1. In court, opposing parties each put on their theory of the case, backed up by evidence. Their theories of the case are never identical; that is why they are in court. But just because the defendant puts on a theory that differs from the plaintiff’s theory does not necessarily mean that the plaintiff is lying. And of course, just because the plaintiff alleges something doesn’t mean that it’s true, and the defendant is not necessarily lying if they deny it. But of course the defendant is going to say that the allegations are false; that is why they are in court. And they will put on evidence to suggest that the allegations are false — that is why they are in court. It may, in fact, be that the allegations are false; it also be that the allegations are true. It might be somewhere in between; some might be false and some others might be true. But in an adversarial system, each side puts forward different theories backed up by evidence precisely so that the finder of fact can get the closest to the truth (it’s worth noting here, too, that the Jamie Leigh Jones case detailed in the Mother Jones article is a civil suit and not a criminal case, so the standard of proof is not as high as “innocent until proven guilty,” as it is in criminal cases). That the defendant’s evidence challenges the plaintiff’s claims is exactly how this works every time, and it’s unreasonable to conclude that the mere existence of some doubt-casting evidence demonstrates untruth on the part of the plaintiff (any more than it’s reasonable to conclude that the existence of some evidence supporting the complaint demonstrates the total liability of the defendant).
2. If a victim says “I think I was roofied because I had a few drinks and have no recollection of what happened, except I woke up and someone (or multiple people) had sex with me without my consent” and the response is, “Actually she was probably drunk,” that doesn’t really indicate that she’s lying. Maybe she was drunk instead of drugged! Still not ok to rape her, I think?
3. Lack of DNA evidence from multiple men doesn’t mean “no gang rape.” That prosecutors were only able to find DNA from one man doesn’t necessarily mean there weren’t other assailants; it does mean that prosecutors are doing the responsible thing and only trying the case where they have evidence to back up their theory.
4. Not making a specific legal allegation in your filings the first time around doesn’t mean that what you now want to allege didn’t happen. It means that you lost your opportunity to allege it in court. Different lawyers can look at the same set of events and come to different conclusions about what charges to file; it doesn’t mean that the facts themselves are any different.
5. An attorney mistakenly indicating in a legal document that a victim’s “pectoral muscle” was torn when he meant her “pectoral capsule” is, again, not the best proof that the person with the torn pectoral capsule is a liar. Especially when the attorney owns up to the mistake.
6. Finding vaginal and anal fissures, bruising and redness that could be explained by consensual sex if the person in question were on certain medications that could make her skin more susceptible to trauma is, again, the defense’s way of dealing with the physical evidence that an alleged rape victim had vagina and anal fissures, bruising and redness. That is their job, to show that there could be other explanations. They are apparently doing a successful job at it! But again, it doesn’t mean that a victim’s story — that she was bruised, that she had vaginal and anal tearing, etc — is a lie.
7. Recovery from PTSD is a process. That a victim alleges she has had certain psychological symptoms in the past 6 years does not mean that she has had all of those symptoms at all times.
8. If you find yourself writing this paragraph, you should just stop:
Jones’ medical records are full of information that could cause jurors to question her credibility. Perhaps most significantly, about two months before Jones went to Iraq, according to court records, she told her doctor that she might have had sex with someone; she’d had several drinks, passed out, and couldn’t remember what had transpired.
How exactly does that damage her credibility? Because the only credible rape victims are women who have never gotten drunk, or never been assaulted before?
9. Women can be raped more than once.
10. Drunk women can be raped.
11. If you’re so drunk you’re blacked out and have no recollection of what happened, you are too drunk to consent to sex. The fact that you were drunk instead of drugged isn’t a case-busting bombshell.
12. A book deal or a movie about you doesn’t mean you weren’t raped, especially under these circumstances — where the allegations occurred well before Jones was in the public eye. Seriously, no one suggested that Elizabeth Smart wasn’t kidnapped just because her family wrote about the ordeal.
13. Articles weighing the claims and the evidence are great. No publication is required to believe everything an alleged rape victim says. But defining “the evidence” as only the evidence put on by one side (here, KBR)? That’s not good journalism.
UPDATE: Last year, Megan Carpentier broke down the KBR “facts” about the Jones case, many of which are rehashed in the Mother Jones article. Check it out.
*Standard lawyer disclaimer: This is not legal advice. This is my own personal opinion about journalistic responsibility.