Crime Does Pay – if you work for the prosecution

If you think that crime doesn’t pay? Think again. The criminal justice system in America is perhaps the most well-financed institution of government anywhere in the world. In fact, to provide how well funded criminal justice inquiry alone is probably is to reflect on previous Presidential investigations ranging from Watergate to the Bill Clinton affair. There is no expense cap on how much money is spent. But take a moment and try to imagine how prosecutors in courts across America with sometimes unlimited resources don’t try to locate the truth? Instead, it seems to be to find the win. Many cases uncovered over past decades by advocacy organizations or third-party investigators have witnessed an alarming trend that prosecutors, despite evidence that could significantly deteriorate a case or allow an innocent person to be free, insists on plea bargains and continuing the cases all in the name of winning. It makes absolutely no sense. Or does it? Perhaps the art of winning a claim has no repercussions because the way policy and law protect prosecutors and the state.

Prosecutorial immunity is the absolute immunity that prosecutors in the United States have in initiating a prosecution and presenting the state’s case. “Firming up what had long been held as common practice, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976 ruled in Imbler v. Pachtman that prosecutors cannot face civil lawsuits for prosecutorial abuses, no matter how severe.” Prosecutors have qualified immunity in other activities such as advising police and speaking to the press.

When the Duke Lacrosse case made headlines all across living rooms, we listened to Nancy Grace of CNN vilify a university rape culture of athletes taking advantage of a poor African American woman by violently raping her over and over. The news was enough to make anyone angry that such alleged activity would take place. However, as the evidence unfolded, there became significant cracks on both the police, the prosecution, and witness, and the overall method in which the case had been investigated from the start. Instantly, the news splashed released from police reports already created the most damaging evidence against the accused where they will be forever known as the “Duke Lacross players accused of rape”. In fact, there was no rape at all! To make matters worse; Nancy Grace never made a formal apology to the team, coach, or university for her brash and unfiltered scorn of something that didn’t happen. Nancy simply moved on to the next big story in her unapologetic manner. However, we do see the same tactics being used over and over each week in the news by prosecutors, police, and the media. The difference is maybe that there was a Lacrosse team whereas most rape or sexual assault cases involve only one on one allegations. Mostly, the team story was scripted. It was a validation of truth by a group of men with the same story backed with evidence, whereas one versus one in other cases does not have such luxuries. Therefore, prosecutors don’t really care if the truth is out there. It becomes an art of only finding a win for the prosecution.

The prosecutor is an administrator of justice, a zealous advocate, and an officer of the court. The prosecutor’s office should exercise sound discretion and independent judgment in the performance of the prosecution function.

There are naturally good people and good prosecutors. But there is a stigma all across America that prosecutors are elected people that need reelection to maintain and keep their jobs. Doesn’t it seem a bit odd that we never hear in the media where a prosecutor discover evidence that may set a person free and perhaps convict the false accuser? This never happened in the Duke Lacross case and didn’t seem that it will ever happen in other courtrooms across America. Doing so, by the voices of prosecutors and lawyers would place the judicial system in a tailspin. Perhaps that is what our nation requires? A pursuit of the truth – so help us, God. Justice reforms aren’t about tearing down the judicial system. Reforms are about the discovery of the truth to align the field evenly so that justice for all prevails.

Perhaps another issue regarding justice reforms may begin with how the media reports and could sway the public from a fair trail by disclosing too much information — reigning the press in a bit with regards to public records and judicial matters aren’t silencing the media. Instead, it allows a cooling period so that both sides are protected. Under the current system, the victims are ALWAYS protected while the accused is splattered across airwaves and social media in nanoseconds. We ought to change that system for the sake of justice reforms and perhaps restorative justice.

More than 90 percent of state and federal criminal convictions are the result of guilty pleas, often by people who say they didn’t commit a crime.

Again, the state and prosecution have an unlimited resource of funding at its disposal. Yet we have “backlogs” of DNA testing, cases where plea deals are often 85% or higher of most case settlements, decades later evidence discovered or unearthed in storage rooms long forgotten by police agencies, and advocacy groups without much funding at all uncovering questionable evidence that could have allowed a person to be free. It is disconcerting, especially in a country where parties are required to swear upon a bible or affirm, they are telling the truth before a court. However, this policy is not extended to prosecutors to affirm or swear they are telling the truth. They don’t have to because they will always have immunity. Doesn’t seem right, does it? But it is your system of government. So, what are you going to do about it?

