Author: has written 5267 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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87 Responses

  1. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable August 22, 2011 at 11:53 am |

    Can’t access facebook at work. Can you share time/location details here?

    Thanks much!

  2. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable August 22, 2011 at 12:26 pm |

    Oh reading comprehension jk

  3. Angry Black Guy
    Angry Black Guy August 22, 2011 at 2:34 pm |

    I think it is a mistake to rally behind accusers who may legitimately be bad actors. Particularly when the new information expected to come out about her indicates that she told even more lies to the prosecution than have been revealed.

    It would be tragic if a movement was started (both now and if there is a civil trial) to make her into a martyr and it turns out that (a) she lied and really did immediately start scheming on a pay day, or (b) she never adequately explained the lies.

    The prosecution in this case seems very, very concerned about the woman’s credibility. Some reports say that she continued to lie even after she was confronted with other false statements.

    It would be helpful to remember Tawana Brawley and the Duke Lacrosse case when rushing to defend a woman that may indeed be the bad guy in this particular situation.

    I say that as someone who wants women to be believed.

    As a matter of fact I am saying this BECAUSE I want women to be believed.

  4. Angry Black Guy
    Angry Black Guy August 22, 2011 at 3:16 pm |

    Jill: I’m not sure I believe this from someone who trots out Tawana Brawley and Duke Lacrosse in his comment.

    Why are those off limits? Every AngryBlackGuy on earth that has engaged in prolonged conversations about issues of race or in any way attempted to reference Al Sharpton for anything has had Tawana Brawley thrown in our faces. It’s one case, but it is a burden that everyone who argues against racial discrimination long enough has to confront, particularly in NYC. We can’t pretend that things like that don’t have huge repercussions.

    If this woman turns out to be a massive fraud/liar, how are those

    Ditto the Duke Lacrosse case. The bottom line there for me is that I was surrounded by people who from the start believed that her story did not ad up. Without looking objectively at the facts, I fought back against those claims and ended up looking like a fool as a result.

    I think it is imperative that those of us who champion equality, both in issues or race or gender (or sexuality for that matter) remember that there are bad people in the world. People who would lie and deceive about the most heinous of things.

    And those liars often look a lot like the person in the mirror. We must fight to have legitimate allegations of abuse and discrimination addressed, but we can’t be blind to the fact that, yes, there are women out there who would lie about rape to achieve another objective. We are dealing with a woman who did just that in the DSK case.

    The information for this march, for example, contains the following quote from one of the groups referenced:

    “The New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault applauds Nafissatou Diallo and all the courageous victims of sexual assault who come forward to report the crime.”

    That statement in itself does what we are fighting against: it determines whether the accuser is being honest and whether the accused is guilty before a trial has taken place.

    It assumes that the accuser is telling the truth and that DSK has lied.

    That’s exactly the opposite of what we want. What we want is fairness. If the system is fair, justice will be served and victims will receive the justice they deserve.

    You do not bend justice to serve a favored viewpoint, even if that viewpoint is a righteous one like helping victims to bring their claims.

    Bottom line: The woman lied under oath about key facts in the case and even the prosecution doesn’t know what to believe.

    There is only one person responsible for that turn of events and it is not the people who will be protested at these rallies.

  5. Angry Black Guy
    Angry Black Guy August 22, 2011 at 3:57 pm |

    Perspective:

    The prosecution team in the DSK case took her side and immediately risked the fallout of bringing one of the most powerful men in the world under arrest with very little evidence.

    Then the accuser lied to them and they have been forced to address that.

    And now she throws the proescutors’ office under the bus:

    “The lawyers for Nafissatou Diallo told the judge that the Manhattan district attorney’s office had engaged in “abuse of confidence, unfair treatment, bias and prejudices” in dealing with her and therefore should be disqualified from making the final decision.’

    That’s pretty stunning and actually hurts the ability of future victims to have their cases believed when brought by these prosecutors.

  6. SK
    SK August 22, 2011 at 5:25 pm |

    @ AngryBlackGuy – at what point do you not recall the DNA and physical evidence in this case ? I think Diallo has a RIGHT to file charges against DSK, a RIGHT to her day in court, AND A RIGHT to special representation due to the allegations brought against the District Attorney. Regardless of what Diallo’s done or said in the past, to deny this right reinforces the notion our criminal justice system can be sold, lock stock and barrel to the highest bidder.

  7. Georg
    Georg August 22, 2011 at 5:35 pm |

    That’s pretty stunning and actually hurts the ability of future victims to have their cases believed when brought by these prosecutors.

    What? The prosecutors drop charges they don’t feel they can stand behind in good faith, even though it would be easier and more convenient politically to let the case run its course. Wouldn’t that actually bolster their credibility in future cases?

  8. Dawn
    Dawn August 22, 2011 at 5:48 pm |

    @ABG,

    Considering the amount of “liars” (Read: mostly women bullied into recanting or otherwise disbelieved) is ridiculously overblown already to defend the fact that:

    The vast majority of rape cases do not reach court.
    The few that do rarely result in a conviction.
    The few convictions rarely result in a substantial punishment.

    The law is such a joke that when a guy slapped a little girl in a store? He received a long sentence than he would have had he sexually assaulted her. So slapping someone gets you twenty years banged up, but sexual assault will see you out in five.

    In short, when it’s a case that the tiny tiny tiny amount of definitely false accusations are getting tried in a court and innocent men convicted then perhaps we should rethink things, since that isn’t happening, I have no doubt whether or not a conviction is secured that men will insist that they are somehow in their worldview being victimised by the tiny minority of convictions.

    I believe she is telling the truth because nobody would go through all the shit that the public eye has heaped on her for a lie.

  9. destor23
    destor23 August 22, 2011 at 5:52 pm |

    If you take the prosecutors at their word, then the DA’s office has credible doubts over whether a crime was committed. Wouldn’t it be immoral to pursue a prosecution in the face of those doubts? That’s how wrongful convictions happen. A trial is an ordeal for an innocent person, even if they’re ultimately vindicated. We already have huge problems with abusive prosecutors who presume the guilt of their targets. To ask them to bring cases when they’re not 100% sure a crime occurred takes away a vital and important check on their power.

    I’d definitely agree that phony rape accusations are rare. But that belief isn’t enough to support prosecuting some one when the prosecutors aren’t even convinced that there was a crime. Ironically, calling on the DA’s office to go ahead with the case despite reservations is a kind of male slut shaming, akin to saying “oh well, that’s the risk you take when you have consensual sex with strangers.”

  10. Lamech
    Lamech August 22, 2011 at 7:35 pm |

    destor23 is basically right. We already have enough prosecutors being abusive. We should not be telling them its okay to bring charges against people unless they are 100% sure the guy is guilty. (Or guilty beyond a reasonable doubt I think the term is.) For crying out loud there’s and example of it on this site! The West Memphis Three, prosecutor abused his power right? We tell prosecutors they can try and convict people who might be innocent, and we tell them abuse is A-Okay. And no, it won’t be usually be Strauss-Kahn or who ever you think the villain of the week is. It will be the powerful using it against those too poor to mount a defense in court.

  11. Dawn
    Dawn August 22, 2011 at 7:39 pm |

    @destor23

    The “doubts” are solely based on previous lies she’s supposedly told.

    They have evidence that something happened, but I don’t see anyone going “well HE lied about X, so therefore he must be lying about it being consensual” funnily enough.

    So if she isn’t an absolute angel who never told a lie in her life, it’s okay to doubt her case, but the same standard doesn’t apply to him?

    I missed the memo that “real” victims don’t repress memories to cope, they don’t go into shock and struggle to process what happened and they never ever lie about anything ever.

    A rapist isn’t going to go “hey, you lied before, I guess I better not rape you because women who lie don’t get raped”. I don’t care if she claimed to be the queen of bloody sheba in the past, that doesn’t prove she’s lying about what happened. The defense and papers have been trying to smear her from day one, that they have to resort to this kind of crap strongly implies that she’s probably telling the truth.

  12. Angryblackguy
    Angryblackguy August 22, 2011 at 7:58 pm |

    Few things in response to many of these comments:

    No one has a “right” to file charges. That is not the way our system works. Otherwise, people could get angry at someone and just file charges against them to ruin their reputation and make them incur legal costs. If you believe that any person, in any crime situation, has a “right” to file charges regardless of their credibility on the issue or the strength of their evidence, you aren’t understanding the way that our legal system works.

    georg, what you are not factoring in is the balancing that is embedded in our system to avoid frivolous claims and abuse. If they prosecutors aren’t convinced beyond a reasonable doubt, they cannot fairly expect a jury to be. That is the ethical standard of prosecutors. Imagine for a moment a murder case where groups are demanding that a prosecutor bring charges against a person they were not convinced was guilty. We would be outraged. Because that is not our system.

