Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Update on ND gang rape victim

File this whole mess under "expected but still upsetting."

I blogged before about a woman ("Nancy") in Mayville, (ND) who came forward saying a group of men gang raped her. The police interviewed her with asinine questions like, "Why didn't you fight back?" and then waited days to visit the apartment where a potential crime occurred. They also waited nearly a week before questioning the four men -- more than enough time for them to get a story together don't you think?

Let me ask you this... if someone came in the police station saying "I was mugged and beaten and I know the person who did it." Would officials wait days before investigating the scene of the crime? Would they wait nearly a week to speak with the accused?

The ONLY explanation for that behavior (other than police incompetence at epic levels) is that the police never believed a crime took place in the first place. This was never a priority. Never taken seriously. The victim was written off before any of this started.

Because of the lack of judgment displayed by investigators, Nancy's case was damaged and county State’s Attorney, Stuart Larson decided he will not press charges against the four men.

Can you guess why?

If you said, “inadequate evidence," give yourself a cookie.

Larson said, “You have four statements that contradict one statement.”

I guess that means that one woman says she was raped, and four men say they didn't rape her. Okay -- I guess the numbers are too overwhelming... case closed. *snark*

Larson also blamed the victim for showering and brushing her teeth-- losing physical evidence.

“I cried and took a shower and brushed my teeth. I felt so gross, used and violated,” the woman wrote in her statement for police.

Even so, Nancy's rape kit showed signs of forced, non-consensual sex including "lacerations, bruising and bleeding.”

Still, Larson said, "Even if physical evidence had been obtained, there still would be the burden of proving the sex was not consensual. Making such an argument, in this case, is a challenge since the alleged victim went into the situation seeking consensual sex."

Yeah. She sought consensual sex with ONE person. Then when another man jumped on top of her, she said, "STOP, I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS"-- then it became non-consensual. I don't understand why that's so hard for Larson to comprehend. Perhaps he needs a class in semantics before he continues to represent victims?

Larson also said the case was damaged because Nancy sent her husband a text message as she was leaving the apartment, “I’m on my way home. I’m fine.”

Which could mean, "Hey, I'm alive, don't worry."

After all, one of the attackers called her husband during the attack to taunt him.

That night, Craig, who was in South Dakota where he was working with a harvesting crew, got a call from someone he thinks was one of the four men. The caller told him his wife was having sex with several men.Craig initially thought it was a prank.“I didn’t know what to believe at first,” he said. “Then, I started to think … ‘What the heck’s going on here?’ because that ain’t something my wife would do.”

Larson was also quoted as saying that the investigation unearthed “all kinds of doubt.”

Doubt that you could perform your job like a competent human being perhaps?

Mr. Larson did such a bang up job that the ND state attorney general is stepping in. This could mean nothing, the attorney general's office could still verify that Larson made the right call or ... they could actually just MAKE THE RIGHT CALL and prosecute.

Regardless of the outcome, it's clear that Larson and officers involved need a reprimand. A victim of a violent crime was interviewed and asked victim-blaming questions. Potential rapists were given days to clean up a crime scene and nearly a week to solidify their story. AND --- biggest shocker of all--- Larson LIED when he said he reviewed all the evidence.

He said he reviewed the results of a sexual assault exam, the police statements from Nancy and the men and reports from the Mayville Police, sheriff’s department and the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

He forgot to mention he didn't get the DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHS taken of Nancy's injuries -- bruising, bleeding & lacerations including a swollen lip. Copies of those photos weren't picked up from the evidence room of the Fargo Police Department until all of the evidence went to the state attorney general. If it weren't for Nancy's husband asking for justice, these photos would still be sitting there.

Even with this new discovery, Larson claims he made the right call. Apparently there's STILL a lack of evidence, despite ... you know... EVIDENCE. Not to mention a complaining victim.

I could have a shred of sympathy for this man if he admitted failure. Failure of epic proportions to do his job in a way that served the victim and the safety of our community. But he doesn't apologize. He continues to say that it's the victim's fault-- why? For not being perfect enough. If she had gone into the bar in a nun outfit, rather than looking for sex (as adult woman are legally allowed to do). If she had fought back like wonder woman (instead of 'letting it happen to her.") If she hadn't showered off the shame of her brutal attack (and just went and followed the rules like a robot). If she just had a better character... he could do his job and bring these men before a jury. But it's toooo harrdddddddd.

When the Grand Forks Herald called the Mayville Police to ask why the digital photographs we never picked up, their call was not returned.
Yeah. I bet it wasn't

If you would like to write a letter on behalf of "Nancy Peterson" (an alias) and the potential future rape victims of North Dakota....

click to enlarge

Stuart A. Larson
Attorney at Law
P.O. Box 847
Hillsboro, ND 58045-0847

PS: Any comments on this story that blame the victim will not be published. Find yourself a rapists-r-us chatroom and get the hell off my blog.


Bob King said...

I love your comment policy.
Stay outraged - because this is outrageous.

Oh, and you know the beauty of all of this? This sort of story does not end up buried in microfilm vaults like it did when I was your age. From now until doomsday, this story will be at anyone's fingertips, anywhere.

...like, you know, around election time. :>

Anonymous said...

It's outrageous that something like this would happen today. I hope all the police officers who (mis) handled Nancy's case are punished.

Anonymous said...

Shocking story, I never, and WILL never get use to that kind of stupidity. I send a email, how that other will do the same.

Anonymous said...

Thank you-- e-mail sent. I'll let you know if there's any reply.

Tobes said...

Thanks so much you guys! DO let me know if you hear any response. I am in contact with the victim, Nancy... and I'd love to let her know what you guys get :)

clio said...

Can't help wondering which one (or more) of the assailants is related to Mr.Larson...