Spotlight on Rape Issues Spawns New Breed of Ambulance Chasers

WHO WE ARE-Every person must be provided the opportunity to be defended by a lawyer in court. The equity of our judicial system is directly proportionate to that access. This is the foundation of our justice system and shouldn’t be disrupted. 

That said; I recently discovered the job of rape defense lawyer. Call me naïve, but this concept is an entirely new and disgusting career track to me – for a variety of reasons. 

I’m sure that there is a good reason that we must have rape defense lawyers in this world. Certainly, there are false accusations of rape that must be vigorously defended. Knowing that the infrastructure of reporting rape is frighteningly oriented towards discouraging prosecution of rape and that victims are strongly encouraged intimidated to just walk away, however, leads me to view those accused of rape as probably guilty. 

Maybe that’s a failing of my own, but I have a hard time believing the innocence in the rare cases when the victim weathered institutional pressure not to press charges AND when wary prosecutors found insufficient reasons to avoid accepting the case. 

Rape is a physical and psychological act of violence that robs its victims of a sense of person by removing from them the choice to share their inner most self with another person. It demoralizes victims mentally and corrupts within them the natural feelings of a sexual identity. Before, you feel a certainty that is stolen from you in a moment that you will come to fear at every corner and future encounter. Its effects last forever and the horridness of rape cannot be understated. 

Naturally, convicted rapists are shunned, placed on a database and required to live the rest of their own miserable lives announcing their guilt. I believe this is good, for rape is a crime against humanity that is so atrocious that normal people don’t do it. Clearly, I’m a biased father of three girls – not that I would feel any different with three boys. Don’t bother to read any further if you expect me to be objective. 

Considering these easy biases against rapist, those facing trial would naturally find significant challenges getting representation. This is where the dark side of market forces has swooped in to create the specialization of rape lawyer. 

Viewing a few websites for rape lawyers in Los Angeles has proven to be an education in disgust. Obviously, their job is to find ways in which to diminish the credibility of the accuser and either portray the encounter as consensual or as a complete fabrication by the accuser. 

Beyond that initial effort to defend against the accusation is the real perversion of justice. The more successful firms tout their ability to find ways in which to “mitigate sentencing” after you are convicted. 

Rape sentencing in California ranges from 3-8 years depending on the nature of the crime. Judges have some leeway to add on five years at their discretion in extenuating circumstances. 

Differences in sentencing can be chosen based on whether the perpetrator had a weapon, inflicted great bodily harm, had a criminal history, whether the rape was spontaneous or planned, whether the rape was achieved by leveraging some authority or personal trust, and (among a litany of additional sentencing criteria) whether or not the rape included some significant loss of monetary value to the victim. Some perverse stipulations, in my opinion, but these are some of the current legal differentiations. 

A good rape lawyer, apparently, will have the capacity to negotiate convicted rapists through the sentencing process to mitigate sentencing. Some of the low water marks I found include the basic scummy argument that the victim initiated or provoked the rape and therefore, the sentencing should be less. 

Other, more surprising factors to me, include whether or not the convicted rapist “exercised caution to avoid harm to persons or damage to property, or the amounts of money or property taken was deliberately small, or no harm was done or threatened against the victim”. That was a quote from the website of the good people at Wallin & Klarich, a firm specializing in rape defense here in Southern California. 

How you could rape someone while still exercising caution not to harm that person is, politely put, an anachronism, but whether or not you damaged that person’s property is a wild one to me. I guess if you raped someone and then took $5 for coffee afterwards, but left the rest of the victim’s wallet untouched, then that somehow lessens the impact of the rape and qualifies you for a compassionate sentencing? 

Perhaps, as the website moves on to say, “you believed that you had a claim or right to the property taken, or for other reasons mistakenly believed that your conduct was legal”. How could someone’s misinterpretation of property law somehow make that “person” think rape is a legal tool to solve the disagreement? And again, how does that lessen the impact of rape? 

I’ll stop at those two because I think it’s clear that this is just gross. Gross, gross, gross. Do your own research if you want to be further grossed out. 

Before you do, however, consider the fact that these vantage points for mitigating sentencing for convicted rapists exist because they work and experienced rape lawyers know that they work. Their ability to use these vantage points to the benefit of a convicted rapist is that law firms’ selling point. This is tragic. 

The reason I’m writing about rape lawyers this week relates to some casual observations. Over the last month, for whatever reason, I’ve noted some variations in reporting about rape in the media that have always been innately unsettling to me, but for reasons I have either not articulated to myself or have not really hit home for me personally. 

Date rape has clearly, from its inception, been insidious. Just because you go out to the movies, to dinner, or god forbid, a bar, then your rape is somehow different than if you’re walking down the street and are randomly attacked? This is not to say that the psychological fallout for both cases is the same, but is one rape really fundamentally different when dealt with by the judicial system that the category of date rape versus rape is necessary? 

Why do we have so many iterations of rape in the first place? Why is there aggravated rape versus just plain rape? Is one really less aggressive? Where on the compendium of rape does spousal rape fall in the eyes of a jury? Or better yet, corrective rape? Or prison rape? Or ritualistic rape? 

There is a dangerous and destructive insinuation when we categorize rape by type, both in the media and in the court room, and while proponents of such a system may argue that it aids in the investigation of circumstance, I ask, isn’t it all still rape? 

In the end, if you were raped by your husband or raped by a stranger, you were still raped and in the eyes of our judicial system, it shouldn’t matter who committed the crime or under what circumstances the crime was committed. Your rape lawyer can still defend you in your rape case based on the circumstances in which the crime was committed. We don’t need to categorize the rape. 

The only thing we achieve by differentiating rape by type, is to create a sense of hierarchy in rapes and that, I believe, is one of the fundamental issues that perpetuates a culture where victims are dissuaded to report and press charges while the ones brave enough to do so are immediately placed in the position of defending themselves. It really should be the other way around. 

{module [862]} {module [662]} 


But by permitting rape typing, we subliminally place the victim in the position of defending the typology of rape. After all, there is an unavoidable implied consent inherent to the term date rape that perverts the focus of any trial resulting from a so-called “date rape” because it creates an unavoidable need for the victim to unnecessarily rationalize his/her actions that preceded the rape. 

Sadly, it’s probably the bread and butter of a rape lawyer and one of the ways that rape tolerance has been institutionalized into our culture. Bottom line, rape is rape no matter the circumstances surrounding it and until we simplify our categorization to simply rape, we will perpetuate its existence in our culture.


(Odysseus Bostick is a Los Angeles teacher and former candidate for the Los Angeles City Council. He writes The Bostick Report for CityWatch.)







Vol 12 Issue 65

Pub: Aug 12, 2014