Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Addenda and Clarifications

[Ed - This post may be read in conjunction with "BREAKING: More women say: I deserve justice by my own terms, I'm worth it." and "Investigating and prosecuting sexual offences".]

Having done some holiday pondering and mental pontification, this turkey feels that perhaps some clarifications are in order to better understand the posts below on accusations of sexual offences and the procedures which are subsequently followed (particularly in light of the comments on the posts below).

What the ST article does not make clear (and these are woeful omissions) is that:

(1) an accusation per se is not tantamount to a conviction;

(2) an accusation does not inexorably lead to prosecution;

(3) in the context of a nightclub (i.e. dark, all-round diminished faculties due to inebriation, two total strangers etc) does not provide conducive conditions for fact-finding and evidence-gathering.

In relation to (3), what the article glaringly fails to point out is the potential for abuse by both parties - both the alleged offender as well as the alleged victim. The article's primary failure is its angle - that there is a "trend" of evil, wanton, trollopy women whose sole motivation in accusing men of molest/OM is to recover some form of compensation.

In mainly interviewing lawyers who have represented these alleged offenders, the article ends up painting these men as wholly innocent. But what has been omitted is this: there possibly has been no fact-finding; no completed investigations. At this stage, one cannot decide guilt or innocence. There simply is no proof, which is the problem of nightclubs, and other situations where the evidence boils down to Him vs. Her.

(And more importantly, the cardinal principle of legal ethics: a lawyer must always act in his/her client's best interests. That is to say, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, a lawyer will assume and profess the innocence of his/her client.)

And therein lies the conundrum (as contained in the soundbite from Prof. Hor appended at the end of the article). The fact that the men coughed up money proves nothing - it sheds no light on their actual motivations. At the end of the day, I do feel that the likelihood that the composition was to avoid prosecution is at least equal to the likelihood of the victims not wishing to re-live the incident.

But perhaps, what could (and perhaps would?) tilt the balance is that at the end of the day, character evidence against the female victim is admissible, and will be duly considered.


  1. (This appeared in the Forum today, both print and online.)

    Dec 29, 2009

    Don't turn perpetrators into victims

    WE REFER to last Thursday's report, 'More women say: Touch me, pay me', which we found to be sensationalistic and biased. The main thrust of the article is that there is a trend of women extorting money from men by falsely bringing charges of molestation against men and then accepting monetary compensation from the accused in exchange for dropping the charges.

    However, the evidence that the writer relies on are the opinions of a few lawyers whose clients had compounded the criminal charges brought against them. There was never a finding in these cases by the court that the allegations were false. (What would one expect the defence lawyer to say?)

    Police records indicate that there was no increase in the number of molestation cases reported this year. Save for the anecdotal cases of the few lawyers interviewed, there was no other evidence that more molestation cases had been compounded.

    If there is indeed some organised scam, the writer should have obtained more evidence on this than to present a general trend of women exploiting the legal system.

    The story is completely slanted towards treating men as 'victims' and fails to mention the salient fact that the police control the prosecution of these cases and they act only when they feel that the case has merits after carrying out the necessary investigations.

    Further, if an accused is truly not guilty, he should not settle his case, which does suggest culpability. The onus of proof is always on the prosecution and, in a criminal case, the onus is the higher burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

    The composition benefits both parties in that they are spared the hassle, embarrassment and inconvenience of going through the full-blown trial.

    It is perfectly understandable why a victim would choose to settle the case by accepting a composition (which would satisfy her need for justice) rather than subject herself to the full trial.

    Further, this unfair piece of writing makes it more difficult for genuine victims to report molestation.

    As it is, most women feel great embarrassment in reporting a molestation case and this discomfort often stops them from doing so. The report turns the situation on its head, by making perpetrators the victims, rather than the sexually harassed persons.

    Corinna Cecilia Lim (Ms)
    Assistant Secretary
    Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware)

    EDITOR'S NOTE: We thank Ms Lim for her feedback. Indeed, the article highlighted the possibility of abuse not only by women looking for payouts by making false accusations, but also by men who might be getting off the hook by paying off their victims.

  2. But perhaps, what could (and perhaps would?) tilt the balance is that at the end of the day, character evidence against the female victim is admissible, and will be duly considered.

    Whoops, I think there's a typo there - evidence against the victim? :x

    Though it might be a Freudian slip, because I feel very strongly that if you let character evidence into the court for an assault survivor, it will end up as a circus. "She wasn't a virgin, she didn't scream, maybe she was a sex worker, ergo she is not a victim", that sort of frustrating, scream-making institutionalised misogyny.

    *makes strangled sound in her throat*

    (Strangled sound not directed at you, just to be clear. =/)

  3. All that you mentioned is admissible as evidence. Sad to say.

    -The Poultrygeist

  4. *blinks*

    I'm sorry, I slept late and missed the snark in your post. =/

    But yeah. Character evidence double-standard. Grr.


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