Dec 312012

VAWA ‘Mafia’ Making False Claims About Act’s Effectiveness

By Attorney Robert Franklin
Dec. 28, 2012

The Violence Against Women Act reauthorization vote has been hanging fire in the Senate ever since the Spring when the House of Representatives sent its version of the bill there to be voted on. Senate Democrats have refused, demanding that the House pass the Senate version. As many have pointed out that would be an exercise in futility since the Constitution requires bills that raise revenue to originate in the House. The Senate bill raises new fees, so it cannot become law in its present form.

But the November elections generally went well for Democratic candidates and that has emboldened VAWA advocates to renew their push for passage of the law. And, as we’ve learned, when the domestic violence establishment speaks, truth takes a beating.

Unsurprisingly then, when the Bureau of Justice Statistics published this analysis of domestic violence trends from 1993 – 2010, what’s come to be known as the “VAWA Mafia” swung into action. They noticed that, during the years studied, the number of incidents of intimate partner violence per 100,000 people dropped sharply and decided, with no evidence to back them up, that the happy news must all be VAWA’s doing.

Thus, on December 4 former NOW president Kim Gandy made this claim in the pages of the Huffington Post: “A new report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) shows conclusively that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is working to reduce intimate partner violence.” Wrong as she was, Gandy was scarcely the only one to make the claim. Women’s Enews, Ms. Magazine and Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett all chimed in in perfect harmony.

“Shows conclusively…” Really?

Actually, the idea that the BJS report shows any such thing has about the same intellectual honesty as most domestic violence industry claims, which is to say “next to none.”

In the first place, the report is just an analysis of data on domestic violence from the National Crime Victimization Survey conducted by the BJS. The good news is that incidents of intimate partner violence are down a whopping 64% from 1993 – 2010. We should all applaud that, but unfortunately for Gandy, et al, it says nothing whatsoever about the Violence Against Women Act. And of course, as a scrupulous analysis, it makes no claims at all about what may or may not be responsible for the laudable drop in domestic violence. Claims of correlation with- or causation by- anything whatsoever appear nowhere in the report. Neither do the words “Violence Against Women Act.”

Second, what the report makes clear, but the DV establishment neglected to mention, is that the downward trend in domestic violence is just part of a larger, society-wide drop in all violent crime. Indeed, incidents of violent crime generally dropped from about 80 per 100,000 people in 1993 to about 21 in 2010. That’s a decrease of almost 74%. So if we were to infer causation (which we’re not), we’d tend to conclude that VAWA actually impedes progress on domestic violence. After all, if everyone has become safer, why have intimate partners become comparatively less so? According to Kim Gandy’s “logic,” it must be VAWA’s fault.

Third, Gandy and her amen chorus overlooked the fact that the decrease in domestic violence victimization is statistically identical for both male and female victims. That can’t be attributed to VAWA for the simple reason that the law does essentially nothing for male victims or to female perpetrators. Indeed, perhaps the best source for VAWA analysis, Stop Abusive and Violent Environments, reports that barely over 1% of VAWA funding goes to male victims. So how can VAWA, that treats male and female victims so differently, cause the same decrease in victimization for both sexes? The plain answer is “it can’t.”

Since its inception in the early 70s, the domestic violence movement has been plagued by a tendency to make up “facts” about violence in the home. That’s because the movement has its roots in a political ideology that holds that only men commit domestic violence, and they do so to keep women subservient to them. Almost 40 years of rigorous study of the phenomenon lays waste to essentially every claim made by the DV establishment, but by now, domestic violence organizations receive some $2 billion a year from federal, state and private sources. For them to now admit that their claims have been false all along and their analysis flawed would obviously derail the gravy train.

So they’ve doubled down. Instead of admitting, as those knowledgeable about the issue have, that there is in fact no evidence that VAWA is effective at reducing domestic violence, Gandy makes her patently untrue assertion that the BJS report “shows conclusively” that there is.

The simple truth is that VAWA doesn’t work because it can’t work. It can’t work because it’s based on flawed assumptions – that only men are perpetrators, that they commit violence to control women and that the Duluth Model of re-education can be effective at changing that behavior. Forty years of social science unambiguously refutes each of those assertions, but the VAWA Mafia is too busy peddling its snake oil to pay attention.

Psychologists know how to deal with all but the most heinous of domestic violence situations. To be effective, we must, except in those situations, get the criminal justice system out of the business of trying to prevent intimate partner violence, and let mental health professionals have a chance. We need to start admitting what domestic violence is and what it’s not. That means we need to admit that only a tiny fraction of DV is the “battering” for the purpose of “spousal control” the DV industry would have us believe it is. Study after study shows that most DV results in either no injury at all or at most a “minor cut or bruise” in the words of one large study done by the government of Scotland.

