What is it with American justice and rape?

(33 Posts)
kim147 Fri 04-Jan-13 19:05:36

www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/imposter-wins-rape-appeal-as-victim-was-unmarried-8438571.html

The victim was unmarried so the rapist was able to rape her in her bed. If she'd been married, it would have been rape. The judge reluctantly agreed to the appeal.

WTF is it with America?

grimbletart Fri 04-Jan-13 20:19:26

Clearly, as this was based on a 19th century law it was because as a married woman and therefore her husband's possession the rapist would have been perceived to have defiled his possession. This is what you get when old laws that treat women as less than human and merely objects owned by men are allowed to remain on the statute books.

It's not (just) America. It's the patriarchy.

But yes, it's appalling. sad

AmberLeaf Fri 04-Jan-13 20:56:27

Says there will be a new trial, but what will be different?

Appalling.

katiemummy2012 Fri 04-Jan-13 22:41:18

This is shocking, disgusting and saddening in the 21st Century

sad

Anniegetyourgun Fri 04-Jan-13 23:10:30

Eh? Clearly they don't even understand their own laws. The man can't be done for impersonating her husband according to the archaic law, weird but, ok, if that's the law. But erm... isn't there still a small matter of rape to consider?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 05-Jan-13 07:23:06

Annie, the legal issue is that the woman consented to the sexual act.

The fact she consented to sex with her boyfriend and not with this man is where the impersonation anomaly comes in.

Under UK law he could have been prosecuted for not having reasonable belief in her consent, I guess.

StickEmWithThePointyEnd Sat 05-Jan-13 07:49:46

But consent can be withdrawn at any time, which it was if she began to cry and scream and push him away and he carried on. That makes it rape.

If it were a boyfriend, husband or stranger, it's still rape.

Or have I understood that wrong?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 05-Jan-13 08:25:47

StickEm, there's nothing in the article to say he did carry on once discoveRed.

Don't get me wrong, this sucks. A clever lawyer has found a loop hole for his/her client and hopefully the retrial will be able to present an argument that it's rape anyway along the lines you suggest - and the conviction will then stand regardless of the impersonation

AbigailAdams Sat 05-Jan-13 09:26:37

Under US law he should be able to be prosecuted because she didn't consent to having sex with him, otherwise a woman would just have to consent to sex with one man and any other man could have sex with her thereafter evermore. Which is clearly ludicrous (or not if you are a member of the Tea party). It is also not clear whether he started having sex with her when she was asleep which is also rape as you can't consent to anything whilst asleep. So whether she thought it was her boyfriend or not might not even be relevant (or shouldn't be if that was the case). Either way the judge is letting women down by allowing this and all this shit justs add to supporting the Rae culture we live in.

AbigailAdams Sat 05-Jan-13 09:27:22

Rape culture obviously.

sashh Sat 05-Jan-13 09:42:18

Says there will be a new trial, but what will be different?

I think the used the 'imposter' to get the conviction, they should be able to get a conviction without that now.

Bloody stupid, poor woman will have to go through another trial.

mayorquimby Sat 05-Jan-13 10:23:34

"Under UK law he could have been prosecuted for not having reasonable belief in her consent, I guess. "

under UK law it's been held that impersonating a boyfriend also visciates consent so the situation in the U.S. case has been accounted for by the law.

mintyminty Sat 05-Jan-13 11:08:48

Sadly it is not just the USA. The reality is that most rapes are not reported (speaking from personal experience), and those that are have very low conviction rates...and that decision was just crazy...

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 05-Jan-13 12:08:43

Abigail, it isn't the judge.

No judge has said that it isn't rape, it's that the premise on which the verdict was obtained was not correct in law.

The judges have to apply the law as it stands, he's not been found innocent, there will be a retrial.

Again, the law here is an ass, but the panel of judges had to apply it.

AmandaPayne Sat 05-Jan-13 17:19:12

You know what, almost as much as I am angry at the law, I am angry at the lawyers for letting this happen.

Obviously at no point during the original trial did either the prosecution or the the defence realise that this was an issue. Nor must the judge or he would have directed the original jury accordingly. Something like this should not have come out for the first time on appeal. A lot of people let this women down by the case being pleaded in this way.

This poor, poor woman.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 06-Jan-13 08:32:44

I agree with you somewhat, Amanda, but the law is 140 years old. I wonder if the defence knew about it throughout but reserved it in case of a guilty verdict. The prosecution would be the state (the District Attorney) and may not be as well funded.

