Rushing to Judgment in Sex Offender Cases is a real problem affecting innocent defendants in courtrooms across the country every day. Urban myths such as ‘children would never lie about something like this,’ ‘I would never tell a victim that I don’t believe them,’ or ‘he/she must be guilty of something‘ is wrong-headed thinking and it keeps jurors distracted from the actual facts of the case.
“The more sensational the allegation, the more scrupulously it needs to be investigated. And if the original tip doesn’t survive scrutiny, so be it.”
Hopefully this Rolling Stone fiasco will serve as a teachable moment for everyone who rushed to (the wrong) judgment – but even if this was a rare journalistic failure, it happens in courtrooms across America every day.
Rushing to Judgment in Sex Offender Cases is the rule, not the exception. I’ve stood next to individuals who committed no crime more serious than being in the wrong place at the wrong time – placing themselves in a situation where an allegation could be made against them that could not be ‘dis-proven.’ (And yes, the burden does seem to shift in these cases, although it isn’t supposed to.) After those cases concluded – many in a “Not Guilty” verdict, they were still never welcomed back into society, even as their names were cleared.
Call your local criminal defense attorney and say thank you, and remember that he or she stood by you when everyone else was so outraged by the sensational allegations that they never bothered to investigate.