This is like an episode from Law and Order: SVU.
So basically, a woman claims that an officer raped her while the other stood guard after they helped her home while she was drunk. The article’s tone was pretty careful and neutral, but to me, it just seems like the officers used clout and loopholes to get out of this. I mean, his behavior was scandalous. He admits to cuddling with her while she was in a bra. He says she came onto him (but even if she did, he’s a public servant and she is drunk). She claims no such thing; despite the hazy details, she believes that she has been raped. That’s not a claim to be taken lightly.
The evidence is weird. There are times where the officer in question said and did some things to the woman that indicates that he did rape her (such as reentering the building 3 times and later claiming to have worn a condom during a private conversation with her. That conversation was later brushed over as “lies” the officer fabricated in order to prevent the woman from making a scene.)
What frustrates me is rather than looking into the misconduct of the policemen, the defense focused on the “prosecutors’ theory of rape” or “whether the woman was too drunk to consent to sex.” Regardless of whether the two had sex or not, “they had to prove that the woman was physically unable to consent to sex, meaning that she was either unconscious or unable to speak when she was penetrated.” Okay, sure. Fine. But then it gets shady.
Defense lawyers pointed to surveillance footage of the woman walking on her own as she entered the building in front of the officers as evidence that she was conscious and able to communicate. They also contrasted what the woman told some friends shortly after the alleged rape — that she thought she was raped — with the certainty that she was expressing on the witness stand. Her spotty recollection of that night, the defense said, was enough to raise reasonable doubt over whether she was raped.
And just like that, they’re acquitted of everything except for “three counts of misconduct.” A slap on the wrist. And that’s the central point for their acquittal, which surprised me, because for some reason I thought DNA evidence would free them. I guess I’ve watched too much TV.
But you know, who knows? Maybe she did make the entire story up. Maybe she’s a great actress and it’s easy for her to break down on the stand. Maybe her memory was all messed up. Only the two officers really know the truth behind her claims.
Lastly, another reason I’m saddened and upset is because the way the headlines seem to have put it, the officers were “innocent” of the charges. But they’re not. They’re not innocent at all. Maybe he didn’t rape her, but he most definitely did not perform in a manner worthy of his title… and if the defense had any inkling of foul play, they should not be defending these men. AT ALL! I mean, isn’t that obvious?
I guess though, there’s so much more wrong with this whole picture. That this had to happen at all, that this situation even existed, that it is American custom to get wasted in celebration, that people use drunkenness for intimacy (and consent vs. non-consent is determined the next day), that modesty and propriety is seen as fuddy-duddy and not as a protection mechanism, that it’s “every man for himself”, that one doesn’t think to protest in the face of wrong, that the idea of justice, right and wrong, is all muddled — it’s all wrong. You should know that. You do know that. Don’t you?