Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Rape: The woman is always right (1)

That's what the feminists tell us. Three current examples below that show how wrong any such assumptions are

The daughter of a church minister who made false allegations of rape against four separate men has been jailed for two years. Abigail Gibson, 22, made the "vile" claims against a work colleague, an ex-boyfriend, a stranger and even her father, Ian, who is a respected minister at a young offenders' institute.

One of her victims, Mark Berry, 26, had known Gibson for just two weeks after meeting her at a supermarket where they both worked. But when she learned he had complained to bosses about being bullied by one of her friends at the store, she set about trying to get him sacked. Chester Crown Court heard that Gibson, a security guard, fabricated a "tissue of wicked lies" alleging Mr Berry, who collected trolleys at the store, had raped her while they were both on duty late at night. Police launched an investigation and arrested Mr Berry, who was thrown in a police cell overnight and forced to give intimate DNA samples. He was so "utterly terrified" of going to prison for a crime he had not committed that he repeatedly broke down in tears and was physically sick when questioned by officers.

Only when Gibson alleged another man, her ex-boyfriend, had also raped her three months later did police realise she had made up the sex attacks. They discovered that Gibson had made two other false rape claims in the past and launched an investigation into her conduct. On Monday Gibson admitted one count of perverting the course of justice, relating to the false rape allegation at ASDA in Winsford, Cheshire, in September last year.

Sentencing Gibson to two years imprisonment, Judge Roger Dutton, said: "This is the fourth time you have made vile allegations against men. "You chose to make up a tissue of wicked lies about a man working in the same place as you, accusing him of a sexual offence against you. "You knew perfectly well it was untrue. He was arrested, he occupied a cell overnight for something he had never done. "Samples (of DNA) were taken and he was interviewed. He was utterly terrified. "The police were able to establish it was a wicked invention by you. Your behaviour was disgraceful. "You are a significant danger to any man who happens to be in your company alone, for he may well find himself the victim of an unfounded allegation of rape."

Peter Hussey, prosecuting, told the hearing that Gibson, from Northwich, Cheshire, had falsely claimed she had been raped four times in total. The first allegation was made when Gibson, whose Seychelles-born mother, Elizabeth, is a school teacher, was a teenager and she accused her father of rape. He was investigated but no charges were ever brought. Then, three years ago, Gibson, whose parents divorced seven years ago, went to police alleging she had been raped in Northwich town centre. Only when CCTV footage showed she was lying did she admit she had made it up.

In September last year she made the allegation against Mr Berry and three months later, on December 23, Gibson also accused an ex-boyfriend, aged 56, of raping her as she walked home from the pub. Once again, police found she had lied about the claim to get her former partner into trouble.

Last night Mark Berry's mother, Rosemary Derbyshire, 60, said her son's life had been destroyed by Gibson. "Mark and I are very pleased that Gibson has been jailed,' Mrs Derbyshire, from Winsford, Cheshire, said. "Mark was totally destroyed by the allegations, he is still afraid to go out of the house. "The episode has made him very dubious of women. He did not even know this girl and was not even at work when she said it happened. She has ruined his life."

Duncan Bould, defending, told the court that doctors who examined Gibson said she was not mentally ill, but may have suffered some kind of sexual or interpersonal trauma in childhood which could explain her behaviour.


Rape: The woman is always right (2)

A best-selling author who wrote about her life as a prostitute has received a suspended jail term for lying to police by telling them she was raped in her own home. Dawn Annandale, 39, who wrote the internationally-acclaimed book Call Me Elizabeth, admitted wasting police time after claiming she was sexually assaulted.

A seven-month inquiry costing 15,000 pounds was conducted as police spent 450 hours investigating her bogus claim that she was raped by an intruder in her former home village of Lyminge, near Folkestone, Kent, on March 14 last year. Forensic teams spent three days examining every room of the house, and police set up roadblocks, conducted house-to-house inquiries and handed out leaflets. Her deceit only surfaced after an acquaintance told police she was lying, and mother-of-six Annandale pleaded guilty at Folkestone Magistrates' Court last month to wasting police time. The court heard she had invented the false rape allegation in an effort to delay a County Court hearing three days later, on March 17, about money owed to a landlord.

Annandale, from Hawkinge, returned to the same court where magistrates handed her a 120-day prison sentence suspended for 18 months. In addition, she was ordered to do 200 hours' community service and to pay 5,000 pounds in compensation and 100 costs.

Presiding Magistrate Barry Linden told her: "You committed the offence deliberately and calculatingly. There was a risk of harm to everyone involved in such a case. "As detailed in the report, you failed to recognise the serious disservice to rape victims and potential perpetrators this behaviour could have effected." Dressed all in black, brunette Annandale declined to answer questions as she was led to a taxi outside court, but her literary agent, Rebecca Winfield, said she "apologised unreservedly" to police for her actions.

She said: "At the time of the incident, Dawn Annandale was feeling very insecure and depressed. "She fully understands the seriousness of the offence, to rape victims in particular and the public in general. "She would like to take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly to Kent Police. I have nothing more to say."

