Britain to implement pre-trial testimony for rape cases

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The above is the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution. It exists to protect those accused of crimes from being forced to prove their innocence. It is the cornerstone of US law. No one can be compelled to testify against himself. No one can be compelled to testify in his defense. No one can be charged for the same crime twice.

This is followed by the Sixth Amendment:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Again, this is a fundamental part of the US legal process. No one can be held for long periods of time while awaiting trial (although this is violated frequently with high-profile, juvenile, and murder cases). No one can be prosecuted without being informed of the charges. Most importantly, no one can be tried without knowing who accused him and having the chance to question the accuser.

The right to cross-examination is important because it allows the defendant to challenge the accuser’s credibility directly. The legal definition explains the logic behind this:

[a] court practice, the part of a case, whether civil or criminal, where evidence is elicited from the other side’s witness. Thus, the defence will cross-examine the investigating police officers after the prosecutor has conducted the examination in chief It serves two functions:

(1) to test the veracity of the witness and the accuracy of the evidence;
(2) to obtain evidence on points on which he has not been questioned in chief and which may support the cross-examiner’s case. Failure to cross-examine on any matter generally implies acceptance of evidence on that point.

That is the purpose of the cross-examination. So when I see an effort in Britain to get rid due process and cross-examination in rape cases, I am reminded why the colonists decided to go their own way. Continue reading

Ontario court finds lying about taking the pill is A-okay

Oh,  Canada. The phrase takes on a different meaning considering how often the Canadian government screws over its citizens. In their latest instance of legal stupidity, a court ruled that lying about taking birth control is not grounds for a lawsuit:

In upholding an earlier ruling on the case, the Ontario Court of Appeal said the woman’s behaviour was not enough to open her up to the man’s highly unusual claim for damages.

“I see no basis on which to impose liability on the mother for any net negative impact (he) may consider that he has suffered due to his having fathered the child,” Justice Paul Rouleau wrote for the court.

That is right. Tricking a man into parenthood and essentially raping him by deceiving him into giving consent under false pretenses should result in zero liability. Go on and lie to get someone to have sex with you. Go on and get pregnant and later sue the man for child support. This is apparently legal in Canada.

As the Justice explained:

Allowing the father to recover damages from the mother for the unwanted birth would run counter to a clear trend in family law to move away from faulting one partner over another, Rouleau said.

That is interesting considering that Canada allows mothers sue sperm donors years after insemination, despite the obvious intent of the man to never have any financial or physical responsibility for the child.

Would that not “run counter to a clear trend in family law to move away from faulting one partner over another”? Or does this only apply to men?

The situation in the current case is simple: the woman claimed she was on birth control and the pair had unprotected sex. After they broke up, the woman texted the man (because calling him would have been too hard) to tell him she was pregnant.

The man sued the woman:

for more than $4 million for fraudulent misrepresentation, arguing he suffered emotional harm from his unplanned parenthood. He claimed DD’s deception over her use of the pill had deprived him of the benefit of choosing when and with whom he would become a dad.

“He wanted to meet a woman, fall in love, get married, enjoy his life as husband with his wife and then, when he and his wife thought the time was ‘right,’ to have a baby,” PP said in his statement of claim.

The $4 million suit is ridiculous as it would never be paid. However, given what the man would pay for child support, the amount seems rather tame. And make no mistake, the same system ignoring this clear act of deception would have no problem forcing the man to pay for the child.

In January last year, Superior Court Justice Paul Perell struck the claim without a hearing on its merits after deciding PP had no legal grounds to sue. Perell also banned publication of the couple’s names to protect the child, who might one day discover the “salacious and ignobly pleaded” facts of the case.

Or rather, the judge banned the release of the mother’s name to protect her in case she attempts to rape another man via deception to get pregnant.

Essentially, Perell ruled that fraudulent misrepresentation could only give rise to a claim for financial damages —not for emotional distress. He also decided any emotional harm PP suffered did not amount to a personal injury.

How does discovering you are an unexpected father via deception not cause financial damages? As I noted, this woman is likely to sue for child support. Does that not count?

Secondly, how does one not suffer personal injury from emotional harm? Are one’s emotions not part of a person? Would not damage to one’s emotions damage one’s person? Or does the judge mean physical injury? Is emotional damage prohibited in civil suits?

The judge did concede that the deception was tantamount to rape, but argued that this was immaterial because the suit was about unwanted parenthood.

The man appealed the decision, arguing:

On appeal, PP argued among other things that he should at least have been allowed to take his novel claim to trial, and that he should have been allowed to assert that the unwanted child would harm him financially.

