Justice is only as good as the amount of logic and reasoning involved. Between twelve people, a judge and two potentially lying parties, justice is put through a rigorous test.
You hear stories constantly on Nancy Grace or other crime shows of justice being served; guilty parties getting what they deserve. What happens when one is given a fair trial, but reasonable doubt exists of their guilt – and they are still found guilty? What if there is no physical evidence to incriminate someone, but they’re still found guilty? Should hearsay be considered good enough? I don’t think so.
In a nation where one is innocent until proven guilty, I firmly believe that there should be physical evidence present to convict someone of a crime. Fingerprints, murder weapons – and in the case of rape – DNA evidence.
In a rape case, your character is relied on more heavily than anything. Rape cases to me are completely exempt from the realm of “justice” because of the fact that they can go on without a single shred of physical evidence. In one example I personally know of, the case was decided on words and words alone. This is the “justice” I witnessed.
I witnessed a man in his early to mid 50’s, debilitated by a failed spinal fusion surgery slowly walk to the stand to face charges of raping his daughter from the ages of 9 to 18. In all, he faced 10 charges of child sexual conduct which would surely put him behind bars for life.
Most of the family showed up. On one side of the room were those supporting the accused; the other was for the accuser. This was no overhyped television courtroom – just a small room, no bigger than a typical classroom. Now, the first indicator that this man was being dealt with in the wrong way was the fact that it took over a year for this trial to even convene. He had to sit in jail, without a trial, for over a year. So that speedy trial thing is already out the window. He was denied parole on the grounds that he was a “flight risk” – the man had just come off of a botched spinal fusion surgery with no rehabilitation, and didn’t have a lot of money to his name. My ass.
What I saw and heard during the trial changed my outlook on the meaningless word “justice” forever.
It was revealed that the man was not the best father to his son or daughter. He wasn’t consistently an abrasive tool, but he had his moments. He was an alcoholic, and relied on pain pills to ease the pain of his scoliosis-stricken back and pain from his missing right foot. He spanked his kids and on occasion would get violent. There were also accounts of his caring nature, such as nursing a fallen seagull back to health, being generous with money and always making sure things around the house were taken care of while his wife was away – so not everything said was detrimental to his image. Of course, the prosecution stressed all of the debasing points of his character, and spoke of his gambling addiction as if to keep piling on to the list. Proponents of the man agreed that he wasn’t “Father of the Year” material, but that he was all in all a caring man.
I noticed throughout the trial that not a solemn word was spoken about DNA evidence – physical evidence. The prosecution argued that since the sexual abuse was so long ago, no signs could be checked for. That statement, to me, should have been the initial statement that deemed this case pointless and unable to be presented fairly. These guys wouldn’t listen to me – they have a case to win. The judge was an obvious imbecile, made evident by his slow speech and favoritism towards the prosecution. The defense was the most scrutinized throughout the entire process. “Why was this case allowed to proceed without any form of tangible, palpable evidence?” circled my mind as I helplessly watched this man have his grave dug deeper for him with every passing minute.
By now, you should have some sort of inkling that I was involved with the case somehow, and the following will give it away anyway. I am the son of the accused, the son who spent 16 years in the house with my sister. The perceptive son who would have noticed something like that was up somewhere along the line of my 16 year run with my father and sister. The battered son from his impulsive drunken beatings – but the respectful son from his teachings, his showings of true care and love, and honesty. My father was a lot of things, but a liar he was not… which is why when I heard the accusation in early 2007, my first thought was that it was a tall prevarication.
My mother was lambasted by the family taking my sister’s side for keeping her in that kind of situation. She was treated just as guilty as they thought my dad was. For that reason, she had a conundrum – take my sister’s side and be seen as making up for her sins, or take my father’s side and be seen as a traitor to the majority of her side of the family that supported her daughter. While that’s a contradiction in its own right, she figured if there was a sin to pay for, making up for it isn’t such a bad thing – even though she truly didn’t ever see or catch wind of any kind of sexual assault taking place. Therefore, the year that this case dominated our lives was a trying one, as it was just her and I in an apartment in Texas. Two sides, one coexistence.
Back in the courtroom, I gave a stirring testimony on my father’s behalf. I laid every anecdote and memory on the table and the prosecution made each one a new story, as if they were inside my head. I was almost held in contempt for simply knocking this smug, arrogant prosecutor down a few notches with logic and wit. I could quickly tell that my testimony would be discarded thanks in large part to my father’s lawyer’s ineptitude.
My sister gave a vivid recollection of events in her life between the ages of 9 and 18. She spoke of where my father would do it, how he would do it, and what would happen if she ever spoke of it. However, she said something that I thought could have this case thrown in the toilet where it belonged: “I learned in ninth grade health class that what my father was doing was wrong.” I looked to the jury for any possible showings of disbelief or shock on their faces, but all I saw was stone. NINTH grade? She surely just dug her own grave, right? If she said “it took me until ninth grade to come out with the news that what I KNOW to be wrong, rape, is occurring with me” I’d have been a bit less skeptical. Even if he were guilty of having any kind of sex with my at the time underage sister, the fact that she didn’t know that it was wrong tells me that she couldn’t have been enduring much pain or trauma while the act was taking place. So why all the tears and pain now? The ninth grade revelation, along with many other pieces of information that a judge with half a brain would have thrown the case out for, were forgotten for the fact that my dad was an a**hole.
The hearsay continued as I sat in disbelief of the idiocy surrounding this trial. In bewilderment of the statement they were essentially making: “Being a bad parent makes you a rapist.” The back and forth of haunting reminiscences and past mistakes came to a halt, and the jury convened to deliberate. My father’s lawyer came over to tell us that they should be in there for a long time. Almost as soon as he said that, the jury was back with their verdict: Guilty of all ten counts. I immediately left the courtroom and let my emotions get the better of me, breaking my hand on a wall that I wish could have punched me back.
My sister’s face of stone cracked and released its reservoir of tears – tears of joy for a point of finality to her supposed years of sexual abuse. An accusation that took three years for her to make and nearly two years to come to an end got my father life in prison without a prayer of parole. I boarded the plane for Texas the next day with a new outlook on the lie masked as “justice.”
The effects the trial had on me during and after is another sad, dragged out story.
If you think this is all some kind of lie, just search my name without the suffix on the Michigan Offender Tracking Service, and you’ll see the face of a humbled, confused and innocent man. Another casualty under the cumbersome wheels of justice.
For my father, the murder weapon was never found – but he was a guilty man from day one based on a few unsavory indulgences and character flaws. Rape cases are forever a sham to me, unless DNA evidence or evidence of forced entry is attainable. I have come to the conclusion that we are all guilty until proven innocent, women can be persuasive in the wrong ways, and that Canada looks closer and closer to me every waking minute here.