American justice is very different from British justice. For one thing, it is much more open; often the police release huge tranches of material about alleged offenders and victims. It is not unusual for photographs of dead bodies, even autopsy photographs to show up relatively shortly on-line, obviously to the distress of the friends and families of victims. That could never happen in the UK where with rare exceptions such files are closed for anything up to a hundred years.
Far worse than this though are the pronouncements of police officers and state prosecutors that can often prejudice the accused. An extreme example of this was the case of Cassidy Goodson. In September 2012, this secretly pregnant fourteen year old girl gave birth in the toilet at her home, and killed the baby. Shortly, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd took it upon himself to go on-line and deliver an eight minute plus homily to the effect that this child was a murderess. She did in fact strangle the baby, but in spite of this, in spite of being indicted as an adult, and in spite of her earning an entry in Murderpedia, Cassidy Goodson received a mere 18 month sentence in a plea deal. Was that justice? Clearly Sheriff Judd doesn’t think so, but if we are to dispense with due process, we will all be at the mercy of him and his ilk. We have more than enough lessons from history to show us where this leads.
Cassidy Goodson was a none-too-bright 14 year old girl; Harvey Weinstein is an odious, once powerful movie mogul in his late 60s, so he warrants little in the way of sympathy or compassion, but he does deserve a fair trial. It is doubtful he will be able to receive one after the media lynching he received Monday.
Already facing rape and other charges in New York, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced further charges of offences against two women dating to 2013 including rape. Neither of these alleged assaults was reported to the police until 2017, when the dam broke. She asked for bail to be set at $5 million.
These two were not Weinstein’s only accusers, but after saying she couldn’t comment further on the case at the present time, Lacey referred to them as victims. The rest of the media briefing, which included other officials, was in the same spirit.
She pointed out that statutes of limitations for rape have been abolished in California, but what she didn’t say is that these were eliminated due to the pressure generated by Gloria Allred in her successful witch-hunt of veteran comedian Bill Cosby in which she encouraged literally dozens of women to accuse him, some of them clearly deranged. Allred was assisted in this shameful enterprise by reporting by at times totally uncritical mainstream journalists.
In spite of false allegations of rape being endemic, even without the #MeToo Movement, women – and on occasion men – are being encouraged to come forward with allegations from months, years, decades in the past. We are told these were not reported initially due to trauma, to self-blame, to denial, to fear of not being believed, when far more common is that many self-styled survivors have rewritten their sordid sexual encounters in their tiny minds as rape. Others have false memories, or are simply lying for any of a dozen or a hundred reasons.
Harvey Weinstein will now be in the invidious position of having to prove his innocence, something that is even more difficult than it appears when one considers that people falsely accused of sex crimes from Kelly Michaels in the US to Rolf Harris in the UK have been convicted of impossible acts due to juries and even judges being taken in by bogus tales of trauma and believing the victim regardless of the evidence.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.