Finally, we must admit that women attack their male partners as often as the reverse. That means women need those psychological services as much as men do.

But VAWA acknowledges none of that, preferring to hew to the radical feminist ideology that’s obstructed our efforts to reduce domestic violence since the early 70s. Sadly, Kim Gandy and her sisters in arms want more of the same. That’s bad for men, bad for women and bad for a society that, unlike the VAWA Mafia, sincerely seeks an effective response to domestic violence.


Dec 282012

Alberta Man Acquitted of Molestation Charges; False Accuser not Charged

By Robert Franklin, Esq.
December 24th, 2012

The ease with which courts – both criminal and family – are used to thwart fathers’ relationships with their children is well known. For decades, lawyers have been bewailing the fact that domestic violence restraining orders are used as a matter of course to separate fathers from their children and gain an advantage in custody proceedings. Little-to-no evidence is required for a restraining order to be issued and, often as not, no actual violence need have occurred or even be alleged to have occurred. A man’s allegedly having placed his partner “in fear” of, well, just about anything, is usually sufficient for a judge to issue a restraining order. One particularly absurd (if you’re not the father or his little girl) I wrote about here (Fathers and Families, 8/12/11).

In that case, the mother’s allegation was that the father had placed her “in fear.” When he finally got his “day in court,” he asked her what she was afraid of. Her answer: that he filed motions in court trying to enforce his visitation time that she continually refused. The appellate court ruled that those were sufficient grounds for him to be made the subject of a restraining order. Without going into detail, that order violates the dad’s due process rights in so many different ways I can barely count them all. Plus, it violates his constitutional right to petition for redress of grievances.

The point being that courts, when a claim of domestic violence or sex abuse is made, act simply as a cat’s paw for the mother. Virtually anything can be used to support a claim of violence, even when there’s been none, and the result is the radical diminution of the father’s rights. Far too often, that also restricts the rights of children as well.

This case is a bit different, but re-proves the point (Edmonton Sun, 12/14/12). In it, an unnamed man and unnamed woman lived together in his house. She had three daughters by another man (other men?) who lived with them. That went on for four years of significant relational dysfunction at which time he told them all they’d have to leave. He was done with them.

Well, not quite. That was two years ago and he is only now done with them. That’s because, shortly after telling them they’d have to leave, the woman took the odd tack of showing her daughters a video of an Oprah show about child sexual molestation and asked them if that had ever happened to them. One girl took the hint and said the man had abused her. Mom then took the girls to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police where they all three said they’d been abused. Great minds think alike.

Just in case anyone could be confused about her motives, the mother also called the Oprah show and actually talked to the great lady herself for an hour. Apparently she failed to be asked to appear on the show herself, although I suspect it might have happened had the man been convicted, which he wasn’t.

He was however charged.

After one of the girls said yes, the woman took them to the RCMP detachment and all three made statements that they had been sexually assaulted by the accused. He was then charged with three counts of sexual exploitation and three counts of sex assault and spent 40 hours in custody.

That was in January of 2010. Since then the man has been fighting the charges in court. That all came to an end 10 days ago when Justice Denny Thomas ordered his acquittal.

“That’s it. You are acquitted and free to go,” said Thomas at the conclusion of his ruling.

But that’s not all Thomas said. According to him, the RCMP should never have filed charges and prosecutors should never have pursued them. The police investigation was shoddy and incomplete and the Crown pursued the allegations despite clear evidence the woman and the girls were lying. Justice Thomas didn’t mince words.

The Edmonton judge also slammed the Crown and the RCMP for their involvement in the Lloydminster case and said he was prepared to send the court transcripts to the Minister of Justice after offering the “innocent man” a chance to seek costs for legal fees and loss of income.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Denny Thomas also took the rare step of announcing the acquittal before reading out his lengthy decision after saying the 50-year-old man had “suffered enough” at the hands of the lying woman…

Thomas ruled the testimony of the woman and her daughters was “not credible” and they gave “false evidence.”

He also described the woman as an “extremely hostile” witness, a “very angry” woman and a “vindictive liar.”

The judge also accepted evidence she had earlier threatened to go to police with the molesting allegations if the accused persisted in making them leave and had said she would hit herself in the face and say he had done it.

The accused maintained he was innocent while testifying in his own defence and Thomas said he believed him.

Thomas criticized the Mounties for conducting an “incomplete” investigation and said he was “offended and upset” with the Crown for proceeding despite nearly everybody realizing it was “a case of false complaints.”

