Nifonged in Narragansett: The Madness Continues

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The infamous Duke Non-Rape, Non-Kidnapping, and Non-Sexual Assault Case is in our rearview mirror, but the spirit of the rogue prosecutor Michael B. Nifong lives on. Rhode Island’s attorney general now apparently is attempting to channel Nifongism and take it to places that even Nifong himself could not have imagined.

The following news story definitely describes one of the more outrageous prosecutions we might have seen yet, and compared to the Duke case, it makes Crystal Gail Mangum’s statements look true by comparison:

Man charged 32 years after alleged rape

Saturday, June 23, 2007

By Edward Fitzpatrick
Journal Staff Writer

A 48-year-old Narragansett man has been charged with raping someone 32 years ago when both he and the alleged victim were 16 years old, the attorney general’s office said this week.

Harold Allen, of 30 Riverview Rd., was indicted last month on a charge of first-degree sexual assault, and he pleaded not guilty, court records show. Allen is accused of raping the girl in North Kingstown between April 1 and Oct. 31, 1975, the records show.

"The traumatized victim decided back then not to tell anybody what happened and repressed the memory of it until recently," said Michael J. Healey, a spokesman for Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch’s office. "The victim came forward and made a complaint to the North Kingstown Police Department on June 15, 2006."

No statute of limitations applies to charges of first-degree sexual assault, but Healey agreed it’s unusual for charges to be filed more than three decades after an alleged crime. "It is definitely out of the norm, but it’s not unheard of," he said.

Mr. Allen, it should be noted, vigorously denies all of the allegations:

Stone said Allen is now married, has two children who are high school age or older, and has never faced any criminal charges before — not even a traffic offense. "He was shocked," Stone said. "He says they never had intercourse — willing, unwilling or otherwise."

Stone said Allen and the woman grew up in the same neighborhood and their families knew each other, but they were never boyfriend and girlfriend. "They were two teenagers who sat out on a rock and drank beer and wine in the neighborhood with other teenagers, as teenagers did," he said.

As one who has really looked hard at the politics of rape and how the law handles such claims today, even this one floors me. I will examine this claim in detail and point out that what the attorney general of Rhode Island has done has been to give the middle finger to due process and the rule of law. In other words, it is par for the course for prosecutors these days.

First, and most important, there is no evidence except for this woman’s claim. Furthermore, she made her claim under the aegis of "recovered memories." The "theory" of recovered memories works in the following way: some people who have experienced traumatic experiences, such as a rape or witnessing a murder, then "repress" the memory and only bring it out under therapy.

What is most "interesting" (actually, "fraudulent" is a much better word) about these "memories" that have been brought to the fore is that they are memories that have improved with time. Researchers who are intimately familiar with memories say unequivocally that memories become worse over time.

Second, these "recovered memories" are selective. No doubt, she is forthcoming in all sorts of details about this "rape," but cannot remember when it was, whether it was in the spring, summer, or fall, a seven-month time frame. Granted, the prosecutor has done that so that Mr. Allen cannot possibly line up an alibi defense, since if he says he was out of town on Day X, then the prosecution then will claim that the rape happened on Day Y, and when he finds evidence for what he did on Day Y, then the timeline will be moved to Day Z, and so on.

Third, taking a page out of Nifong’s prosecution book, Lynch, the Rhode Island AG, held onto the story and did not make an arrest until after the indictment. He did this in order to avoid a preliminary hearing, yet another grievous beach of due process. When the allegations were made, or when he decided that they were "credible," he could have ordered Mr. Allen arrested.

However, once he did that, the defendant than could request a preliminary hearing in which the prosecution would have been forced to present its evidence, and the complainant could have been put under cross examination. Obviously, Lynch wanted to avoid having to deal directly with the evidence, given that he has none, except a woman who suddenly claims to have "remembered" a rape that allegedly occurred in 1975.

One has to understand the utter cynicism in cases like this. The enablers of the accuser — people like Wendy Murphy and others who were front-and-center in making accusations in the Duke case — will claim that if the woman did not confide in anyone when she was 16, it was because the rape traumatized her, which then would be trotted out as "proof" that the rape occurred. And if she did speak to someone, that, too, would be considered as "proof." Only with the politics of rape can one make mutually-exclusive claims, yet both are believed simultaneously and without question.

(Murphy, one might recall, was declaring that after North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper dropped the charges against the three Duke defendants — even though he said that Mangum wanted to take the charges to a trial — the reason Cooper "had" to drop the charges was that one of the lacrosse parents had "paid off" Mangum and her family. Thus, Murphy is trying to say simultaneously that Mangum wanted to continue the charade and yet drop it at the same time. She provided no evidence for the alleged payoff; she was making an ex cathedra statement that she expected the rest of us to believe without any qualifications whatsoever.)

Furthermore, these charges are not being filed by a small-town prosecutor or someone who cannot be controlled by the state’s attorney general. Indeed, these charges are being filed by Rhode Island’s attorney general, who wants the rest of us to believe that all that is needed to bring serious criminal charges is the claim that someone has experienced "recovered memories."

Of course, the very use of "recovered memories" therapy is controversial in itself, and pretty much fits into the "junk science" category. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists:

“Psychiatrists are advised to avoid engaging in any “memory recovery techniques” which are based upon the expectation of past sexual abuse of which the patient has no memory. Such…techniques may include drug-mediated interviews ["truth serum"], hypnosis, regression therapies, guided imagery, “body memories,” literal dream interpretation, and journaling. There is no evidence that the use of consciousness-altering techniques, such as drug-mediated interviews or hypnosis, can reveal or accurately elaborate factual information about any past experiences, including sexual abuse.”

One might recall that one of the most controversial acts that Nifong did — other than bringing the original charges — was to completely change the timeline of the alleged crimes and change the nature of the alleged attacks, all on the "improved" memory of Mangum that came nine months after the original rape was said to have occurred. In other words, Nifong was claiming that memory improves with time, which simply is not true.

I have another word to describe what Lynch has done: fraud. Here is someone so hell-bent on bringing rape charges that he ignores all good science and depends upon discredited "junk science" to bring a case for which a defendant cannot be expected to mount any kind of defense, since the government simply will be able to constantly move the boundaries.

That the AG would bring these kinds of charges immediately after the Nifong affair was big news, speaks to the arrogance of prosecutors in general. They have become a law unto themselves, and apparently believe that it is their right and duty to defraud the criminal justice system. Given that Rhode Island is what one might call a "politically correct" state, we can expect the AG to have his bevy of supporters. No doubt, Wendy Murphy herself will weigh in on this nonsense and claim that Mr. Allen must be a rapist, since someone used "recovered memories" to accuse him of that crime. That alone, people will argue, constitutes "proof" that he is guilty.

Thus, the Nifongery continues as the "guardians" of the law use the law to attack the law. Such is the state of modern American "justice."

June 27, 2007

William L. Anderson, Ph.D. [send him mail], teaches economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland, and is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He also is a consultant with American Economic Services.

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