This is a tale for our times like nothing we’ve yet known.
If you were accused of sexual assault at a party last week what would you do? If you’re guilty I guess you’d try to arrange a settlement. What if it’s a baseless claim? You did no such thing. The charge came out of nothing. Somebody’s lying. Then what will you do?
Fortunately, there were people there who know you. You talked to them at the party. They saw you and they mostly know what you did while you were there. They can testify about what they saw. The accuser, who must have also been there, saw friends and probably talked to them. They can testify as to what they saw. In fact, since you are not guilty, nearly everyone at the party can testify that you mingled with everyone else and they don’t believe any sexual assault took place. At least they didn’t see anything of the sort. It being the sort of party that it was, mostly people in their forties and fifties, sexual assaults at such occasions are fairly rare.
The party-goers might have included friends who have known you for years. Assuming you are a normal person who does not go around womanizing and hitting on women who’ve given you no encouragement, they can probably testify to your good character. In most social circles any member who can’t keep his hands to himself will likely be known for that trait by all.
Senator Joe Biden, for example, is well known for his unwanted and questionable touching of females. Ted Kennedy and Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd were well know for their invention of the “waitress sandwich.” Accusing Bill Clinton of inappropriate behavior around women would be like accusing Elizabeth Warren of lying about her ethnic heritage.
If you go to trial on the charge and introduce evidence of your good character, then evidence of your bad character, if any exists, can also be admitted. Let’s assume you’re a good guy and you have no fear that any witness can or will come forward to say otherwise. Even if anything of that sort is trumped up you have ample witnesses to testify that they know your reputation in the community, and it’s good.
What if the claim is so vicious and stupid at to allege you sexually assaulted someone a party in which you did not even attend. If it was just last week you’d probably be able to show exactly where you were at the time of the party. The credibility of the accuser would instantly evaporate.
But now for the hard question. What if the accusation relates not to a party held last week, but to a party from 36 years ago when you were a 17-year old high school student? How do you definitively defend yourself now?
To defend against a claim so ancient and stale is difficult if not impossible. Let’s make it even worse. What if the judge and at least half the members of the jury are people who hate your guts for unrelated reasons that are fueled by their own self interest.
If those who will determine your fate are extremely partisan and biased they will not be moved by evidence from multiple sources about your stellar career, your professionalism, your reputation for treating other people with dignity and respect. That’s too bad because it’s just about all the evidence you’ll be able to present.
You’ll have a hard time establishing a solid alibi for where you were on a certain date at a certain place 36 years ago. It get’s even tougher if the accuser says she can’t remember the date, not even the month when it happened. Nor can she remember exactly where it happened.
She has no explanation as to why no one who knows her says she ever told them anything about the incident. She never mentioned it in all the hundreds of conversations they’ve had over the years. Some of those conversations were with close trusted friends. Still no mention of any sexual assault, ever. Yet, she claims she has suffered mentally and emotionally since that fateful day. Even though she cannot remember when or where it happened. When asked how sure she is that you and only you are the one who molested her, she answers…“100 percent.”
But none of this matters in a court where due process of law and innocent until proven guilty have been abandoned and replaced by some new jurisprudence holding that female sexual accusers must always be believed. That is an imbalance of power seldom encountered except in novels like Franz Kafka’s The Trial where Joseph K is charged with a crime solely on the word of an unknown accuser and based upon an unknown crime.
If you are a man or boy, you will just have to hope this never happens to you. Stay out of the lime light is the best advice anyone can give you. That’s where very bad things happen.
The title for this post was inspired by Mark Steyn. He uses it for the stories he highlights at SteynOnline. I hope Mark doesn’t mind me using it. The feature image for this post is Composition IV
by Wassily Kandinsky.