    For good commentary on this case,check out Jeralyn’s posts at Talk Left. She is a criminal defense attorney and has been saying for months that the case was in trouble.

    And based on her other writings, she is the last person to bash an alleged victim.

    This is just a bad case with a woman who may have actually been the victim of an attack. Unfortunately, when you lie under oath about the facts in the case, and have lied in the past about rape to benefit yourself, you don’t get to demand that your words be used to indict a person without question.

    The sad part about it is that the prosecutors here clearly believed her story and wanted to bring her justice. And at the end of the day they have egg on their face and she is claiming it is their fault.

    This is not the situation to use as a rallying point. I fear that this will hurt the cause long term.

  13. Angryblackguy
    Angryblackguy August 22, 2011 at 7:58 pm |

    Few things in response to many of these comments:

    No one has a “right” to file charges. That is not the way our system works. Otherwise, people could get angry at someone and just file charges against them to ruin their reputation and make them incur legal costs. If you believe that any person, in any crime situation, has a “right” to file charges regardless of their credibility on the issue or the strength of their evidence, you aren’t understanding the way that our legal system works.

    georg, what you are not factoring in is the balancing that is embedded in our system to avoid frivolous claims and abuse. If they prosecutors aren’t convinced beyond a reasonable doubt, they cannot fairly expect a jury to be. That is the ethical standard of prosecutors. Imagine for a moment a murder case where groups are demanding that a prosecutor bring charges against a person they were not convinced was guilty. We would be outraged. Because that is not our system.

    For good commentary on this case,check out Jeralyn’s posts at Talk Left. She is a criminal defense attorney and has been saying for months that the case was in trouble.

    And based on her other writings, she is the last person to bash an alleged victim.

    This is just a bad case with a woman who may have actually been the victim of an attack. Unfortunately, when you lie under oath about the facts in the case, and have lied in the past about rape to benefit yourself, you don’t get to demand that your words be used to indict a person without question.

    The sad part about it is that the prosecutors here clearly believed her story and wanted to bring her justice. And at the end of the day they have egg on their face and she is claiming it is their fault.

    This is not the situation to use as a rallying point. I fear that this will hurt the cause long term.

  14. Angryblackguy
    Angryblackguy August 22, 2011 at 7:59 pm |

    Sorry for the duplicate post.

  15. Angus Johnston
    Angus Johnston August 22, 2011 at 8:45 pm |

    Jill: I haven’t seen the DA’s office say that they have credible doubts over whether a crime was committed. I have seen them say that they have doubts as to whether a jury would convict, which is a very different thing.

    Jill, today’s filing includes the following quote:

    “We are no longer convinced of the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and cannot ask a jury to convict based on the complainant’s testimony.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/08/22/nyregion/dsk-recommendation-to-dismiss-case.html

    I have really big problems with how the DA’s office has handled this case, but reading the motion filed today, it suggests that the case has completely fallen apart, due in large part to a pattern of lies — many of them utterly convincing, many of them offered under oath — by the complainant.

    It’s a mess all around.

  16. Anon
    Anon August 22, 2011 at 8:54 pm |

    Jill: I haven’t seen the DA’s office say that they have credible doubts over whether a crime was committed. I have seen them say that they have doubts as to whether a jury would convict, which is a very different thing.

    In the motion to dismiss, the ADAs write: “That an individual has lied in the past or committed criminal acts does not necessarily render them unbelievable to us as prosecutors, or keep us from putting them on the witness stand at trial. But the nature and number of the complainant’s falsehoods leave us unable to credit her version of events beyond a reasonable doubt, whatever the truth may be about the encounter between the complainant and the defendant. If we do not believe her beyond a reasonable
    doubt, we cannot ask a jury to do so.” That certainly goes beyond merely expressing doubt about the likelihood of securing a conviction.

    The whole motion is available here: http://www.talkleft.com/legal/dskmotiontodismiss.pdf

    Reading the motion leaves me convinced that the decision to dismiss was both legally and ethically the right one.

  17. Dawn
    Dawn August 22, 2011 at 9:16 pm |

    @AGB,

    And you’re not factoring in that the vast majority of guilty rapists and child molesters walk FREE.

    I’ve been told by the local police that out of fifty cases of child abuse, ONE gets to court and half the time that doesn’t result in a conviction, I don’t think that 49 children are all lying? Do you?

    There is NO balance. Currently overwhelmingly the guilty are not prosecuted, wrongful convictions for rape are exceedingly rare and usually are the result of an ism.

    Again, I see nobody is bringing up any lies he might have told. Cos the man’s credibility is never called into question, he could have lied through his teeth six ways from Sunday and it would not result in his solicitor advising him to take a plea bargain because it would not be admitted in court or taken as evidence that his testimony was false. Therein lies the difference.

    Nobody would claim that Dominique Strauss-Kahn having an association with a known criminal made his claims suspect.

    Nobody would explore Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s prior sex life and declare that it made his testimony false.

    When they demand more standards from a victim to be believed than for the accused to defend themselves? That’s a broken system.

  18. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable August 22, 2011 at 9:17 pm |

    Seriously bored of the perfect-rape-victim rhetoric. She doesn’t fucking exist. I will rally around whoever the fuck I want. Whining from dickhead dudes isn’t going to change my mind.

  19. Clarence
    Clarence August 22, 2011 at 10:04 pm |

    Well:

    We know PA didn’t bother to read the Motion to Dismiss or she’d realize just how weak the physical evidence was. Indeed, insofar as the physical evidence (most of it didn’t disprove anything one way or another) disproves anything it disproves two of her contentions.

    That Motion to Dismiss is going to be a milestone around all of your necks and all because you couldn’t bother :
    A. To be appropriately skeptical and thus say little and be fair to both sides
    B. More importantly to actually read the evidence in the case before going to a public rally and throwing the support of several sexual assault organizations behind this trainwreck of a case.

    Sadly it appears that to some of the feminists on this blog all they have to do is reel off the appropriate racial and sexual checklists and they have their villain and their hero.

  20. Anon
    Anon August 22, 2011 at 10:09 pm |

    Dawn:
    I see nobody is bringing up any lies he might have told. Cos the man’s credibility is never called into question, he could have lied through his teeth six ways from Sunday and it would not result in his solicitor advising him to take a plea bargain because it would not be admitted in court or taken as evidence that his testimony was false. Therein lies the difference.

    This is not true. If a suspect has been properly Mirandized, false statements to the authorities can and routinely are used to impeach his testimony at trial.

    Dawn: Nobody would explore Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s prior sex life and declare that it made his testimony false.

    Again, this is not true. Whether particular testimony about his prior sex life would have been admissible in court depends on the details (it very often is), but such testimony – and mere rumor – has certainly been widely used in the media to portray him as a sexual predator (a portrayal that often strongly relied on anti-French stereotypes). And while alleged details of the complainant sex life have also been paraded in the media, they would not have been admissible in court and did not play a significant role in the DA’s decision to drop the case (as is plain from the motion linked above).

    There are a variety of well-known ways in which and reasons for which rape victims are all too commonly failed by the legal system. None of them have been in play in the DSK case. In fact, the case is a pretty good example of the legal system working just as it should be.

  21. wl
    wl August 22, 2011 at 10:11 pm |

    Anon: This is not true. If a suspect has been properly Mirandized, false statements to the authorities can and routinely are used to impeach his testimony at trial.

    Again, this is not true. Whether particular testimony about his prior sex life would have been admissible in court depends on the details (it very often is), but such testimony – and mere rumor – has certainly been widely used in the media to portray him as a sexual predator (a portrayal that often strongly relied on anti-French stereotypes). And while alleged details of the complainant sex life have also been paraded in the media, they would not have been admissible in court and did not play a significant role in the DA’s decision to drop the case (as is plain from the motion linked above).

    There are a variety of well-known ways in which and reasons for which rape victims are all too commonly failed by the legal system. None of them have been in play in the DSK case. In fact, the case is a pretty good example of the legal system working just as it should be.

    Say what??? There is not going to BE a trial now.

  22. Angus Johnston
    Angus Johnston August 22, 2011 at 10:24 pm |

    Anon: There are a variety of well-known ways in which and reasons for which rape victims are all too commonly failed by the legal system. None of them have been in play in the DSK case. In fact, the case is a pretty good example of the legal system working just as it should be.

    I wouldn’t say that. Not at all.

