Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Helen Mirren Catches Flack on Her Opinion on Prosecuting Date Rape.

Fellow crime blogger Corey Rayburn Yung of the blog Sex Crimes is blogging about the comments British actress Helen Mirren made concerning her victimization as a young actress on what used to be called "the Casting Couch". In fact she was the victim of a number of Date Rapes.

It seems Ms Mirren makes the following comment:

Dame Helen, who picked up an Academy Award last year for her portrayal of The Queen, said she was date-raped "a couple of times" when she was young but did not report the attacks because "you couldn't do that in those days."

Despite her experiences, the British-born actress said date-rape was a "tricky area" and something men and women had to work out between themselves.

She said it was rape if a couple engaged in sexual activity but the woman said "no" at the last second.

However, in comments likely to anger anti-rape campaigners, she added: "I don't think she can have that man into court under those circumstances. I guess it is one of the subtle parts of the men/women relationship that has to be negotiated and worked out between them."


Cory strongly disagrees and cites this well written thoughtful post

Abyss 2 Hope is a blog written not by a lawyer but by a novelist who was date raped at 15. She is speaking of the fact that a women (girl) could be naked in a bedroom alone with a boy and still be unwilling to have sex with him and that she would if otherwise forced to have sex be raped.

I have no quarrel with her on that point. I do in her comment section wonder however if it is right to expect a fair jury, one that would credit both sides otherwise unbroken testimony, to return a verdict in a case like the one abyss and Mirren describe of Guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

In other words, is there a time when it is too late (speaking in terms of trial) for a woman to say no?

I think that as a trial lawyer, that there is, all things being equal. I also question whether it is a good policy to teach young women that they can go so far as to be in a boyfriends room, be naked and expect a jury to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that a rape took place (assuming no other indicia of a rape exists).

I am not doubting the fact that a rape took place nor am I willing to assume based on nothing more than a woman's word, that under these circumstances it did (without at least a confession from the accused or some other physical indicia of a rape). I am saying that as a prosecutor I would not be surprised to find a jury unable to convict.

I even wonder if the jury could do so in a civil trial with a lower burden of proof without engaging in speculation?

This then begs the question, is there a point where the situation has gone too far to expect that a jury will convict someone for Rape? Was Mirren wrong to say that given these facts one should not be able to arrest a man for Rape without a greater case?

I would love to hear your opinions.
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