The Problem of American Rape Laws in U.S. (may trigger)

Discussion in 'Soap Box' started by Mordeci, Mar 29, 2012.

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  1. Mordeci

    Mordeci Banned Member

    Recently there was a big case in NYC about a rape by of a young women. The issue with the case wasn't that he forced himself on her in a sexual way, he admitted he (Pena) did, but rather if he actually commited rape under the letter of the law. It may seem a bit confusing what I am getting at here, so here is the evidence at trial and the defense argument:


    The Bronx school teacher identified Pena in the courtroom and testified that he raped and sodomized her at gunpoint and threatened to shoot her if she resisted.

    A witness said he saw Pena from 12 feet away raping her on a wooden table.

    Another witness heard her shout “No! No! No!” and saw “joyless” sex from her window.

    An emergency room doctor said redness on her vagina was consistent with rape.

    DNA evidence from Pena’s semen found on her underwear.


    The law says the prosecution has to prove penetration.

    He admitted assaulting the woman, but insisted there was no vaginal penetration — therefore no rape.

    No DNA evidence of Pena was found inside the woman.

    When the ER doctor was cross-examined, he couldn’t say with certainty when the redness on the victim’s vagina was caused.

    Pena lawyer said the witness was too far away to see if the officer penetrated the woman.

    Pena’s lawyer questioned the victim’s account as well, repeatedly asking her how she knew she was being raped.

    Eventually the jury convicted him on sexual assult, but were deadlocked on everything else, including rape. As a result he has a chance to get out of jail later in life, but if convicted of rape they would be no chance of release (he was charged under state law, and sexual assult still holds a life imprisonment possablity but statsitcally not nearly as high as a rape conviction). Because of the circumstances of him being a cop he will likly spend the rest of his life in jail but the case highlights how hard it is to get a conviction of rape in the United States.
  2. total eclipse

    total eclipse SF Friend Staff Alumni

    i think then the dam law needs to be changed so the victims do not have to suffer so greatly what a sick thing this is his word alone that he raped her should have been enough to get him put away for life
  3. snarrylover

    snarrylover Well-Known Member

    It's hard to get a conviction in a lot of countries. The law is designed to protect the accused, and not the victim. A former friend of mine actually does a lot of campaigning about this issue in the UK. She has a facebook page set up for this very reason (!/stopthemyths ) with links to other pages that deal with the same thing.

    To us it seems very obvious she was raped, and it probably does to the jury. But the law protects the accused and so it is very hard to get full convictions. There has to be no doubt whatsoever. Rape convictions are very rare and it's disgusting.
  4. Issaccs

    Issaccs Well-Known Member

    Its unfortunate that the bureaucracy of law is so often crippling to provision of justice, but I have to wonder how a jury could be convinced nothing happened.
    I just wish the sentencing guidelines where more lax so a judge could deal give a harsher sentence.
    Its also about time some respect was afforded to the victims in court, seems incredibly odd to me the imbalance of protections afforded.
  5. FrainBart

    FrainBart Staff Alumni

    It's disgusting that people can get away with it like that, even though he got some conviction. However it makes women a lot less likely to go to the police when they are raped.
  6. Mordeci

    Mordeci Banned Member

    I just used this case as an example, there is a million stories like it, but in this particular case someone on the jury who probably shouldnt of been (the juror had political connections to the police department) convinced a couple of jurors that because the victim couldnt remeber the color of the car that was in view when she was being raped, she wasnt a reliable witness, and deadlocked the jury on rape and other charges,
  7. Issaccs

    Issaccs Well-Known Member

    In which case let us add new meaning to the term "hung jury".
  8. Raven

    Raven Guest

    Find a tree and a rope, I have no sympathy for people that do such things
  9. Lovecraft

    Lovecraft Well-Known Member

    I think the people in here are really underestimating the extent to which that guys life was ruined by being convicted of "sexual assault". It's not like he got away with it by any means, he still has to serve time and will forever have a mark on his criminal record that will make it just about impossible for the guy to get a good job.

    I agree that from a semantic position it's more reasonable than not to say he raped her, not sexually assaulted her - that said I don't think that it's reasonable at all to think that his current sentence is light.
  10. FrainBart

    FrainBart Staff Alumni

    Yes that may be so, however, how badly has that girls life been ruined, she now has the stigma of being a liar, and a manipulative girl, and a schemer... etc. Everywhere she goes people are going to look at her worse than what people would look at him. Not only that but she will have the trauma of what had happened to her for the rest of her life. So all in all... the perpetrator has gotten a light sentence, no where near what he should have gotten for what he has done to her.
  11. Lovecraft

    Lovecraft Well-Known Member

    I think that anybody that is close enough to her to know about the incident is also close enough to know that she didn't lie about being raped. Indeed, even if a court proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that there wasn't penetration, I doubt many people would call her deceptive or a schemer for desribing forced sexual contact as "rape" despite the fact it was legally a sexual assault.

    I think the only shame she'll get is from herself trying to work through the trauma or from people that, whether the court convicted him of rape or not, would think less of her for it having happened.

    I really don't think that, from the perspective of the girl trying to recover, it was material whether the guy got charged with sexual assault or rape.

    Well that engenders the question: "What is the purpose of the criminal justice system?" If you believe that a criminal court's purpose is to dole out sentences designed to cause pain and loss to try and get even with the criminal, sure I guess you could call it pretty light with justification.

    If you think the purpose of the system is to reform people that are not suited to the modus operandi of the society - or at least humanely contain said people if they prove unwilling to reform - then you think the idea of a fixed jail term for any given breach of the law inherently unjust.
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