In The Courts

DSK Has Credibility Problems Too; Let Jury Decide

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Win or lose, Wendy Murphy says justice demands that a jury consider a hotel worker's charges of sex assault against Strauss Khan and that Manhattan District Attoney Vance finish what he started.

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Plenty of Forensic Evidence

This is not a case where prosecutors doubt whether the incident occurred. The forensic evidence has resolved that question. The only issue is whether the activity was consensual. No matter what either of the individuals involved has done in their lives, the public has a right to expect both to participate in the trial and let the justice process run its course. To conclude otherwise is to reveal to the world what many already believe: that the American legal system is more interested in protecting wealth than women.

Reasonable people want to know from Vance exactly what kind of sex-crime prosecution even has a chance under his authority. He lost the Rape Cop case and now he stands poised to dismiss rape charges against DSK in a case he said only a month ago was very strong and that had lots of forensic evidence that corroborated the victim's description of what happened.

If this is what the public can expect from their elected district attorney, people need to mobilize and vote in a better person who will put the safety of women higher up the ladder of prosecutorial priorities.

The Rape Cop case was a worthy effort, but one juror said a big weakness in the case was the lack of DNA evidence. In this case, there's plenty of DNA evidence. Not only was DSK's semen found on the front of the victim's shirt, there's blood evidence, too, consistent with the victim's description of a violent struggle. Are we to assume that in Vance's jurisdiction, a rape case isn't good enough with or without DNA?

The U.S. legal system has long protected the wealthy over the poor, which is one of the reasons basketball celebrity Kobe Bryant walked away from his criminal rape prosecution while so many low-income black men sit in prison for committing less serious offenses.

Bryant's defense team destroyed the credibility of his accuser before paying her off with a big pile of cash. That same diabolical strategy could play out again here.

If DSK's victim's reputation is destroyed in the court of public opinion, and then she gets a cash "settlement," nobody will care that the criminal charges go away or that a "settlement" in a criminal case is illegal. If the Bryant case is any indication, even victim advocates will celebrate the result with the pathetic "at least she got SOMETHING" mantra. The moral of this disgraceful scenario: Victims who've behaved badly don't deserve fair treatment in law and society.

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Wendy J. Murphy, a contributing editor to Women's eNews, is a law professor at New England Law/Boston and a former prosecutor of sex crimes.

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Well written article, Ms. Murphy! This is an extremely important issue and situation. Ms. Murphy identifies the problems in rape cases, and how these problems are surfacing again in this case. There is no doubt of this rape, yet a man who apparently has raped more than once before might not go to trial because he and others have managed to defame the victim and have most media and public opinion not focus upon his moral and literal failings!
Best wishes to the young woman who was raped, may her life be filled with love and respect.

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