Archive for the ‘ US ’ Category

Some deserving messengers…

Belying the parting shot (literally!) at the end of my last post, here are a few interesting articles regarding the DSK case or rather, now it’s been dismissed, the ‘affair’. 

  • Clyde Haberman, who writes a blog hosted on the New York Times website, gives a stern but fair account of the unravelling of the case, both regarding the legal proceedings but also the wider context of what has happened, or seems to have happened… 
  • This article in the Independent is a more emotional account of why rape victims must have flawless past to get justice. It’s not just because of procedure governing the criminal trial though, and has much to do with the way rapists ‘pick’ their victim in the first place (hint: it’s not the ‘pretty’ or ‘sexy’ ones…). This is an important and rarely considered point, though the way Joan Smith applies it to the DSK/Diallo case is not exactly fair to the prosecutor. She asks: 
Are prosecutors really saying that anyone who has lied on an asylum application cannot be considered a credible witness in an unrelated matter, no matter how many years later and regardless of forensic evidence supporting their claims?
Although she obviously sees this as a rhetorical question, it is in fact not what the prosecutors are saying in their decision… If that were the case, it would indeed
be setting the bar too high, as well as sending a message that some potential victims cannot expect the protection of the law.
  • And, finally, from across the smaller pond, an article (in French) by an American lawyer reminding all those envious of such an expeditious and seemingly fair criminal justice system. Not only was a powerful and influential man arrested within a few hours of his being accused of rape by a chambermaid, but in four months, and after only a few days in prison, the case was resolved. However, as Mr Greenfield reminds us, it is 
but another example of a horribly imperfect system, upon which many lives depend, which has just had the good fortune of working well this time…
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All’s fair in sex and law?

I’m going to make a wild assumption here, and guess that most of you won’t have read the ‘Recommendation for Dismissal’ filed in the case of the People of the State of New York against Dominique Strauss Kahn… And to be honest, it feels like many journalists haven’t either.

Which is a shame though, as it makes for a very interesting and instructive reading. It is hard enough to get any sense in stories of rape accusations, and even more so when there are politics and power involved. Which is why the motion to dismiss is impressive in its clarity and pedagogy to explain why the charges against Mr Strauss Kahn were dropped, point by point.

The proceedings

The initial important thing to remember is that nothing has been decided. The dismissal of the case does not indicate guilt or innocence, it merely indicates that there is not enough reliable evidence to put the case to a jury. The case can always be opened again one day if new evidence comes to light, or indeed if the complainant decides to bring a complaint in France.

However, in the meantime, the charges are dropped, and now that the court of appeal of New York has rejected the request for a ‘special prosecutor’ to be appointed, DSK will soon be free to go as he pleases, which will probably be back to France.

But what of the evidence you might say? Hasn’t Ms Diallo been vilified because she happened to have lied years ago on her asylum claim and she kept dubious company? Isn’t the physical evidence overwhelming, including vaginal bruising, semen and DNA samples around the suite and even blood?
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Pervert Etiquette

The Duke of York’s unfortunate social agenda has hit the headlines recently, from the offspring of dictators, to Arab sheikhs and other unsavoury characters… One ‘friend’ in particular has excited much attention from the media: Jeffrey Epstein, american billionaire (or is it millionaire?) playboy.

The press has used many titles when referring to this gentleman, yet one must be meticulous when discussing royal relations. And so I’ve found myself wondering: what is the adequate etiquette and should Mr Epstein be referred to as a convicted sex offender, a paedophile or just a plain pervert?

What’s in a name?

The term preferred by the tabloids seems to be ‘paedophile’, although it should be pointed out that this is not a legal term, more of an honorific title I guess.

As a medical diagnosis, paedophilia is typically defined as a psychiatric disorder in adults or late adolescents (persons age 16 and older) characterized by a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children, which generally means 13 years or younger. So a paedophile would be someone who has been diagnosed with having these particular urges, although he or she might not have acted on it.

As a journalistic diagnosis (generally of the tabloidistic speciality), the definition of the term seems to be slightly different and a paedophile tends to be male, middle aged and sexually attracted to children or teenagers.

As a legal diagnosis, there is no such thing as a paedophile, although one can be convicted and sentenced for ‘child sex offences’ for certain sexual interactions with children. As it turns out, our distinguished subject has not been so far convicted of sexual abuse against a child, though he is a convicted sex offender.

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