psychs for not picking up on probable false convictions and making changes in treatment based on that.

  14. JodyTresidder

    revenant said: “Indeed, we deliberately try to make the punishment for rape worse than the act of rape, to discourage rapists from committing the act.”

    I don’t know if you are trying to be provocative here, revenant, or if your own visceral loathing of the very idea of being flung into jail for a crime you didn’t commit is clouding your brain…

    Sure, there’s an element of wider deterrent implicit in punishment.

    But your statement:”I’d rather be raped than spend ten years in prison,” could possibly be more winningly expressed!

  15. mythago

    Indeed, we deliberately try to make the punishment for rape worse than the act of rape, to discourage rapists from committing the act.

    Disconnect there–the *rapist* is not the one being raped.

    Admittedly these are civil jury instructions but I’m fairly certain similar ones are given in criminal cases.

    If you haven’t seen the criminal instructions, why are you ‘fairly certain?’

    The penalty for perjury in California is a maximum of four years in prison. That’s a pretty trivial punishment, too.

    If your perjury results in the innocent person being executed, the penalty is death or life in prison without possibility of parole. Other than that, the crime of perjury is that you lied–it doesn’t take into account what you lied *about*.

  16. W.B. Reeves

    However, it seems to me that some sensitivity is needed in dealing with the case. I do not see why she should be made into a cause celebre by those who think that morning-after regrets turning into a rape charge is an issue. The number of cases is small and there are bigger fish to fry …

    This presumes that we have an accurate notion of how many false charges of rape have been made. We do not have such knowlege. We only know of false charges that have been exposed as such. We have no idea whatever how many falsely accused but none the less convicted individuals are rotting in our prisons.

    I doubt that any such wrongfully imprisoned folk would appreciate the idea that their plight is unimportant since there are “bigger fish to fry.”

  17. mythago

    “We can never know” is not proof. The DoJ estimates that false reports of rape are about the same as for other crimes.

  18. W.B. Reeves

    An interesting juxtaposition:

    The penalty for perjury in California is a maximum of four years in prison. That’s a pretty trivial punishment, too.

    As compared to:

    I’d rather be raped than spend ten years in prison.

    So rape is preferable to a prison sentence but a four year prison term is “trivial”? Maybe it’s a question of the length of incarceration? How many years does it take to transform a prison term from a triviality into something worse than rape?

    Of course, given the conditions in our prisons, the convicted would likely end up getting both.

  19. Anonymous

    I’m sure that every now and then a false charge of rape is made, but I don’t think it is common or a huge social problem. On the other hand false charges of physical or sexual abuse made by schoolchildren against school staff is a very serious and common problem.
    I’ve been a teacher for seventeen years. During my years of my work experience false claims of abuse have been made against staff at my building at least once a year. During the same period real abuse happened only once and at a different building.
    Teachers are in more danger than the students.
    The worst ascept of the hysteria and the glorificatin of accusers is that it obscures the efforts to help real victims of abuse.
    I’d like to see some discussion of false claims of sexual and physical abuse since I think it is far more common than false claims of rape.
    By the way my school district doesn’t punish students who tell lies about staff members. My district consistantly responds by hushing the situation up, leaving a stain upon the reputation of the staff member.

  20. Mr. Grouchypants

    Could the accused file a slander suit in cases like these? Because false imprisonment isn’t the only danger one would face if falsely accused.

  21. W.B. Reeves

    “We can never know” is not proof. The DoJ estimates that false reports of rape are about the same as for other crimes.

    Except that I wasn’t presenting a “proof”. Since you believe that I was, please tell me what you think I was trying to prove. I only observed that the available data was not sufficient to support the stated conclusion.

    Estimates are, by definition, not hard facts but speculation based on a set of data. The validity of such are entirely dependent upon and limited by the validity of the data used. That the estimates may come from the DOJ does not alter this.

  22. neoteny

    “the crime of perjury is that you lied”

    … under oath (or solemn affirmation).

  23. beenaround

    Mythago opined:


    “We can never know” is not proof. The DoJ estimates that false reports of rape are about the same as for other crimes.

    And from memory, that is about 8 to 10%.

    However, a bigger issues here is that with most of not all other crimes, morning-after regret is not a factor …

  24. mythago

    Could the accused file a slander suit in cases like these?

    Absolutely.

    >And from memory, that is about 8 to 10%.

    No, it’s not. More like less than 5% (my own memory says 2%, but let’s be conservative). If you’re going to speculate about evil motives, by the way, there are motivations to lie about other crimes that don’t exist in rape.

