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Thursday, May 07, 2020

Welcome to Bizarro-World. The Political Struggle over Due Process in Alleged Sexual Assault Cases Gets Stranger.

I previously wrote about the hypocrisy of those politicians, such as Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who support Joe Biden and his candidacy for President of the United States, in the face of sexual assault and sexual misconduct allegations – despite their stance in alleged rape and sexual assault cases in the military justice system and college disciplinary systems.  See:

The hypocrisy arises based on these politicians previously ravaging the military justice system and the college disciplinary systems with their narratives that: 

1.  An allegation = guilt.
2.  A complainant would not lie about a sexual assault allegation.
3.  From the outset, the complainant must be believed.
4.  The investigation should be limited to finding evidence supporting the complainant and the allegation.
5.  An investigation of the other side of the case, and raising any questions about the complainant or the allegation, further victimizes the complainant who is automatically telling the truth.
6.  There should be severe restrictions on due process and the defense ability to investigate the case, question the complainant, and raise a defense. 
7.  There should be a presumption of guilt in sexual assault cases (regardless of the presumption of innocence in America).
8.  The military justice system and college disciplinary systems should reflect these complainant-centric narratives. 

One of the politicians who believes this skewed, inaccurate, and dangerous narrative – which is, at its core, un-American – is Congresswoman Jackie Speier.  But before I get to her, things got even stranger after that last blog post. 

Women’s and victim’s advocacy organizations began to make public statements in support of Joe Biden, calling his denial of Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegations against him a positive first step.  This is unbelievable given that these same groups, and the politicians working in concert with them, push the narrative that military members denying such allegations are not to be believed.  Some military members who make these denials are even being charged with false official statement, since the denials “must be untrue.” 

Then, vocal supporter for this complainant-centric narrative, actress and #metoo activist Alyssa Milano, issued a public statement that would have been heresy in these victim advocacy movements before the allegations against Joe Biden.  Milano’s statement said, in part (cue the gasp):

“I think when we get into this place of believing women, regardless of giving men due process, it actually does more harm to the movement than good.”

Welcome to the problem, Alyssa Milano.  You’re a little late to the party.  

And, right on cue, Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier has now ensured that confusion and hypocrisy rule the day.  She has always been a very vocal advocate of the “allegation = guilt” narrative in sexual assault cases.  But, she still supports Joe Biden’s candidacy for President.  She has not dropped that support.  Confused yet? 

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, announced changes to the college disciplinary system, to allow for basic due process for those accused of sexual assault.  In response, Congresswoman Speier, who endorses the man most currently famous for being accused of sexual assault, has doubled down on her opposition to due process for the accused in college allegations of sexual assault.  She issued a scathing public statement opposing the idea that the accused should have basic due process protections, arguing, in essence, that it victimizes complainants who should automatically be believed!  Confused now? 

Finally, at least for today’s bizarro-world update, Joe Biden then issued his own public statement promising that if he is elected President, he will reverse these new rules!  He stated:

[The new college due process rules] “shame and silence” survivors of sexual assault.  He went on to state “It’s wrong, and, it will be put to a quick end in January 2021, because as president, I’ll be right where I always have been throughout my career – on the side of survivors, who deserve to have their voices heard, their claims taken seriously and investigated, and their rights upheld.”

Unbelievable!  Hypocrisy appears to be the new normal.  The military justice system, the college disciplinary system, and public discourse about sexual assault allegations and due process are all suffering due to the shameless, abject hypocrisy of these politicians.  It is disgraceful.

For more information about the military justice system, particularly cases alleging rape and/or sexual assault in violation of UCMJ Article 120, type “rape” or “sexual assault” into the search bar above the blog posts, and also see:

We offer free consultations for a case you may be involved in.  Just call us.  Thank you. 

By:  Attorney Richard V. Stevens
Civilian criminal defense lawyer and military defense lawyer
Military Defense Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens, P.C.

Blog postscript: I (attorney Richard V. Stevens) am a former active duty military lawyer (JAG). My perspectives and advice, therefore, are based upon my experience as military defense lawyer and as a civilian criminal defense lawyer practicing exclusively in the area of military law and military justice. This blog addresses issues in military law, military justice, military discipline, military defense, court-martial practice, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and other military and/or legal topics. Nothing posted in this blog should be substituted for legal advice in any particular case. If you seek legal advice for a particular case, please contact The Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens for a free consultation. These military defense law offices are located in the Washington DC, Northern Virginia, Maryland, National Capital Region (NCR), but the military defense representation is worldwide – when necessary, the attorneys travel to wherever the client is stationed around the world.

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