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PR: Railroading the Innocent: 5,200+ Petition Signers Demand an End to ‘Victim-Centered’ Investigations

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Rebecca Stewart: 513-479-3335


Railroading the Innocent: 5,200+ Petition Signers Demand an End to ‘Victim-Centered’ Investigations

WASHINGTON / June 16, 2021 – An online petition is demanding an end to the use of so-called “victim-centered” investigative methods. “Victim-centered” approaches serve to remove the presumption of innocence and tilt the investigation in favor of the complainant (1). Such investigative philosophies are becoming widespread both in the criminal legal system and on college campuses.

The petition highlights the account of Matt Rolph of New York, who was accused of sexual assault by his former long-term girlfriend. Despite the fact that a jury found him innocent of all charges, Hobart College launched a “victim-centered” investigation that ignored inconsistencies among the witness statements. Rolph sued the college, with Judge Elizabeth Wolford eventually ruling in his favor (2).

Inexplicably, Congress has been supportive of such “victim-centered” methods.

Recently the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1620, which endorses “victim-centered” investigations. The bill defines “victim-centered” as asking questions of a complainant “in a manner that is focused on the experience of the reported victim.” (3) This description is an admission of the biased nature of such investigations, because it says nothing about focusing on the experiences of the defendant, or seeking to verify the truth (or falsity) of the allegation.

“Start By Believing” is another “victim-centered” philosophy that has enjoyed generous government support. Over the years, the “Start By Believing” sponsor has received $9.5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Justice and other sources (4).

“Trauma-informed” is yet another victim-centered ideology that has been derided as “junk science.” (5)  Healthcare providers now are being instructed in circular “trauma-informed” thinking. According to a New York State nurse who attended one such training, “Current trauma-informed training teaches that a patient who remembers every detail of an incident, or a patient who remembers little to nothing of an incident, both indicate a trauma has occurred.” (6)

Two years ago the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) successfully organized to defeat ABA Resolution 114. The resolution sought to establish an “affirmative consent” standard on the basis of flawed trauma-informed science (7).

The National Registry of Exonerations, which tracks wrongful convictions of the innocent, found that investigative misconduct contributes to 35% of all wrongful convictions. The investigative misconduct includes concealment of evidence, fabrication of evidence, witness tampering, misconduct in interrogations, and making false statements at trial (8).

The names of the petition signers, now numbering 5,278 persons, are available for inspection (9). The online petition continues to accept additional signers: