When Rapists Get a Pass

by Diane Dimond on July 18, 2011

Future President of France or Rapist?

The first order of business for a man accused of rape is to discredit the accuser. If he can paint her as promiscuous or having some sort of shady background the strength of her charges will diminish. This doesn’t, of course, mean the man is innocent but the more dirt that can be dug up on the woman the better his prospects are for acquittal.

This is the way it has always been and the way our legal system allows these types cases to proceed – smear the accuser and you might just get away with it.

Another ugly little secret about pending rape charges is that if the defense team can’t scare the woman away by telling her what they’ve discovered about her past, they then approach prosecutors.

The System Often Re-Victimizes

They lay out the negative information they’ve gathered about the woman and make it clear the jury will hear all about it – dimming the prospect for the prosecutor’s success at trial. After this realization hits, the charges are often dropped and the woman feels victimized all over again.

To be sure, everyone is innocent until proven guilty and there are, indeed, false charges of rape leveled. But once a case goes forward toward court the woman knows the mortifying medical exam she endured will be the least of her humiliations. She will have to relive the crime in front of total strangers. Her friends and family will be questioned about her character. Her life will be picked over like vultures on road kill. Women who press forward with rape complaints are rarely doing it on a lark.

Not The Way It Really Is

Keep the way the system works in mind and then consider this question: Is there to be no justice for a woman with a past who is raped? How about a woman who once served time for, say, check fraud or who once had a drug dealing boyfriend or a woman who was forced to work as a prostitute to survive? When they are sexually attacked does the man get a pass because of her past?

Kobe and Wife at News Conference Admitting Sex

These are not just cerebral questions. They have real life application. Remember the 19 year old hotel staffer who charged NBA superstar Kobe Bryant with rape? She had her sanity questioned, her reputation destroyed and her life turned upside down by Bryant’s high paid investigators. Despite her injuries she ultimately refused to testify at trial and accepted an undisclosed sum in a civil suit payoff.

Now in New York a similar drama is playing out. A 32 year old immigrant from Guinea has accused French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a powerful man who once ran the International Monetary Fund, of grabbing her by the arm and forcing her into a sex act inside the hotel where she worked as a maid. She was intensely interviewed by veteran investigators and because her physical injuries and other evidence appeared so strong Strauss-Kahn was hauled off an Air France jet and arrested.

Attny Ben Brafman and Dominique Strauss-Kahn

He immediately hired one of the most expensive criminal defense firms in Manhattan. Sure enough, it didn’t take long for revelations about the maid’s personal life to surface. Among the allegations: she exaggerated abuse claims to get asylum in America, she had ties to people with criminal backgrounds, she had unexplained deposits coming into her bank account. There were reports she had worked as a prostitute and suddenly there was a story that whatever happened in that room at the Sofitel Hotel in downtown New York had been a consensual act.

As more news reports about the maid’s so called past transgressions surfaced – which I maintain have nothing to do with whether she was sexually assaulted or not – everyone seemed to overlook her physical injuries. After making the charges she was taken to a doctor who ordered an MRI and found a torn shoulder. How does someone come up with such an injury if they hadn’t just been in a struggle? Strauss-Kahn’s side whispered that maybe she already had the injury. Yeah, right.

Manhattan DA, Cyrus Vance Jr. May Drop Case

The real truth of what happened may never be known as it now seems unlikely the case will ever get to court. The Manhattan District Attorney is reportedly poised to drop all charges because the woman ‘just can’t be believed.’  If we’re going to look into people’s backgrounds it should be noted there is another woman who claims Strauss-Kahn similarly sexually attacked her in France in 2003.

It smells of green justice. Green as in the color of the money needed to dig up inflammatory information about those who charge rape. Too often men with money simply make their … um, problem … go away by throwing money at it. And sometimes the women insure this nasty process will continue by taking lump sums to keep quiet. That only allows the perpetrator to roam free to do it again. It’s a travesty all the way around.

Journalist Tristane Banon Says DSK Attacked Her Too

No, not every woman who cries rape is telling the truth. And those who bring false charges should and are being prosecuted for lying to law enforcement. But for those who have been victimized there’s got to be a better, more honest way for the system to help them get justice. We can help by not believing the false spin and realizing even a woman with a past can be raped.



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane August 26, 2011 at 11:39 pm

DD Web Site Reader Christine Leo writes:

“I just wanted to say that I really like your story on how Rapists Get a Pass. I have been thinking the same thing and can’t seem to stop. In fact, the idea the a rape victims past comes into play is so ridiculous that I can’t believe I never noticed before. I have come to the conclusion that I don’t care if a woman is a crack whore, con women, ex-convict, 10 times married and divorced, and loves groups sex on the side at sex clubs, even such distasteful character can still be raped. I don’t even see how it makes any difference on the facts of the incident, it just make no sense.

But thank you for putting it in such nice words, that doesn’t communicate the rage I feel but still communicates the reasons for that rage. The rage is okay but when appealing to a mass audience it is not so palatable.

Just for research I have put a link here to a woman’s article that couldn’t be more different than yours. The reason is because you seem to care about this issue and I thought it might benefit you to see what those with opposing views are purporting and in what manner. I don’t like it one bit,but I will refrain from giving my thoughts on it. But again, this is just for your research since I assume that there are those who might attack you for your article and by reading this one I hope that it helps you prepare for such an occasion. Not that you aren’t a bright woman, I’m sure you are but every bit helps.


Again thank you and best of luck with your writing,
Christine Leo


doug burns September 9, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Excellent article and analysis. At the end of the day, people have to understand the distinction between legal guilt, factual guilt and moral guilt. Just because Cy Vance’s office concluded that they could not prove the case does not mean that the defendant did not factually do the crime and it doesn’t mean he doesn’t bear moral responsibility. However, in fairness, let me say this, having read the entire motion filed by the DA’s office: while it is of course true that the victims prior lies don’t mean she lied now, she did apparently give three different versions of what had happened just after the incident. That, in my view was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back; in other words, the prosecutors concluded that she was being untruthful in THIS case.


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