Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Arnt, Nifong, and the Hunt for Evidence

When the accusations in the Duke Lacrosse Case first came out, one would have thought that the police in Durham, North Carolina, would have conducted a thorough investigation, searching for evidence of this alleged crime. However, as we found out, the police clearly conducted NO real investigation, deciding instead to stay away from any kind of investigation that might discredit Crystal Mangum's story.

At first, the lack of a serious investigation puzzled people until it became obvious that the police and Michael Nifong were not interested actually in doing an investigation, but rather looking for something -- anything -- that might aid their charges, and pointedly ignoring anything that might prove to be exculpatory. As the case dragged on, so did the realization that the Durham police were not interested in solving any alleged crimes, but interested only in framing people.

In doing my research of the Tonya Craft investigation, I asked someone close to the case if the police had searched Ms. Craft's house or her computer -- especially her computer. When actual child molesters are investigated, police invariably check their computers to see if they have downloaded child pornography, or if there are other clues that will demonstrate that the person under investigation has a warped sense of sexuality.

Thus, because such examinations of alleged child molesters are standard, I figured that the Catoosa County Sheriff's Department had done that. Instead, I found out that not only had the police not examined her computers or cell phones, or anything else that could download pictures, but they had not even searched her house. I must admit to being stunned when I heard that.

Why am I so surprised? It would seem to me that if I were investigating real-live child sexual abuse, I would want evidence, not just allegations. Instead, prosecutor Chris Arnt is depending upon allegations and accusations. (He also figures that his ace-in-the-hole is Judge Brian House, who is serving as a member of the prosecution's tag team.)

From what I understand, Arnt previously had investigated alleged child molestation in another county, and police literally ripped sheet rock out of the suspect's home in search (unsuccessfully) for anything that would indicate the suspect was a sexual pervert. Most likely, Arnt was not willing to risk going through Ms. Craft's house and finding nothing. Better to allege things than actually to have to prove them.

Prosecutors are known for cute tricks like this. In the Wenatchee case 15 years ago, the prosecutors put a minister and his wife on trial, accusing them of having orgies with little children during the church services. (Yeah, THAT took some imagination, but prosecutors like to get kinky, sometimes.) Investigators thoroughly searched the church and the surrounding area, trying to find at least one drop of semen or other body fluids, but found nothing.

And, as one would expect from a modern American prosecutor, the prosecution claimed that THE LACK OF EVIDENCE WAS PROOF OF THE CRIME. Like Michael Nifong would do more than a decade later, claiming that the lack of DNA on Crystal Mangum from Duke lacrosse players was proof they had raped her, we have prosecutors claiming that because there is no evidence left by the accused, then they must be guilty.

I can guarantee you that in the Tonya Craft case, we are going to see some of this. The children who are going to testify that nothing happened will be "proof," according to Arnt, that "something happened." You see, according to the kinds of "therapists" that have pushed these false charges, if a child says that there was sexual abuse, well, that is proof. However, if a child denies there has been abuse, then that also is "proof" that it happened.

If this sounds like something from Wonderland, you are correct. If you think this is a disgrace and an outrage against justice, then you also are correct.

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