A disturbing, and compellingly written, ESPN article that I strongly recommend.
The lacrosse case shone a light on the guilty-until-proven-innocent nature of rape law: the idea that someone can be, theoretically, convicted solely on the basis of an accuser’s testimony and ID—even in the face of evidence of actual innocence—is chilling. Our criminal justice system supposedly is built on the idea that better nine guilty go free than one innocent person be convicted; with sexual assault law, the reverse seems to hold true.
The reason, of course, arises from the (probably correct) belief that sexual assault is underreported. But then feminists and “tough-on-crime” legislators made a fatal leap: that if the law is changed to make a conviction more likely, more real victims will be likely to report the “crime.” That might be true—but it also leads to situations like the one in the ESPN article, where the evidence for conviction appears very, very flimsy.
One other point: this was an allegation of a rape by a black athlete of a woman of uncertain ethnicity*. The case attracted little national media attention—part of a pattern I profiled here, in which the media attention to the lacrosse case was wildly disparate to media attention of allegations of sexual assault by minority athletes. In the Santa Barbara case, media political correctness appears to have helped perpetuate an injustice—if a California version of Joe Neff had been on the case from the start, perhaps a different outcome would have occurred.
Hat tip: E.D., J.Z.