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NCJ Number: 50695 Find in a Library
Title: RAPE VICTIM - A VICTIM OF SOCIETY AND THE LAW
Journal: WILLAMETTE LAW JOURNAL  Volume:11  Issue:1  Dated:(WINTER 1974)  Pages:36-55
Author(s): S E MATHIASEN
Date Published: 1974
Page Count: 20
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: BIAS AGAINST RAPE VICTIMS RESULTING FROM EXCESSIVE USE OF CHARACTER AND REPUTATION EVIDENCE IS CALLED DAMAGING TO THE ENTIRE LEGAL SYSTEM. VICTIMS ARE AFRAID TO PROSECUTE AND RAPISTS ARE ENCOURAGED TO CONTINUE THEIR ATTACKS.
Abstract: RAPE LAW IN THEORY AND ITS ADMINISTRATION IN FACT ARE EXAMINED. DISCRIMINATION AGAINST THE VICTIM OF RAPE IS FOUND THROUGHOUT THE LEGAL SYSTEM. ONE OF THE REASONS FOR THE LOW PERCENTAGE OF CONVICTIONS IN RAPE CASES IS THE LENIENT ATTITUDE TOWARD THE USE OF EVIDENCE CONCERNING VICTIM'S CHARACTER, AN ATTITUDE WHICH IS FOUND ONLY IN THE CRIME OF RAPE. SINCE THE TESTIMONY IS GENERALLY HER WORD AGAINST THE RAPIST, THE GENERAL REPUTATION OF THE VICTIM AND HER PREVIOUS SEXUAL EXPERIENCE ARE OFTEN ISSUES RAISED DURING THE COURSE OF THE TRIAL. STATE LAWS ARE UNCLEAR ABOUT THE ADMISSIBILITY OF SUCH EVIDENCE. SINCE THE CONVICTED DEFENDANT USUALLY APPEALS, CLAIMING A TRIAL JUDGE WHO PROHIBITED HIM FROM QUESTIONING THE VICTIM ABOUT HER PAST SEXUAL EXPERIENCE COMMITTED AN ERROR, THE FINAL DECISION ON ADMISSIBILITY OF THIS EVIDENCE IS MADE AT THE APPELLATE LEVEL. THE BIAS AGAINST RAPE VICTIMS IS ALSO EXAMINED AT EACH LEVEL OF THE ARREST-PROSECUTION SYSTEM. THE ATTITUDES OF POLICE, PROSECUTORS, DEFENSE ATTORNEYS, JUDGES, AND JURIES ARE EXAMINED. THE EXPERIENCE IS USUALLY SO DEGRADING THAT THE RAPE VICTIM IS SORRY SHE REPORTED THE CRIME. THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE IN 'BORDERLINE' CASES, CASES IN WHICH A WOMAN MEETS A MAN AT A BAR AND LETS HIM TAKE HER HOME. THE ATTITUDE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE PERSONNEL IS USUALLY 'SHE WAS ASKING FOR IT.' THIS ATTITUDE AFFECTS QUESTIONING, INVESTIGATION, AND THE TRIAL ITSELF. REFORM OF THE LAW IS URGED TO MAKE CHARACTER EVIDENCE INADMISSIBLE AND EVIDENCE OF SPECIFIC SEXUAL ACTS ADMISSIBLE ONLY IF COMMITED WITHIN 1 YEAR OF THE OFFENSE AND JUSTIFIED IN AN IN CAMERA HEARING. THE LAWS OF THE STATES OF WASHINGTON AND OREGON ARE USED AS EXAMPLES. CHANGE IN ATTITUDE BY POLICE AND COURT PERSONNEL IS URGED. EXTENSIVE FOOTNOTES CONTAIN REFERENCES. (GLR)
Index Term(s): Attitudes; Laws and Statutes; Oregon; Police attitudes; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Rape; Reform; State laws; Washington
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=50695

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