Forgiving My Sexual Assailant

Watching the recent Royal Wedding was a fantastic event with an important message about the power of love. The sermon delivered by Micheal Curry was a sudden change from centuries of royal tradition and protocol. Curry said, “When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields down by the riverside to study war no more.” It was a stark reminder that sometimes our world seems consumed with finding fault that we forget about forgiveness and pursuit of discovering happiness.

Now that the sermon of love and treating each other as family, friends, and neighbors are quickly forgotten and instantaneously abandoned the media. Those hell-bent on spreading hatred and negativity are right back on the front pages of our lives. Despite if you embrace spirituality or not for the sake of finding a decisive moment, there will be plenty of pessimistic viewpoints with an agenda of destruction before actually introducing forms practicality, reason, and forgiveness.

Recently I read It’s OK to Tell: A Story of Hope and Recovery by Lauren Book. While I am sensitive to what Lauren talks about in her book I felt she was more focused on her political and social ambitions than taking care of her situation. It seemed like a story of hate rather how to cope or find tranquility. After all, self-help books should mention how to overcome trauma. Yes, it is okay to tell someone about abuse, especially over a period of time. However, it is vitally important to take care of self in the meantime. I guess Lauren is in the business to advocate for herself with an agenda so she can speak for other sex assault survivors? She certainly doesn’t speak for me because I refuse to re-sell my body or experiences as a cash revenue flow.

When I was sexually assaulted at eleven years old, I was threatened never to tell anyone, or I would have violence committed against me. That is what I was told. The sexual assaults kept occurring for several summers and other kids my age knew because they briefly saw what happened. Did they share my story to help me or come later in life during the #metoo movement? No. They kept that secret deep inside for their own personal fear or sense of virtue by not getting involved. I kept the secret of my assault for over forty years. When I finally told someone, I was relieved filed with all sorts of wild emotions. But over time I learned to let go and move on because I indeed wasn’t alone.

Instead, my message to others was to learn to become your own advocate and voice. Merely telling someone is the first step. The second step is taking care of self because that step will become the longest journey to identify how you wish to proceed. Instead of making it a lifelong mission to profit off of my personal injustice, I decided to go on with my life and focus on who and what I want to be. I don’t wish to live in the past or dwell upon an event that isn’t pleasant to me or anyone else. Mainly, I became a forgiving person without having to find a special relationship with my God or higher power. Instead, I found the ability to move forward and continually seek guidance from professionals. A lesson learned moment is to invest in self instead of exploring how to take from others.

A valuable lesson for me about sexual assault was that I didn’t know how to say no or how to disappear from situations. During my childhood, as many others experience in schools today, is a matter of survival to keep from being physically harmed. Somewhat like a school shooting where people play dead to avoid being shot by an active shooter. I mentally played “dead” during my assaults to survive. However decades later I learned to get past the anger, self-pity, sadness, mood swings and isolation to become forgiving, engaged, upbeat, self-assured, but most of all compassionate. I basically learned to love again and definitely know how to assert ‘no’ for my own advocacy. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does get better and repeating the story becomes easier.

Maybe Rev. Curry is right. Perhaps we should take a look at ourselves and the value of love. I certainly have to love myself to love others. I think it is ultimately essential to lay down my weapons of hurtful words, personal agendas and disgust for past actions thinking it will buy me a renewed life? In the religious context, Jesus certainly didn’t sue or condemn those that propelled objects during his Via Delorosa on his way towards the crucifixion. I cannot do the same to those that witnessed the crimes against me and the person responsible that sexually assaulted me. Instead, I choose to let go, forgive and move forward sharing my story so that others may learn freely learn from it. Doing so makes life so much more optimistic and worth living.

The Decade​ of the Sexual Diet

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Growing up I often would hear euphemisms “Batting for the other side instead of homosexual” or “Sleep together instead of having sex.” Within that context, I would often hear the words, “badass,” “Um-hum,” or “go for what you know.” American culture lives deeply rooted within a complex system of worded slang.  Pop culture reinforces such slang with mature body language or subtle nods to perhaps relieve a labyrinthine of situations replaced with instantaneous vocal and verbal cues. The approach is somewhat universal and inferred. However, under the increasing scope of the #metoo movement, slang, and body cues are being dissected and interpreted as nonconsensual.

Throughout Hollywood film culture there have been iconic films such as “Fast Times At Ridgemont High,” “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Porky’s,” “Risky Business” and many others. Within each of those films, there were instances of consensual and nonconsensual situations with many body cues and generational slang. However, the audience understood and interpreted what went too far – or did they?  If those movies were released today, there would be a sudden outcry about victimization and statutory offenses. Naturally, there are generational interpretations combined with visible cues to assert yes versus no. However, to understand that one would have to be connected to that particular generation to fully understand.  Based on the #metoo movement and its thin-skinned assessment it may be safe to conclude that Fifty Shades of Gray would be renamed to Black and White?