  25. beenaround

    mythago said:


    No, it’s not. More like less than 5% (my own memory says 2%, but let’s be conservative).

    OK, I did some digging, and the best I can come up with suggests both support for your memory, but concern that we actually have no real idea about the level of false reports of any form of crime. See:

    CrimeProff Blog and Political Animal.

    However, seems to me to be the criticism of the 2% number is that it relates to those cases that have been proved to be false claims. That is, it is a subset of the actual false claims (and there is of course those cases of incorrect identification where a crime has occurred but the wrong person goes to jail for it).

  26. Cathy Young

    mythago:

    If you haven’t seen the criminal instructions, why are you ‘fairly certain?’

    OK, I found the relevant passage from my book Ceasefire:

    “In California since the 1900s, juries were told that a rape defendant could be convicted on the accuser’s word alone, balance the warning to treat her testimony with caution. Although the cautionary instruction was eliminated in 1975, the other one survived. In 1992, attorneys appealing a conviction in a her-word-against-his case argued that this gave the prosecution an unfair edge: since jurrors were also admonished to review carefully any claim based on the word of a single witness, to stress that the complainant’s testimony was sufficient could suggest that she was entitled to more credit than other witnesses, including the defendant. The California Supreme Court disagreed, opining that the instruction was still needed to counteract prejudice against rape victims.”

    This is footnoted to an article by Bob Egelko in The Sacramento Bee, May 8, 1992. Unfortunately Lexis/Nexis doesn’t have it, and the records for the Calif. Supreme Court at FindLaw go back only to 1994.

    But anyway, according to this, it looks like in California, juries are specifically instructed in rape cases that they can convict on the accuser’s word alone.

    By the way, beenaround’s initial estimate “from memory” is correct. According to the FBI, 8-10% of rape reports each year are “unfounded.” Usually a crime report is “unfounded” when the accuser has recanted or there is evidence that the crime did not occur (not just that it can’t be proven).

    For other estimates see my 1999 Salon article.

  27. mythago

    I assume you are referring to the DoJ’s report on acquaintance rape among college students or the 1997 DoJ report (which give the specific 8% figure), which finds the number ‘questionable’, and lists problems with the way in which reports are determined to be ‘unfounded.’

    I’m not trying to drag this out, Cathy, but I am very curious to see the specific jury instruction rather than a paraphrase.

  28. Revenant

    So rape is preferable to a prison sentence but a four year prison term is “trivial”?

    It was quite obvious that I was commenting on the punishment being trivial in relation to the crime, reeves. Try to use your brain before you post, ok? Four years in prison is a trivial punishment for sending a innocent man to prison for a much longer term.

  29. Cathy Young

    mythago — I’ll ask around and see if I can get the exact text.

  30. W.B. Reeves

    Try to use your brain before you post, ok? Four years in prison is a trivial punishment for sending a innocent man to prison for a much longer term.

    Except that in the case before us, no one was sent to prison on false testimony. By your own standard, a four year sentence under such circumstances would not be trivial.

    BTW, do you always find it difficult to remain civil when dealing with differing opinions or criticism of your own views?

  31. Cathy Young

    Guys, maybe I put in a request for a little more civility? Comments like “try to use your brain before you post” are not very cool. (I didn’t see Rev’s comment as I was posting at the same time.) I know it’s pretty much a free-for-all in the comments sections on some blogs, but I try to keep this a decent establishment. ;)

  32. Bob Dobalina

    I’d rather be raped than spend ten years in prison.

    Chances are good that suffering the latter assures the former.

  33. Ampersand

    Cathy wrote: …many feminists have gone to the other extreme of asserting that women don’t lie about rape (or hardly ever lie about rape), and that women in he said/she said sexual assault cases should be given what feminist sociologist Margaret Gordon called “the benefit of belief.”

    Cathy, what is the specific citation for the Margaret Gordon quote? And was she saying that courts should automatically find accused men guilty unless there was proof of innocence, or was she talking about some other context?

    On the whole, I thought this was a good post, and I linked to it today.

  34. Lorenzo

    Huh. To me it goes without saying that a single witness’s testimony cannot possibly establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Any one person can be wrong and/or deliberately untruthful. It sounds like the justice system needs reformation in that area, if that’s true.

    So, in other words, rape should never be prosecuted? That is the effective upshot of this sentiment.

