Friday, May 22, 2009

Accusers as "Victims": A Case Study (Will Grigg)

Will Grigg takes a courageous stand on an emotionally charged case that can be likened to a modern day Salem Witch Trial:

It would hardly be difficult to convict any man of child sex abuse if the prosecutor were provided with the following advantages:

*The accuser would be designated a "victim," and referred to as such in pre-trial hearings and during the trial, thereby leaving jurors predisposed to accept her allegations as fact;

*The trial judge grants a prosecution motion in limine (a request to exclude "prejudicial" evidence) forbidding the defense to call witnesses whose first-hand testimony would impeach the credibility of the accuser;

*In similar fashion, the judge prevents the defense from "prejudicing" the jury against the "victim" by referring to at least one previous occasion on which she made a false allegation of abuse;

*The accuser/"victim" is permitted to change critical, materially relevant details of her story without being accused of perjury or simply impeached as unreliable;

*Even as the judge carefully shields the "victim" from adversarial scrutiny, he permits the prosecution to mention that the defendant had previously been the subject of an abuse investigation, without being charged, prosecuted, or convicted of any offense;

*Most egregiously, the judge permits the prosecution to present an "expert" witness to explain how the critical piece of exculpatory evidence in a child rape trial -- a gynecological examination of the accuser showing perfectly normal physical development, including an intact hymen -- was actually a common finding in child sexual abuse cases.

Indeed, just as the notorious "magic bullet" of Daley Plaza managed to defy established laws of physics, changing directions several times without losing its lethal velocity, the accuser's virginal membrane possessed magical properties that permitted it to survive repeated episodes of full intercourse forced upon the girl by her step-father, which supposedly began when the accuser was 12 and the accused was in his late 20s.

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