The headline above sounds like something out of Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan or Egypt. Someplace where women are considered chattel, eh?
But actually, it was the policy of the Norfolk, Va., Police Department until last week — when, (gasp!) it was changed to the opposite. Now, sex crimes detectives in the Tidewater city must actually assume that victims of sexual assaults are telling the truth.
It changed because a brave victim (her serial rapist attacker was later caught in Virginia Beach and convicted, and sentenced to 36 years in prison), wouldn’t put up with the third-degree she got from detectives after she was attacked in her Norfolk apartment in April 2012.
From the Virginian Pilot:
[Her attacker], a diagnosed serial rapist and sexual sadist, followed her home and sexually assaulted her. The victim later said a female investigator told her, “If we find out that you’re lying, this will be a felony charge.”
Later, during an interview at the Police Operations Center, two investigators from the Special Crimes Division doubted the victim’s story, she said, upsetting her to the point that she left the interview. Police closed the case, but reopened it after she went back and gave a written statement.
Why, you might ask, would cops automatically assume a sex-crime victim is lying? The story provides a hint:
Classifying a rape case as “unfounded” essentially means police don’t believe it happened, and it does not show up in crime statistics.
And here is the new policy, according to the story:
• Allowing victims to have a rape crisis advocate or personal representative present during the interview. If they decline, investigators will provide written information on organizations that can help.
• No longer classifying sexual assault cases as “unfounded.” Sexual assault reports will be considered valid, unless proven otherwise.
• Making sure victims are taken to the hospital and given a sexual assault examination within 72 hours.
Imagine, it took until the 21st century — and the prodding of a victimized woman who refused to be further victimized by some jerkwad cops and their jerkwad “policy” — for this to change.