By Barbara Gale & Larry Neely….
Victims’ advocates, particularly those who advocate for victims of sexual assault, argue that we should always believe the victim’s story. Simply believing a person who claims to be a victim of a criminal offense is extremely dangerous. A good case to support this is the story of Ryan Lochte and the three other American swimmers who claimed they were robbed at gunpoint in Rio last week. Now that the alleged robbery has proven to be a hoax, it is time to call attention to the danger of taking allegations at face value. Individuals do make false allegations, including those alleging sexual assault, and the unfortunate outcome is that innocent people are sometimes convicted of crimes they did not commit.
If you haven’t followed the situation, Ryan and three other swimmers competing in the Rio Olympics fabricated a story about being robbed at gunpoint by law enforcement officers. The story has now unraveled, and it turns out that Lochte and the others were out drinking and vandalized the restroom facilities after leaving a bar. They fabricated the story in an attempt to cover up their own criminal behavior. When Lochte first spoke to media, his recollection of the event wasn’t credible. He claimed that the “policeman” held a gun to his head and cocked it while ordering him to get on the ground. Lochte said the others complied but he refused because he had not done anything wrong, and then he said to the policeman, “Whatever.” No rational person tells someone holding a cocked gun to your head “whatever.” You plead for your life, argue, cry, but you don’t say, “Whatever.”
The Brazilian authorities did exactly what should have been done; they investigated. They took the swimmers’ statements and initiated a thorough investigation, which included obtaining video showing the four reentering the Olympic Village. They obtained cell phone records and thoroughly interrogated the four athletes. There were so many inconsistencies in their respective recollections that the authorities announced they doubted the incident ever occurred.
This incident clearly illuminates why it is vital that we not just simply believe a person when an allegation is made. If Brazilian authorities had without question believed the swimmers’ accounts of the supposed event, innocent people could have been arrested and convicted of a crime that did not happen.
The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of confrontation and vigorous cross examination of those making criminal accusations. This is a vital component of our system of justice, yet victims’ advocates have been successful in limiting this fundamental right. Many consider defense attorneys evil and immoral – just looking for loopholes to get the accused off. This is utter nonsense. It is the job of a defense attorney to vigorously challenge the recollection and conflicting statements of witnesses, in particular the alleged victim. A defense attorney who fails to do so is derelict in his or her duty to the accused and should not be practicing criminal defense law. Those who say otherwise do not understand our adversarial system or appreciate the defense attorney’s role.
It is fortunate in this case that the Brazilian authorities did their job thoroughly and quickly discredited the bogus allegations. What might the result have been if they had simply believed the accusers? Even though the hoax was discredited early enough that no one was arrested and deprived of his liberty, significant damage was done. First, the city of Rio was using its resources chasing a boogeyman that did not exist. Secondly, there was significant international embarrassment. Thirdly, it is not possible to quantify the fear this caused all around the Olympic Village that undoubtedly caused economic repercussions to businesses. Finally, it is truly sad that a great athlete such as Lochte would jeopardize his future and his own economic interests by conducting himself in such an irresponsible way. Sponsors aren’t likely to want to promote their business with the assistance of a liar.
Whenever there is an allegation of a crime, it should be thoroughly investigated. There are many reasons why individuals lie about situations and circumstances. We can’t “just believe” the victim. We must be sure before we deny anyone his or her personal liberty. Our country depends on it. Our lives depend on it. The next lie might be about you.
21 Thoughts to “U.S. Olympic swimmers’ lies unravel under scrutiny : The danger of simply believing”
Funny…when i heard about the robbery hoax i immediately thought of sex abuse allegations. Why do people who aren’t actually victims of a crime want to claim victim-hood? Attention? Money?
Recently i heard a podcast on the show “Reveal” where the creator of the radio show, Tennessee Watson, decided to file sexual abuse charges against her former gymnastics coach who she claims abused her when she was 7. The tone of the story was how frustrating it is to not get “justice”. So….25 years after a crime occurred (and by the way her father was there during the lessons- she claims the abuse happened behind a screen) she expects what?
