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Anonymity For Sex-Accused Until Conviction?  
User currently offlineRussianJet From Kyrgyzstan, joined Jul 2007, 7633 posts, RR: 23
Posted (1 year 2 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 1417 times:
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This item is in BBC news today, containing a view from a senior lawyer suggesting that those accused of sexual offences should have their identity kept private until such time as they may be convicted.

This item is particularly timely, hot on the heels of the news here in the UK that a well-known actor from the popular soap Coronation Street has been charged with sex crimes against a child.

The main point is that he considers sexual offences to carry a particular stigma, not always accorded to other types of crimes, and it's hard to honestly refute this claim. But, for many of those found not guilty at trial that stigma may well stick regardless of the verdict. In the UK, alleged victims of sexual offences have a right to anonymity - a right I am certainly in favour of.

The question is whether the accused should have the same right, given the unique attitude towards such offences and the fact that people are considered innocent until proven guilty in British law.

I can't see too much of a problem with it at first glance, as on conviction the names of offenders would be released. I guess it might well be one of the worst nightmares of any man to be accused of sexual offences they hadn't committed. Imagine if you were then found innocent at trial, but your name had been all over the papers for months associated with vile acts?

What say you?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21487266


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20 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinebristolflyer From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 2271 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (1 year 2 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 1404 times:

If they pose a risk to the public after their arrest then their details should be given out so people can avoid them.


Fortune favours the brave
User currently offlineRussianJet From Kyrgyzstan, joined Jul 2007, 7633 posts, RR: 23
Reply 2, posted (1 year 2 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 1401 times:
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Quoting bristolflyer (Reply 1):
If they pose a risk to the public after their arrest then their details should be given out so people can avoid them.

Well, if they are deemed to pose sufficient risk they should either be remanded in custody or given strictly-monitored bail conditions. That will normally be the case, so this shouldn't really be a significant factor in deciding whether to grant anonymity until conviction.



✈ Every strike of the hammer is a blow against the enemy. ✈
User currently offlineseb146 From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 11131 posts, RR: 15
Reply 3, posted (1 year 2 months 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 1336 times:

There are some jurisdictions in the States who give "sex offender" status to those who urinate in public. That should not happen, IMO. Also, I think those who are accused should not have their names released until after trial. "Innocent until proven guilty" is what people say. Until their family becomes a victim. Some people are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time or share something in common with the accused. So, the name of the one charged should be with held until they are proven to be the one who commited the crime. In my opinion.


Life in the wall is a drag.
User currently offlineAR385 From Mexico, joined Nov 2003, 5946 posts, RR: 30
Reply 4, posted (1 year 2 months 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 1312 times:
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I believe the identity should be kept from the public until convicted. If the person is a risk, he should not be out while awaiting trial, period.


MGGS
User currently offlineFlyDeltaJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2006, 1787 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (1 year 2 months 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 1300 times:

I think that if there is a law in place such as in India where the accuser has their identity hidden then the law should cover the accused as well. In the us there is a "unwritten rule" that the accuser's identity is hidden for sexual crimes. That should apply to the accused as well. The problem is the media is fixated on sensationalisim and scowers for every detail of an accused criminals life, in many cases convicting that person in the press before they even face trial.


The only valid opinions are those based in facts
User currently offlineN1120A From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 26196 posts, RR: 76
Reply 6, posted (1 year 2 months 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 1282 times:

The problem is the long history of public access to the courts.

Quoting RussianJet (Thread starter):

This item is in BBC news today, containing a view from a senior lawyer suggesting that those accused of sexual offences should have their identity kept private until such time as they may be convicted.

There is a very strong argument for that.

Quoting seb146 (Reply 3):
There are some jurisdictions in the States who give "sex offender" status to those who urinate in public. That should not happen, IMO

Agreed. In an attempt to punish and protect, they have gone WAY too far.



Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
User currently offlinebabybus From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (1 year 2 months 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 1227 times:

You know what, I'm on the fence in this debate.

I understand anonymity for the victim but surely you need to publish the name of the accused so as to let other potential victims and witnesses come forward in the case?

We all know that people accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty. It's always been that way.


User currently offlineAesma From France, joined Nov 2009, 6110 posts, RR: 9
Reply 8, posted (1 year 2 months 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 1223 times:

Here the "perp walk" is considered offensive and is illegal. Courts are open for all to witness (unless children are involved) but there are no camera allowed. There is also no such thing as a public sex offenders list and I doubt it would be constitutional.

There has been tragic cases of people accused of pedophile acts that committed suicide after the public outrage and it was discovered later that they were innocent, but I'm not sure how it's handled now. One thing is for sure is that we are far less "puritan" that the US/UK and for example a professor having consensual sex with a 16 years old, while potentially illegal, will never make the news.



New Technology is the name we give to stuff that doesn't work yet. Douglas Adams
User currently offlineWestJet747 From Canada, joined Aug 2011, 1788 posts, RR: 10
Reply 9, posted (1 year 2 months 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 1215 times:

I strongly believe in "innocent until proven guilty", and as such I believe in "privacy until proven guilty". The perp walk that is so popular in the US is barbaric and I can't believe that it is legal.