In short, the police and the prosecutors once again acted, not as autonomous servants of the public, but as agents of a mother who was clearly out for revenge because the man had kicked her out of his house and life. The state, in the persons of the police and Crown prosecutors allied itself with the mother despite the fact that there was every reason to think that her allegations were fabricated.

And let’s not forget what these allegations were – the serial sexual abuse of minors. That’s close to as serious a charge as there is and the man stood to spend long years in prison if convicted. So you’d think the state would be extra careful to get it right, but on the contrary, police and prosecutors behaved in an especially negligent manner. To be blunt, they preferred to send an innocent man to prison.

I must congratulate Thomas for not stopping at acquittal. He not only gave the man the opportunity to recoup his attorney fees and costs from the state, Thomas also took the unusual step of reporting the whole matter to the Minister of Justice. My guess is that stands a good chance of getting the attention of the prosecutors who wasted the people’s time and money in their quixotic attempt to convict a man whose only offense was to ask an “extremely hostile” and “very angry” woman to leave his house. These people have obviously attended the Mary Kellett School of Misandric Law Enforcement.

Now, I said I think the judge’s actions might get their attention, but I confess I could be wrong.

It is not known whether the woman will be charged with making a false complaint to police.

But of course. Why would the same prosecutors who put a clearly innocent man through two years of legal hell want to prosecute for perjury a woman whom the Queen’s Bench Justice himself called a “vindictive liar?” There was essentially no evidence of wrongdoing by the man, so he was charged; there’s clear evidence of wrongdoing by the mother plus a judge for a witness, so she in all likelihood won’t be. As Doyle Lonergan asked in The Sting, “You follow?”

This time, a Judge had the sense to put a stop to the state’s unquestioning support of a mother who was plainly out for a man’s blood. All too often, judges fail to do that. Indeed, I suspect that the only reason it happened in this case was that trial occurred in criminal court. Family courts are renowned for their willingness to take up a mother’s cause even in the face of clear evidence opposing her. But one case is not enough. False allegations, irrespective of who makes them – must have consequences. Until they do, there’s no reason not to continue making them. For years they’ve blighted the family law system for the very reason that they’re a free shot. If they work, fine; if they don’t, there’s no downside. We see it time and again. It’s one of the main ways children lose their fathers.

Source: Fathers & Families

Dec 282012

Rethink Domestic Abuse Laws

By Steve Kropper
Dec. 28, 2012

Twenty-two years ago, I stopped a knife wielding man as he chased his wife in Dorchester. I did it on protective instinct, and was lucky not to get hurt. Then, the police, prosecutors, and courts did not take domestic abuse cases seriously. Today, the pendulum has swung the other way. Families are broken up as police and prosecutors automatically intervene upon one party’s complaint.

I believe there are three solutions to the problem:

  • First, eliminate restraining orders that prevent communication between children and a parent. Healing requires communication. One angry parent should not be able to break up a family. And children deserve to keep connections with both parents.
  • Second, eliminate restraining orders based on ONE party’s testimony. For every other crime, both parties have a right to be heard in court. Not in domestic disputes. Every restraining order issued in the Commonwealth was based on ONE angry spouse’s claims, before the accused could respond.
  • Third, State law specifically prevents the accused party from seeking redress for false accusations. The “penalty of perjury” is not applied to false claims of domestic abuse fraud. And it is almost impossible to reverse fraudulent verdicts in domestic abuse.

For every case of domestic violence, nine other families are broken up. Domestic violence is a terrible crime, but we need a thoughtful solution that does not visit past injustice on today’s families.

Source: Fathers & Families and the Lexington Minuteman

Dec 272012

Dear Friends,

In our line of work we come into contact with many people who are in difficult, if not desperate situations. Their perseverance to right the wrongs around them inspire us.

Vladek Filler was persecuted and wrongly convicted of spousal rape by an unethical prosecutor in Maine. The prosecutor, Mary Kellett was recently recommended for suspension by the panel that investigated her handling of his case:

Gordon Smith was wrongly arrested several times over the course of several years due to false allegations of domestic violence in Delaware. Gordon was cleared after his electronic monitoring unit proved that he could not have attacked his accuser, and he recently received this letter from State Senator Lawson to A. G. Biden:

The message I want to give you today is this:

Find hope, know hope, give hope.

Please enjoy and share the following inspirational messages with your social networks.





Here’s to hope!


Teri Stoddard, Program Director
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments

P.S. Please help us grow our efforts. And share this e-lert with a friend.

Dec 272012

Proposed VAWA reauthorization bill would allow non-Native American males to be prosecuted for alleged sex crimes against Native American women in tribal courts even when such courts exclude non-Native Americans from the jury pool

Dec. 22, 2012

The Tribal Provisions

The so-called Tribal provisions of the VAWA reauthorization bill passed by the U.S. Senate (but not yet by the House) would give Native American tribes authority to prosecute non-Native Americans accused of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other crimes against Native American women on Indian reservations.