Do we really want a category of crime where all one needs to be convicted is uncorroborated testimony from one individual? Where there is no statute of limitations and one is to completely trust decades-old memories from early childhood?
Does anyone remember the “recovered memory syndrome” craziness back in the 80’s? People were being hypnotized by a therapist who specialized in recovering “lost” memories and then claiming they could recall bizarre events that happened in their childhood- satanic rituals which involved them being sexually assaulted by their own father, for example. Their testimony sent several people to prison over allegations that were completely untrue. How could any respectable judge accept such crap? The things they claimed happened was like Nathanial Hawthorne’s ‘Young Goodman Brown’- except with incest and psycho-babble.
Don’t tell me to always believe the victim. Sometimes they lie. Victims are humans too.
I’m absolutely in favor of punishing abusers. However, we need to still protect the rights of the accused. Just because it’s a sex crime should not mean “guilty until proven innocent”.
If you haven’t heard about “recovered memory syndrome” please look it up.
These lies were created by just a few men, the lies created to formulate and enact sex registry laws was done by just as many, the U.S. Supreme Court with support from every branch of our government.
Lies have a lot of power, especially in this nation. In random articles and legal case books you can find out how many judges and lawyers are alcoholics, drug addicts, power freaks, etc. How many are routinelly sanctioned and disbarred. How many terrible decisions they have made. Its rampant.
The point is what happened in Rio happens here everyday, everywhere.
Speaking about the U.S. Constitution is almost anethema to the judicial branch. They want power, as much as the rest of the government want. The law is what they say it is.
We live in a nation of victimhood and judges now determine who the victims will be. Just hope you never fall under their power, cause your life is over.
Power. Its a satisfying feeling of power and control to a narcissist when they can so completely destroy another person just to show them. THESE people completely lack empathy and possess a strong sense of entitlement.
Good idea, let’s start “victim shaming.” That should get us a lot of support. It is against the law to lie to Law Enforcement. Of course someone lying that they were abused is horrible, but likening it to someone lying in order to cover up felonies committed while in a black out is a bit of a stretch.
Who’s advocating for victim shaming? Felonies committed in a blackout? Not sure i’m following you….
To me, the point is that it’s dangerous to accept allegations that a crime occurred without doing any real investigating. Is it fair to charge and convict someone of a crime based on the uncorroborated testimony of one person? With no evidence and no witnesses?
The story of the Olympic swimmers is, to me, just another high profile example of false criminal allegations. There’s been plenty of well-publicized examples of false sexual abuse allegations- Duke University’s Lacrosse Team and the University of Virginia case that was printed in the Rolling Stone just to name a few. Lot’s of other cases out there that, to me, seem to be very questionable. Do a google search of “false sex abuse allegations” and see what comes up.
Of course we don’t want to shame victims. It’s just that being charged/convicted of a sex crime is SO serious- maybe more so than murder- that we need to be very careful when pressing these charges.
As far as sex abuse allegations- do we want a category of crime that only requires the uncorroborated testimony of a single individual to secure a conviction?
Ok d I didn’t want to comment on this article all of you all need to realize that nobody is an angel. Sure teenagers are going to lie just like adults if they get into a situation that they think they can’t handle but truth is always the best.
This article is sort of mixed with cynicism about these boys and you know we all lie at one time or another and that’s even quoted in the bible.
Ok sure I had a potty mouth. Sure I went down there. Sure they (authorities) clicked onto me the second night. — Two wrongs don’t make a right—-
It is impossible that offenses do come, but woe to him thru whom they come. You see d you can do anything in life you want but when someone offends YOU than that’s a different matter all together.
Do the math people you can do anything you want but nobody forces it down your throat or creates an opportunity to force it down your throat.
