Feb 012007

A 21-year-old woman told police Saturday that a man grabbed her off Howard Avenue and raped her behind a building during the Gasparilla festivities. But officers investigating the case arrested her after learning she had an outstanding warrant from her teenage years for failure to pay restitution. Story on TBO.com

The situation surrounding the arrest of the female reporting the sexual assault raises a number of issues. Certainly I can understand the outrage of some, but let’s not overlook the complete situation.

There is always this assumption that the “victim” has to be telling the truth. Some recent high profile cases are showing otherwise, and we need to remember that this is, at this point, an alleged crime. I know that’s not a popular position to take, but it is true.  In addition, this “victim” left known victims in her wake, having been given due process, found guilty, and ordered to pay restitution. She apparently did not think it was important to own up to her own crimes. She’s had four years to make restitution, and decided to ignore the authority of the court.

This certainly does not excuse any sexually related crime if it did occur, but this young lady had a long standing obligation to the victims of her crime, which she may have just shrugged off. And now her mother is walking around all incensed by this. “You’ve got to make sure you throw somebody in jail on a four-year-old felony warrant after they’ve been brutally raped?” the mother said. “It was a failure to take the actual dynamics into play.”

So now there’s a new policy in effect that says you can’t arrest someone on outstanding warrants if they’re reporting being a victim of a sex crime.

I know it was a tough call for the officers, but I believe they acted appropriately, and I don’t think it should have a chilling effect on people reporting sex crimes. Perhaps people might consider fulfilling their own obligations after realizing the length of the memory of our court system. If one has a debt to society, and its been paid, one won’t have this situation to worry about.

  2 Responses to “Avoid Jail–Report A Crime”

Comments (2)
  1. less than 2% of reported rapes (as with most all crimes)are false accusations. You insinuate that she falsely reported rape to get out of her obligations of repayment for her crime as a juvenile.

    Your implications make me sick. It is always the victims fault isn’t it? She was probably asking for it.

    She was under the impression that she had taken care of her responsibility according to other news reports.

  2. I’d like to respond to Joel’s comment. I believe he has misinterpreted the article. I do not insinuate that this person reported rape simply to get out of her obligation. I simply note that there was not yet enough information to determine a crime actually occurred, yet in comparison, we do know the young lady committed a crime.

    Nor did my original article say anything at all about her “asking for it.” I believe I note there is no excuse for the rape happening.

    My issue is that the police officers are getting criticized for following what is a reasonable policy. Now we over-react, and change the policy, so in the future someone can, as Joel has suggested, find a loop hole to shirk their responsibility.

    If the young lady still has an outstanding obligation, she needs to take care of it. But this article is NOT about her, it’s about a change in the police policy, and it is about the inappropriate criticism of the police officers faced with this particular situation. They acted reasonably.

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