When alleging rape becomes a crime
Shakespeare's Sister points to the very disturbing case of a 17-year-old alleged rape victim who was convicted of filing a false police report when the authorities couldn't prove her allegations of gang rape:
A 17-year-old girl went to police at the urging of her friends after she was allegedly gang-raped by three men, including her boyfriend. The men testified that the act was consensual. After reviewing all the information and statements, prosecutors decided they didn’t think they could prove a rape allegation, and so declined to prosecute the case.
Instead, they prosecuted the victim for filing a false police report. Yesterday, she was found guilty.
The victim has never recanted her story. Instead, the decision was based on the judge’s opinion that the three men were more credible, in part because a police detective and the victim’s friends testified she did not “act traumatized” in the days after the incident.
According to this media report, the men admitted to having sex with the woman. As in so many rape cases, the issue was whether the sex was consensual.
Note that the young woman was convicted of a crime. Presumably the prosecution had to prove that she knowingly filed a false report. How could they possibly have established that intent?
Witnesses give conflicting testimony all the time. Rape cases can be especially difficult to adjudicate because they often hinge on such ephemeral evidence. If consent is the issue, then guilt or innocence hangs on the principles' recollections of their own intentions and states of mind and their guesses about intentions of others.
It's easy to imagine a case in which someone seemed to consent without actually consenting. Under those circumstances, the accused probably wouldn't have committed a crime. However, his accuser might still be subjectively certain that she didn't consent and convinced that she communicated her intentions clearly. Miscommunications about much less complicated transactions arise all the time. We can give more credence to one side or the other without assuming that anyone is lying.
I can't see how the State could have proven anything close to criminal intent on the part of the woman--even assuming that she was less credible than her alleged rapists.
This case sets a terrible precedent. Now, failing to convince the police that you've been raped has is a crime.
Update: Scott Lemieux has similar misgivings about this case.