EDITED TO ADD: Please consider this entire post withdrawn. I deeply regret writing it. I’m leaving it below the fold, for posterity.
[Crossposted to TADA and ALAS. If you’re an MRA, “feminist critic” or anti-feminist, I’d prefer that you not post on the ALAS thread, but you may post on the TADA thread.]
From the New York Times:
Investigators with the Manhattan district attorney’s office learned the call had been recorded and had it translated from a “unique dialect of Fulani,” a language from the woman’s native country, Guinea, according to a well-placed law enforcement official.
When the conversation was translated — a job completed only this Wednesday — investigators were alarmed: “She says words to the effect of, ‘Don’t worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I’m doing,’ ” the official said.
This is not proof that she wasn’t raped by Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
I can easily imagine that a woman who was genuinely raped by a wealthy man might want to get paid off. All sorts of people get raped, saints and sinners and ordinary folks alike.
I can also easily imagine a genuine rape victim who had told many or most of the lies that this woman apparently told. She’s far from the only person who’s ever lied on an immigration form; people who lie on immigration forms can be raped. She did her job, including cleaning Strauss-Kahn’s room, before telling anyone that she had been assaulted. I don’t find it at all difficult to imagine that a rape victim would do that, and lie about it afterward, worried that having acted that way would make her true story seem less credible.
I don’t think anything that’s come up proves that Dominique Strauss-Kahn did not rape his accuser. I suspect he did, frankly. And I definitely don’t want to sign on to a standard that effectively says that an accuser needs to be a saint who has never told a lie in her life, before she can be believed.
However, our justice system rightly has a very high bar for finding criminal guilt. And if I were on a jury, from the evidence that’s been published in the Times today, I’d have to say that there was reasonable doubt. And if the DA decides not to bring this case to trial, that seems reasonable to me, too.1
Before these latest developments came out, Jill wrote:
But I have a hard time believing that a woman with the exact same past would be considered too lacking in credibility had she accused someone of robbing her apartment or mugging her or beating her up. I have a hard time believing that if a man was punched in the face by a stranger on the street that prosecutors would drop the case if it came to light that the victim had cheated on his taxes seven years ago.
I think we’ve now passed the threshold Jill suggests. If a man had accused another man of assault, and was recorded telling a friend “Don’t worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I’m doing,” that wouldn’t be proof that he wasn’t actually punched in the face. (Profiteers can be punched in the face just like anyone else.) But it would be reasonable doubt, in my opinion.
So what if there was never a rape? Then Strauss-Kahn has suffered a monstrous injustice. But the system worked. The cops and prosecution took the accusation seriously, investigated, and then decided there wasn’t enough evidence. That’s the system working, and it doesn’t do much of anything to mitigate the suffering of people who are falsely accused. Which sucks.
And what if Strauss-Kahn did rape this woman? Then she has suffered a monstrous injustice, and it’s going to get even worse for her now that so many people are convinced that she’s a false accuser. And the system probably didn’t work very well. It’s a sad truth that the system will probably never work well, when it comes to prosecuting rapists. It’s too easy for rapists to lie, and to choose victims who will not be found credible. Which sucks.
I’m also worried that if Strauss-Kahn’s accuser is deported because of all this — which could happen regardless of if she was raped — this case is going to have a profound “chilling effect” on rape victims who are immigrants, who will now be more afraid of talking to the police. Which sucks.
In short, no matter what really happened in that hotel room, this case is suck piled on top of suck.
Not really much more to say about it than that.
- Going by the evidence that’s been published in the media. Of course, it’s possible that there’s more evidence that hasn’t been reported on, and it’s also possible that media reports haven’t been accurate. [↩]