    It’s clear from today’s filing and the reporting around it that the relationship between the prosecutors and the complainant in this case melted down early and horribly, for reasons that are not entirely her fault. This isn’t a situation in which the DA’s office did everything right, the complainant did everything wrong, and she got justly kicked to the curb. It’s a lot more complicated than that.

  23. Anon
    Anon August 22, 2011 at 10:31 pm |

    wl: Say what??? There is not going to BE a trial now.

    I said nothing to the contrary. In fact, given the facts laid out in the prosecution’s motion to dismiss, proceeding to trial in the DSK case would have been unethical. While Jill is right to say, as she does above, that the prosecution having doubts might not always ethically mandate a dismissal of charges (although I would say with considerable confidence that it almost always does so), in the DSK case, dismissing the charges was very clearly the ethically right thing for the prosecutors to do. The idea that some people seem to be pushing – that any accusation should lead to a trial, regardless of whether the prosecution is confident that the charges are true – is ridiculous and ethically repugnant, and a recipe for enormous injustice.

  24. Anon
    Anon August 22, 2011 at 10:48 pm |

    Angus Johnston: It’s clear from today’s filing and the reporting around it that the relationship between the prosecutors and the complainant in this case melted down early and horribly, for reasons that are not entirely her fault. This isn’t a situation in which the DA’s office did everything right, the complainant did everything wrong, and she got justly kicked to the curb. It’s a lot more complicated than that.

    “The reporting around it” seems to be doing a whole lot of work here, because the motion itself makes it pretty clear that the breakdown of the case was, in fact, entirely the complainant’s fault – unless you think that the ADAs are lying.

    The suggestions of impropriety by the prosecutions are all coming from the complainant’s lawyers (her current lawyers – while she was initially represented by a respected civil rights attorney, he withdrew quickly, and Thompson took his place), who stand to personally profit from the outcome of her civil case. Those suggestions are, to my mind, almost entirely unconvincing (take, for instance, Thompson’s claim that the recorded phone conversation between the complainant and her partner did not contain a discussion of financial gain and that this claim was based on a mistranslation; this is disputed by the prosecutors in their motion, and I’m inclined to believe them).

  25. Esti
    Esti August 22, 2011 at 10:59 pm |

    Dawn: Again, I see nobody is bringing up any lies he might have told. Cos the man’s credibility is never called into question, he could have lied through his teeth six ways from Sunday and it would not result in his solicitor advising him to take a plea bargain because it would not be admitted in court or taken as evidence that his testimony was false. Therein lies the difference.Nobody would claim that Dominique Strauss-Kahn having an association with a known criminal made his claims suspect.Nobody would explore Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s prior sex life and declare that it made his testimony false.When they demand more standards from a victim to be believed than for the accused to defend themselves? That’s a broken system.

    Sexual assault victims absolutely have unfair assumptions made about them based on past sexual conduct, associations, etc., probably moreso than victims of any other crimes, and that is something we should work to fix.

    But what you’re saying here isn’t true, for two reasons. First, as Anon pointed out, all of those factors are things that are used to question the credibility of the accused, both in trials and in the media. Past lies (whether convictions for crimes of dishonesty or false statements to police/other witnesses) are routinely used to impeach defendants; past sexual encounters similar to the alleged crime against the victim are admissible at trial.

    But more importantly: when we demand more from a victim than the accused, that is not a sign that the justice system is broken. That is the justice system working properly. The burden of proof in a criminal trial is on the State, not the defendant. The question is not whether you believe the victim more than the defendant; it’s whether the State’s case leaves you with no reasonable doubt of the accused’s guilt. If the State’s only witness isn’t credible, it doesn’t matter if the defendant is even more not-credible — if the State’s witness isn’t believed, he doesn’t have to say a single word in his own defense to be found not guilty. Which is exactly as it should be, given that prosecutors wield the coercive power of the state, and we generally think that sending an innocent person to jail is worse than letting a guilt one go free.

    (And yes, if the accused’s lawyer knew that he was lying, they would not be able to put him on the stand, because the professional standards for lawyers forbid that. If the lawyer strongly suspects the accused is lying, but doesn’t know for sure, then they are obligated to put the accused on the stand if he wants to testify — everyone has a right to speak in their own defense, and no one can be forced to take a plea bargain. The prosecution, by contrast, has a duty to only bring cases/make arguments that they think are credible. Defense counsel are advocates for their client; the State is supposed to be somewhat impartial, and is not an advocate for either the victim or the community.)

  26. wl
    wl August 22, 2011 at 11:09 pm |

    Sorry to feed the trolls.

  27. Angus Johnston
    Angus Johnston August 22, 2011 at 11:40 pm |

    Anon: The suggestions of impropriety by the prosecutions are all coming from the complainant’s lawyers

    Well, no. They’re not. The DA’s office and the NYPD have been leaking like a sieve throughout this whole mishegas, and several of the claims that have appeared in print as a result (particularly but not exclusively in the New York Post) have been injurious to the complainant.

    A big part of the problem with this case is the adversarial relationship that developed between the DA’s office and the complainant’s team, and it’s been obvious for a long time that the leaks were a major contributing factor in the deterioration of that relationship. Unless you’re going to argue that DAs and cops leaking half-truths to media outlets with an axe to grind in favor of defendants is a “good example of the legal system working just as it should be,” your original characterization doesn’t hold up.

  28. Angus Johnston
    Angus Johnston August 22, 2011 at 11:40 pm |

    Anon: The suggestions of impropriety by the prosecutions are all coming from the complainant’s lawyers

    Well, no. They’re not. The DA’s office and the NYPD have been leaking like a sieve throughout this whole mishegas, and several of the claims that have appeared in print as a result (particularly but not exclusively in the New York Post) have been injurious to the complainant.

    A big part of the problem with this case is the adversarial relationship that developed between the DA’s office and the complainant’s team, and it’s been obvious for a long time that the leaks were a major contributing factor in the deterioration of that relationship. Unless you’re going to argue that DAs and cops leaking half-truths to media outlets with an axe to grind in favor of defendants is a “good example of the legal system working just as it should be,” your original characterization doesn’t hold up.

  29. Angus Johnston
    Angus Johnston August 22, 2011 at 11:40 pm |

    Anon: The suggestions of impropriety by the prosecutions are all coming from the complainant’s lawyers

    Well, no. They’re not. The DA’s office and the NYPD have been leaking like a sieve throughout this whole mishegas, and several of the claims that have appeared in print as a result (particularly but not exclusively in the New York Post) have been injurious to the complainant.

    A big part of the problem with this case is the adversarial relationship that developed between the DA’s office and the complainant’s team, and it’s been obvious for a long time that the leaks were a major contributing factor in the deterioration of that relationship. Unless you’re going to argue that DAs and cops leaking half-truths to media outlets with an axe to grind in favor of defendants is a “good example of the legal system working just as it should be,” your original characterization doesn’t hold up.

  30. Job
    Job August 23, 2011 at 3:53 am |

    Is it possible to investigate the future income of the Attorney Vance Cyrrus? His attitude has changed so suddenly and so to deny the medical report is very strange. He will derive benefit? While assuming the prosecutor innocent of course! It would even be nice to prevent that will be monitored in the coming years, it might give him pause.
    Sorry for my English. Google translation is

  31. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable August 23, 2011 at 6:28 am |

    Clarence: We know PA didn’t bother to read the Motion to Dismiss or she’d realize just how weak the physical evidence was. Indeed, insofar as the physical evidence (most of it didn’t disprove anything one way or another) disproves anything it disproves two of her contentions.

    That’s funny; I would say you didn’t read my comment where I said I was bored of hearing dickhead dudes whining. Hm.

  32. Angryblackguy
    Angryblackguy August 23, 2011 at 6:58 am |

    PA

    That is a cheap and unintellectual retort. But if you must hear the position from a female lawyer, Talk Left has the details (with quotes from the motion to dismiss) with actual legal analysis as opposed to the non facts that you appear to be relying on.

    Claiming that “dudes” cannot be fair or objective is akin to saying white people cannot have a valid opinion on issues of race, which is wrong, unfair and unhelpful to boot.

    The woman lied under oath in a friendly situation on questioning from people looking to make her case, not attack her. None of the people talking about unfairness here have actually address the fact that she lied about rape in the past and lied about the circumstances of this incident. AND lied again to cover up her prior lies.

    I understand it’s easier to claim that the menz just don’t get it, but that doesn’t make your point any more valid.