Quoting babybus (Reply 7):
I understand anonymity for the victim but surely you need to publish the name of the accused so as to let other potential victims and witnesses come forward in the case?

Then why don't we just put face of every accused on a billboard in town just in case there are other victims out there?

Infringing on someone's right to privacy just because there may be other victims is something that has always bothered me. It also doesn't always work. There's no shortage of cases where other "victims" have come forward only to be proven to not be victims at all, these people just wanted attention or money.



Flying refined.
User currently offlineMaverick623 From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 5430 posts, RR: 6
Reply 10, posted (1 year 2 months 2 days ago) and read 1172 times:

Quoting Aesma (Reply 8):
One thing is for sure is that we are far less "puritan" that the US/UK and for example a professor having consensual sex with a 16 years old, while potentially illegal, will never make the news.

I remember the confusion in the French press over the media circus involving Dominique Strauss-Kahn a few years ago.



"PHX is Phoenix, PDX is the other city" -777Way
User currently offlineRussianJet From Kyrgyzstan, joined Jul 2007, 7633 posts, RR: 23
Reply 11, posted (1 year 2 months 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 1151 times:
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Quoting babybus (Reply 7):

We all know that people accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty. It's always been that way.

Little consolation if you get beaten up or your house torched.



✈ Every strike of the hammer is a blow against the enemy. ✈
User currently offlinebongodog1964 From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2006, 3475 posts, RR: 3
Reply 12, posted (1 year 2 months 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 1128 times:

Quoting RussianJet (Reply 11):
Quoting babybus (Reply 7):

We all know that people accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty. It's always been that way.

Little consolation if you get beaten up or your house torched.

To my mind the naming of people arrested/charged with offences often leads to a presumption of guilt prior to the case ever coming to court, in a number of high profile cases the accused despite being found not guilty is forever stigmatised by the accusation.
The only people who generally benefit from these media frenzies are firstly the police who often tip off journalists so it looks as if they are doing something, and secondly the media who then sell more papers.

I can immediately think of few cases which have gone spectacularly wrong, two being:

The landlord of a girl in Bristol who was arrested and named after her murder, vilified in the press whilst the police seemingly sat back smugly assuming they had the perpetrator, meanwhile the real perpetrator was the tenant of the flat next door.

The former tv presenter John Leslie, a big name star in his day, had his career ruined after a former assistant claimed she had been raped, she never said who did it, but a 3rd party named him as the likely attacker which the victim never confirmed.

When cases here involve anyone remotely famous, the police seem to drag them out of their house at 7am, with the media mysteriously being on hand to take photographs.
It is all being orchestrated to make the accused look guilty.

Months later if the case ever comes to court, the first thing potential jurors are asked is if the media coverage has influenced their views, how could it not ?


User currently offlineRussianJet From Kyrgyzstan, joined Jul 2007, 7633 posts, RR: 23
Reply 13, posted (1 year 2 months 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 1125 times:
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Quoting bongodog1964 (Reply 12):
The landlord of a girl in Bristol who was arrested and named after her murder, vilified in the press whilst the police seemingly sat back smugly assuming they had the perpetrator, meanwhile the real perpetrator was the tenant of the flat next door.

The former tv presenter John Leslie, a big name star in his day, had his career ruined after a former assistant claimed she had been raped, she never said who did it, but a 3rd party named him as the likely attacker which the victim never confirmed.

Two excellent examples. I think I recall the Bristol landlord saying he was going to take legal action, did that ever happen?



✈ Every strike of the hammer is a blow against the enemy. ✈
User currently offlineFlyDeltaJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2006, 1787 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (1 year 2 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 1082 times:

Quoting bongodog1964 (Reply 12):
When cases here involve anyone remotely famous, the police seem to drag them out of their house at 7am, with the media mysteriously being on hand to take photographs.
It is all being orchestrated to make the accused look guilty.



This is a classic example of the authorities trying a case in the media. This happens all the time. People get wrongly convicted because of it. Even when evidence comes out to exonerate them, the narrative that the press pushed sticks in people's mind so well that their guilt can never be fully disproved. Perfect example of this is the case of the Central Park 5 in New York City.



The only valid opinions are those based in facts
User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 18704 posts, RR: 58
Reply 15, posted (1 year 2 months 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 1049 times:

There is a pressing need for sex crimes reform. It's all very simple to pass more and more restrictive laws, but they don't solve the problem.

As it stands right now, there are "unavoidable crimes" for which you can be prosecuted.

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/09/12/...-sending-22-year-old-man-to-prison

In this case, a 22yo man clicked on a link and downloaded child porn he didn't want. He immediately deleted it. A year later, the FBI shows up on his doorstep and finds the deleted files still barely recoverable on his hard drive. The investigators conceded that he could not have accessed those files in their state and that only high-end recovery software could recover those files. He's basically being forced to plea bargain, will go to jail, wind up on the sex offender list, etc.

