Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Proving our innocence (by Suzie)

         Women, don’t drink too much tomorrow. Otherwise, you’ll have no defense if a man assaults you. And, hey, have a happy new year!
          (If you don't know what's wrong with this picture, read Andi Zeisler's essay "Can We Mention the Men?")    
          The National Crime Victimization Survey shows a great increase in sexual assaults and domestic violence from 2005 to 2007. Although the increase may be due to better methodology, the numbers are way too high. Sarah Tofte, researcher for the US Program at Human Rights Watch, said:
The Obama-Biden administration should make prevention and protection against all forms of domestic and sexual violence a top priority.
          While we wait for that to happen, consider this case: In Tampa in 2005, a woman left a bar and was walking down the street when, she said, a man grabbed and raped her. (Continue reading at your own risk.)
Detective Mark Sutkoff … lauded the steely resolve of the victim, who returned with detectives to the site of the attack and guided them to the different locations where he raped her over a 3 1/2-hour period. She also spent four hours with detectives to create a composite sketch of the suspect that was released late last month.
"If it wasn't for her, we never would have made this case," Sutkoff said. "For her to survive, it is a miracle. For her to be strong enough to be this cooperative is truly amazing."
          DNA testing turned up Amos Busby, who has a “lengthy criminal history,” including a conviction of aggravated battery on a pregnant woman. After his arrest, Sutkoff said, “she can focus on recovering from her nightmare.”
          Sadly, no. In court recently, she testified she couldn’t remember all of the details from that night. Busby’s lawyer seized on that as evidence that she was lying. He said she had consented to sex.  A pathologist for the defense “acknowledged the woman was covered in bruises, scratches and scrapes but said there weren't sufficient injuries to her genitalia to support a rape conclusion.”
          After three years in jail awaiting trial, Busby was acquitted and freed.
          Rape victims are not supposed to be on trial. When a man claims consensual sex, however, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he's guilty, i.e., the woman didn’t consent or couldn’t have consented. For all intents and purposes, she must prove she’s innocent. If the jury thinks it’s possible that a woman wandered off into the bushes with a strange man to have “rough sex” … oh, good grief, where do they find these jurors?