  33. Anon
    Anon August 23, 2011 at 7:07 am |

    Angus Johnston: The DA’s office and the NYPD have been leaking like a sieve throughout this whole mishegas, and several of the claims that have appeared in print as a result (particularly but not exclusively in the New York Post) have been injurious to the complainant.

    The NYT, who published the initial leak about the problems with the case was relying on “law enforcement officials” – i.e. the NYPD and not the DA’s office. All of the information in those stories (the lies, the asylum issues, the tax evasion, etc.), other than the contentious phone call to her partner in prison (officially first mentioned in the latest filing), was in the court documents the very next day. Would it have been better that the information got to the court before the press? Yes. The revelations damaged the complainant’s public image. On the other hand, her public image would have suffered just the same, only a day late, if there hadn’t been a leak (you are, presumably, not suggesting that there was something wrong with the prosecution respecting Brady). And none of the leaks attributed to “law enforcement officials” in the NYT contained any half-truths – all the claims are substantiated in the prosecution’s court documents, which deal even with the alleged translation disagreement with the complainant’s lawyers (whose behavior in this has been at times seemingly more geared towards positioning for the civil suit than towards helping make sure the criminal case goes forward).

    The claim about the complainant most damaging to her public perception, which had to that point been almost universally supportive – that she was a prostitute – came out in the NY Post based on an interview with “a source close to the defense team.” So neither the NYPD nor the DAs office.

    Are leaks bad in a case like this? Yes, of course. But it’s also pretty clear that the leaks only came after the case had essentially fallen apart.

  34. Diana
    Diana August 23, 2011 at 7:42 am |

    I did read the Motion, and I have to say, my opinion has not changed. N.D. never varied her story on what happened during the attack, just on exactly what she did afterward (wait at the end of the hall for him to leave, go into another room to clean, or go into that same other room, which she’d already cleaned, to fetch her cleaning supplies). People who have suffered from rape and sexual assault often mix up the order of events due to shock.

    The physical evidence points to hurried sexual contact (which the prosecution notes is generally a sign that it was non-consensual), but due to the nature of the sexual contact, the physical evidence can merely corroborate her claims, not prove or disprove them. That isn’t her fault. There is some question about the severity of her shoulder injury, but again, for the most part the MDs were talking in probablies. They were speculating and couldn’t say much of anything conclusively.

    The most damaging thing, as far as I can see, is her description of a rape that never happened, a story she planned to use for her asylum application, but then didn’t. I don’t know why she even told the prosecution that story. Perhaps she worried that she’d be vilified, as all people who suffer from sexual assault and violence are, and thought that would make her seem more sympathetic and credible.

    As for the rest, I find it irrelevant whether she misrepresented her financial situation to continue to be eligible for low-income housing, whether she received money into her account some time ago that can’t be explained, or whether she told prosecutors she wasn’t interested in DSK’s money and then mentioned it in a telephone call to her fiance in prison (the NYT reported that that call actually corroborated what she told the prosecution about the attack). The prosecution investigated areas of her life that had nothing to do with the case.

    The physical evidence does not indicate that she wasn’t sexually assaulted–it could be used to corroborate her account of events…and the hurried nature of the sexual contact and her telling people very shortly after the occurrence (and being visibly distraught) both point to her having told the truth about this. N.D. deserves her day in court…the questions we are all struggling with are questions for a jury.

  35. Rare Vos
    Rare Vos August 23, 2011 at 7:44 am |

    I understand it’s easier to claim that the menz just don’t get it, but that doesn’t make your point any more valid.

    LOL. Hey, you silly chicks with your ladybrains who have no valid points cuz their ladies with ladybrains, do you know if this dude pretends to be an ally? Cuz he’s ringing about 8 Douchebag alarm bells.

  36. Diana
    Diana August 23, 2011 at 7:54 am |

    Diana: Perhaps she worried that she’d be vilified, as all people who suffer from sexual assault and violence are, and thought that would make her seem more sympathetic and credible.

    I mistyped. I meant sexual assault and rape.

  37. Clarence
    Clarence August 23, 2011 at 8:37 am |

    Diana:
    I appreciate your post explaining your current feelings, but I do feel there might have been a few things you missed. In the MTD it also tells how :
    A. The complainant refused to allow the prosecution access to her medical records so they could check into the shoulder injury. You should also note that according to them, she never complained about her shoulder until later in the case and that an expert they consulted said that if DSK had done that type of injury to her shoulder she would have been in tremendous pain and had noticably restricted range of motion issues with that shoulder while they were conducting the initial interviews.

    Hence the forensic evidence, as it stands is, to be charitable, neutral about the shoulder injury. But what hurts her case even more is refusal to cooperate with the prosecution by giving them her medical history concerning the shoulder.
    The redness in the vaginal area was only ruled “consistent” with other explanations by the SAFE nurse who ALSO noted that it was consistent with other explanations as well, the second expert they interviewed said that it was , in their opinion, not caused by rape or sexual assault.

    Then there’s the fact that she is a good liar. The prosecution makes much of how she turned on the waterworks when recounting her false accusation about the gang rape. That doesn’t say anythng good about her as a person.

    In any case, after all that, I think its rather easy to see how there could reasonable doubt.

  38. Clarence
    Clarence August 23, 2011 at 8:43 am |

    AngryBlackGuy:
    You’ve been consistent for years, as anyone can see who looks at your postings on Talkleft. That someone would question your good intentions simply for failing to reach the same conclusion as to a criminal case that they did is rather sad, but to be expected. Alas, that’s how many social justice movements fall -ideological hardliners take over, and that’s all she wrote for interfacing with the larger community of sympathizers.

  39. Dawn
    Dawn August 23, 2011 at 8:47 am |

    I missed the memo that said how the legal system is supposed to work is how it does.

    If the legal system worked, then different people’s testimony wouldn’t be given different weights according to stereotypes. I’ve had my own run ins with the system where telling the truth was no protection against the assumption that a professional man or an adult was telling the truth and that the victim could not possibly be doing so.

    If the system worked, the local tribunal here wouldn’t have a less than 1% ratio of reversing decisions when independent reports say it should be 50% because 50% of decisions they hear are wrong and should be reversed by them.

    If the system worked, we wouldn’t have cases where disabled folks are shot or locked up while innocent.

    If the system worked, PoC wouldn’t be more likely to go to jail than whites for the same crimes or for lesser crimes than the white’s committed, cos hey jailing PoC folks for weed is so important when it’s typically whites who use and deal the more serious drugs like meth.

    If the system worked PoC wouldn’t be more likely to stopped and searched.

    How the system should work is not how it does. Also I have yet to see anyone brought up on charges for leaking info, or isn’t the victim entitled to privacy and to not have her case undermined by speculation and leaked info?

    In short, I really have to ask why folks such as ABG are defending a system that is only too happy to fuck them over.

  40. Diana
    Diana August 23, 2011 at 9:02 am |

    Clarence,

    The Motion says she has not yet provided a waiver to allow the prosecution to look into her medical records prior to the incident (not that she refused). And she did complain about shoulder pain afterward (but said that it subsided within 48 hours). True, an orthopedic surgeon said that if she had sustained a shoulder injury of the kind indicated in the MRI during the attack, it is unlikely that she would have suffered the quality and duration of pain that she did (meaning it would have been more acute and of longer duration). Again, I would argue that this is a question for the jury.

    The Motion says, “For generations, before determining whether a case should proceed to trial, felony prosecutors in New York County have insisted that they be personally convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of the defendant’s guilt, and believe themselves able to prove that guilt to a jury. The standards governing the conduct of federal prosecutors, as well as the American Bar Association’s criminal justice standards, likewise recognize the need for prosecutors to act as a gatekeeper by making
    an independent assessment of the evidence before proceeding to trial.” I’m not sure a stricture imposed on yourself, a precedent that was not dictated by law, means that the prosecution can’t take this case to trial. Barring proof that she could not have been/absolutely was not sexually assaulted by DSK, I would argue that ethics dictate proceeding.

    There is no perfect “victim.” It is true that our legal system operates on the idea that we’d rather let guilty people go free than lock up innocent people, but that determination (guilt or innocence) should be made in court.

    On the NYC Criminal Court building is imprinted “justice is denied no one.” Many would argue (and I agree) that true justice cannot be obtained in court, that justice is living in a world where rape/violence doesn’t happen, but in common parlance, justice is getting your day in court…I just want our legal system to provide what it advertises…

  41. Esti
    Esti August 23, 2011 at 9:22 am |

    An interesting piece on the ways in which the DA’s office has been too quick to denounce the victim: http://www.slate.com/id/2302193/

    I agree with Saletan’s argument that the DA’s office has exaggerated first the case against DSK and then the case against Diallo. Instead of investigating things methodically over a reasonable period of time (and doing so quietly, without mid-investigation leaks to the press that may or may not turn out to be true later), they keep rushing out to take!action!now! and ask questions later. Which only leads them to double down on their chosen course of action when questions arise, until it becomes overwhelmingly clear that they have overstepped, at which point they jump into reverse and overcompensate.