Now, he was doing something legal, which is that he was an adult downloading adult porn. There is nothing he could possibly have done to know a priori that he was downloading child porn until he opened the file.

Similarly, if an adult interacts with a minor on a website that is only for adults and exchanges nude pics, even if the adult asked the minor for a pic of the driver's license to ensure that the minor was an adult and the minor showed a pic of a fake license, the adult is still criminally liable.

This is absurd. To commit a crime, you should have to show that there was criminal intent. In these situations, the ADULT is actually the victim of child pornography because the adult did not want child pornography or to be indecent to a child, but was coerced into doing so under false pretenses by the child. Or sometimes another adult. The protected class (the child) is actually the offender, but the adult takes the heat.

This TERRIFIES me as a pediatrician. Someone could bring down my entire career by sending me an E-mail with a kiddie porn in it. I don't even have to view it. The fact that it ever touched my hard drive, even if I was unaware that it was there, I am liable... that just terrifies me.

It's like charging the guy who got shot with a crime.

[Edited 2013-02-17 23:51:55]

User currently offlineQuokkas From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (1 year 2 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 1021 times:

Quoting babybus (Reply 7):
I understand anonymity for the victim

Anonymity of the victim is actually anonymity of the person making the accusation. Describing the accuser as "the victim" presumes that she is a victim and that the accused is guilty, before it has been established in court through the hearing of evidence. I don't wish to minimise the seriousness of rape and the trauma of having to relive it all in court but just because somebody claims something happened a certain way and involved a certain person does not mean it is always true.

Protecting the identity of the accuser while publishing that of the accused stacks the deck in favour of the prosecution, whatever the eventual determination. Despite the presumption of innocence at trial, the consequences for the accused can be devastating. A person accused suffers the indignity of his life being plastered all over the gutter press (who have no interest in facts but only wish to sell papers), he may lose his job, be abused in the street or worse. Many people don't believe in innocent unless proven guilty; they believe that where there's smoke there's fire. In the interests of both parties it would be better to treat them the same until guilt or innocence is established.


User currently offlinebongodog1964 From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2006, 3475 posts, RR: 3
Reply 17, posted (1 year 2 months 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 1008 times:

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 15):
This TERRIFIES me as a pediatrician.

If you want to be terrified, what about the case here in the UK where the local "out a nonce squad" didn't know the difference between a pediatrician and a paedophile ?

Its very unfortunate that we have a significant number of people who do not know the difference between being "accused" and being "convicted"


User currently offlinemoo From Falkland Islands, joined May 2007, 3829 posts, RR: 5
Reply 18, posted (1 year 2 months 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 989 times:

Quoting babybus (Reply 7):
I understand anonymity for the victim but surely you need to publish the name of the accused so as to let other potential victims and witnesses come forward in the case?

We don't rely on that for burglary, assault, theft, murder or anything else, so why should we rely on that for offences of a sexual nature?

Also, you don't need to release names to get the desired effect, for example see this very recent news story:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-21389587

No names, but very specific date ranges and locations.


User currently offlinebabybus From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (1 year 2 months 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 972 times:

Quoting bongodog1964 (Reply 12):
To my mind the naming of people arrested/charged with offences often leads to a presumption of guilt prior to the case ever coming to court, in a number of high profile cases the accused despite being found not guilty is forever stigmatised by the accusation.

The public's memory is very short. I wonder could anyone (on the top of a Clapham omnibus) name the people involved in either of the two cases you mentioned. Also people move on too, to new areas or countries. I don't know of any cases where people who were accused of any serious crime were beaten up after the case came to court and they were cleared.

Quoting moo (Reply 18):
No names, but very specific date ranges and locations.

I don't see anything wrong with that article or approach. They have reason to believe this man committed serious crimes and want people to come forward. If the police were wrong the man could sue the police for loss of reputation or income. That's easy.


User currently offlinemoo From Falkland Islands, joined May 2007, 3829 posts, RR: 5
Reply 20, posted (1 year 2 months 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 964 times:

Quoting babybus (Reply 19):
I don't see anything wrong with that article or approach. They have reason to believe this man committed serious crimes and want people to come forward.

That's my point - no names, and yet the task is still being achieved.

Quoting babybus (Reply 19):
If the police were wrong the man could sue the police for loss of reputation or income.

Aside from the fact that if no names are mentioned, there is no issue of loss of reputation (income is another matter, you can lose that simply by being arrested), I wouldn't ever condone the police being sued for simply doing their job - investigating.

But its easier to argue that no long term damage has been done to a person accused wrongly of something if their name has not already been associated with the accusation in the public's mind.

Sexual crimes are one of those things where the accusation is very public currently, but when the police clear someone of an accusation that is usually lost in the back pages of a newspaper somewhere - the accusation gets wide press coverage, the clearing of the suspect doesn't. The damage lingers on because of that.

Besides, using the name only really helps in cases where the victim and perpetrator know each other - it certainly doesn't help when a suspect is arrested or questioned on stranger rape charges. So why does the name still get released then?


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