Friday, April 20, 2012

Brooklyn False Rape Charges: Darrell Dula

Imagine that you (or a man you love) were wrongly accused of raping someone. You're arrested, fingerprinted and thrown into jail to await formal charges. Now in the 24 hours while you're familiarizing yourself with jailhouse protocol over telephone usage, how to avoid unwanted advances, which gang it would be proper for someone of your race and ethnicity to join, when not to look into another prisoner's eyes, the importance of responding promptly to guard commands and other important orientation action items, the victim admits to the police and prosecutors that she made it all up and actually signs a document stating so. 
Well that's lucky for you yes? You won't have to stay a minute more in jail and perhaps you can see about getting everything expunged from your record. No harm no foul. These things happen and maybe you and the arresting officers can have a beer summit at the White House some day.
But wait, now imagine that the prosecutor decides to go ahead with charges anyway because either they think the supposed victim is lying or because they don't like you very much or maybe they figure they need to keep their conviction rates high and you look like an easy win. And in addition they don't tell you or your attorney that the victim lied. And they keep you in jail for a year...
Such things couldn't happen in this country could they?

But sadly of course they do.
A Brooklyn man spent nearly a year behind bars on charges he raped an Orthodox Jewish woman — even though she recanted her accusation a day after making it.
Darrell Dula, 25, was released Tuesday and will likely have the case against him dropped after being in jail since June 28, 2011.
“I feel good. Thank God,” Dula told the Daily News Tuesday night as he played with his 3-year-old son for the first time in a year in front of his Crown Heights home.“I’m glad to be home with my family,” he said. “I’m still in shock. I’m traumatized. It wasn’t a good experience. They took me away on my son’s birthday. It was heartbreaking.”
The stunning turn of events came after Brooklyn prosecutors turned over a newly discovered statement that Dula’s 22-year-old accuser made to cops in which she says he never raped her. The alleged victim made a complaint to police on March 31, 2010, accusing Dula and his pal Damien Crooks, 32, of being part of a crew who raped, beat and pimped her out since age 13.
A day later, the woman told detectives she was a hooker for five years and made up the rape allegation, records show.
“I once again asked [her] if she was raped,” a detective wrote in a police report after the interview. “She told me ‘no’ and stated to me, ‘Can’t a ho change her ways?’
The woman also signed a recantation, but the case proceeded and in spring 2011, a grand jury voted to indict Dula, Crooks and two others who were allegedly part of the crew.
And of course the prosecutor who directly handled the case, Abbie Greenberger,  is now blaming her bosses for the situation. I guess that makes sense. No one wants to be the scapegoat. I understand and feel the same way. Of course when I mess up no one spends a year in jail....

Greenberger said she found inconsistencies in the 22-year-old accuser’s account, but couldn’t convince her boss there was a problem.
“When I brought the inconsistencies to Lauren Hersh (chief of the sex-trafficking unit at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office), I was told that I didn’t do my job right and that I’m trying to dismiss the case and that I should work harder,” Greenberger told the Daily News.
See the problem here believe it or not isn't just that the victim lied, although that is bad enough and she ought to face the same criminal penalties that the man faced. No the REAL problem (and perhaps Old Guru and/or The Janitor can weigh in on this) is that the prosecutor did not disclose this information to the defense attorney and/or judge. I'm no lawyer but I kind of thought that the prosecutor had a duty to do justice, not just win a conviction. Maybe not.

Now why did the prosecutor continue with this farce? Could it have been that the District Attorney has gotten a little too cozy with certain elements within the local Orthodox Jewish community? Could the DA have believed the so-called victim was telling the truth before she recanted? Could the DA have believed this fellow was better off in jail, regardless of whether or not he actually committed this crime? Could the DA have been responding to a feminist constituency that doesn't always seem to understand that women are no more moral than men and are just as capable of mendacity?
I don't know. All I know is that I would like to have believed that if I were wrongfully accused and the police and prosecutors knew that then they would take the necessary steps to stop the machinery of justice from moving forward and throw that bad boy in reverse, to right before the time when they told me "You're under arrest". But honestly I knew that was an unreal expectation even before I read this story. All it takes is being in the wrong place at the wrong time and your life can suddenly change. I don't have tens of thousands of dollars sitting around for bail or attorneys.
How do we fix this?
My ideas are pretty simple. 
  • Hold prosecutors and police personally and criminally responsible when they lie or hide evidence. They do a necessary if often unpleasant job. But they should not be above the law or get a free pass for this sort of thing.
  • When someone lies about rape and it can be proven as a lie, send them to prison for the same amount of time that the assailant would have served. 
  • Stop with the fiction that women never lie about things. They do. The entire point of the adversarial justice system is to hopefully let the truth come out and in such a way that someone is not convicted of a crime without evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. This requires a defense attorney that is going to get after the accuser.
  • Stop hiding the victim's (or in this case liar's) name from the public. Perhaps if more people had been aware of who this woman was someone might have come forward earlier. Rape is a horrible crime and should be punished most severely. But in order to do that we must ensure we're punishing the right people. That's why we need as much transparency as possible within the system.
What are your thoughts?
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