This would be the first time our government would extend tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians. Sen. Chuck Grassley asks: “Why should domestic violence cases be the first criminal cases to be treated in this way?”

The Tribal provisions raise concerns for the community of the wrongly accused that have been ignored in the public discourse of this issue. Worse, the natural allies of the presumptively innocent have abandoned them on this issue, as has become the norm in recent years when it comes to efforts to chip away at the rights of the presumptively innocent accused of sex offenses. Instead, anyone raising concerns about the Tribal provisions is being branded in some extremist corners as a rape apologist.

A Congressman is Branded the ‘Patron Saint of Rapists’: A Public Discourse Bordering on Pathology

Rep. Eric Cantor was branded “the patron saint of rapists” by Chloe Angyal, an editor of, because of his opposition to including the “Tribal provisions” in the VAWA reauthorization bill. See here.

Are the Tribal Provisions Needed to Solve the Problem?

There is a widespread belief that the sexual abuse of Native American women on tribal lands is a significant problem, and that when sexual abuse is perpetrated on them by non-Native American males, the crimes are not adequately addressed by federal and state courts. The reasons for this were explained by one commentator:

. . . federal and state law enforcement have limited resources and might be hours away from a reservation. And then there’s this: according to a General Accounting Office report on “Department of Justice Declinations of Indian Country Criminal Matters,” federal prosecutors declined to take action on 52 percent of violent crimes committed on tribal lands. Of those declined cases, 67 percent were sexual abuse and related cases.
The fact that law enforcement might be far away, and the issue regarding limited resources, are not unique to crime on Native American reservations and can, and should, be addressed by affording greater resources to the problem, the same way they are addressed for non-Native American citizens.

The other issue is the appropriateness of federal prosecutors declining to take some sexual abuse cases reported by Native Americans. I am not certain how the GAO report determined that an alleged offense was a “violent crime” when a prosecutor decided not to take it. In any event, to determine whether federal prosecutors are refusing to take such cases for inappropriate reasons, there must be a painstaking examination of a representative sampling of such cases by impartial evaluators. If there are improprieties, they need to be addressed in the same way they are dealt with when the victimization of any disadvantaged group is not being adequately addressed by federal prosecutors.

These matters need to be addressed. The United States cannot allow rapists to act with impunity. This problem is especially distressing given the historical oppression of Native American women. We are not certain that these problems necessarily require giving Native American courts jurisdiction to try cases involving non-Native Americans accused of sex offenses.

What are the Implications for Wrongly Accused Men?

What are the implications for a wrongly accused person being tried of heinous sex crimes by a tribal court? Our nation has no track record to guide it because it hasn’t been done. Nor did the Senate hearings on VAWA shed any light on this question: the Tribal provisions were not even the subject of a hearing in the Senate, which passed the bill that included it. Sen. Grassley said: “I do not believe the [Senate Judiciary] Committee has a good understanding of what the consequences would be” of making this change in the law.

Moreover, the public discourse on this issue has been dominated by groups that have focused solely on the victims of sexual abuse. They have not acknowledged even the possibility that sometimes innocent persons are wrongly accused of these offenses. Too often, some, like Ms. Angyal, have resorted to demonizing anyone opposing their efforts in ways that should not be part of the public discourse. Some claim that anyone opposing the provision wants to protect white male rapists.

The Congressional Research Service issued a report earlier this year in which it addressed the legal bases for Indian Tribes to prosecute non-Indians under an “inherent sovereignty theory.” It bluntly stated: “. . . it appears that tribes will not be bound by the Constitution but only by protections in the Indian Civil Rights Act, Tribal Law and Order Act, and the individual tribal laws.” See here. A defendant’s important civil rights, such as equal protection and due process, will be construed by tribal courts not be bound by the U.S. Constitution.

COTWA’s concern is for both the victims of sexual abuse and for the wrongly accused. The public discourse on this issue must include an honest discussion about the implications for the wrongly accused of having their cases adjudicated in tribal courts. To date, that isn’t happening.

Non-Native Americans Excluded From Jury Pool

A significant problem that is not being addressed is this: can a tribal court be a fair tribunal for Non-Native American men given that non-Native Americans need not even be part of the jury pool? “Tribal courts are not required to allow nonmember reservation residents to sit on juries.” This rule runs afoul of the Supreme Court’s requirement that “jury pools . . . accurately represent the communities from which they are drawn,” since many such reservations have significant non-Indian populations. Sam Ennis, Reaffirming Indian Tribal Court Criminal Jurisdiction Over Non-Indians: An Argument for a Statutory Abrogation of Oliphant, 57 U.C.L.A. L. REV. 553, 578-79 (2009) Because of the exclusion of non-Indians from jury pools, “federal courts sometimes refuse to enforce civil judgments rendered by all-Indian tribal court juries against non-Indians.” Id.

