When Mr. Fenton interviewed victims of sexual assault — and, amazingly, current and former sex offense detectives — they described interrogations in which the police accused victims of making false accusations as cover for having cheated on a boyfriend or for having made a decision they regretted. It was, Mr. Bealefeld said at a City Council hearing on Wednesday, a unit that had “devolved into poor practices over an extended period of time.” Based on the response from the mayor and police commissioner, it’s hard to believe anyone in the unit could still believe that attitude is acceptable.
Thanks in part to reporting done by The Sun newspaper, the Senate Crime & Drugs subcommittee has asked the Office of Violence Against Women to discuss the problem of impunity in rape cases. Now if we can just get them to look at all the other cases – like those in family court, for another.
The Sun reported in July that Baltimore for years led the nation in the percentage of rape cases in which police concluded that the victim was lying, with more than 3 in 10 cases determined to be “unfounded.” Other cities have seen disturbingly high percentages of uninvestigated or dropped rape cases in years past, and a women’s advocate in Philadelphia pushed for the congressional hearing after the Sun’s investigation reignited concerns.
So the police are our first “judge & jury”…
The Sun analysis showed that four out of 10 calls to 911 over a five-year period had not generated a police report, having been dismissed by officers at the scene. Victims have reported being interrogated by detectives about their motives and truthfulness, while others said patrol officers ignored their allegations.
Kudos to the Baltimore Sun for Susan Reimer’s piece, In families’ tragic deaths, a hint of paternalism (Apr. 27).
With brutal honesty she says what most of us already know in the domestic violence field:
It wasn’t the economy. It wasn’t stress. It wasn’t mental illness.
It hit me the minute I heard the news – it was ownership.
When William Parente beat and suffocated his wife and two daughters before taking his own life, it wasn’t just because his shaky financial dealings were about to come crashing down on him.
And when Christopher Wood killed his wife and three children and then himself, it wasn’t just because he was $460,000 in debt and depressed.
Lots of people go through economic difficulty, even bankruptcy. These are not risk factors for killing. When men kill their wife and children, they are not “snapping” as a result of stress– often, in fact, it’s premeditated. Planning, however, does not include getting a consensus from the family, it involves the man making the executive decision. He makes the decisions, he executes the plans. Period. Until we stop making excuses and start getting to the root of the problem, we will suffer these fatal consequences. Thanks to the Baltimore Sun for shining a light on the root of the problem and stating what many of us are afraid to say (or hear).