Friday, April 16, 2010

Rape, Sexual Abuse and the Nature of Evidence

Early in the Duke Lacrosse Case, the Durham police and other city officials were declaring that they had a "mountain of evidence" (their words) against the lacrosse players regarding the claim that some of them had raped and beaten Crystal Mangum. Of course, the press ate up every word, only to find later that the police had no evidence, whatsoever.

In fact, when confronted on March 27 by police officers that there literally was nothing on which to pursue rape charges, prosecutor Mike Nifong, according to Officer Ben Himan's testimony to the North Carolina State Bar, looked at the police and declared, "We're f*cked." It was on that day that Nifong launched his more than 70 interviews with the media, exclaiming that they had all the evidence they needed for conviction, etc., etc. In other words, he made it up as he went along.

The reason I bring up the Duke case, as well as the numerous other faux child molestation cases, is that there is a very common thread in all of them, and that involves the use of "evidence." Now, the media tends to focus on charges and accusations, but what I observed in the above-mentioned cases was the hard and sad fact that journalists really don't like to get down and dirty with evidence, as they prefer to have prosecutors spoon-feed them with what they are to say.

This pattern of the media ignoring evidence continues in the Tonya Craft case, and it demonstrates once again to me that the so-called "watchdog of government" really is nothing more than a lapdog of the state. For example, as I pointed out in my first post on this sorry case, Channel 9 had a horribly-inflammatory piece that basically convicted Ms. Craft on the spot.

However, it gets worse. The reporter told viewers that the children were "molested" (she was quite sparing with the words "alleged" and "allegedly") "in this house," showing Ms. Craft's home (where she no longer lives) "at a sleepover." OK, so we have a claim that on a certain evening, Tonya Craft molested a number of girls at a sleepover.

Now that the prosecution has brought this travesty to trial, however, we now hear that the sleepover where this abuse allegedly happened no longer is in the mix. In other words, the very event that allegedly triggered this whole ordeal is treated as though it never happened. The reason is simple; the defense had a number of child witnesses lined up who were going to testify that there was no abuse at the event. Thus, to get their testimony out of the mix, the prosecution changed its strategy to claiming that the "abuse" occurred over a long period of time with time and space no longer being relevant.

(If you think that the prosecution is claiming something that not even would be acceptable in a Harry Potter novel, you are correct. Unfortunately, Judge Brian House, tag-teaming with prosecutors Chris Arnt and Len Gregor, has permitted this amorphous time-line to be the norm, and he has disqualified the witnesses from the defense.)

Why, I asked the assistant news director at Channel 9, are not your reporters curious as to why this sleepover suddenly is a non-event? She gave me a dismissive answer, and then cut off the conversation. Channel 9, along with most of the media, is not interested in that huge discrepancy. After all, there is "graphic" testimony of which they must warn us, and everyone knows that if testimony is, well, graphic, then it must be true.

While I must admit that the state's "evidence" is even more of a farce than I had thought it might be, nonetheless the media seemed fixated and riveted to the testimony of the "child actress." That the child suddenly began to claim that she had remembered all sorts of different places where Ms. Craft allegedly molested her, contradicting earlier testimony, is one of those things that even the media cannot ignore.

But it gets worse. The so-called SANE, Sharon Anderson, gave testimony that one of my friends, a very experienced SANE from another state, could not believe was even permitted in a court of law. (Well, it is Brian House's court, not a court of law. Law ended long ago, and then "people" began.)

First, Anderson (no relation) declared that her exams of the children made her "suspicious." However, as my SANE friend explained, there are a lot of things that can make a young child lose her hymen, not just sexual abuse. Furthermore, the exam of the third child, according to Anderson, was normal.

Yet, what does Anderson declare? She says:
This girl had a normal labia and the hymen was normal – with a thin, translucent rim – the way it is supposed to be. My findings were a normal examination; this child is smooth, no punctures or other tears, although this does not preclude sexual abuse. (emphasis mine)
This is known better as, "Heads, I win, tails you lose." In other words, if there seemed to be something amiss in the exams, then that made her "suspicious" of abuse. If everything was normal, well, she still was "suspicious" of sexual abuse.

This is rich, but given her background and her statements, I think that she is what one calls an "advocate," and like Tara Levicy, the SANE that fabricated materials to help rev up the Duke Lacrosse Case, Anderson comes into her exams with an agenda.

Here are some gems from her cross-examination, as described in The Chattanoogan:
As he (defense attorney Demosthenes Lorandos) moved to an area in front of the witness box, he said, “Thank you, this is a tough job.” Then his first question, “No evidence doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, does it?” “Correct.”

Next he moved to her education and training. “You’ve read a lot of books and studies?” “Right.” Do you use the Literature of Science and Medicine so you can get it right or just guess better?” “The published don’t always agree with one another,” she replied. What about peer review, she was asked. After finding a common ground for the meaning of peer reviews the questioning continued.

“Are you a member of the American Boar of Pediatrics?” “No.” “Have you been published?” “No.” A member of the Review Board of Child Abuse & Neglect?” “No.”

“How many times have you been called as an expert?” “15 times. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose.” (emphasis mine)
Only an advocate would say that, for the function of the SANE is not to get convictions, but to do exams and then make a report. A SANE is NOT an advocate, or at least is not supposed to be.

Advocates are willing to cut corners and even fabricate testimony, as we saw with Levicy in the Duke case. Likewise, we have seen the prosecution obfuscate and try to claim that no one really knows the time and date when abuse occurred, that it "just happened."

When this nonsense is presented as "evidence" in order to have a woman convicted and thrown into prison for the rest of her life, and when the courts sign off on this nonsense, I wonder about the "justice" system in this country. I wish I could say that House, Gregor, and Arnt are the only offenders, but they are nothing more than symptoms of a larger disease: the belief that it is the state's duty to get covictions at all costs.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2010/apr/16/ringgold-ga-child-testifies-she-lied-taped-intervi/

Breaking news!

Anonymous said...

You are brilliant!!!! Why are you not her defense attorney or better yet anyones. You make such great points!

I read recently about the 3rd little girl and about having stomach problems/diarrhea and Tonya Craft apparently was putting diarrhea medicine on her.


In my honest opinion that third little girl is lying and all Tonya was doing was helping her while she was sick. Clearly, because her medical report came back Normal. Those charges about that little girl need to be DROPPPED COMPLETLY as do all the other charges because this woman is innocent, she has to be!

William L. Anderson said...

Actually, I could not legally represent Ms. Craft or anyone else, since I am not a lawyer. (I am an economist, but have written a lot of articles and papers on law, especially federal criminal law.)

Because I was so involved in the Duke Lacrosse Case, I learned a lot about the law in sexual assault cases. I also am tired of seeing prosecutors misuse their positions and have been speaking out on this national disease.

Anonymous said...

brian house should not be on this case. he was a law partner with the ex-husbands brother and was retained as council against her in her divorce. can you say conflict of interest?

Anonymous said...

Indeed, is it possible for the defense to request "Judge" House to recuse himself from this case?

Anonymous said...

They already did and it was denied.

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