There was a time during the early days of television and film where two people being in the same bed was strictly forbidden or taboo. Yet that particular generation understood what two people in the same bed meant.  To American culture, there appear to be two divisions where religious or upstanding citizens demand immoral behaviors to be censored or disguised in hidden suggestive content. The other side wants a more realistic portrait of everyday living society ridding of the racy content. Somewhere along the way the two intertwined and began demanding its own social media script revision campaigns thus the interpretation value has become convoluted. The same euphemisms, slang, metaphors are mentioned without leaving a viewer to interpret what is right or wrong. Usually, the next day film and social critics begin hammering out its agenda on how artistic value creates moral complications or sets the stage of assaults. Actually, its movements and critics that do more harm to the value of art because its film, television, music, comedy, and novels that paint a colorful picture of the real complicated world we live in. There is no such thing as black versus white because humanity was not intended to all react in a unifying manner.

Rather than look at the present, specific movements want to exploit the past to make its case and how it affects the present. That does have a ring of truth. However, history proves to be circumstantial and passionate. It has its language and consent standards based on that particular period. For example, the soulful and teasing song Drive by Melissa Ferrick how to beg and reject sexual advances all at once.  Let’s not forget the iconic Rick James and the bouncy hit Give It To Me Baby where the lyrics exclaim “I’ll make you holler if you’ve had enough.” In fact, the period where rape was identified during the Rick James era was leaving bruises, visible marks, and scars. Today simple consent seems to be withdrawn after the act is over because the thought has set-in. It may sound far-fetched, however, this is the current generational ground zero because of influential critics with ambiguous interpretation and imaginative view.

Anyone with condoms tucked away in a drawer thinking about STD’s or safety conscious are characterized as predators by today’s standards. Additionally, one-time hookups could be interpreted as the sexual hunter or assholes that must be dealt with if he/she fails to return texts or calls. It is so overly complicated that even the most consensual sex could potentially unravel and become sexual assault within seconds based on the wording, verbal cues, body language, and failure to use proper words. Essentially, gone is the days of passion and sexual appetite. Social movements have set out the unforgiving scales of shaming and placed us all on sexual diets.

America’s Failed Obsession With Sexual Assault

The recent barrage of sexual assault claims and allegations do nothing more than demonstrate how disproportionate the powerful are over the unknown. If this had been Joe Spacey and Mark Rapp from Anywhere, USA there would be a formal criminal investigation because little or no power is utilized. Anthony Rapp waited thirty years to come forward however allegedly told his friends and others about the encounter. Rapp is not sharing a story. Instead, he created a situation by using his status as power. This is no different from others that commit sexual assault and their quest for power or dominance; should that be the motive. Using a dangerous platform such as social media and networks to share a story rather than a professional therapist, doctor, or legal counsel is not a conversation. It is merely an attempt to seek power and reinforcement of control by others. Rapp seems to lose his credibility when he says he was the last person at the party watching TV in Spacey’s bedroom. I find it highly suspicious where any 14-year old seeks to spend time at a party by watching TV alone in a strangers bedroom. I am unsure what excuse Rapp told his parents about his whereabouts? However, I am sure there is another trail of lies and deception. Similar to the trick Rapp initiated by these almost seemingly “fresh” allegations.

There will always be a sexualized charged pop culture. The hordes of girls (and guys) waiting backstage at rock concerts of the past were almost a rite of passage. Band members, groupies, and stagehands were all equal participants in the sex scene. It still happens today. Data supports evidence that sexual curiosities are often peaked at events where high profile or famous people are. However, Hollywood is the first of a tumbling wall of skeletons in the closet and other entertainment or popularity based headliners will eventually be mentioned, accused, or investigated. What we are witnessing today is an adulteration or adaptation of the facts of past culture versus current culture allowing power and influence based on new policy or regulation. Kevin Spacey and others that perhaps made poor choices years ago are on public media trial today because others want or desire to abuse power based on their celebrity status or introductory profile. Surely others will throw their own spin of accusations with minor infraction but create major implications. However, the modern oligarchist society wants to identify behaviors from the past to rectify in the present based on power creating a false majority. If Rapp had a drunken man perform the same actions at an NYC subway station would the situation be immediately reported or thirty years later? Again, its nothing more than constructive abuse of power and a rush to absolute judgment. Our rush to judgment, especially about a past incident where no physical, sexual contact took place has become nothing more than the modern day Salem Trials where any form of mistake or interpretation endures no forgiveness or apologetic closure. If this had been nobody we had heard of then the story would have been shut down well before it began.