    And while I’m not saying that France’s criminal justice system is necessarily a model the U.S. should emulate, I think the contrast in the two investigations is striking. New details were being leaked from the police or the DA’s office almost constantly at the beginning of the U.S. investigation, and we continued to get leaks of real-time developments over the past month or so. In France, the Tristane Banon investigation made headlines when she first went to police, but since then details have been basically non-existent (other than those media outlets got from Banon/her mother directly).

  42. Angus Johnston
    Angus Johnston August 23, 2011 at 9:38 am |

    Anon, as the article Esti linked makes clear, the DA’s office has presented shifting — and thus, by their own standards, unreliable — characterizations of a number of their claims against the complainant in their public statements. These include, crucially, a devastating leaked characterization of her remarks in a prison phone call that they’ve now gingerly backed away from.

  43. Angry Black Guy
    Angry Black Guy August 23, 2011 at 9:45 am |

    Rare Vos: LOL. Hey, you silly chicks with your ladybrains who have no valid points cuz their ladies with ladybrains, do you know if this dude pretends to be an ally?Cuz he’s ringing about 8 Douchebag alarm bells.

    Again, I was having a discussion focused solely on the facts of the case and its merits. When people were unable to form legally supportable counters to my point, they resorted to pointing to my gender and not my arguments. Ideas and concepts should be judged on their merit and if they are good ideas and concepts, they remain good ideas and concepts regardless of who is speaking them.

    As to your direct quote above, I have called no lady “silly brains” or hinted at that and have not indicated that supporters of the accuser do not make valid points about the difficulty of convicting guilty rapists. I understand the need to create a Strawman Fake Feminist Male that you can scream against and point to as an example. But I am not going to sink to the level of justifying that because it’s not me. My record in other places on this case shows that I was the first to declare this guy completely guilty. I wanted him thrown under the bus and said so loudly and often. But the facts changed, more information was brought to light and consistency demanded that I change my opinion of the case.

    It is fairly telling to me that the prosecutors have completely reversed their views, but some people have so bought into their beliefs about what happened that they cannot find room to modify their views at all.

    I think this is difficult because this case was one in which many here actually got what they wanted from the start:

    1. The prosecution believed the accuser and rapidly rushed to jail him

    2. He was granted an extraordinarily high bail and tight pre-trial restrictions.

    3. The media, by and large, took the accuser’s side and columns all over the country and the world pointed to DSK as an example of the sexism and attitudes which have no place in our society.

    4. Feminism in France found a foothold to discuss issues that had never been raised on a national level before.

    It was all good.

    But the case itself has turned in such a way that it simply is not a good one to rally around. I keep drawing parallels to issues of race because I think they are relevant in this case.

    In many ways, the same motivations that drive many to presume DSK’s guilt are the same ones that drove african americans and others concerned with civil rights to believe in OJ’s innocence. And those reasons (unfair treatment, discrimination, crooked cops, etc.) are real but sometimes the case itself isn’t the right one to rally around. Regardless of what bad was done to OJ in that case, I think he killed those poor people. In this situation, regardless of the inequities shown towards many alleged victims, the alleged victim screwed up her chance at a fair trial by lying. She created the obstacles to her justice, not society.

    The fact that I am deeply sympathetic with the plight of victims doesn’t mean that I can ignore reality and the checks and balances built into our system to protect the innocent.
    If you have a prosecution that does not believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed a crime, the prosecution cannot go forward with the case. This isn’t sexism or classism, this is legal theory 101.

    I am sorry that the fact that I am a man prevents you from responding to the points I am making. That is unfortunate.

  44. Angry Black Guy
    Angry Black Guy August 23, 2011 at 9:57 am |

    Diana:

    A primary role of prosecutors is to screen complaints and cases to determine whether a case can be brought. This is their role in rapes, murders, assaults, robberies, etc. And the standard is very, very low.

    I could site you the sections of the NY professional ethics guidelines but the bottom line is this:

    1. This is a case about rape
    2. The prosecutors have to determine whether the alleged victim is credible.
    3. The alleged victim lied about a prior rape
    4. The alleged victim lied about lying about a former rape
    5. The alleged victim lied about facts regarding the rape in question

    They have an ethical duty not to go ahead with the trial given those facts.

    Particularly with a case like rape where it is not as simple as simply throwing a trial and letting it all play out. All crimes cast a shadow on an accused even if that accused is eventually exonerated. In rape cases that is a particular concern. I am sure many here believe many cleared accused are guilty regardless of them being cleared in court. I know I do.

    Given that fact, prosecutors have a duty not to bring such cases unless they believe deeply in the guilt of the accused.

    That simply was not the case here.

  45. Clarence
    Clarence August 23, 2011 at 10:01 am |

    Diana:

    We are talking probabilities here at this point.
    1. Since you referenced the shoulder – why after nearly 2 months has she not provided the prosecution with a waiver? It’s not hard to get or sign one of those – I’ve done it myself more than once. Plus, she’s got counsel and the counsel has talked about the shoulder so ignorance by either the defendent or her lawyer cannot be rationally assumed. Intransigance is far more likely.
    2. DSK had, as the report made clear, a skin condition that caused his hands to bleed. This was very notable in the photographs taken of the defendent according to the Motion To Dismiss. Yet somehow none of this blood was found on Diallo’s clothing or body despite the alleged force that was used. I know some liked to ridicule any man who would dare bring up the size and age disparity between DSK that favored the alleged victim and would make overpowering her by physical force something that would seem to be hard for him to do but to believe that he used any appreciable force on her at this point starts to get into the ludicrious phase.

    3. You seem to be operating under some idea of a system of justice in which all complaints should be taken to trial regardless of the evidence or lack thereof. Thus, this woman is entitled to a day a in court. In order to do so you pretty much have to assume the District Attorney is corrupt or lying; that Diallo did not explain one of her lies by stating she was “not under oath” at the time she made it, that she isn’t emotionally manipulative and able to cry when it suits her, and that physical evidence that either doesn’t match or contradicts her varied stories doesn’t matter. The fact that DSK may be innocent and that going into a he-said, she-said case with someone who the prosecution itself has concluded is a good liar has a risk of putting an innocent man in jail doesn’t sway you at all. Indeed, I wonder what evidence or how many lies she would have to tell before you would be open to swinging to the opposite viewpoint as to whether she is truthful about a rape. I wonder if it is even possible for you?

    All that being said, I have enjoyed talking to you. Thank you for being respectful in your disagreement.

  46. Rare Vos
    Rare Vos August 23, 2011 at 10:17 am |

    Which only leads them to double down on their chosen course of action when questions arise, until it becomes overwhelmingly clear that they have overstepped, at which point they jump into reverse and overcompensate.

    And the casualty is the victim . . . always the victim. The system really is broken.

    Interesting though how their overstepping becomes “the bitch lied”.

  47. Dawn
    Dawn August 23, 2011 at 10:21 am |

    @Angry Black Guy,

    I notice you’re ignoring my posts and points.

    You’re wrong, if the standard was so low, more than one in fifty cases would go to trial. In fact the fact that so few cases go to court and they’re almost exclusively ones that “fit” the social criteria for the perfect victim proves that the requirements are actually astronomically high.

    Whether she lied about prior things does not prove she is lying now. A rapist does not rape people because they lied or didn’t lie, they rape someone because they are a rapist.

    If it came out that the accused had lied, nobody would say that it makes his claims automatically unbelievable, he would still have a right to his day in court.

    The only thing proven to be lie about her testimony is what she did afterwards, and given the pressure on women to be the “perfect victim” and the fact that she was probably in shock since most people do not expect to be attacked, that can easily be explained.

    In short, the only reasons for not believing her are that she doesn’t meet societies unreasonable demands for purity and a white washed past. There is no proof that exonerates the accused.

    Ergo the only reasons to disbelieve her are outrageously sexist ones and the only reason I doubt a conviction would be secured is because the leaking of privileged information has made a fair trial for HER impossible at this point because it would be difficult to find fair and unbiased jurors who would not have read the claims about her past and who would weigh her testimony as it should be. In short, the people who really scuppered the trial are those who leaked info and backpeddled, not the victim.