First published in April 2005, Call Me Elizabeth charted her story of a legal secretary who decided to supplement her income by entering the world of vice. The book sold more than 100,000 copies and led to her appearance on programmes such as Newsnight and Richard & Judy. Following the case, a Kent Police spokesman said: "These allegations are extremely serious and were taken extremely seriously. You cannot get much worse than a woman alleging she has been raped in her own home."


Rape: The woman is always right (3)

Having spent eight of his 26 years behind bars, Carlos Jose Barrera is the first to admit he has a checkered past. But for the past two years, while locked up in the county jail without bail, he contends he has been wrongly accused of raping a woman more than 11 years ago. After a weeklong trial and one day of deliberation, a Sacramento Superior Court jury agreed with him. "I may have been a thief, but I am no rapist," Barrera said this week as he sat in his grandmother's Sacramento home.

Charged with three felony counts of forcible rape, Barrera faced 75 years to life in prison. Earlier, he turned down an offer of 34 years in a plea bargain. "I didn't trust the system, but I knew my innocence and I had to roll the dice," Barrera said afterward. When the verdict was read in court Jan. 19. Barrera broke down in tears. His mother, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer a year ago and given a 12 months to live, also sobbed uncontrollably in the audience. Later, the judge allowed Barrera to hug his mother. "That was the first time I touched her in over 22 months," Barrera said Thursday. "From here on I have to get my life on track. I have to get a job. I have to start from the ground up," said Barrera who borrowed $50,000 from his family to pay his lawyer.

Deputy District Attorney Keith Hill, who prosecuted Barrera, declined to comment on the verdict. However, during opening statements, Hill said Barrera - at the time 15 - used a butcher knife as he raped a 24-year-old woman. "You know you are going to die tonight," Hill quoted Barrera as telling the woman the night of the alleged rape. The prosecutor also told jurors Barrera's DNA was compared with DNA evidence from the crime scene and that the odds of Barrera not being the assailant were more than a trillion to one.

During the trial, defense lawyer Charles Bloodgood argued that the sex between the two was consensual. "Everyone assumed he was guilty and that she was telling the truth," Bloodgood said this week. "These assumptions were made in a vacuum." Bloodgood, who has been an attorney for roughly three decades, said Barrera's case is unusual because less than 2 percent of criminal trials end in acquittals. "She told four different versions of what happened, and he only told one version. The jury did the right thing," Bloodgood said.

Barrera's criminal history began at 12 when he was associating with gangs. He later was convicted of burglary, car theft and robbery. "The next bad decision I make is a third strike. I feel ashamed of my past," he said.

Barrera was charged with the rape when he was about to be paroled from the California Youth Authority in 2005. His DNA had been matched with DNA evidence collected by police on Nov. 14, 1995 when the woman reported her attack. During the trial, the woman testified she was raped three times in an empty North Sacramento lot and that she later picked Barrera out in a police lineup.

At the time, the woman, Dixie Mae Cascarella, was awaiting sentencing on a felony charge of child endangerment in the death of her 3-year-old son, Androse Tennessee. Her boyfriend and co-defendant, Brandshay Huntsinger, was convicted a month earlier of beating the boy to death.

Although Barrera lost some of his credibility when he had to admit in his testimony that he was a convicted felon, Judge Patrick Marlette ruled that the evidence code protected Cascarella from divulging her conviction.

Though thankful to the jury for believing his story, Barrera said he is bitter about the experience. "I want to get a job doing something that I can do anywhere in the country," said Barrera, who received training while in custody in driving forklifts and operating other large pieces of machinery. "I don't trust Sacramento," Barrera said. "I don't trust California. I want to write a book about this whole thing. I'm going to call it 'Guilty Until Proven Innocent.' "



Excerpt from Mark Steyn below:

The other day I was giving a speech in Washington and, in the questions afterwards, the subject of Little Mosque On The Prairie came up. "Muslim is the new gay," I said. Which got a laugh. "That's off the record," I added. "I want a sporting chance of getting home alive." And I went on to explain that back in the Nineties sitcoms and movies began introducing gay characters who were the most likeable and got all the best lines, and that Muslims were likely to be the lucky beneficiaries of a similar dispensation. In both cases, the intent is the same: to make Islam, like homosexuality, something only uptight squares are uncool with.

At the time I hadn't seen so much as a trailer for Little Mosque. But it seemed a reasonable enough assumption that nine times out of ten the joke would be on the "irrational" prejudices and drearily provincial ignorance of the Saskatchewan hicks. And sure enough, if you settled down to watch the first episode, it opened up with some stringy stump-toothed redneck stumbling on a bunch of Muslims praying and racing for the telephone. "Is this the Terrorist Attack Hotline? You want me to hold?"

Well, of course, the local Anglican vicar tries to explain that he's just rented the parish hall to a harmless group of local Mohammedans. "This is simply a pilot project," he says reassuringly. "Pilot?" gasps the redneck. "They're training pilots?" And off he goes to the talk-radio blowhard who is, naturally, a right-wing hatemonger.

