12/07/2005 07:22 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Of Rape and (In)Justice

In Oregon, gang-raping a 17 year old is a crime, for the victim that is. Humbert-Humbert’s everywhere are dancing the two-step to this new tune. After allegedly being gang raped by three men, an Oregon girl filed a police report. The prosecutor, horrified by the alleged crime, charged the girl with filing a false report.

Ah, but the court will sort out this mess no doubt and probably flog the prosecutor, right?

“After a day-and-a-half trial, Municipal Judge Peter A. Ackerman on Friday convicted the woman of filing a false police report, a class-C misdemeanor. Ackerman explained his decision, saying there were many inconsistencies in the stories of the four, but that he found the young men to be more credible. He also said he relied on the testimony of a Beaverton police detective and the woman's friends who said she did not act traumatized in the days following the incident”. (source)

So to clarify, the judge ruled based on the following:

1). Despite many inconsistencies
2). The men were more credible (for no apparent reason, despite many inconsistencies)
3). The victim did not ACT traumatized (according to the victim’s friends)
4). Police detective testimony (oh? court transcripts?)

Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

The woman, as the victim is called, was 17 at the time of the attack, legally not an adult. The three “young men” were 18+ during the alleged attack, legally adults. They claim that the victim consented to having sex with all three of them. So despite inconsistencies in the testimony, namely the alleged victim claims rape and the three who allegedly raped her claim it was consensual, the judge still apparently takes no note of the age factor: three adults (of age) claim consensual sex with a girl, not of age. But, this is not a case of statutory rape for some reason, a reason apparently no one is privy to. Perhaps we will be enlightened in time.

How did it happen that these men were “more credible” than this one girl, who has yet to retract her story?

My good friend, Shakespeare’s Sister provides some interesting court details on this case.

1). The prosecution refereed to the men as “boys” while the alleged victim was refereed to as a “woman.” Adding and subtracting are not a required ability, apparently, for Oregon’s prosecutors (see here).

2). Allowed as evidence was the sexual history of the alleged victim, no doubt having been allegedly raped by three men; she is clearly responsible for defending her entire life to the court. Dobson could not have painted a more Christian Justice version: women (and girls) having consensual sex are rape-ready. How else is one to interpret this?

But such a perspective on women and women’s rights is not new nor is the way the court system treats such delicate cases.

Women in America are first victimized by their assailants and then again by the court system. If that were not enough, public opinion generally condemns them as well. Why should all previous relationships of a personal nature be allowed when essentially such cases as rape have at their epicenter the issue of consent? The only reason to bring up past sexual history is if the victim has cried wolf before. Cases of rape are not about sex, rather they are about consent and they are also acts of violence. Consent, if given in the past, has no bearing on a situation in which consent is not given in a later case.

If a person lent money to a friend before how is that relevant to them being robbed at a later date and by a different person?

Back to this case for now, and its bizarre turns and slides down the path of absurdity and injustice.

What was not allowed as evidence? Anything more interesting than the victim’s past sexual history, where consent was given?

Let’s rewind to the victim’s friends who claim that the victim did not ACT traumatized. Not allowed into evidence is the following (again, hat tip to Shakespeare’s Sister on this background info):

One friend’s mother gave her, the friend, alcohol the night of the rape. Alcohol is one of those things that when imbibed tends to render the senses a bit fuzzy, but in this case, it was irrelevant it seems. Now we don’t know if the daughter and supposed friend of alleged victim actually drank what was given to her. I can only assume the prosecution had a breathalyzer handy. Or maybe the detective was able to conclude whether the witnesses against the alleged victim were in fact a bit tipsy -- perhaps a close reading of the court record will shed additional light on this matter.

Or Not…

“Due to the arcane system in the City of Beaverton, there is no court transcript or audio recording of the court proceedings. Beaverton is not a ‘court of record’". (source)

The same mother, by the way, had stolen the liquor she gave to her underage daughter that night. Again, while it is not know if mom and kid were both drinking, one can surmise that if someone goes to the trouble of stealing liquor, that person is going to be drinking it.

Oh, that same mother, incidentally, was celebrating the return of her very own jailed boyfriend who was in prison for molesting his very own daughter. Mom was celebrating early, as Humbert was not due back from jail for another few weeks. She had stolen the alcohol on the night of the alleged rape.

So this mother/daughter duo are the witnesses and are both in a position to assess the alleged victim’s mental state? My question is why no one is assessing the mother’s mental state, but that is a whole other story, perhaps a Lifetime movie even.

So far, the credibility of these witnesses is stellar when compared to the sexual history of a child, apparently the judge in the case disagrees.

One more thing should be noted, the “friends,” including the mother, convinced the alleged victim to go to the police in the first place. So presumably drunk, confused, and having a sordid background that would make all Humbert s everywhere blush, the mother and her daughter, the friends in this case, thought the victim should go to the police despite “not acting traumatized?”

On False Rape Reports (as an FYI):

False rape reports no doubt occur and are filed by both men and women, but they are not the norm by any standard or measure.

“A Portland Police Bureau study estimated that 3 % of its rape cases were classified as unfounded, she said. Portland police, Huhtanen said, found that 1.6 percent of sexual assault cases were falsely reported, compared with 2.6 percent of auto theft reports.” (source)

A larger context is needed also to understand the frequency of rape and how often it goes underreported, no doubt thanks to cases like this one.

Rape Statistics - General, Youth, Situations

"Rape is a common crime and often occurs on college campuses. Anywhere from 35-75% of all rapes against women are committed by an acquaintance. It is also one of the least reported crimes. Here are some rape statistics within the U.S. "

General Rape Statistics

• Every 2 minutes a woman is raped in the U.S.
• 72 of every 100,000 women are raped in the U.S. each year.
• 28% of women are raped by boyfriends.
• 35% of women are raped by acquaintances.
• 5% of women are raped by relatives.
• Less than one third of all rapes are reported to the authorities.

Rape Situation Statistics

• 25% of rapes take place in a parking garage or public area.
• 68% of rapes occur between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
• More than 45% of rapists were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
• Rapists used a weapon in 29% of all rapes.
• The victim received external injuries in over 47% of all rapes.

Youth Rape Statistics

• 15% of rape victims are under the age of 12 (another source said as high as 22%).
• 29% of rape victims are between the ages of 12 and 17.
• 44% of rape victims are under the age of 18 (another source said as high as 54%).
• 80% of rape victims are under the age of 30.

Sources include RAINN, University of South Florida, Federal Bureau of Investigation (Uniform Crime Statistics, 1996), U.S. Department of Justice, Violence against Women (Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice, 1994)