  48. Open
    Open August 23, 2011 at 10:21 am |

    I happened upon this discussion about DSK by chance (and I’m impressed at the civility!–sorely lacking on other websites). I have a quick question regarding the laws in NY. I read not long ago that only a jury can decide whether a witness is credible or not.

    See: http://www.nycourts.gov/cji/1-General/CJI2d.Credibility.pdf

    Is this generally true? Does this apply to the complainant as well? If it is true, it seems Vance’s recommendation is on bad standing. Is this the case?

    Sorry to butt in in the middle of a discussion, I’ve only read about half of the comments above. But a straightforward answer would be great.

  49. Diana
    Diana August 23, 2011 at 10:31 am |

    Clarence,

    I don’t know the details about his skin condition, so I can’t say whether blood should have been on her clothing. The incident was hurried–I don’t know how that factors in. Additionally, you don’t necessarily need to use force when you’re in a position of power.

    Clarence/ABG,

    Victims of sexual assault/rape often mix things up due to shock. The prosecution investigated areas of her life that should have been out of bounds…DSK had a private investigator looking into her past, things were leaked to the press, and the press mischaracterized her (calling her a “hooker”). If this is what the prosecution’s belief is predicated on, then I don’t believe it represents anything approaching ethical. If as you imply, N.D. is a complete fraud, I trust that a jury would come to that conclusion (in fact, they’re more likely than not to believe she is a complete fraud, whether or not she actually is, given who she is, who the defendant is, and the nature of the charges). I don’t think prosecutors need to protect the general public from “victims” or witnesses whose credibility is imperfect. What I believe is that the “non-virtuous” can be and are often raped. The facts of the case bear more scrutiny, but as is the situation in many cases, it’s a judgement call. It’s weighing the facts and the testimony and making the best determination that you can. I think we need to stop vilifying sexual assault/rape “victims” who come forward and worry less about whether a case can be won (and more about providing typically unjustly treated people more justly). People lie. That’s a fact. Some lies are understandable given certain circumstances. She has had a confluence of forces against her since the beginning…DSK is a powerful person…N.D. is an immigrant, a person of color, a woman, and a single mother, and we as a society are typically cruel when it comes to people who claim to have been sexually assaulted. If cases go to court, few defendants are convicted, and those that are typically receive short sentences. All I’m saying is that she deserves her day in court.

  50. Diana
    Diana August 23, 2011 at 10:38 am |

    Diana:
    I think we need to stop vilifying sexual assault/rape “victims” who come forward and worry less about whether a case can be won (and more about providing typically unjustly treated people more justly).

    I mistyped…I meant …and more about treating* typically unjustly treated people more justly

  51. Rare Vos
    Rare Vos August 23, 2011 at 10:42 am |

    In short, the only reasons for not believing her are that she doesn’t meet societies unreasonable demands for purity and a white washed past. There is no proof that exonerates the accused.

    There is, in fact, decades of proof about his misogyny, sexually harrassing basically every woman who walked within 10 feet of him, and plenty of other women who have come forward with stories not dissimilar from N.D.’s.

    But, hey, bitches always be lyin so there’s no reason to think the poor, oppressed by femnazis, ultra wealthy douchey white dude is guilty of anything.

  52. Anonymous
    Anonymous August 23, 2011 at 12:44 pm |

    Diana: If this is what the prosecution’s belief is predicated on, then I don’t believe it represents anything approaching ethical.

    It isn’t. Which you would have known if you’d taken some time from pontificating to read the motion.

  53. Ardiril
    Ardiril August 23, 2011 at 1:18 pm |

    “When they demand more standards from a victim to be believed than for the accused to defend themselves? That’s a broken system.”

    No, that is the system working exactly as it was intended.

  54. Ardiril
    Ardiril August 23, 2011 at 1:26 pm |

    … in that the accused has no requirement to testify whatsoever.

  55. Anon
    Anon August 23, 2011 at 2:03 pm |

    One interesting wrinkle from the motion is that the prosecutors are not just concerned that she is a liar but that she is a “good” liar. She successfully convinced them that she had been gang-raped before, with a full blown performance of crying, fabricating details, etc., which she concedes was not true. How can they in good conscience put a complainant on the stand who they know is capable of making up rape stories AND is capable of convincing people (such as the prosecutors) that she is telling the truth even when she is not? That’s scary shit as a prosecutor.

    As a side note, the footnote about her rolling on the floor crying before answering a question one way, and then later calmly answering the same question the exact opposite way is also a bit troubling to say the least.

  56. Angry Black Guy
    Angry Black Guy August 23, 2011 at 2:45 pm |

    Ardril is absolutely correct and Clarence has done a good job of making the points.

    Diana, I believe our disconnect comes from a very simple fact:

    You believe that individual cases should be viewed in light of how many people are not convicted, etc. I believe that such information is irrelevant because we have bottom line legal standards that apply to all crimes which cannot be removed.

    The burden is on the state to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, full stop. Now that may mean that 2 out of 20 murderers get away with a crime and it may mean that even more rapists get away with their crime, but the bottom line is that our nation believes that a thousand free guilty men is not as bad as one jailed innocent man, and I deeply, deeply believe that as well.

    If we are going to bend that rule for rape, shouldn’t we bend the rule for murder, which is arguably just as serious and heinous a crime?

    Answer: No. Not if we are being honest with ourselves.

    Your approach seems to be that if we aren’t jailing enough accused rapist, we should drop the standard of conviction just for sexual crimes, and that is just not the way our system (or most legal systems, even in the most progressive of countries) works.

  57. Angry Black Guy
    Angry Black Guy August 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm |

    Here is Slate’s feminist blog making many of the points I and others have made here. Maybe it will gain traction coming from them. Also, I stand corrected on the ethical standard in NY, which is different from the standard in my state:

    “Still, there is one aspect of this case that prosecutors got exactly right. That’s their decision to end the case against DSK because they themselves do not credit Diallo’s testimony beyond a reasonable doubt. Prosecutors don’t have to hold themselves to this high standard: Legally speaking, as today’s motion acknowledges, they can pursue an indictment under New York’s rules of legal ethics if the charges are merely supported by probable cause. But the motion explains that “for generations, before determining whether a case should proceed to trial, felony prosecutors in New York County have insisted that they be personally convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of the defendant’s guilt, and believe themselves able to prove that guilt to a jury.” This is the right standard given the crushing weight of an indictment for the defendant. Prosecutors have the power to destroy people. They should use that power forcefully when they’re sure of the basis for the charges they bring, and refrain from using it at all when they’re not. That’s the single good lesson the DSK case teaches.”

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2011/08/23/dsk_charges_to_be_dropped_the_prosecutors_got_it_right.html

  58. Diana
    Diana August 23, 2011 at 3:41 pm |

    What I think is that if there is merit to a case, it should be given its day in court. Too often prosecutors fail to prosecute rape cases because the victims don’t have sufficient “credibility.” You restated my point that the prosecution did not have to seek a dismissal for the DSK case. There is no law forcing them to try only cases they have no doubts or questions about.

    I understand that such cases are harder to try (because there are often no witnesses outside of the victim, alcohol is sometimes involved, and we live in a culture that customarily blames and shames victims), but they should be tried in the pursuance of justice. That’s all I’m advocating for. I think the prosecution could have presented the facts, and facts there are, put N.D. on the stand as well as any other relevant witnesses/experts and let a jury decide. Given our society’s general cruelty to rape/sexual assault victims, both in and outside the courtroom, this is the absolute least we can do.

  59. Diana
    Diana August 23, 2011 at 3:42 pm |

    Anonymous: It isn’t. Which you would have known if you’d taken some time from pontificating to read the motion.

    As I stated above, I did read the motion.

  60. Angry Black Guy
    Angry Black Guy August 23, 2011 at 3:49 pm |

    Diana:

    Your position ignores the stigma on a person accused of rape.

    That stigma exists even if someone is proven innocent in court and has to factor in. Your position assumes that we just let the accused take that permanent hit.

    The prosecutor owes a duty both to the accused and the alleged victim.

    Your position leans heavily on the side of the alleged victim. in the same way that we do things like hide the identify of an alleged victim because of the special circumstances of rape, we also should not take people to trial for rape unless the prosecution is fairly confident in the guilt of the defendant and the likelihood of conviction.

    I think we’ll just disagree on this point, but I hope you don’t mistake the disagreement with a lack of concern about the victims of rape.

  61. Anonymous
    Anonymous August 23, 2011 at 4:03 pm |

    Diana: As I stated above, I did read the motion.

    That’s worse, since you were then in a position to know full well what you wrote about what the prosecution’s decisions were based on was not true.

