Articles Tagged with Rape

louis-reed-747388-unsplash-copy-300x200A man entered a 43-year-old woman’s apartment through a back door that she had left open to get some air and sexually assaulted her. A year passed with no suspects. Now, DNA links Christopher Nelson to the crime. He has been denied bail.

Decades of CSI-style TV shows have led the American public to believe that DNA evidence is unimpeachable. Indeed, it provides law enforcement with its best means of tracking individuals to certain crimes. DNA links Nelson to the crime and the woman he assaulted also picked him out of a lineup.

Understanding DNA Evidence in Rape Cases

file000925712800Prostitution has been called the “oldest profession in the world,” probably because it has been around since the beginning of time. Since sex is considered a trade by those involved in the industry, can it therefore be surmised that a sexual assault and battery on a person involved in the industry not be considered a true crime?

Some time ago, a Chicago Sun-Times editor by the name of Mary Mitchell ran an article stating that in her opinion, a sexual assault and battery on a prostitute is nothing more than a “theft of services,” and not a rape. It is Mitchell’s belief that in considering the sexual assault of a prostitute working in the “industry” a rape, did nothing more than minimize the act of rape of “real” victims and, therefore, an insult to those whom she labeled as “real” victims. It begs the question whether Mitchell would also not consider a wife who had been raped by her husband, a “real” victim.

Mitchell proceeded to blame the victim for the assault, because, in her opinion, the very nature of the sex industry meant that the victim was agreeing to exchange sex for money, and by doing so, she also accepted any risk involved. Is she right? See HuffPost Chicago for more on this story.

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Rape and sexual assaults are crimes punishable by long prison sentences and with the “Mark of Cain” following the accused for the rest of his or her life. It can be a destroyer of reputations, and sometimes, of life. But what happens to the accused when the accusation proves to be false?

Rape and Rumors of Rape

In 2014, Rolling Stone Magazine published a story about a horrific 2012 gang rape of a University of Virginia freshman. The article was supposed to expose underreported rape and sexual assaults on campuses and what, if anything, college administrators and society as a whole was doing about it. Members of the fraternity where the alleged rape was supposed to have taken place were all painted with a broad brush as “rapists.” Conversations and debates about this problem went viral, but as it did, more and more people began to question certain facts about the case and the real motive behind Rolling Stone Magazine’s reporting of it. Under intense scrutiny, the facts, or lack thereof, that precipitated the writing of the article eventually fell apart, and Rolling Stone Magazine retracted the story. Its editor left the magazine with the dark cloud of journalistic malpractice following him out the door. See NewYork.com for details about this story.

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Jerad Gale, chosen as “Officer of the Year” for the Champaign Police Department, has been arrested for raping and strangling two different women. Since his arrest, another victim and a former girlfriend have come forward alleging similar crimes were committed against them by Gale, and he faces those charges as well. He was also accused of sexual assault in 2007, but was unable to be prosecuted due to a three-year statute of limitations. Somehow, he was awarded the Officer of the Year honor in spite of this. He is not likely to repeat that award, and in fact, prosecutors are trying to have him named a “sexually dangerous person.”

What is a “Sexually Dangerous Person” in Illinois?

The Illinois Sexually Dangerous Persons Act (“The Act”) defines “sexually dangerous persons” as all persons suffering from a mental disorder for longer than a year who have also “criminal propensities” to commit sex offenses and have either committed prior acts of sexual assault or sexual molestation of children. Pursuant to this definition, the prosecutors in this case are seeking a designation of “sexually dangerous person” for Gale, and his motion to dismiss the petition has been denied.

One of the worst crimes you can be charged with in Chicago is criminal sexual assault, or rape.  Not only does it create a stigma against the person charged, but often results in lengthy prison sentences and lifetime registration as a sex offender.

You may have read in the Chicago Sun Times about the case regarding Carl Chatman.   Mr. Chatman was charged with criminal sexual assault, or rape, by a woman in Chicago.  Mr. Chatman was not only convicted of the charges but sentenced to thirty years in the Illinois Department of Corrections as a result.  Another notable case regarding Edward Szymczak would have had a similar result if he had remained in Chicago for his trial.

Fortunately the prosecutors eventually reviewed the evidence in Chatman’s case and his rape conviction was thrown out, and he was released from prison after 11 years in custody.  Eleven years in custody for a crime Chatman did not commit.  At the same time, prosecutors said they were reviewing the woman’s earlier allegations of rape against Szymczak but had not yet reached a conclusion.

These cases bring up the issue of the accusers and their statements.  How is it that someone can cry rape falsely, an innocent person is charged with a crime, his reputation is ruined and he is sent to prison?  All because someone made a false claim.  And nothing happens to the accuser.

It is an abomination of justice.  The State of Illinois is currently reviewing these practices and possibly deciding what, if anything, an accuser can face.  Many people believe that the accuser should face the same penalties as the accused.  If the accused is facing up to thirty years in prison, so should the accused, that is how serious this is. Continue reading