AmandaPayne Sun 06-Jan-13 11:16:14

But why would they reserve it? Surely better to get your client acquitted at the original trial. Unless of course you are dismissive enough of the chances of a conviction that your client doesn't want to get off 'on a technicality'.

As for the prosecution, well, I agree to an extent. Prosecution funding can be appalling, but the first thing I was taught in law school about putting a case together (admittedly in civil cases) was to check any statutes you were relying on. Somebody did the paper work, and whoever that was was lax.

As for the judge, well again, he's a well paid professional and should check any infrequently used laws before directing the jury. That said, in civil practice it was amazing how often either side had not done so...

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 06-Jan-13 18:07:52

Amanda, I assume because the defence believe there's a good chance he will be convicted of rape/assault even without the impostor angle - at least this way they get a second chance.

Not a lawyer though so bow to your greater knowledge!

Just hideous.

AmandaPayne Sun 06-Jan-13 18:55:10

Snatch - no greater knowledge. Happy to admit I know nothing about criminal. All I remember from law school is to always take fags with you if you are the duty defence solicitor! Sure you are right re tactics.

KRITIQ Sun 06-Jan-13 19:06:15

Just to clarify - this appears to be an old law on the statute books only in the state of California (so would not apply in the US as a whole,) and appears to be one of those orphan laws that was overlooked and never got repealed, like the one about single men not being allowed to own sheep in Indiana - that sort of thing.

Like Amanda though, I find it strange no one unearthed the law at the time of the original conviction. I predict now though, it will be repealed sharpish and hopefully other states will also be re-examining their statute books to see if there are similar legal artifacts that need to be squashed as well.

Not saying there isn't rape culture in California or indeed anywhere else in the US generally. But, in this case, it would seem the decision related to an out of date law being pulled out of the cupboard at appeal.

PiccadillyCervix Mon 07-Jan-13 19:25:49

I am fairly sure rape and appallingly low rape conviction rates are not just an American problem. So no need to phrase it that way.

This is a horrible story and I am glad you have brought it to our attention but please remember that in a country of 300 million we will have more horrible news worthy stories like this than you will. We all live under the patriarchy. That said I can think of many cases in the UK where judges have given undue leniency because the rapist couldn't have possibly known the child's "real age" or other bullshit reasons. Remember that raping your actual wife was only made illigial in the UK in 1991.

I do think the judge unfortunately had to accept this. I do hope now that this law will be dealt with appropriately.

AmandaPayne Mon 07-Jan-13 20:36:32

Although I have also heard that North Carolina was even later than the UK...

I do agree - it's shit everywhere, but I think Kim's comment was really just that there has been a rash of similarly absurd reported cases in the US, rather than any form of nationalist superiority.

PiccadillyCervix Mon 07-Jan-13 21:01:43

Entirely possible amanda there is often a lot of anti American sentiment on mumsnet rather than anti American policies and it gets tiring.

PiccadillyCervix Mon 07-Jan-13 21:04:58

*gets tiring though

kim147 Mon 07-Jan-13 21:38:30

piccadilly I was thinking about some of the comments by US politicians on legitimate rape.

Not Anti America - just some of the statements that come out of there.

kim147 Mon 07-Jan-13 21:39:25

And the college student who was forced to cheerlead the guy who raped her.

PiccadillyCervix Mon 07-Jan-13 21:46:24

Your phrasing:

What is it with American justice and rape?

WTF is it with America?

to me implies this being some sort of American problem and not a world wide problem which I found offensive

kim147 Mon 07-Jan-13 21:52:31

Wasn't meant to be so sorry if I upset you.

You'd have hoped that such a thing and such opinions could not happen in an advanced country.

Unfortunately some ignorant people in this country come out with awful statements about rape as well.

PiccadillyCervix Mon 07-Jan-13 22:00:06

Thanks kim, I get a bit sensitive blush.

It is strange that in countries with access to education about women and women's issues that we have to have these discussions. Although you would hope that humans has some kind of inate morality that didn't see women as "less than" regardless of education.

Although I wonder if it was possible for the judges to not come to the conclusion they did while acting within the law. At least this man is going to trial again and I do hope he has his ass handed to him in a spectacular way.

kim147 Mon 07-Jan-13 22:03:38

I want to know what the defense attorney thought when they realised this loophole. Did it cross their mind that this was a really awful piece of leglisation that should have been got rid of or did they just see a way of getting their client off?

PiccadillyCervix Mon 07-Jan-13 23:44:27

I imagine both. Defense attorneys have to do their job but at the end of the day they are human... Not a job I would want to do in a million years

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