Juror Resentments Over Historical Oppression

America has a dismal history of allowing black males to be tried for the alleged rape of white women with all white juries. The outcome of such trials was pre-ordained. We frequently point out that it is our impression that black males accused of rape in this country are still treated more harshly than white males (e.g., see the Brian Banks case, where Mr. Banks’ own attorney urged him to confess to a crime he didn’t commit because a big black male doesn’t stand a chance in a rape trial). In tribal courts, white men may be inherently disadvantaged. Native Americans may feel resentment about their historical treatment. What might this mean for white men wrongly accused of heinous sex crimes when white men are not even permitted to be part of the jury pool?

No Right of Appeal

In addition, a non-Indian convicted of a sex offense in a tribal court would have no right of appeal, only a right to seek a writ of habeas corpus, which is decidedly more limited than appeal rights.


Once again, we are presented with a need to help rape victims, but the effort proposed might unreasonably enhance the risk that innocent men and boys will be punished for offenses they did not commit.

Too often, powerful forces intent on protecting the victims of sexual abuse sweep like a high-speed rail over the rights of presumptively innocent men, some of whom have been wrongly accused, without bothering to consider the interests of the wrongly accused. Worse, they mock and ridicule anyone who would dare to voice concern for the wrongly accused.

There needs to be a serious, non-politicized, national discussion about the necessity for the Tribal provisions; whether other, less intrusive, measures could solve any legitimate problems affecting Native American women; and whether the rights of presumptively innocent men would be adequately protected by the Tribal provisions.


Dec 272012

December 21, 2012

Attorney General Joseph Biden, III
Carvel State Office Building
820 N. French Street
Wilmington, DE 19801

Dear A.G. Biden,

I write to you today with great concern for the abhorrent behavior displayed by your agency toward a mutual constituent, Gordon Smith. Need I remind you, sir, that Mr. Smith was facing numerous domestic violence charges (24 to be exact) that were just recently dismissed due to the finding that the alleged victim was falsely reporting each of the incidents, to which Mr. Gordon was subsequently arrested. My concern is that the Attorney General’s office seems that they are patting themselves on the back for releasing Mr. Smith from these charges; however, Mr. Smith continues to be the victim in these cases.

Why? Because of these outlandish charges, which again were proven to be false, Mr. Smith was terminated from gainful employment. The simple dismissal of charges does not assist Mr. Smith in picking up the fractured pieces of his life because he is currently unable to find a job. Those charges remain on Mr. Smith’s record, to which he is obligated to disclose. When Mr. Smith tried to address this matter he was met with a rather inappropriate response that he would have to file to have those charges expunged. This is frankly unacceptable; may I remind you that Mr. Smith is unemployed due to the actions of his accuser. Those charges were proven to be false, the Attorney General’s office is paralyzed as to what to do regarding the defendant of those false reports, and feels vindicated by simply dismissing Mr. Smith’s charges? Attorney General Biden, Mr. Smith need not continue to be the actual victim here. The State should see to it that all the charges against Mr. Smith be expunged from his record at its own expense, especially in light of the State’s acknowledgement that each of those charges was unfounded and falsely reported. Let us not continue to see this matter swept under the rug.

Due to the reckless behavior of Mr. Smith’s accuser the State has expended an extraordinarily large amount of taxpayers’ dollars to which end? To continue to victimize the one that was actually found to

be innocent and to protect the one that was found to be falsely expending the State’s money? This is not appropriate and the math, sir, does not add up. Chapter 5, subsection 1245, Title 11 of Delaware Code clearly establishes that “…Falsely reporting an incident is a class A misdemeanor…In addition to the penalties otherwise authorized by law, any person convicted of an offense in violation of this section shall pay a fine of not less than $500…which fine cannot be suspended and be sentenced to perform a minimum of 100 hours of community service, and shall be required to reimburse the State, or other responding or other investigation governmental agency, for any expenses expended in the investigation and/or response to the incident falsely reported.” Where is the justice for Mr. Smith to allow these charges to continue to exist on his record and no penalty is sought against the accuser?

I anticipate a speedy review of this matter and look forward to your immediate response.


