Kathy Greenwood: In our biased system, what chance do falsely accused have?
January 1, 2018
Chris Enss' Other Voices piece, "Rushing to Judgment is Costly," makes some good points regarding those accused of sexual molestation.
Ms. Enss states, "Lawyers generally encourage clients to take a plea … because they know a jury moves to convict at such a high rate even with compelling evidence proving the accused innocent. Juries refuse to believe anyone would make such a heinous claim if it weren't true."
Accusers lie for various reasons: e.g., a vengeful ex, someone desperate for attention, false memory.
"Innocent until proven guilty" seemingly does not exist with a sexual molestation charge. Not with the sheriff's office, not with the DA's office, not with a jury, and not with judges. And, "proven" guilty is often wrong. As Ms. Enss states, "Statistics from the Courts of Appeal show a 97 percent conviction rate for anyone accused of sexual molestation."
“A false accusation is the perfect crime.” And, this can happen to any man.
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When accusers are questioned by poorly trained sheriff's office detectives who ask leading questions, leave important questions unasked, and do not question possible witnesses, what chance does the falsely accused have?
When detectives' reports, from which charges are created, do not accurately quote vague or inconsistent statements of the accusers, or the questions requiring only a yes or no answer became the words of the accusers, what chance does the falsely accused have?
When those same reports have inaccurate information including dates which are then used to create charges, or misquotes that later are assumed to be accurate, what chance does the falsely accused have?
Therefore, it is important for the falsely accused to have transcriptions of the interviews of accusers.
I would like to add to Ms. Enss' statement about lawyers encouraging clients to take a plea, that when the District Attorney's office's actions appear to be forcing the falsely accused to take a plea, or winning at any cost when the accused won't take a plea, how can there be justice? When assistant district attorneys behave unethically, withhold evidence, fight to have evidence withheld from a jury, and judges do not hold them accountable, what chance does the falsely accused have? When prosecutors use as many charges as possible for a false accusation, what chance does the accused have? When prosecutors know accusers have changed their stories, sometimes multiple times, and they downplay those changes, what chance does the falsely accused have? For the District Attorney's office there is plenty of evidence this is about winning, not about justice.
When there is absolutely no evidence against the falsely accused, such as pornography in his home or on his computer or cell phone, no suggestive texts, Skypes, letters, recordings, or any other physical evidence, nor was he alone with the accuser and all those facts are not taken into account, what chance does the falsely accused have?
When a public defender does not have the courtroom skills to compete with an aggressive assistant district attorney, what chance does the falsely accused have?
Because in the State of California if two or more girls falsely accuse someone of molestation and the accused is wrongly convicted, the penalty is 15 years to life for each conviction. How can that be called justice?
As Ms. Enss states, "A false accusation is the perfect crime." And, this can happen to any man.
Kathy Greenwood lives in Nevada City.