The case filed against Donald Trump
Child Rape Case Filed Against Donald Trump Should Not Be Ignored – Or should it?
I can scarcely believe what I am about to do. As a staunch liberal democrat, I am having a hard time forcing my fingers to even type out what I am thinking. Nonetheless, as a criminal defense attorney, I feel it is necessary to say a few words in defense of Donald Trump and the recent allegations filed in a federal lawsuit accusing him of raping a thirteen year old girl in 1994. We can even throw a lifeline to Roger Ailes while we’re at it, too.
With the Republican National Convention in Cleveland confirming Donald Trump as the party’s presidential nominee for 2016, last week’s four-day coronation of Trump represented the living, (fire) breathing manifestation of the Roger Ailes revolution. We simply do not get to this sad point in our nation’s history without the ignorant blowhards at the Ailes-helmed Fox News shouting down appeals to common sense, vilifying all opposition, and propagating a fiercely partisan worldview with every red-faced, spittle-flecked syllable uttered on that network over the past 15 years. Stressing feelings over facts, subjective editorializing over objective reporting, every Trump supporter at the RNC chanting “lock her up!” and dancing (badly) in the aisles of Quicken Loans arena has been groomed by the Ailes/Fox News worldview.
It should have been the crowning moment for both men, but after the crescendo of balloons and fireworks an unexpected coda has emerged. Ostensibly the two most powerful men driving current right-wing conservative ideology, both accused of gross sexual impropriety from many years prior. While Ailes has already been ousted at Fox, the Trump campaign resolutely denies the allegations and claims they are the result of political opportunism. Personally, I relish the thought of both Donald Trump and Roger Ailes being simultaneously dethroned as a result of their raging egotism. If these allegations prove true in a court of law, then they should rightly face much harsher consequences. However, professionally, the media’s treatment of the still-unfolding cases and the public’s ravenous rush to judgment gives me pause. As a criminal defense attorney I have seen this same scenario play out numerous times before, and unfortunately it seems to be one of those areas in our criminal justice system where the accused is presumptively guilty until proven innocent.
Whether it be a presidential nominee, a trusted psychologist, a neighborhood priest or a father in a knock-down, drag-out divorce battle, some sources have found that a full 22 percent of all sexual assault accusations made by children who know the accused are false. A number like that can be hard to swallow. The emotions inherent to such accusations often overwhelm one’s reason. Thus, we have many states routinely extending the statute of limitations in child sex assault cases, and many victim advocacy groups seeking an end to statute of limitations on child sexual abuse cases altogether.
Children often make false accusations of sexual assault because well-meaning social workers adhere to the maxim that children never lie. The reality is that once the child has an advocate who hears and tacitly validates the tearful description of the accuser, it becomes virtually impossible for a child to walk back their allegations due to the developmental pressure to please and be praised for their courage. It matters not that the accused was in a different state, as most statutes do not require the prosecution to prove a specific date—just a time frame. I have represented clients where the time frame is between when the child was six through the age of twelve. I have represented clients where the accusing child claims mom was asleep in the same bed and never woke up as violent rapes were in progress. I have represented clients who have claimed to have been raped and forced to have penis to vagina intercourse tens of times where the police who investigate the case, the social workers who testify as experts, and the prosecutors simply choose to ignore the fact that the accusing child has an intact hymen. Unless you live in a state that allows for depositions in criminal cases, the criminal defense lawyer’s first encounter with the accusing child comes after the Judge says “your witness.” While most United States Supreme Court rulings have narrowed the rights of criminal defendants, surprisingly the Sixth Amendment’s right to confront accusers, since Crawford v. Washington and its progeny, seems to be expanding the rights of the criminal defendant. It is my hope that each of the parties’ nominees pledge to nominate Supreme Court justices who publically vow to preserve the right to confront one’s accusers. Yes, Hillary, that means you too. Though Mr. Trump, if given the chance to nominate someone to our nation’s highest court…well, you might want to think very carefully about that one.