Meanwhile, the mosque's dishy new imam is waiting to board his flight and yakking into his cell phone about how taking the gig in Mercy, Saskatchewan is going to be career suicide. Another passenger overhears that last word and the cops pull the guy out of line and give him the third degree: "You lived for over a year in Afghanistan?"

"I was volunteering for a development agency," says the metrosexual cappuccino-swilling imam, who's very droll about his predicament: if my story doesn't hold up, he cracks, "you can deport me to Syria." "Hey," warns the bozo flatfoot sternly, "you do not get to choose which country we deport you to."

Fair enough. Never mind that, in the real Canada, the talk-radio guy would be off the air and hounded into oblivion by the Saskatchewan Humans Rights Commission; and that, instead of looking like Rick Mercer after 20 minutes on a sunbed and being wry and self-deprecating and Toronto-born, your typical western imam is fiercely bearded, trained in Saudi Arabia and such linguistic dexterity as he has is confined to Arabic; and that airline officials who bounce suspicious Muslims from the flight wind up making public apologies and undergoing sensitivity training; and that, in the event they do bust up a terrorist plot, the Mounties inevitably issue statements saying this in no way reflects on any particular community in our glorious Canadian mosaic, particularly any community beginning with "Is-" and ending with "-lam"; and that the most prominent Canadians "volunteering" for good works in Afghanistan were the Khadr family, whose pa was sprung from the slammer in Pakistan by Prime Minister Chretien in order that he could resume his "charity work" and, for his pains, he had to suffer vicious Islamophobic headlines like "Caught In A Muddle: An Arrested Aid Worker Appeals For Chretien's Help" (Maclean's).

Never mind all that. There is after all no more heartwarming tradition in Canadian popular culture - well, okay, unpopular culture: it's the CBC, after all - than the pleasant frisson induced by the routine portrayal of rural Canadians as halfwit rednecks. One would characterize it as Canadophobic were it not for the fact that the CBC's enthusiasm for portraying us as a nation of knuckle-dragging sister-shaggers reinforces our smug conviction that we're the most progressive people on the planet: we celebrate diversity through the ruthless homogeneity of CBC programming; we're so boundlessly tolerant we tolerate an endless parade of dreary sitcoms and dramas about how intolerant we are. In that sense, the relentlessly cardboard stereotypes are a way of flattering the audience. In the second episode of Little Mosque, for example, the non-Muslim gals of Mercy, Sask stage a protest against the mosque: every single woman in the march is large and plain and simple-minded. The only white folks who aren't condescended to are the convert wife of the Muslim patriarch and the impeccably ecumenical Anglican minister (though his church, unlike the mosque, is dying).

But in this cross-cultural gagfest what of the jokes on the other side? Well, these are the cuddliest Muslims you've ever met. They're not just moderate Muslims, they're moderately funny! Not screamingly funny like, say, Omar Brooks, the British Muslim comic whose boffo Islamostand-up routine was reported in The Times of London last year:

At one point he announces dramatically that the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center `changed many people's lives'. After a pause, he brings the house down by adding: `Especially those inside.'

He didn't bring the house down literally. He leaves that to Mohammed Atta. By contrast, Little Mosque's creator, Zarqa Nawaz, opts for Ozzie and Harriet in a chador. The nearest thing to an Islamist firebreathing mullah in the cast warns sternly about how Canadian society lures Muslims into decadent ways: "Wine gums. Rye bread. Liquor-ish. Western traps designed to seduce Muslims to drink alcohol. The enemy," he warns, "is in the kitchen."

And, eavesdropping outside, the Muslim women joke that, if the enemy's in the kitchen, perhaps he could do the washing up. Boy, I loved that gag when Samantha did it to Darren on the second season of Bewitched, and it's just as funny in a hijab. This is the point, of course: the Muslims on the show are scaled down, from a global security threat to warm low-key domesticity, to all the same generation-gap and battle-of-the-sexes japes as every other hi-honey-I'm-home sitcom. Miss Nawaz is certainly capable of a sharp line - "`Good-looking terrorist'? Isn't that an oxymoron?" - but for the most part she holds off: for a cross-cultural comedy, it's striking that both groups operate to white stereotypes - it's just that the Muslims have been handed the blandly benign stereotypes of Life With Father. The synopses of upcoming episodes - "Yasir's overbearing mother wants him to try something new - a second wife", "Rayyan and her mother end up on opposite sides of the fence over co-ed swimming" - suggest the familiar issue-of-the-week format of long forgotten, worthily controversial sitcoms like Maude, the ones that won all the awards and are never in reruns. But here controversies are painless: when gender-segregating barriers are proposed for the mosque, the savvy quasi-feminist women have no problem running rings round the menfolk; the stern dad determined to put his adolescent daughter into her veil crumples without a fight. "Next week confusion abounds when Rayyan has a pronounced bulge in her belly and her brother arranges an honour killing. But it turns out she's just hiding the latest huge edition of The Oxford Anthology of Islamofeminist Writing!"


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