The Appeal Court, however, found that a fraud that causes no loss cannot give rise to a lawsuit for damages, and that PP’s emotional distress didn’t count as a loss. It also said he suffered no physical injury or “pathological” emotional harm.

“The damages consist of the appellant’s emotional upset, broken dreams, possible disruption to his lifestyle and career, and a potential reduction in future earnings, all of which are said to flow from the birth of a child he did not want,” the Appeal Court said.

And the fact that this happened as a result of of someone tricking him into unprotected sex simply does not matter. Again, women can sue anonymous sperm donors for child support and win the suit, yet this man cannot even get the court to acknowledge that he is emotionally harmed by being raped by deception and forced into fatherhood. The court took it one step further:

The court, which looked to Britain and the U.S. to find similar cases, also ruled that DD’s deception about her use of the pill did not expose PP to the risk of serious physical injury during sex he willingly took part in. As a result, the court said, DD did not violate PP’s right to physical or sexual autonomy that could be viewed as an assault.

Except he only engaged in the sex under the false notion that the woman was taking birth control. This circumvents his sexual autonomy via the lie. He would not have had sex with her if he knew she could get pregnant. The woman lied in order to get him to have sex. What part of that is not a violation of his sexual autonomy?

The panel also trotted out the potential for pregnancy even when taking the pill. While this can happen, the risk is rather low, particularly if the pill is taken regularly. This argument then makes no sense outside of trying to excuse this woman’s behavior.

The reason the court rejected this suit is because the victim is male. If the situation were reversed, the man would be financially liable for claiming he was infertile or had a vasectomy if that proved untrue.

Of course, Canada has a long history of ignoring men’s rights, so the decision, as idiotic as it is, comes as no surprise.

Bulletin Board v303

2 Former Penn State Administrators Plead Guilty To Roles In Abuse Scandal — Two former high-level Penn State administrators pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanor charges of child endangerment, for their roles in covering up child sex abuse by disgraced assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Former Vice President Gary Schultz and former Athletic Director Tim Curley each took a plea bargain that — if accepted by the judge — will carry a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. As part of the plea bargain, the felony charges they originally faced were reduced to misdemeanors.

Battered Men: The Hidden Hurt — Battered men desperately sought help for years in California, but their efforts consistently fell on deaf ears. It took four battered men and a 2008 lawsuit by the National Coalition for Men for the California Supreme Court to recognize that men are entitled to equal protection and advocacy support from domestic violence shelters. Domestic violence accounts for a surprising proportion of violent crime in the United States. Close to one in six murder victims is killed by an intimate partner. Nearly three-fourths of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner.

Dozens Say Christian Leader Made British Boys ‘Bleed for Jesus’ — Having disclosed his “sin” of masturbation, Mark Stibbe, age 17, was ordered to strip naked and lean over a wooden chair in the garden shed of a lavish Hampshire mansion on the southern coast of England. Then came the first blow from a cane, its impact so ferocious that it sent the boy into a state of paralysis that lasted through at least 30 more strokes that left him collapsed on the floor, blood oozing down his legs. Continue reading

Domestic violence group attacks grieving father

An Australian woman attempted to drown her two sons last week. The woman, who is not named in the press for an unclear reason, told police that she “had to drown my babies”. The oldest child survived, but his younger brother did not. According to reports:

Police alleged the woman took her children to the Murray River and told her eldest son, 9, to get into water before she tried to drown him.

Detective Sergeant Trent Swinton told the court the younger son, 5, was screaming during the incident. The older boy managed to struggle free when the woman turned to the younger boy. He was last seen drifting facedown in the water.

After escaping from his mum, the older boy was “savagely mauled” by a dog.

Screams were heard by people on the riverbank but they did not witness the incident, the court was told on Friday.

The woman turned herself in to police after she was attack by a dog. It is unclear whether this was a different animal, although the report states that it happened at the river. The woman apparently admitted the crimes and did not seek bail.

The boys lived with their grandmother, and there were repeated reports to the authorities about the mother’s potential violence toward her sons. The authorities ignored these reports, instead telling the grandmother that:

she would have to “put up” with her daughter living at her house until alternative arrangements were made.

The child services department claims that the accusations are false:

Michelle Micallef, acting assistant commissioner for Community Corrections, said she strongly denied most of the serious allegations against her staff.

“It appears our staff took reasonable steps to put appropriate services in place and to make alternative accommodation arrangements. We could not have foreseen this shocking outcome,” she said.