This internet sex sting operation is a golden opportunity to set the world back on its axis as it is the most unjust thing man has come up with.. One needs heavy hitters in this sex ordeal that all of us are going thru.
People need to read this article ->
ya, that’s messed up.
Curiously, it seems that everyone wants to accept the lies of the new forms of freedoms imposed on those convicted of sex crimes of any kind.
Freedom typically means you are free to come and go, live, work, go to school, own vehicles, use vehicles, without having to tell the government except to pay for licenses or taxes.
Justice Kennedy’s new definition of freedom for Americans means that you not only have to tell the government of the use of the freedoms not once but multiple times, and that you pay for all costs, fees and transportation, or go to prison.
Either Justice Kennedy thinks Americans are fools or he is a closet communist. His decision has laid the groundwork for a new form of slavery. Its said evil men corrupt everything they touch, well if this is true then he has corrupted the entire nation.
Its amazing how easy it is to lead America to its own demise, make it look foolish in the eyes of the world, and to bastardize its laws.
Maybe its his old age, a mental deficiency, a bias, but either way he legally turned this nation into a fascist or communist state. Whichever lie you choose to believe is up to you.
This push, “We’ve Got to Believe the___________ (Children/Student/Co-Worker/ Other)”, needs a pushback, because false allegations and wrongful convictions happen much more often than many people realize. It parallels what we know, how easy it is for someone to wind up on a SO registry.
Some years ago I learned about a detective on a city PD in my state. He was the one PD member tasked with investigating sex crime allegations. Over a period of years he struggled with a heavy workload that more often than not led nowhere–a spouse in a divorce case wanted custody of the kid/s, a “rejected lover” wanted revenge against his/her boy/girlfriend, a minor was angry with a parent/guardian for enforcing curfews–until he reached a breaking point.
He publicly and repeatedly stated he would continue to investigate all sex crime allegations, but from than on he would investigate the backgrounds of accused–AND ACCUSER/S. If the investigation resulted in a false allegation, he would arrest and see prosecuted the false accuser/s to the fullest extent of applicable laws. Once his new policy took effect, and a couple of false accusers were in fact arrested and then convicted, his workload dropped about 85%.
Other gains included substantial reductions in time effort, and cost; the ability to spend more time on genuine sex crime allegations; and an easier burden for the local taxpayers.
This was NOT done in my case, and in at least a few score others than I have learned about over the last few years.
A friend of mine recently admitted she was a heartbeat away from shooting a brother-in-law in the head, from distance of about 3 feet, following an allegation by her niece that the brother-in-law had been molesting her. His jumping through an open window during a momentary distraction saved his life. A few years later my friend overheard that same niece openly, freely, and happily admit to several people she had made up the story, because the brother-in-law had tried to keep the niece from seeing a boyfriend who had a very bad reputation. This false allegation almost led to first-degree murder. I wonder how many of us know about how many other, similar stories?
We all can and should push for this pushback, which is really not only constitutional but too frequently overlooked given the extent and the extremism of the attendant hysteria.
I just got accused of stalking someone that ive never even seen. I have not followed anyone and am not interested in doing it in the future. Now i have to go to court to try and clear my name and still do not know what this person looks like. Just got out of court and it seems there is more to it. The people were told it was me supposedly by someone else and the girl doesnt even know what i look like. The registry just makes it easy for people to make false accusations. I cannot find a job because they dont want the little red dot on their business, therein I dont have money for a lawyer. How are we supposed to protect ourselves from this kind of harrassment…i just want to give up…its been over 11 years since my first accusation and i was told to take a plea( that was for probation and 10 yrs registration supposedly)…. by my lawyer who then married the chief of police after my incarceration of 3 yrs and now its lifetime registration??? I have been in no trouble for that time….yet it found me again when i was minding my own business…. I dont know what to do anymore…
It’s difficult to be in the registry with all the restrictions, but do not give up. Injustice can only last so long before it fall on it own weight.