David G. Lawson, Senator 15th District

Governor Jack Markell
Chief Judge Chandlee J. Kuhn
Superintendent Nathaniel McQueen, DSP

Dec 262012

OSU Demonstrates Why Universities Shouldn’t Handle Sex Assault Claims

Adam Goldstein
Dec. 17, 2012

In the past, I’ve made the point that universities shouldn’t be adjudicating sexual assault claims. Now, Oklahoma State has provided an object lesson, by showing how much can go wrong when you let a bunch of amateur investigators pretend to do the jobs of police and courts.

In the last two years, the Department of Education’s concern has been that not enough people are found liable of sexual assault by disciplinary committees, so they lowered the standard of proof. Instead of “clear and convincing evidence,” most institutions now require only a “preponderance of the evidence” to find someone guilty of sexual assault.

But something the Department of Education hasn’t bothered to ask is whether these committees are even capable of punishing someone adequately for sexual assault.

Because they’re not, in case you’re wondering. Consider what happened at Oklahoma State.

You would assume that a disciplinary committee at an institution faced with multiple reports of sexual assault by one person might say to themselves, “Gee, the training video we watched didn’t really prepare us to do the proper investigation of sexual assault at this scale, so maybe we ought to call police.”

Surely a bunch of amateurs, with no authority to subpoena, no ability to collect or test forensics — certainly they wouldn’t attempt to identify and punish a possible serial attacker, would they? From the Student Press Law Center’s story:

The university conducted the first of five interviews with victims on Nov. 12 and held a hearing on Nov. 30. OSU’s Student Conduct committee is made up of students, faculty and staff, according to its website. Each hearing is heard by a panel of one representative from each group.

[The alleged perpetrator] Cochran’s hearing was what the school calls a “level three hearing,” held in instances where suspension or expulsion is a potential outcome. Both sides are allowed to present witnesses and evidence before taking questions from the panel and the other party.

Oh. Well, but the good news is, they didn’t need to bother with any of that nasty objective gathering of evidence. Because they found him “responsible” for four counts of sexual assault. And they issued what is almost the strongest sanction they could issue. The alleged perpetrator:

was found responsible for four violations of Section III(D)(21) (sexual misconduct) of the OSU Student Code of Conduct and was suspended for three years commencing December 14, 2012 (end of semester) and was ordered to have no contact with any of the complainants.
Yes, that’s right. The punishment for being found liable for four counts of sexual misconduct was to finish out the semester with the victims and then come back after they’ve graduated, and we won’t tell anybody. Because it’s not like serial sexual attackers do this ever again. (Wait, what does “serial” mean again?)

At this point, the story never would have gone public, except for a tip to The Daily O’Collegian. They called the police, and the police called the University, who refused to turn information over to the police until they were shamed into releasing their final report.

Meanwhile, the police did their own investigation. As it turns out, the number of victims, according to the Stillwater police, is in the dozens: “Based on interviews with other witnesses who have come forward, [Stillwater Police Capt. Randy] Dickerson said he believes there could be as many as three dozen victims.”

There are a number of possible morals to this story.

One is that, if you find someone you believe to have committed four sexual assaults, there are probably other claims, if you bother to look.

Another is that Oklahoma State was wrong when it claimed it was unable to turn this information over to investigators, and the Student Press Law Center’s Executive Director Frank LoMonte addresses the legal problems with their rationale on our FERPA FACT blog. So I wanted to use this space to make a different, but related point.

The moral I want to talk about is this: Campus disciplinary processes ought to be adjudicating plagiarism and library fines and basically nothing else. The idea that these processes could be used to meaningfully adjudicate claims of sexual assault is a joke.

Universities don’t have prisons. The only thing a university conduct board can create when finding a claim of sexual assault has merit is a rapist with free time on his hands.

Recently, our friends at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education have been involved in a debate over that lower standard of proof the Department of Education set for sexual assault cases. While they’re right on the standard, fixing the standard won’t fix the problem.

To me, this is like saying we have a gun, and we’re handing it to an infant, and we’re arguing over whether to take the safety off first. I suppose it’s safer to leave the safety on, yes. But babies shouldn’t have guns.

Similarly, universities should not be creating substitute mock justice systems to adjudicate serious crimes. They’re no more qualified than the baby. And perhaps the fact that schools like Oklahoma State choose to do so is a vestige of a society that, historically, has not treated sexual assault seriously in the academic context.

If a university declined to tell the police about murder, or arson, or kidnapping, or armed robbery, we would be rightly disgusted. We would not entertain the university’s defenses that the amateur investigators on its conduct board attended an hour-long training session on arson evidence, or that they held a mock kidnapping trial and thus should be considered adequate substitutes for real law enforcement.

Why is it, then, that we permit universities to investigate sexual assaults — let alone serial sexual assaults? Why do we permit them to impose a sanction like, “walk away from here scot-free and come back in three years, presumably because we don’t think sexual violence is a crime anyone performs more than four times?”

