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For years, [Madison, Wis] police and city lawyers refused to believe a blind woman who said an intruder raped her at knifepoint. They even charged her with lying about it. Now, five years after DNA connected a sex offender to the attack, the city has apologized to the woman, known as Patty, and is offering her $35,000. Outraged by a book detailing her skeptical treatment by authorities, the City Council approved the payment last month and ordered police to draw up new policies for interviewing crime victims. [...]
The resolution gives Police Chief Noble Wray 90 days to recommend new techniques for interviewing of victims of sensitive crimes, including how to eliminate “the use of lies, coercion, deception, ruses or other techniques designed to break down individuals” in all but the rarest of circumstances.
This non-monetary portion of the resolution is something that all police forces should resolve to do. Rape victims deserve to be treated ethically and not with assumptions that they are criminals who must be broken.
It shouldn’t take the publication of a book such as Cry Rape: The True Story of One Woman’s Harrowing Quest for Justice by Bill Lueders (given a starred review by Booklist) to get city leaders to correct an injustice like this. But I’m not surprised that the level of denial about what many rape victims experience is so high that it takes a book — and likely the publicity that came with that book — to get people out of their denial.
In 2001, the state crime lab discovered that DNA from Joseph Bong, a convicted sex offender, matched the semen. Bong was convicted of Patty’s rape in 2004 and sentenced to 50 years in prison.
I wish all cases where the police refuse to believe real rape victims ended with the conviction of the rapist and the clearing of the rape victim’s good name, but that just isn’t the reality for most rape victims who are treated like they are the real criminals.
(crossposted at my blog, Abyss2hope)
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