Mike Nifong [the former prosecutor in Durham North Carolina] did what prosecutors almost always do when a complainant comes to them alleging a sexual assault: He took his complainant at her word and went full speed ahead with a prosecution. The fact is that few if any prosecutors wait for corroborating evidence or insist on more than one person's say so before initiating a sexual assault prosecution. Indeed, they'd be vilified if they did. The cardinal rule of sexual assault complaints is "believe the victim," and since anyone who complains is deemed a victim, even a semi-credible complainant can generate an arrest and prosecution in the absence of physical evidence, additional witnesses, or even a prompt accusation. This isn't just the case in Durham; it's true almost everywhere. The widespread support for this questionable practice is such that if the Duke case had gone to a jury and the defendants had been convicted, Nifong would not only still have his law license—he'd have been lionized for his dogged pursuit of rich white kids.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
The Duke Prosecution, and On the Mantra "Believe the [Alleged] Victim [in Sexual Assault Cases]"
David Feige, One-Off Offing, Why you won't see a disbarment like Mike Nifong's again, Slate (June 18, 2007):