Those of you who follow me on Twitter know I have been closely watching the “Rape Cops” trial in New York City. Two cops wove an absolutely ridiculous tale to justify conduct no one would invite or want of a police officer. And, to cover up their rape of a young woman who returned home from the bars drunk. The New York Post has done a fantastic job covering the trial and I wanted to share with you here a powerful and educational piece on jury composition and what it means for rape/sexual assault victims. I find it both disheartening and encouraging (the last part, anyhow).
#1: THE ‘CSI’ EFFECT
“That’s what we call this,” says Eugene O’Donnell, a former cop and prosecutor in New York and current professor of law and police studies at John Jay Criminal College. “CSI Seattle, CSI Anchorage
. . . there’s an insistence on the part of the jury that prosecutors have to have DNA evidence. They believe that it’s present and necessary — it’s neither.” O’Donnell believes that “the law needs to be changed,” that judges should be legally bound to inform juries that a lack of DNA evidence doesn’t equal innocence. “We need a remedy with jurors,” he says, “because I don’t think it’s getting through.”
#2: “Compounding the issue: Many juries are easily swayed into believing that 50% of rape claims are fabricated (the actual percentage is 3-5%, on par with false theft claims). “This is an especial problem with rape cases,” O’Donnell says. “Who gets up in the morning and says, ‘I’ll read the paper, feed the cat, and oh, yeah, say I was raped?’ ”
#3: “The gender divide on this specific jury was seven men, five women, and our experts say this isn’t surprising — prosecutors are wary of female jurors in rape cases, because female jurors are the most judgmental when it comes to the alleged victim and her behavior. That this accuser was admittedly blackout drunk was always going to be played as a characterological flaw — because it works.
“No matter how we’ve transitioned into the business world, etc. as women — in post-trial interviews, the character of the parties always comes into question,” Griffitts says. “And drinking becomes a character issue.”