  35. jw

    On False Charges/Complaints:

    There is a little data roving around the net. Among the Canadian things I remember (which are likely to transfer to other jurisdictions)

    - during divorce malicious charges of abuse (all types) run at 13% (charges where the charge itself is a waepon) This is from the 2005 Child Abuse study which is available online at Health Canada

    - from the old OPP sex assault dataset which was the best dataset ever collected –no longer available online– 6% of sex assault complaints are malicious and another 25% are wrong or obviously useless (charging the wrong male, both parties were too drunk to know what happened or pre-1985 a male victim & female offender: which was “legal” until 1985 (the assault laws could be used))

    The 6%/25% malicious/wrong, unless in divorce, is probably the best we’ll get and closest to the truth; just remember this is based on COMPLAINTS!

  36. Revenant

    So, in other words, rape should never be prosecuted? That is the effective upshot of this sentiment.

    Most rapes leave physical evidence of their having occurred. So, no, that is not the effective upshot of believing that having no evidence other than your word qualifies as automatic reasonable doubt.

  37. W.B. Reeves

    Most rapes leave physical evidence of their having occurred.

    Unless you’re talking about signs of violent assault, the physical evidence of rape is the same as the physical evidence for consensual sex and does nothing to substantiate the accusation of rape.

  38. mythago

    from the old OPP sex assault dataset which was the best dataset ever collected

    The Ontario Provincial Police? How do we know this was ‘the best dataset ever collected’, especially if it is, as you state, ‘old’?

    revenant, I can’t imagine a scenario where a witness’s testimony and no other evidence would dispel reasonable doubt. That’s why I would like to see the jury instruction. I am willing to bet what it actually addresses is corroboration: that is, the accuser’s testimony does not need testimony from another witness to be considered to have value.

  39. frustrated seeker

    JW, it doesn’t take much effort to give us a link.

    Just enter:

    <a href=”the URL”>A description<a>

    Where the URL will look something like:

    http://some.site.health.ca/blah-blah.html

  40. frustrated seeker

    Bah,

    that <a> should be a closing tag: </a>

    Sorry.

  41. Cathy Young

    mythago: actually, if you read Susan Estrich’s book Real Rape, you will see that the corroboration requirement in rape cases (corroboration by other evidence, not eyewitnesses) was one of the very things that feminist-driven legal reforms sought to dismantle.

  42. mythago

    Yes, Cathy, that was my point. A specific jury instruction for rape cases pertaining to the accuser’s testimony is probably a jury instruction that corroboration is not part of the legal standard.

    I’m perfectly willing to be proved wrong, if somebody can provide the actual instruction.

  43. Revenant

    Unless you’re talking about signs of violent assault

    That is the main form of physical evidence that I am talking about, yes. Rape also often causes traumatic damage to the genitals (not sure if you were including that under “signs of violent assault”).

    It is worth remembering that “making sure the guilty are convicted” is not the primary goal of the criminal justice system. The primary goal of the criminal justice system is “making sure the innocent are NOT convicted”. Convicting the guilty is the #2 priority. A policy that makes it easier to convict the guilty at the cost of making it MUCH easier to convict the innocent is a bad policy.

  44. mythago

    The primary goal of the criminal justice system is “making sure the innocent are NOT convicted”.

    Why would this be the primary goal? The justice system has to do a lot of work before an accused person is brought to the point of conviction or no conviction. If the goal is to avoid harming the innocent, shouldn’t that be done a little earlier on in the process?

  45. Revenant

    Why would this be the primary goal?

    Because we consider it more unjust to wrongly convict the innocent than we do to fail to convict the guilty.

    If the goal is to avoid harming the innocent, shouldn’t that be done a little earlier on in the process?

    It does — that’s what the indictment and trial process are for. Our system requires that people be presumed innocent so long as there is any reasonable doubt of their guilt. “But that makes it tough to convict rapists!” is not a valid criticism of the fact that a single person’s unsubstantiated accusation cannot reasonably be considered proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Even the Salem Witch Trials used higher standards of proof than THAT.

  46. mythago

    Even the Salem Witch Trials used higher standards of proof than THAT.

    No, they didn’t. If you’re going to use ludicrous hyperbole, at least try to use historically accurate ludicrous hyperbole.

    a single person’s unsubstantiated accusation cannot reasonably be considered proof beyond a reasonable doubt

    It’s evidence, not proof. And, again, since Cathy has not managed to locate the jury instruction she cites in her book, I’m assuming that it refers to corroboration, not to the notion that an accuser’s testimony is specially extra-credible.

  47. Cathy Young

    mythago, I haven’t had a chance to do any searching for the text of the instruction, but I just thought of someone who should be able to get it for me.

    I don’t think there’s any claim that the instructions stated the accuser is extra-credible. Rather, the claim in the case was that because there was a part of the warning that singled out the accuser as someone whose testimony was sufficient for conviction, the jury could conclude that she should be considered more credible than any other witness. (I believe there was a separate instruction that the jury could, if it chose to do so, base its conclusion on the testimony of any one witness if that witness was found credible.)

  48. Revenant

    No, they didn’t. If you’re going to use ludicrous hyperbole, at least try to use historically accurate ludicrous hyperbole.

    Actually they did. The Salem trials involved multiple witnesses, not a single witness.

    You’re welcome to consider my analogy to be “hyperbole”. But you’re defending the idea that a woman saying “he raped me” should be able to be considered, by itself, sufficient evidence to send a man to prison. So I think the analogy to the witch trials is quite appropriate.

    It’s evidence, not proof.

    Conviction requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Ergo if the prosecution is able to secure a conviction with no more evidence than the unsubstantiated testimony of the alleged victim, that victim’s testimony must have been the proof of guilt. And I don’t think that’s reasonable. If the only evidence of guilt is one person’s unsubstantiated testimony, proof beyond a reasonable doubt is not possible.

  49. skywind

    Juries are told that, in evaluating the testimony of a witness, they are to judge the witness’s credibility, demeanor on the witness stand, and to use their common sense (among other things). Juries have the benefit of seeing and hearing the witness testify and deciding whether or not she is believable. Just because juries CAN convict on the testimony of one witness does not mean they WILL convict on such testimony. But why shouldn’t they be given that option?

  50. Anonymous

    I think the relevant jury instruction is as follows:

    It is not essential to a finding of guilt on a charge of [rape] [unlawful sexual intercourse] [ (sexual activity) ] that the testimony of the witness with whom sexual relations is alleged to have been committed be corroborated by other evidence. (CA CALJIC 10.60)

    This comes from the standard California criminal jury instructions, and was affirmed in 1992. If this instruction is given, the following is also supposed to be given:

    You should give the [uncorroborated] testimony of a single witness whatever weight you think it deserves. Testimony concerning any fact by one witness, which you believe, [whose testimony about that fact does not require corroboration] is sufficient for the proof of that fact. You should carefully review all the evidence upon which the proof of that fact depends. (CA CALJIC 2.27)

    Is that what you had in mind, Cathy?

  51. Ymarsakar

    I wish someone would come up with a lie detector that could be permited in court.

  52. tarbat

    I can say that this happens everyday I was charged with rape after I complained about not being notified about a divorce in which I was never told about, the rape charges were stayed after I agreed to plead guilty to harassment. The family court system is so corrupt. The judge allowed my wifes lawyer to serve me via email, the email address was not mine.
    My name is Pete Tarbat and they have destroyed my entire life.

  53. Shane

    The system is too skewed in favor of women.
    I left some lovemarks (hickies) on my girlfriend, a day later, I was arrested when I was brushing my teeth.
    The reason was because she was cheating on me and stealing my money (I only knew this AFTER I got out of jail). The police wrote that the hickies were evidence of abuse and I was jailed even though I have hickies too. The police wrote that she probably sustained serious injuries.
    I was even charged with assault with a deadly weapon. She even lied and said I tried to kill her. My bail was a set at million dollars, I had to pay a tenth of that as a bond; even murderers don’t get a bail that high. I was facing life in prison.
    After the charges were FINALLY dropped, the girl got away scot clean, I couldn’t even get her reported for stealing almost $30000 from me while I was jailed. She costed me my job and a lot of money.
    There is no justice in the system.

    After I was release, this girl even tried to blackmail me. I tried to find someway to protect myself in the future, but I can’t. The police was no help to me at all. The police (two male officers) were even helping this girl set me up because she was pretty and crying, it was very evident.

    One thing the police did was they kept trying to get a confession out of me, they even lied and say that if I don’t confess they are going to say that they SAW me trying to assault my girlfriend to try to get me to confess. Later, they did wrote that on the police report. Police are liars.

    It seems that whatever she says automatically gets backed up by the police and sudden becomes the truth. They were trying to turn a few hickies into rape and assault. This occurs everyday. There is no justice if you are a man.

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