Sexual assault, rape culture, and other sexually driven motives should be a conversation on how to move forward. If there is a criminal element, then naturally there is a course to deal with that particular set of conditions.  Instead, the conversation has turned into gang warfare tactics and hatred where only one side is doing all the yelling and finger-pointing. At what point do we return to the conversation which becomes an educational tool for all? As long as social media and unqualified social justice warriors shift the conversation to a single platform based on power, then free societies will become a presumption of guilt until proven innocent. Lives can quickly be destroyed at a whim of allegation or misinterpretation of the facts. That is not freedom and fails to follow in the footsteps of our ideals of “justice for all” standards. Let’s return to the discussion without the name calling. Let’s fix and discover ways to heal and educate everyone fairly and openly.

False Sex Allegations

I had an interesting debate with a coworker today about people that lie about sexual assaults. Many agencies that educate the public about sexual assaults naturally will advocate that sexual assaults should never be labeled as false accusations. In fact, these same advocacy groups suggest that sexual assault are extremely underreported, and all should be taken seriously. On the other hand, there are people out there that will lie about rape because they want to revenge, redemption, or redirection. We both agreed that the key to sexual assault was consent. But in America, we have 5o states, and each state has its own definition of consent or how it’s defined. Consent will continue to become difficult to prove because of its one person’s word against another, and the criteria of consent have varying interpretations.

 

When we think about sexual assault, we may be drawn to an immediate violent crime where a person is raped by force leaving bruises or other injuries. But that way of thinking has shifted in the current definition of sexual assault by a multitude of interpretations to include touching a sexual organ or part. But watch any television show or passionate movie, and it is doubtful that the instantaneous sex scenes will ever demonstrate either person giving consent and sometimes play a role of sexual battery or questionable touching. I mention this scenario because many situations where people are involved in sexual roles are often similar to what we see on the big screen or television. Our conversation discussed if pop culture is somewhat responsible for not providing a benefit of educating the public about acceptable consent methods. If we mix in the ambiguous definitions of each state law, then the debate will continue for eons. Sure, no means no and we should respect that limitation. But in some cases, consent suddenly becomes a no that was never mentioned or insinuated.

 

People don’t typically lie about sexual assault. The subject in the question is that some do and the number appears to be growing.  I am not suggesting or diminishing the numbers that sexual assaults don’t occur. But finding accurate numbers with regards to false reportings can be a challenge. It would require data such as lie detection or counterclaimed physical evidence. The data that most rape advocacy groups utilize is based on studies that were completed between 1974 to 1986 which lists false reportings at 2%. But if you seek data from 1983 to 2004 then the number of false claims jump to 57% or higher. This information is provided from a 2006 paper by Philip N.S. Rumney in the Cambridge Law Journal. It demonstrates that there is a plausible argument that people do lie about sexual assaults or rape which is a disturbing trend.

 

But why would anyone want to lie about sexual assault? Is it because they regret what they did and want to turn back the clock as if it didn’t occur? But why would sexual assault advocate groups and law enforcement lie or mislead courts, schools, and the public about data the clearly shows a pattern of false allegations?  The topic is very sophisticated and ultra sensitive to grasp. People do lie on both sides and now is the time to introduce stiffer penalties for false police reporting and perjury in court. I fear that the future of sexual relations may be filled with smartphone recordings and sex tapes galore to reduce the burdens of rape accusations. The future of courtrooms juries will become a porn-like atmosphere where sex tapes will be viewed as evidence to either prosecute or reject a sex claim. Even with DNA forensics, the courts are filled with political agendas and elected prosecutors and judges. They too have an agenda to win cases to be reelected. We should place more emphasis on the truth and balanced investigation so that we are not revisiting an innocence panel twenty years from now and paying out outrageous sums because of shotty investigations, weak data, and emotional leverage inside the courtroom.

 
Perhaps it is safe to say we should return to a moral conscience society where we are careful not to place ourselves in situations where vulnerability could take place. Equally, there should be basic respect that individuals don’t benefit from a situation because the conditions are favorable. But we don’t live in a perfect world. However, we shouldn’t be adding to the imperfections to create falsehoods well after the fact. It’s one thing to have a credible case but another where the credibility is clouded and vague. Those that lie about sexual assault only hurt those victims of other sexual assaults and rapes. It makes our society suspicious and apprehensive especially in a time where adults should be reduced based on education and community information. But states should also take a moment to properly codify and streamline consent and federalize sex crimes so that education is improved and reduces the mixed definitions of assault.

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