Is rape really less serious than armed robbery? Should we feel better about amateur investigators dabbling in sexual assault investigations than we would about shrugging and saying, “Oh, don’t worry about that gang violence, I told student conduct?”

Or is it time to admit that universities are poor substitutes for law enforcement when the sanction for being found liable for multiple sexual assaults is being told to return in three years, to join a fresh crop of potential victims?


Dec 222012

Citrus Heights police arrest woman in connection to attempted murder of man she lives with

Dec. 22, 2012

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA – A woman was arrested for allegedly trying to shoot and kill a man she lives with Friday night.

Kathleen French, 44, was arrested at her home after police responded to reports of a shooting on the 7300 block of Single Way around 8:23 p.m., Citrus Heights police Lt. Douglas Fletcher said.

When police arrived, they found a man with multiple gunshot wounds. He was transported to Mercy San Juan Hospital to be treated for serious, but non-life threatening injuries.

Fletcher said French and the victim lived together at the home, but their relationship was unclear. Other people were at the home at the time of the shooting; it’s unclear why those people were there or how they know French and the victim.

French was booked into Sacramento County Jail for attempted murder, Fletcher said.

Source: News10

Dec 212012

Gender and Racial/Ethnic Differences in Criminal Justice Decision Making in Intimate Partner Violence Cases

Stan Shernock and Brenda Russell
133 pages. Full manuscript available in Partner Abuse Vol. 3, Issue no. 4 (2012)

Scholarly studies from 1985-2011 were located using a number of databases, including PSYCH-INFO, National Criminal Justice Reference Service, Criminal Justice Abstracts, Criminal Justice Periodicals, and Sociological Abstracts. This led to a total of about 2035 sources. After screening out irrelevant articles, a total of 16 were included for protective orders, 39 for arrest, 24 for prosecution, and 27 for jury decision making. An evaluation of the methodologies employed found that some studies have used one or multiple types of official data sources, such as police reports (incident forms, narratives or affidavits), court records, and criminal histories, while other studies have used interviews or surveys of victims or suspects; but few have used triangulation of both official sources and surveys or interviews. Almost all studies of differential decision making in jury verdicts have been experimental studies of simulated situations.

Most studies on differential treatment in arrest and prosecution have focused on gender and then race, while studies on differential decision making in the issuance of protective orders and jury decision making have focused primarily on gender. In the few studies that examined protective orders, judges were overwhelmingly more likely to issue them to women than to men seeking them (particularly in cases of less severe violence histories), to impose greater restrictions on male defendants, and to defer cases of male plaintiffs, and deny requests at 10-day hearings. The overwhelming number of studies that examined differential arrest by gender found that male suspects are more likely to be arrested than female suspects; however, the difference in arrest rates was mitigated by dual arrests, which contribute to a significant increase in the number and greater likelihood of arrests of women. Greater arrest rates for women also seem to be affected by higher SES, and the presence of weapons and witnesses (legal factors).

Many students of IPV have argued that when examining the context and history associated with the arrest of women, particularly in dual arrest incidents, that women were engaged in self-defense. However, when official action was taken against women, there was greater leniency by citing instead of taking them into custody or by charging them with less serious offenses. While a small number of studies have not found evidence of differential treatment by prosecutors regarding the gender of the offender or victim, most studies with smaller community samples, and some with larger samples, found that males were consistently treated more severely at every stage of the prosecution process, particularly regarding the decision to prosecute, even when controlling for other variables (e.g., the presence of physical injuries) and when examined under different conditions.

The gender discrepancy decreases somewhat with the decision to file felony or misdemeanor charges. In the few studies of gender differences in conviction and sentencing, most have found that male defendants are more likely to be convicted and to receive more severe sentences than female defendants. Subjects in experimental studies of jury decision making in IPV cases have stronger reactions to abuse committed against female victims and abuse committed by male perpetrators, with blame and responsibility often attributed to male perpetrators of assault at higher rates than female perpetrators.

In studies of IPV that simply look at arrest rates in both single and dual arrest cases, as well as the general police handling of IPV incidents, there appears to be little differential treatment against racial minorities. Mandatory arrest policies appear to reduce the importance of victim race to insignificance. Most studies of decisions to prosecute, as well as the few studies on conviction and sentencing, have found that race and ethnicity were not statistically significant when specifying relevant conditions or controlling for other variables. Thus, in terms of the differential criminal justice response regarding demographic categories, it appears that the less favorable treatment of males regarding the issuance of protection orders, arrest, and prosecution is most salient. However, before recommending new policies, interview and survey studies of legal actors should be undertaken in order to better understand the differential treatment found in studies using official sources, as well as how the concepts of “probable cause” and “primary aggressor” are interpreted when applied.

