Chris Enss: Rushing to judgment is costly | TheUnion.com

Chris Enss: Rushing to judgment is costly

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Chris Enss

These days men are being accused of sexual misconduct and assault at a rate that rivals the number of times the Skipper blamed Gilligan for the millionaire, his wife, the movie star, the professor, and Mary Ann's inability to get off that tropical island.

Every day the deviant kinks of men in political office, newsrooms, on television shows, and running film companies are exposed. Pun definitely intended.

With all the accusations being leveled on a daily basis it's easy to believe every accuser without question. That's a dangerous practice. Some accusers lie and their reasons vary. It's easy to forget a person is innocent until proven guilty. Rushing to judgment is costly.

Statistics from the Courts of Appeal show a 97 percent conviction rate for anyone accused of sexual molestation. Lawyers generally encourage clients to take a plea amend such allegations because they know a jury moves to convict at such a high rate even with compelling evidence proving the accused innocence. Juries refuse to believe anyone would make such a heinous claim if it weren't true.

Poor taste and bad manners are not assault. These are frightening times.

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A legal battle is hugely expensive and most people can't afford it so they take a plea. But even if you had an unlimited amount of cash, the best legal defense in the nation, and you happen to win your case the stink from such an accusation will never leave you. A false accusation is the perfect crime.

Years ago I volunteered to mentor for a local organization to help a teenage girl write a short story. The first day I met with the young woman to discuss her work she shared with me that her science teacher was "giving her grief" about her homework and if he didn't stop she was going to say he molested her. The teenager knew exactly what she was doing and could not be talked out of such an action.

The science teacher had never touched her, but she was well aware that it didn't matter. She knew he would have to take a leave of absence pending an investigation and that her homework problem would cease to be at that point.

I recently heard an accuser make a statement about the difficulties in coming forward with claims of sexual harassment or assault because their entire lives are then exposed and subject to question. People who claim they saw a person murder another human being are held to the same scrutiny. A good investigator will want to know if the witness wears glasses, is on hallucinogenic medications, if they're prone to seeing things, if they knew the accused, etc., etc. And shouldn't it be that way? Don't you want authorities to fully investigate such claims? What investigator simply takes the word of anyone accusing someone of a crime?

An accusation of sexual misconduct or rape takes from the alleged perpetrator everything they are and everything they are ever going to be. Women making claims should be questioned like any other witness should be questioned. It ridiculous to think the accuser should get a pass because of their gender and frightening to know there are those who think all an accusers should be required to provide is the accusation.

I've been in situations as a grown woman where grown men in position of authority act like idiots and make unwanted, sexual advances. I regard them as bullies. I've told them so and I kept my distance from them. And that's my next point.

Everything isn't a criminal act. Someone shoving his tongue down a person's throat during the rehearsal of a skit for a USO Tour is inappropriate and a good kick to the groin is called for, but it isn't a crime and shouldn't even be mentioned in the same category with someone who has been assaulted.

The legal definition of assault is: An assault is carried out by a threat of bodily harm coupled with an apparent, present ability to cause the harm. Poor taste and bad manners are not assault.

These are frightening times.

Chris Enss lives in Grass Valley. She is the author of The Trials of Annie Oakley, and other books about the Old West. Visit http://chrisenss.com/author/ for information.

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