Sunday, September 10, 2006

Crime and punishment

A freshman at Indiana University who claimed she was sexually assaulted twice has "admitted Friday that she fabricated both reports". (See a previous story here.)

While I understand why the Herald-Times does not publish the names of alleged sexual assault victims, her name should have been published since she clearly was not assaulted. She's not a victim, she's a criminal, and this woman needs to be prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Fabricating a charge of rape is utterly despicable on two fronts. First, it makes some people less likely to believe a real rape victim when she comes forward and discourages real victims from reporting the assault. Second and just as important, fabricating a charge of rape unfairly and immorally tarnishes (and sometimes ruins) the reputation of the man unjustly accused. At least this student did not specifically name anyone.

In another criminal justice matter, the Herald-Times chose a poor headline for an Associated Press article. When I read a headline about a "police beating", I assume the guy was hit a lot more than three times. The headline was unnecessarily inflammatory and the Herald-Times should issue a retraction.

That said, from what was published in the article I do not think the police did anything wrong. They had no way of knowing that the man had a health problem, and was not drunk. When he became physically confrontational, they had to take measures to subdue him. What happened is certainly a tragedy, but the police handled it as well as they could have given the circumstances.