Moreover, future research studies on differential criminal justice response based on demographic and SES factors should include greater specifications and distinctions in the variables examined and broaden the scope of the samples and methods employed. First, studies need to better define the specific types of criminal justice response and distinguish them from related types of responses. For instance, since arrest in IPV is supposed to stop the violence, it is important to distinguish between arrest, which involves taking a suspect into custody and lodging him/her, and citation, which requires appearance in court at a later date. In order to understand whether a differential response is isolated or systemic, it is also important to examine other related police and prosecutor decisions, such as the decision regarding what to charge the suspect.

Secondly, there is a need to specify the characteristics of those groups and both the situational and historic context where a differential criminal justice response has been found. Therefore, it is important to examine the interaction effects of other socio-demographic factors (particularly SES and age), relationship status, and situational conditions (e.g., presence of weapons or alcohol) with primary socio-demographic factors. Besides triangulating official sources with interviews and surveys in studies on protective orders, arrest, and prosecution, experimental studies of jury decision should be complemented by using focus groups to better understand the group dynamics of juries; and with court records to compare findings from simulations with actual cases. Finally, since community studies with small samples are not generalizable, there is a need for more multi-site or national studies.

Dec 202012

Maine Bar Recommends Suspension for Assistant District Attorney Mary Kellett

By Robert Franklin, Esq.
December 12th, 2012

Mary Kellett

Mary Kellett

The Maine Board of Bar Overseers has recommended that Hancock County Assistant District Attorney Mary Kellett be suspended from the practice of law. Kellett’s case will now go before a single justice of the state Supreme Court who will decide whether to uphold the recommendation and if so, for how long Kellett’s suspension should last. Read about it here (MPBN, 12/10/12).

The decision on suspension came about because of Kellett’s behavior in the case of Vladek Filler whose wife accused him of raping her. The accusation came during Filler’s divorce and custody case. Even though Kellett managed to get a conviction of Filler in the first trial, the facts of the case were so obviously shaky that the family court gave him custody of his children. Due to Kellett’s violations of the rules of procedure, the rules of evidence and the State Bar’s rules of ethics for prosecutors, Filler’s conviction was overturned on appeal. After three years, he was finally convicted of pouring water on his wife, Ligia Filler.

In the mean time, Filler, who now lives in Georgia with his children, brought nine charges of misconduct against Kellett. The State Bar’s counsel recommended that Kellett be disciplined and now the Board of Overseers has agreed. That’s true despite the fact that Kellett has never been disciplined before. In most cases, suspension is a punishment meted out to an attorney with a history of infractions in which more lenient discipline, such as reprimand, has been ordered. That strongly suggests that, even though they weren’t part of the record regarding Filler’s complaints, the Board was aware of the many previous cases in which Kellett has abused the power of her office in an attempt to railroad men accused of sex crimes into prison even though there was insufficient evidence of guilt or even evidence of actual innocence.

Indeed, Stop Abusive and Violent Environments lists some nine separate cases in which Kellett ignored the ethical requirements of prosecutors in cases in which men were charged with sex crimes.

The simple fact is that, at least when it comes to allegations of sex crimes, Mary Kellett is a rogue prosecutor. At this far remove, her behavior looks tragically typical of a certain kind of person who’s been taught to believe that men are uniquely dangerous creatures, that women don’t lie about sexual assault and therefore that every allegation, regardless of how unbelievable, must be prosecuted with maximum vigor.

Even a casual reading of the ethical requirements for prosecutors shows that to be wrong, but it looks to have been Kellett’s MO anyway. Unlike all other attorneys, because they exercise the vast power of the state, prosecutors are ethically bound to carefully analyze cases and only pursue those allegations that are backed by probable cause to arrest and charge an individual. Other lawyers can take a shaky case to court and see if they can get a jury to rule for their client. Prosecutors may not do that, but Mary Kellett routinely ignored those ethical rules.

So, apparently, did her supervisor who did nothing to rein in her subordinate. I would argue that, once Kellett is disciplined, the District Attorney of Hancock County should be investigated for ethical violations and punished if any are found. My strong suspicion is that the attitudes displayed daily by Mary Kellett aren’t unique to her. If she had only attacked Vladek Filler, I’d say she acted alone, but her misdeeds go back many years and that can only happen when a supervisor either turns a blind eye or actively encourages unethical behavior. My guess is that Mary Kellett and her supervisor are birds of a feather. My further guess is that they share the belief in women’s innocence and men’s corruption and used the power of the District Attorney’s office to put that belief into practice.

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