Monday, April 24, 2006

More on police rape and suppression orders.

Idiot/Savant sent me an article on the latest police rape case:

A former police officer extradited from Australia on historic rape and sexual abuse charges was today sent for trial in the High Court.

The man, whose name is suppressed, faces allegations from two girls, then aged between 12 and 16, comprising four counts of indecent assault and one of rape, all in Rotorua in 1980.
This, again, shows, that what happened to Louise Nicholas wasn't an isolated incident. There was a culture of rape, violence, and abuse of power amongst Rotorua cops in the 1980s (and who knows how long before, and after). It infuriates me that the courts and the media have seen these as seperate incidents.

My main problem with the way that Rickards, Schollum, and Shipton were tried was never the suppression orders (although I can understand why ). But I do think there can be real problems with suppression orders, particularly when they suppress the names of men accused of rape or sexual assault.

Eva Radich had an interesting couple of interviews about a Taranaki case. A New Plymouth doctor has been granted name suppression; he is facing 20 charges of sexual assault. The reason he has been granted name suppression because his business might be damaged if people knew these accusations were made against him.

The reason this makes me so angry is shows that the court system doesn't trust women to know what other women have said about men. It presumes to know better than us, about how we can keep ourselves safe.

5 comments:

  1. i realise your that you have very strong views on this maia which i agree with.

    Unfortunatly sexual allergations more than any other types tend to condem someone before they ever set foot in a court room.

    And we know that not all people charged with a crime are guilty. thats why we have a court process.

    So... it would be unfair to tarnish an innocent persons reputation. we cant know thier guilt or innocsence before a trial to the only fair thing to do is to surrpress their identies untill they are proved guilty.

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  2. Maia I am glad that you obviously feel very strongly about the police rape allegations, and that you speak out about them. The more I read about them the more angry and upset I feel.

    Red, I agree that not all people charged with a crime are guilty and that reputations might be (and are) ruined by false accusations but, as I understand it, this is not the reason why name suppression is used by the courts.

    I saw the article mentioned here in the press yesterday ... - as far as I know it did not even warrant a mention on TV news reports, although reporting a public statement issued by the NZPA is not a violation of a suppression order. So much for investigative journalism!

    There was also a report in the press a couple of weeks ago that one of four men accused of raping a woman in Mt Maunganui 17 years ago has had his conviction overturned on appeal and is to have a retrial. The other three had their appeals turned down and remain in prison, - all involved have name suppression.

    With a couple more high profile cases pending concerning police actions in the 1980s, we can only hope that the full truth will be revealed regarding what was really happening in the Bay of Plenty in those days.

    I only pray that all those who have reviled Louisa Nicholas and dragged her name through the dirt live to eat their words.

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  3. red it's not true that sexual allegations more than other type condemn someone before they get to the court room. If it was then rape would not have low conviction rates.

    You are saying that it's more important not to tarnish an innocent person's reputation, than it is to trust women with the information that we can use to make ourselves safe - I disagree.

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  4. by condem i mean in the publics mind rather than a conviction.

    And this is my point if you have been accused of this people are inclined to belive that you did "something" wrong dispite not being convicted. This is unfair if you have not.

    in terms of the current case with the Dr being allowed to continue to practise. before his court hearing I agree with you that this is of the upmost importance that women are "kept safe" (that sounds a little patronizing but i could think of a better way of saying it)

    As i understand it he will be practising under strict supervison during this time so that should be enough to satisfiy that requirement.

    It's Ironic that centuries ago public sentiment was enough to convict thousdands of women who were then burned at the steak as witchs. Hence the phrase witch hunt.

    people convited of rape should be caught and punished. but by the police and courts not you or I.

    If someone raped a friend of mine I would not be able to trust my judgement far enough to seperate vengance from jusitce.

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  5. I agree that there should be a high standard of proof. But what that means is

    I agree that no other consequences should be put by those in power against someone who can't be proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt. But no-one has a right to practice as a doctor. Particularly not when that 'right' can only be maintained by suppressing information.

    Women can't be kept safe, they can just be stopped from keeping themselves safe, which is what is happening in this case.

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