“We have conducted an initial review of the claims, and found no evidence for most of them. Some are still being investigated.”

That response is hardly atypical. One would expect the authorities to wash their hands of any responsibility for failing to prevent this travesty.

What is quite atypical is an anti-domestic violence group attacking the father of the victims. The Red Heart Campaign, a feminist-run domestic violence group, released a statement regarding the father. Continue reading

Bulletin Board v302

At Wisconsin Juvenile Prisons, Children Face a Nightmare of Solitary Confinement and Abuse — At the Lincoln Hills School for Boys (LHS), a juvenile correctional facility in far northern Wisconsin, two entire buildings called the Krueger Unit and the Roosevelt Unit exist solely for the purpose of holding children in solitary confinement for 22 to 23 hours a day. Each unit holds two-dozen isolation cells, which measure seven by ten feet and contain only a metal sink, a toilet, a mattress, and an odor of sweat and urine.

Falsely Accused of Rape, Brian Banks Recounts How He Was Railroaded Into Prison by His White Lawyer — Former football standout Brian Banks reveals how an innocence kiss in a known makeout spot ruined his life for years and how his lawyer helped orchestrate it by telling him an all-white jury would convict him because “he was a big Black teenager.” When Banks was 16 years old, he went to the spot with a young woman he found attractive. He’d known her since middle school and one day, they decided to go to the secluded location.

Former teacher at top London private school jailed for sexually abusing boys and teenagers — Patrick Marshall, 70, was today convicted of the abuse of ten boys in the sixties and seventies while he was employed first at Windsor Grammar School and then at St Paul’s School in Barnes, south-west London. Marshall, a rowing coach and geography teacher, used his position to gain the trust of the boys’ families, before plying the youngsters with alcohol and presents and making them perform sexual acts. Continue reading

Pope Francis cuts penalties for abusive priests

I have no problem with showing even the worst people mercy. I think that it demonstrates one’s character to show compassion and concern for those who would show you none. However, I do think there should be a limit to what that mercy entails. It is one thing to spare someone’s life or avoid any cruel punishment. It is another to let them off unpunished for their crimes. This is what Pope Francis did with several priests accused of sexually abusing children:

Pope Francis has quietly reduced sanctions against a handful of pedophile priests, applying his vision of a merciful church even to its worst offenders in ways that survivors of abuse and the pope’s own advisers question. […] Francis overruled the advice of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and reduced a sentence that called for the priest to be defrocked, two canon lawyers and a church official told AP. Instead, the priests were sentenced to penalties including a lifetime of penance and prayer and removal from public ministry.

In some cases, the priests or their high-ranking friends appealed to Francis for clemency by citing the pope’s own words about mercy in their petitions, the church official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the proceedings are confidential.

“With all this emphasis on mercy … he is creating the environment for such initiatives,” the church official said, adding that clemency petitions were rarely granted by Pope Benedict XVI, who launched a tough crackdown during his 2005-2013 papacy and defrocked some 800 priests who raped and molested children.

This makes no sense. Outside of sentencing these men to prison, the only penalty that would likely matter to them would be removal from the priesthood. This seems the least Francis considering that these men preyed on children for years.

What does a lifetime of penance and prayer mean? Are these priests to become monks tucked away in a remote church? How will any of this actually punish those who preyed on children? How will it keep them from abusing again? Continue reading

Unspoken abuse: Mothers who rape their sons

Of all the types of sexual violence that occur, sexual violence committed by women remains the most taboo. Of the women who abuse, mothers remain the most hidden .

It shocks people’s senses to consider that a mother would rape her own child. We perceive mothers as nurturers and inherently good. While most of us are aware that there are bad mothers, people react negatively to any suggestion that a mother would abuse, let alone sexually abuse, her child. This notion of the inherent goodness of mothers and the need to view them positively is so ingrained in some communities that it can be used against them.

That attitude, coupled with people’s tendency to ignore female-perpetrated sexual violence, makes it difficult for victims of mother abuse to come forward. People will  take an incredulous stance and see the victim as impugning their mother’s character rather than sharing their experience. Even when people believe the victim, there is still an attitude of disbelief that anyone would share something so negative about their mother. This is laundry, whether dirty or clean, that should be tucked inside the washer never to be seen.

University of Canberra researcher Lucetta Thomas wants to change. She researched the topic with 23 men who shared their stories of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of their mothers.  In one case, a mother repeatedly abused her son. When the boy became old enough to physically stop his mother from raping him, she brought in an accomplice to hold him down. The man eventually committed suicide.

Thomas decided it was imperative that she complete the research. Continue reading