Sunday, July 20, 2014

Yet another innocent man goes to prison over false rape charges...

This is actually an old case.  Someone posted about it on Facebook today and I had to read up on it to see if it was true.  I found the case referenced in several brief articles until I found a much longer one that related the tale of Cassandra Ann Kennedy and her decision to falsely accuse her father of raping her back in 2001.  At the time she made the accusation, Cassandra was 11 years old.  She was upset with her father because he had divorced her mother.  She was tired of having to go to his house for visitations, where she and her sister would have to sleep on a mattress on his floor.  She was tired of his partying, drinking, and pot smoking.  And then, apparently, he stopped showing up altogether.  Cassandra thought he didn't love her and wanted revenge.

Cassandra had a friend whose stepfather was sent to prison for a child sex crime.  She got the idea to accuse her father when she saw her friend's stepfather get sent away.  Since Cassandra started having sexual experiences in the second grade, she knew about sex and what she could say to make her father look guilty.  She also had some trauma to her genital region that looked convincing.  Obviously, someone was abusing Cassandra when she was a little girl.  It wasn't her father, though.

Based on Cassandra's convincing testimony and her wrath toward her dad, Thomas Kennedy spent nine years in prison and was released in 2012.  He was originally sentenced to 15 years and would have been released in 2016, had Cassandra not had an attack of her conscience.  She went to detectives and told them she lied about her father.  He'd never raped her or touched her inappropriately.  In fact, she even had some fond memories of him from when she was very young.

Cassandra Kennedy was not punished for falsely accusing her father of rape because authorities fear that punishing her would discourage legitimate rape victims from coming forward.  I suppose I can understand that fear, given how shameful sex crimes are for victims.  However, I can't help but remember that an innocent man who may not have been the world's greatest dad spent nine years that he will never get back in a prison cell.  I am assuming that since he was innocent, he won't have to register as a sex offender… but now he has to resume his life after having spent nine years incarcerated.  How difficult was it for him in those months after he was released in 2012?

Some months ago, I wrote a blog post about a young man who was falsely accused of rape.  Johnathan Montgomery had the misfortune of once living in the same neighborhood as Elizabeth Paige Coast, a girl whose mother caught her looking at pornography.  Elizabeth's mother assumed that her daughter must have been abused, since she was looking at porn, and she demanded to know who had touched her.  In a panic, Elizabeth named Johnathan, who had since moved to Florida.  She didn't think the police would find him.  They did, and he went to prison for four years for a crime he didn't commit.  At least in this case, Coast had to pay a large fine and spend 60 days in jail.  It seems like a small price to pay for the four years Mr. Montgomery lost, though.

I certainly understand the need for people to come forward to speak up when they have been sexually assaulted.  I would never deny anyone the right to justice when a crime has been committed.  I even understand prosecutors being reluctant to charge false accusers because they don't want to discourage genuine victims from seeking help.  At the same time, I can't help but think of how totally unfair it is that Thomas Kennedy and Johnathan Montgomery went to prison for years because someone lied.

I posted about this case on Facebook and a friend who is very much a feminist was dismayed that someone had left this comment with the story…

It's amazing that no one who actually is guilty of wrongdoing in this case, will pay any price. Not the accuser, police, doctor, teacher, prosecutor, no one.

All of those people were willing to throw away a man's life based on nothing more than the say-so of a troubled 11-year old girl, because we've been told by feminists that "women don't lie about being raped" and that men are animals. Well, women DO lie about being raped, and only a small fraction of men are anything but decent.


My friend described it as a "MRA" comment-- that is, "men's rights".  She is against men fighting for rights because she thinks they already have too much control and don't need to fight for their rights.  Frankly, I disagree.  While I completely understand that women have historically gotten the short end of the stick and still face sexism today, I also think that men also get treated unfairly based on their gender.  I think both males and females are entitled to fairness and we do have some laws right now that favor females over males.

If you're really for fairness, you can't be for giving women special treatment because of the equipment they happened to be born with.  I think the above comment is perfectly reasonable.  What surprises me is that it was the only one posted.  Had the genders been switched in this case, I bet the comments section would have been full.  Do people really not care that an innocent man spent nine years in prison for a crime he didn't commit?  Do people really not understand that if something like that could happen to Thomas Kennedy or Johnathan Montgomery, it could happen to them or one of their loved ones?

I understand that Cassandra Kennedy and Elizabeth Coast were both troubled girls when they made their false allegations.  It's obvious that they both needed help when they were at their most vulnerable.  But that help should have come in the form of counseling, not incarcerating innocent men.  Making false rape accusations does more than ruin the lives of innocent people; it also does a huge disservice to legitimate victims of sex crimes who may one day face doubt when they come forward.  Situations like the ones I've written about today give people like Todd Akin ammunition when they spread their misogynistic agendas.  

Honestly, if I had a son, I would be very vigilant about teaching him to be careful around women.  There are a lot of great women with big hearts out there.  But there are also a lot of shady, immoral, liars out there, too, and our society seems reluctant to hold them accountable when they take advantage of female friendly laws.  Justice should be blind.

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