Tuesday, April 19, 2016

When an Accused Sex Abuser is Innocent

Alan Dershwoitz (Breitbart)
This is one of those times when blaming the ‘victim’ was justified.  Famed attorney and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz was accused of sexual assault last year by a woman know only as Jane Doe #3.  He denied the claims.

Ordinarily someone accused of sexual misconduct will do that. Has there ever been a sex offender that admitted his crime? If he wasn’t caught, he will deny it. So when Dershowitz denied it, skepticism prevailed. After all the vast majority of sex abuse accusations are valid. So  denial by the accused is standard operating procedure. For me that tainted the reputation of someone I admired. Mostly for his principled stand supporting Israel.

When a man of his stature does that, it means a lot more than if I do it. Especially when a liberal like Dershowitz does the defending. But after he was accused, I saw him more as a liability than an asset. Who wan’t an accused sex offender defending anything I believe in?

Well here is what was reported in Breitbart:
(Jane Doe #3’s attorneys Bradley Edwards and Paul Cassell) acknowledge that it was a mistake to have filed sexual misconduct accusations against Dershowitz and the sexual misconduct accusations made in all public filings (including all exhibits) are hereby withdrawn.”
This was after Dershowitz filed papers proving that he couldn’t have been where the misconduct took place at the time it was reported to have happened.

I guess that’s the kind of proof you need when you are accused of a sex crime.

I have not been reticent to call out our own religious community about its slow uptake in how sex abuse should be treated. Far too often the accused is believed over the victim. Especially when the accused is a respected member of the community with no known history of abuse. That it might have gone on for years in secret does not occur to his defenders. Denials by the accused are not only believed, but often result in further victimization of the victim. And if a family members gets involved – like when a father believes his son and reports the abuse to the police - he can be accused of the actual abuse. This happened in at least one case I know about in Lakewood. Fortunately that family has survived and to the best of my knowledge is doing well. Some (but not all) of the father's accusers have apologized to him.

But every once in awhile the accuser gets it wrong. And sometimes it is an outright lie that was made for personal gain. I don’t know that this was he case with Jane Doe #3. But if I had to guess, I would say that there was probably either a financial motive… or that she is just plain mentally disturbed. After all she also accused Britain’s Prince Andrew and former President Bill Clinton.

But her lawyers believed her nonetheless. And they were going to extract justice. Probably in financial terms.  

I guess what I’m trying to say is that even in a climate where victims are usually right and often mistreated by a community that defends an accused abuser that is likely guilty… even though life-long struggles that occur to people that were abused (hence their preference to be called survivors) when these things happen to people… there is still the very real possibility that someone was falsely accused… and when that happens not always can he disprove those allegations the way Dershowitz did. And that will result in devastating consequences - not only for the accused but for his family as well. Not to mention that when things like this happen, it can hurt the credibility of future victims of abuse.