    You’re right that the prosecution could have legally proceeded with the case (I and a number of other commenters disagree with you whether that would have been the ethical thing to do given the nature and magnitude of doubts in the DSK case). But it’s not at all clear that they could have legally put the complainant on the stand. For them to be able to do that legally, they cannot strongly suspect that she might perjure herself. Given her demonstrated willingness to lie repeatedly and convincingly – and under oath – without any acknowledgement of responsibility when caught in a lie, I cannot see how they could have allowed her to testify.

  62. Diana
    Diana August 23, 2011 at 4:12 pm |

    ABG,

    I don’t know how to respond to that. I don’t want people to be falsely accused, and I don’t want this to devolve into a tragedy comparison…they aren’t constructive.

    All I know is that people who have suffered rape/sexual assault face a million obstacles when they choose to pursue justice. Areas of their life that shouldn’t matter get dragged into court and the papers…they are effectively put on trial for daring to speak out. And that’s not even counting the deleterious effects of having to relive the crime. At the very least, people who do stand up should get a chance at “justice.”

  63. Diana
    Diana August 23, 2011 at 4:14 pm |

    Anonymous: That’s worse, since you were then in a position to know full well what you wrote about what the prosecution’s decisions were based on was not true.

    You’re right that the prosecution could have legally proceeded with the case (I and a number of other commenters disagree with you whether that would have been the ethical thing to do given the nature and magnitude of doubts in the DSK case). But it’s not at all clear that they could have legally put the complainant on the stand. For them to be able to do that legally, they cannot strongly suspect that she might perjure herself. Given her demonstrated willingness to lie repeatedly and convincingly – and under oath – without any acknowledgement of responsibility when caught in a lie, I cannot see how they could have allowed her to testify.

    I know what the prosecution said their decision was about and that included investigating areas of N.D.’s life that were irrelevant.

  64. Anon
    Anon August 23, 2011 at 4:15 pm |

    Diana,

    I think your “day in court” argument, and the idea that the prosecutor should just put the evidence in and see what a jury thinks, oversimplifies a prosecutor’s job and is a bit dangerous if taken to it’s logical conclusion. During a trial, the prosecutor’s job is to convince a jury that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Do we really want a system where prosecutors try to convince juries that people are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt when they themelves do not believe the evidence proves that? When (not in this case, but most cases) the state has better lawyers/resources than the defense?

  65. Megara
    Megara August 23, 2011 at 4:49 pm |

    The legal system is so limited for rape victims. Even if we suppose the prosecutors were honorable (and not swayed by fear of an unsuccessful trial or the idea that women who have lied in their past or accusers with less socioeconomic privlege than the accused are probably lying about sexual assault), that stilll leaves the standard of reasonable doubt– whether it first comes up during the decision of a prosecutor, judge, or jury.

    From my understanding, the standard of reasonable doubt means that most of the time (particulary in a post-CSI world), rapists won’t be help accountable. Most assaults don’t result in visible injuries and don’t involve weapons other than the perp’s body. DNA proves sexual contact, but most perps have realized that a consent defense means that DNA evidence proves sexual contact, but typically not lack of consenst (the exception being cases where the victim was unable to consent). This leaves us with witness (the victim, and possibly other witnesses, which is again highly unlikely). I feel like most of the time, there’s no chance of a win. And that makes me sick to my stomach.

    This isn’t me saying survivors should never report. And I am not saying we should or should not throw out reasonable doubt– it’s still a struggle for me. But either way, the implications of reasonable doubt are big. Case after case with no accountability, no sense of justice for the victim, and no protection for the rapist’s future victims. This doesn’t work. What do we do?

  66. Cel
    Cel August 23, 2011 at 8:05 pm |

    People are stating lots of false numbers about rape and the legal system, “only 1 in 50 rapes get prosecuted” and other falsehoods.

    Sorry, that is completely false.

    Of reported rapes, a full 40% result in prosection.

    Of reported rapes, 23.5% result in conviction.

    Unreported rapes are of course irrelevant, since 100% of unreported rapes result in lack of prosecution or conviction.

    These facts are undeniable.

    http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/reporting-rates

    Indeed, the conviction rate for rape is in fact higher than assault and other crimes.

  67. Angryblackguy
    Angryblackguy August 23, 2011 at 9:34 pm |

    Diana:
    ABG,

    I don’t know how to respond to that. I don’t want people to be falsely accused, and I don’t want this to devolve into a tragedy comparison…they aren’t constructive.

    All I know is that people who have suffered rape/sexual assault face a million obstacles when they choose to pursue justice. Areas of their life that shouldn’t matter get dragged into court and the papers…they are effectively put on trial for daring to speak out. And that’s not even counting the deleterious effects of having to relive the crime. At the very least, people who do stand up should get a chance at “justice.”

    Diana that is fair enough. It is a very difficult issue and I appreciate the ability to discuss the various interests in a forum like this.

    All we can do at this point I think is to learn lessons from this case that will allow alleged victims to avoid some of the traps that this alleged victim fell into. I would have preferred that she have her day in court but the lesson is that truth is always the way to go. Tell the truth and if the system works as it should the outcome will be as it should be.

    My sense is that if she had avoided her mistatements DSK would be in jail a year from now. I continue to believe that he was probably guilty but I also believe that the prosecutors had to do what they did.

    No one wins in that situation really. But we learn.

    And that’s as important as anything that has come from this.

  68. Angryblackguy
    Angryblackguy August 23, 2011 at 9:45 pm |

    Megara:
    The legal system is so limited for rape victims. Even if we suppose the prosecutors were honorable (and not swayed by fear of an unsuccessful trial or the idea that women who have lied in their past or accusers with less socioeconomic privlege than the accused are probably lying about sexual assault), that stilll leaves the standard of reasonable doubt– whether it first comes up during the decision of a prosecutor, judge, or jury.

    From my understanding, the standard of reasonable doubt means that most of the time (particulary in a post-CSI world), rapists won’t be help accountable. Most assaults don’t result in visible injuries and don’t involve weapons other than the perp’s body. DNA proves sexual contact, but most perps have realized that a consent defense means that DNA evidence proves sexual contact, but typically not lack of consenst (the exception being cases where the victim was unable to consent). This leaves us with witness (the victim, and possibly other witnesses, which is again highly unlikely). I feel like most of the time, there’s no chance of a win. And that makes me sick to my stomach.

    This isn’t me saying survivors should never report. And I am not saying we should or should not throw out reasonable doubt– it’s still a struggle for me. But either way, the implications of reasonable doubt are big. Case after case with no accountability, no sense of justice for the victim, and no protection for the rapist’s future victims. This doesn’t work. What do we do?

    You have hit on the issue. I don’t know if there is any thing we can do here. Fortunately many rapes are rapes that do not have the possibility of a “prostitution” excuse, and rape kit type evidence works. For the other situations, I believe that the solution doesn’t rest with our court system, which is limited by rules and procedures, but with our culture. We need to win the cultural battle.

    As a lawyer, I know that the last thing a client wants to hear is that there is no legal remedy, but sometimes that is the answer. Sometimes you have to find other methods to prevent a problem from occurring.

    I am heartened by the fact that a number of assaults were probably prevented by the publicity of this case. If we are looking for a silver lining, I think that is something we can grab hold to. If the accuser really was attacked, I hope she understands that her struggle did mean something. If DSK is never punished, her experience still changed something fundamental in the way that maids are treated. Who knew that this culture of propositioning maids even existed? I did not.

    We owe her a debt for that (if she is indeed a victim).

    If she is not a victim and was in it for money . . . Well that’s a possibility too. And a real one. We will never know the truth, but I would like to believe that she was not. Before I am a man, I am a black man, and the racial struggles in our country make me very aware of the obstacles she faced.

    It’s very, very complicated. I guess that’s the real bottom line.

  69. Angryblackguy
    Angryblackguy August 23, 2011 at 9:50 pm |

    And to Jill, I did not mean to start a huge chain of comments about this but I appreciated the ability to present a counter point to the original post. Many feminist websites would have shut this discussion down as soon as it started, but this debate was allowed to continue.

    We need more of this in the feminist blogosphere. I believe that the goals of the movement are advanced by open discussions of controversial issues.

    This kind of fantastic back and forth is not possible everywhere.

    Thank you.

  70. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable August 23, 2011 at 10:00 pm |

    Angryblackguy: That is a cheap and unintellectual retort.

    Don’t care! Nothing you say is so important that I should deign to give you time and effort.

    Angryblackguy: Claiming that “dudes” cannot be fair or objective is akin to saying white people cannot have a valid opinion on issues of race, which is wrong, unfair and unhelpful to boot.

