Anyone familiar me or with this blog knows that I am a fierce defender of anyone who has been charged with a Massachusetts rape offense, or any Massachusetts sex offense. No, not because I don’t find rape or any sex offense to be repugnant – I very much do. Rather, it’s because that sex offenses, as a criminal law category, is one in which there is often more gray than there is black and white: Believe me, as a Massachusetts rape defense attorney, I can assure you: Just because someone accuses another person of “rape”, does NOT mean that the accused is legally guilty of that crime. If I were to tell you every case story I have represented, you would come to understand that the number of cases that re “black and white” are relatively small, compared with the number that fall into a very “gray” category.
Why? Ever hear of the word “revenge”? Ever hear of the word “jealously”? Ever hear of the word “shame”? Or “embarrassment”? Or “regret” or “buyer’s remorse”? Rape and sexual assault allegations can be dishonestly claimed for a variety of reasons. Just a few are:
- Revenge against a love interest who wouldn’t give or do something the alleged victim wanted (commit to a relationship, pay money, buy a car, to name just a few.)
- Revenge against a love interest that cheated on the “victim” (boyfriend/girlfriend.)
- Jealously, driven by learning that the target of the alleged “victim’s” desire, doesn’t feel the same way.
- A reputation-saving claim, driven by family shame that would result if the alleged “victim’s” family learned that the sex was consensual.
- A reputation-saving claim, driven by embarrassment at having slept with an unpopular member of a community (this usually happens in school settings.)
- A reputation-saving claim, driven by embarrassment at making the wrong decision when drunk (this can often happen at office party situations.)
- A marriage-saving claim, driven by fear of divorce if a spouse learned that the sex was consensual.
I also believe that when a defendant who has been accused of a sex offense has received an aggressive, zealous legal defense, and has been found guilty, a judge should also take into account any mitigating factors in terms of the defendant’s prior history, his or her prospects for correction, and the possibility that extensive jail time could turn him or her into an even worse person, once eventually released.
However, with all that said, I believe there are – and ought to be – limits to reasonable claims on behalf of a convicted rape defendant. And a good example of those limits has presented itself in the case of a convicted rapist who now seeks visitation rights to the child that is the product of the rape he committed against not only any victim, but a 14 year-old girl at the time. I’ll talk about this in Part Two of this post, in a few days.