John on May 28, 2008 at 10:18 pm
After Linda Davies reported to police that her 15-year-old daughter had been raped, it took three months — plus two dozen phone calls and a threat of legal action — before police questioned the suspect, a 28-year-old neighbor.
“I gave police his name, address, mobile phone number, car registration — everything but his passport,” said Davies, 44, a strong-minded mother of two daughters. “I was basically begging them. He lived five minutes away from us.”
The suspect was finally arrested but acquitted at a trial in which the judge told the jury that he was “in a way a man of good character” because his previous criminal convictions, for possession of stolen goods and marijuana, did not involve violence.
Davies was furious at the judge, who also instructed the jurors to ignore the victim’s young age, and at police, who lost cellphone records that contradicted the defendant’s account.
“This has shattered us,” Davies said. “We felt like the whole system was against us.”
Davies said she was stunned to learn that her daughter’s case was the rule, not the exception. According to government statistics, only 5.7 percent of rapes officially recorded by police in England and Wales end in a conviction.
The police seem to be part of the problem here:
Debaleena Dasgupta, a lawyer who represents [rape victims], said another client filed a complaint against an officer who allowed a man accused of rape to go on vacation before police took his statement. In yet another case, a 38-year-old woman from Cornwall said police interviewed, weeks apart, two men whom she accused of raping her one night, giving them time to coordinate their stories.
But the people sitting on juries may be the bigger part:
It is illegal in Britain to interview jurors — even after a verdict. But public opinion polls show that a sizable proportion — a quarter to a third — of Britons say a rape victim is responsible for the attack if she is drunk or wearing “sexy” clothes.
“As many as one in two young men believe there are some circumstances when it’s okay to force a woman to have sex,” said Conservative Party leader David Cameron, citing studies.
“In my mind,” he said, “this is an example of moral collapse.”
Ya think? Things are a bit better here in the US, but still pretty awful:
In the United States, 13 percent of rape reports end in a conviction.
Category: Crime & the Law |