    Unhelpful to what? Contributing to your inflated sense of self-esteem? I’m not really sure why you think fluffing up the rhetoric around the rape culture version of events somehow makes your comments valid. Or fair. Or helpful. If a white guy cites a report that is dripping in racist privilege, I would consider his opinion on race irrelevant. I’m using this same metric to discount everything you and Clarence are saying. If you can’t apply critical thinking to your sources, it’s not my fucking problem.

    Angryblackguy: I understand it’s easier to claim that the menz just don’t get it, but that doesn’t make your point any more valid.

    I said nothing about the menz not getting it, sweetheart. But you? And Clarence? Yeah, your opinions frankly aren’t worthy of respect.

  71. Georg
    Georg August 23, 2011 at 11:29 pm |

    Contributing to your inflated sense of self-esteem? I said nothing about the menz not getting it, sweetheart.

    Awesome. The person calling himself Angry tries to present a sober and coherent argument in a courteous and obliging manner. The person purporting to be Amiable is more interested in winning pwnage points by heaping vaguely sexual, gender-based ridicule and derision on him. The Internet sho is weird.

  72. Esti
    Esti August 23, 2011 at 11:56 pm |

    ABG, I didn’t agree with all of the things you said on this thread, but I found your comments interesting and I have real admiration for your ability to stay civil and engage constructively. I know you probably don’t need affirmation from a random anonymous internet commenter, but I just wanted to put that out there.

  73. nas
    nas August 24, 2011 at 12:03 am |

    Open:
    I happened upon this discussion about DSK by chance (and I’m impressed at the civility!–sorely lacking on other websites). I have a quick question regarding the laws in NY. I read not long ago that only a jury can decide whether a witness is credible or not.

    See: http://www.nycourts.gov/cji/1-General/CJI2d.Credibility.pdf

    Is this generally true? Does this apply to the complainant as well? If it is true, it seems Vance’s recommendation is on bad standing.Is this the case?

    Sorry to butt in in the middle of a discussion, I’ve only read about half of the comments above. But a straightforward answer would be great.

    Hi Open,

    This is generally true in a court proceeding. Only the jury can determine whether or not they believe a witness, and a judge cannot comment on a witnesses credibility to the jury. The defense and prosecution can comment on credibility but their comments do not bind the jury.

    However, in deciding to bring a case, the prosecutor can consider many factors. They can consider the credibility of the witness in deciding whether or not to prosecute a case. They are not required by law to prosecute all alleged crimes that are brought to their attention.

  74. Diana
    Diana August 24, 2011 at 1:47 am |

    According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, in 2009 (in the United States), 88,097 rapes were reported.

    http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2009/offenses/violent_crime/forcible_rape.html

    Of those, 21,404 resulted in arrests.

    http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2009/data/table_29.html

    The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) estimates that 80% of arrests (for rape) lead to prosecution (17,125), 58% of prosecutions lead to convictions (9,933), and 69% of convictions lead to jail time (6,854). If those estimates are correct, in 2009, 19% of reported rapes led to prosecution, 11% to convictions, and 8% to jail time.

    http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/reporting-rates

  75. Clarence
    Clarence August 24, 2011 at 2:08 am |

    Georg:

    “PrettyAmiable” is a joke, that is, the posters nickname is. I’ve lurked here for years and silently laughed at the irony of such a name applied to such an unpleasant person.

    I find it rather easy to ignore those who add nothing but adhoms to a discussion.

  76. Marcie
    Marcie August 24, 2011 at 5:03 am |

    PrettyAmiable,
    concratulations on practically making Clarence’s and ABG’s point.

  77. Angryblackguy
    Angryblackguy August 24, 2011 at 5:21 am |

    Esti:
    ABG, I didn’t agree with all of the things you said on this thread, but I found your comments interesting and I have real admiration for your ability to stay civil and engage constructively.I know you probably don’t need affirmation from a random anonymous internet commenter, but I just wanted to put that out there.

    Thank you. Appreciate that.

  78. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable August 24, 2011 at 6:39 am |

    Clarence: I find it rather easy to ignore those who add nothing but adhoms to a discussion.

    You see the irony in this, right? And why I couldn’t give a fuck about what you say about me? The whole lack of self-awareness thing?

    Dudes trotting out rape culture: not new, not interesting. I’m really fucking sick of people waiting for the perfect rape victim to rally behind, and I’m sick of idiots who think they can dictate who we should and should not rally behind as if rape culture somehow equally affects them.

    Angry Black Guy: I think it is a mistake to rally behind accusers who may legitimately be bad actors.

    I mean, what the fuck. How does anyone engage this guy like his perspective is worthwhile? “I’m not saying she’s lying about being raped, but she’s probably lying about being raped.” That’s not an ally. That’s what EVERYONE ELSE says.

  79. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve August 24, 2011 at 7:10 am |

    So far I have asked 3 female lawyers their opinion on this and they all have said it was the right legal decision YET they all seemed dismayed by this. Which makes it pretty clear that it’s the legal system that’s wrong.

  80. Rare Vos
    Rare Vos August 24, 2011 at 7:19 am |

    I find it rather easy to ignore those who add nothing but adhoms to a discussion.

    Translation: I have a penis and it doens’t have to listen uppity bitchez.

  81. Rare Vos
    Rare Vos August 24, 2011 at 7:22 am |

    How does anyone engage this guy like his perspective is worthwhile? “I’m not saying she’s lying about being raped, but she’s probably lying about being raped.” That’s not an ally. That’s what EVERYONE ELSE says.

    You already answered your own question: he, also, has a penis. Don’t you know that’s the fount of all knowledge, all logic, all of everything?

    See, if you don’t have a penis, you just can’t possible comprehend things unless someone with one tells you what to think, what to say, how to proceed and when things are just a waste of your time, silly girl!

    And, if you object, you’re “unpleasant” and can summarily dismissed for the terrible crime of not being sufficiently docile and submissive.

    That’s what you get for not having a penis.

  82. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve August 24, 2011 at 7:33 am |

    Rare Vos: Translation:I have a penis and it doens’t have to listen uppity bitchez.

    His penis has the power of hearing? What the hell’s he so angry about? He’s a superhero!

  83. Esti
    Esti August 24, 2011 at 9:05 am |

    Fat Steve: So far I have asked 3 female lawyers their opinion on this and they all have said it was the right legal decision YET they all seemed dismayed by this. Which makes it pretty clear that it’s the legal system that’s wrong.

    I think that’s only partially right. Sometimes the result you get is one that you’re not happy with, even when the system worked just as it should.

    Which isn’t to say that the system worked perfectly here. Some things definitely went wrong in this case (especially re: publicizing details before they had been investigated; the DA’s office’s seeming willingness to make decisions without sufficient information) that are not inherent problems to the justice system and could be fixed in future cases pretty easily. And some things also went wrong that are perpetual issues with the system, like the skepticism towards certain types of victims and the media frenzy that accompanies any high-profile case. Those are things that are broken in the system in ways that don’t lend themselves to easy solutions, but discussions about how to fix them deserve a lot more attention and effort than they currently get.

    But some things that looked like they went wrong (victims’ truthfulness being scrutinized as or more closely than the accused, prosecutors deciding not to take cases forward if they don’t believe they have a credible witness) are actually things that went right for the justice system, because it needs to have those safeguards in place to prevent innocent people from going to jail (and regardless of your views of the merits of this case, those are systemic features that are supposed to safeguard the rights of the accused in all cases, whether it looks like they’re guilty or not). That’s not so much a sign that the justice system needs to change as it’s a sign that we need to look to other ways of preventing and responding to some crimes — tackling rape culture in society at large, or offering more resources for victims, or even civil suits which at least have a lower burden of proof. But if we’re going to send someone to prison, we need to be really confident that they actually committed that crime — not just confident that a lot of people commit that type of crime, and more get away with it than they should, and so we should make it easier across the board to convict people of that crime even though we’re less confident of each individual’s guilt.

  84. The End of DSK - The Pursuit of Harpyness

    [...] This week the attempted rape case against French politician and former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn was dropped by the Manhattan district attorney’s office. There were protests outside criminal court downtown on Monday and Tuesday, led by City Councilwoman Letitia James and a broad coalition of feminist activists and victim advocacy groups. [...]

  85. Copyleft
    Copyleft August 30, 2011 at 8:14 am |

    Better to let a hundred guilty men go free than for a single innocent to go to jail.

    It’s _supposed_ to be hard to convict people in our system. Presumption of innocence is one of our protections against tyranny.

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