In High-Profile Rape Cases, Public Opinion Divides Amidst Power Imbalances and Hidden Truths

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The recent high-profile rape cases have sparked a public debate, with many individuals showing strong biases. People who have neither been at the alleged crime scene nor know the involved parties are confidently making assertions and defending positions as if they were eyewitnesses. This discourse urges caution, emphasizing that many factors in rape cases may not be fully understood by judgmental activists. The variables typically involved, which adversaries might not be well-versed in, are considered and presented here.

What We May Not Know!

Since the matter in question is still sub judice, I will intentionally avoid any correlation to real events; thus, any perceived connotations to real facts should be regarded as mere coincidence. This serves as my disclaimer.

In situations where there is a power imbalance between the accused and the accuser, the person on the receiving end should be given the benefit of the doubt. This translates to a presumption of innocence, and whatever is alleged by that person must be assumed to be true until proven otherwise.

Then there are errors of attribution. Such mistakes are hard to pinpoint and acknowledge since deceptions can be appealing. There could be a past situation that might have worked against the agitator based on a misleading interpretation of facts, leading to misplaced opinions. The individual might be unaware of the source of their errors to rectify them.

In some cases, a judgmental person may be covering their tracks by espousing wrongful aspersions. Such a person may even be a serial date rapist who has never been held accountable for their actions.

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Even if we consider a past negative experience, current events bear different facts and timeliness. Equating them with past events introduces attribution errors. Different facts mean a change of circumstances, demanding a different set of interrogation tools.

Similarly, different timelines call for assessing today’s applicable concepts rather than relying on outdated knowledge. A compulsively biased person is unlikely to see these errors but will grandstand, ignoring correct information that could present a different point of view.

A more elaborate instance was the confirmation hearing of then-Justice nominee Clarence Thomas for the US Supreme Court. A lady testified before the Senate confirmation hearings, but her testimony was later found dubious. Two years after the Senate confirmed Justice Clarence Thomas to the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS), a reporter’s investigation revealed that Professor Anita Hill, who accused Justice Thomas of sexual harassment, shared details that were later found to be inconsistent with her whereabouts at the time.

The journalist decided to question the woman about her unsubstantiated claims of being in that city during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. Her cryptic response was: “I see what you mean…”

Unamused, the journalist repeatedly pressed her for an explanation, but she continued to repeat the same words, indicating she had no intention of admitting any wrongdoing. This is typical of biased individuals who either stick to their position or deflect.

Her senatorial depositions suggested power inequity between Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill at the EEOC, where Hill feared reporting his misconduct. However, the dates she cited did not align; she was in another city, and there was no evidence the two even knew each other at that time.

She injected her beliefs into the Senate hearings, turning them into a platform for her own views. Professor Anita Hill mentioned her as a star witness, but it was later found they only met through a mutual friend ten years after Hill left the EEOC.

The entire deposition aimed to prevent Clarence Thomas’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, but it backfired. Thomas was confirmed and still serves today. The Senate voted along ideological lines, ignoring the sensationalized congressional hearings that captivated and polarized the nation for months.

When a person is biased, they are unlikely to see the real picture and will cling to narratives that fit their views. As scripture advises, it’s futile to argue with such individuals.

Where Sexual Allegations are Recanted and Withdrawn, It Reeks of a Major Cover-Up

Once a victim reports sexual allegations to the police and is issued a form PF3, corroborated by a medical examiner’s report, any action undermining these accusations must be treated with suspicion. As scripture rebukes: whoever covers his sin shall not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes it shall have mercy.

Compelling a victim to withdraw a rape claim after medical confirmation suggests pecuniary duress. Most victims agonize over accepting ridicule to secure justice for themselves.

As one senator said in the Anita Hill sexual accusations, neither the accuser nor the accused would come out of the senate hearings unscathed. This is true for almost all rape accusers who expose their assailants. Stigma torments and traumatizes them, regardless of their actions or inactions. It often feels like society conspires with the accused against them.

This is why most rape victims fear outing their rapists to the public, where sympathy is extended to their tormentors who took their innocence and assaulted them without consent. In the case of Mike “Iron” Tyson and Desiree Washington in July 1991, during the interview with Barbara Walters of ABC 20/20 News, there is much to learn.

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Barbara Walters asked a disconcerting question, reflecting some opinion leaders’ insinuations: why did Desiree accompany Tyson to his hotel room after midnight? Walters added that critics concluded she was looking for it.

Desiree’s response, despite harsh criticism, was down-to-earth. She admitted being “wowed” by meeting the greatest boxer of his generation and had no ulterior motives. She saw him as a brother, with no thought of sexual intercourse.

When Tyson began pushing himself on her, she resisted and tried to fight back but realized hitting him was like punching a concrete wall. Her pleas were misinterpreted as consent. She believed there was a miscommunication, and Tyson misunderstood her intentions.

Twelve jurors believed her, and Tyson was convicted of rape. On March 26, 1992, Judge Patricia Gifford sentenced him to six years in prison and ordered him to pay $30,000 in restitution. Tyson served three years at the Indiana Youth Center before being granted parole for good behaviour. His boxing career never fully recovered.

Power Inequity Encourages Entitlement

When one person holds more power than another, they often feel entitled to impose their will on those they perceive as inferior. This attitude can lead them to abuse their power, becoming a chief perpetrator of trauma. Power can come from titles, celebrity status, wealth, or any position of authority in society.

In the horror film franchise “The Saw,” there are valuable lessons. The demonic entity punishes human rights violators by reminding them that they exploited their victims’ weaknesses. Taking advantage of someone’s inferiority, low self-esteem, depression, or similar vulnerabilities for sexual gratification is a form of rape.

Sources of Self-Weakness

People with personality weaknesses often suffer from psychological, emotional, and physical abuse, developing negative personalities as survival strategies. These individuals tend to please others to deflect pain, even if it is frequently inflicted upon them. Serial victims of rape are often misunderstood as courting their attackers, but their attackers are adept at grooming them for sexual assault.

Victims are just that—victims, not solicitors of their humiliation and sexual violation. Groupies may appear to pursue stars, but many subject themselves to abuse to boost their damaged self-esteem. This situation creates a confusing dynamic where more violations are seen as a form of analgesia, though they are actually self-destructive.

As we learn more about rape, we realize that power inequity should be treated similarly to statutory rape. The cooperation given by the weaker party is often out of fear or a desire to artificially boost their fragile self-esteem. To say otherwise would be unjust and fail to recognize the evolving understanding of what constitutes rape.

The author is a Development Administration specialist in Tanzania with over 30 years of practical experience, and has been penning down a number of articles in local printing and digital newspapers for some time now.

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