When it costs more. When it is more dangerous. When everyone has a brother or father or friend on the registry, When we refuse to be silent and lash out. This is when it will end.
Dave the RSO
I like the name Nobodyspecial and your right nobody is special. I have another polygraph test coming up again but I can’t worry about it and those in authority are always going to intimidate you one way or another or someone is going to complain.
Have I lost confidence in authority’s. Well I was mad and upset at first that someone could pull the wool over me, but than why get mad and upset. Where does it get anyone. Sure your people around you might look down on you but they don’t have to walk in your shoe’s daily.
Be strong, bold, and positive. I would rather be wrong and be a nobody than be right and be a somebody. Being angry about all this isn’t the way to go. Stand up for your rights as we all still have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Many sex abuse cases are of the “he said, she said” variety because when an actual offense occurs, there’s usually only two people present. To ask for two or more witnesses to these types of crimes would be letting a lot of actual offenders off.
Although I do recommend prosecuting false allegations, it has to be done with the utmost care. A lack of conviction does not necessarily equal a false allegation. Once someone is accused of a false allegation, they need to have the rights of any accused as well. This should be a civil penalty as well if found guilty. The person who was accused of a sex crime just had their life turned upside down and their reputation is forever destroyed even without a conviction.
The laws on this would have to be carefully written so we can minimize actual or even perceived victims being accused. A false allegation should only be prosecuted if it’s proven to be a completely bogus claim. I also think minor victims that purposefully seduce older sex partners should be prosecuted in juvenile court as well.
I am not sure I understand your message. You said that you “do recommend prosecuting false allegation.” I assume you actually meant that you do not. You have totally missed the point of the article. The main points are: (1) society should not assume a person is guilty simply because they have been accused of a sexual offense which is what some victims’ advocates say should be done because victims of sexual abuse do not lie in their opinion; and (2) law enforcement must conduct thorough investigations of all criminal allegations which means asking the accuser uncomfortable questions, particularly when there are inconsistencies. The inconsistencies in the alleged victim’s stories is what exposed the hoax in this case. What would have happened if the Brazilian authorities had simply believed the Americans?
RSOL has some of the wildest writers on here with these story’s about all this wrong. I thought this site was for the main issue that all of us are facing and to Resolve it or Restore it……The Atlanta Conference is coming up and I’m waiting to hear the reviews weather positive or negative.
A murder today just got out of prison after spending 25 years of his life behind bars. Investors and science failed. His DNA wasn’t a match after so many years, He was berated by police interrogator’s and signed a paper saying he could go home. Surprise? they convicted him anyway. The article says they planted dirty clothes he was wearing that night but the DNA wasn’t a match as it matched some crack head
2 years earlier that had passed away they say. I’m glad he got his freedom and justice
As for all of us we are still lifers in a way to this sex registry but everyone has to come together on this. There is good and bad in the sex registry but its also the principals they use to stenotype that person. Hey what can I say a sin is a sin.
In two sentences or less, can you tell us what you think RSOL should be writing?
Wow Fred in two sentences. Fred you are the one that sort of stuck up for me on here and I liked your question but its sort of hard to write in two sentences so go to this site and click on the blog and you will find my article I wrote two years ago
You will find my article on the U.S.Constitution and I’m sure that will give you better insight. God Bless you all..
I sincerely wanted you to pin point what subject you feel RSOL is not writting about. Two sentences should be enough for that.
I get the impression you want rsol to focus on internet stings. Am I correct?
This has just recently happened to a friend of mine. His 13 yr old stepdaughter, after extensive questioning about “stomach cramps”, was forced to implicate him as forcing her to give oral sex. It never happened, yet his life is being ruined because even though the girl has recanted he story, and none of her several versions match, the prosecutors of California are going forward full tilt. With a 1 million dollar bail, he has been in jail for 3 months, losing his job, his home, and his truck, and all his public lawyer wants to do is talk “deal”.
How is this justice?