Island Life by David Slack

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Island Life: In another league

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  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Basically, it's never been the onus of a murder victim to prove that they're actually dead, or a burglary victim to prove that their locks got busted; so a rape trial is not the place to have to prove that a woman was actually raped.

    Actually, it is the onus, it's just easier in murder or burglary. If you can't establish that someone is dead, or that's someone's missing some stuff from their home, you're not going to get a murder or burglary conviction.

    You will have rape cases where rape is accepted as having happened by both sides - yes she was raped, but it wasn't this guy. Much like you could have a burglary charge go away if the offender was found illegally in a house but argued they were only there to get some of their own stuff.

    X happened but it wasn't illegal defences might happen more often in rape cases, but they can happen across a range of crimes - just as can X happened and was illegal, but it wasn't me can happen in rape trials.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2971 posts Report Reply

  • Muriel Lockheed,

    I don't know what to make of this case really. I think admitting to "a bit of alcohol" problem is the very least of Tea's problems! I am sorry but all the righteous indignation that is being spouted from that camp this morning leaves me cold.

    But what really makes me put my head in my hands and feel very dispirited are the partners of these men, not only Ropati, but Shollum, Shipton, McNamara and Rickards. I mean what are they thinking?

    What are they thinking? I just don't understand.

    sigh

    Wellywood • Since Nov 2006 • 44 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    I dont think anyone reasonable would argue that if someone is so comatose or out of it, that they are uncomunicative.... then consent cant be assumed. I think we all agree that absence of refusal does not indicate consent.

    But some here seem to be arguing that even if consent IS given by an incapacitated person.... that the other person must be able to know that this isnt real consent...

    Where is the border? How do you tell the difference between someone who's a bit tipsy and really is keen, and someone who is so drunk that when they say yes they cant possibly mean it?

    Bear in mind the person making this decision may also be somewhat incapacitated..

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 782 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    Actually, it is the onus, it's just easier in murder or burglary. If you can't establish that someone is dead, or that's someone's missing some stuff from their home, you're not going to get a murder or burglary conviction.

    You will have rape cases where rape is accepted as having happened by both sides - yes she was raped, but it wasn't this guy. Much like you could have a burglary charge go away if the offender was found illegally in a house but argued they were only there to get some of their own stuff.

    OK, onus may be there, but there aren't a whole lot of avenues open to a complainant to be able to do so, is there? I fully accept that having no body is an understandable obstacle to proving a murder case, but I found one article on the lawyers.co.nz site that cited a study that found that 84% of rape complainants were accused of lying, & over half of complainants had their sexual history used against them, with no recourse for the prosecution to rebut. I think this is a big problem in rape trials, and it needs to be addressed - and more actively than just nodding sagely & agreeing that yes, rape trials are a bitch.

    /heather's-character-evidence-bugbear

    Under the western motorwa… • Since Nov 2006 • 522 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    P.S. I'm not suggesting this is what happened in the Ropati case.... its just something that came to mind as we were discussing it...

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 782 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    you have a prelim to assert that the woman is behaving consistently with having been raped - get her a counsellor or a psychologist, talk with her friends; as well as establishing the extent of her trauma, it's a good opportunity to provide & inform a support network.

    I fear that would lead to defenses along the lines of "she can't have been raped, she's too stoic."

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2906 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    Or "the psychotherapist tainted the evidence" a la Gottlieb this morning.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 724 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    I fear that would lead to defenses along the lines of "she can't have been raped, she's too stoic."

    Yeah, I thought of that the moment I posted. Just, my friend was in a sexual assault trial last week (13-year-old girl) and some of the bullshit ideas the defence put forward about how the girl "would have been expected to behave" were really painful to hear about.

    Also, on the subject of juries, talk about war of attrition.. My friend held out on the guilt of the defendant, resulting in an 11-to-1 "undecided" vote. After four days, including 8 hours of deliberation, all jurors admitted they thought he did it "but couldn't be 100% sure". The number of jurors saying "guilty" dwindled basically due to the relentless pressure of a couple of fast-talkers, and the increasing desire to go home & forget the whole thing. Four of them contacted my friend after the trial and thanked her for holding out.

    Under the western motorwa… • Since Nov 2006 • 522 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    The number of jurors saying "guilty" dwindled basically due to the relentless pressure of a couple of fast-talkers, and the increasing desire to go home & forget the whole thing. Four of them contacted my friend after the trial and thanked her for holding out.

    In my experience, there's always at least one total moron on any jury, who have no idea what the word "evidence" means, and obfuscate the issue with "what if" questions.

    Eg: What if he did this while under the influence of P?

    What if men from Mars landed & did this & not the accused?

    Etc.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2073 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    A (defence) lawyer of my acquaintance commented thus to me this morning:

    1. Gary Gotlieb was essentially and primarily blowing his own promotional trumpet -as usual unashamedly

    2. Prior to the Trial beginning Gotlieb would have made an application pursuant to section 347 of the Crimes Act to have the matter not put before the jury for lack of evidence - clearly that application failed -- a District Court Judge denied that application

    3 . It took the jury 12 hours to come to a unanimous verdict ... clearly there was significant evidence that gave them concern .

    4 . When Gotlieb tried to say bringing the charges was " PC madness", that was a real low point . Mr Gotlieb is a big ACT supporter.

    5 . Unfortunately it was poor form on the part of the victim to have become isolated form her friends at that particular bleak bar given the state she was in - but that does not mean she does not deserve the protection and subsequent enforcement of the law .

    6. I actually think Ropati was lucky to get off: "unproven", the verdict would have been had it been in Scotland .

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17980 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I fear that would lead to defenses along the lines of "she can't have been raped, she's too stoic."

    Stephen, I think we live in a Oprah-ised culture where there's something horribly wrong with you if you're not a performing trauma-monkey. Then, of course, you're damned all the same if you're a rape complainant - because any visible signs of distress is just proof you're a hysterical dingbat.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11622 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    In my experience, there's always at least one total moron on any jury, who have no idea what the word "evidence" means, and obfuscate the issue with "what if" questions.

    In this case, there was one bold & well-spoken guy who'd made up his mind right from the start. His argument to sway my friend ended up being - the jury is supposed to be a cross-section of society & as (at that point) she was the only one that wanted to find him guilty "what does that tell you?". Actually, in that context, given the prejudices of some jury members, it was likely a veiled accusation that she (with her dyed hair and arm tattoo) was just the same kind of slapper as the complainant. Other opinions aired were "all women are liars" (from an older woman), and "well, I don't have any responsibility toward the girl".

    My friend reckoned that many of the jurors didn't seem to understand that the cross-examination was evidence. The girl's testimony was essentially consistent, and the guy kept contradicting himself, and even pulled a stunt that might have resulted in a mistrial. Response by members of the jury regarding testimony? "Well, [defendant] is under a lot of pressure...". Yeah, cos the complainant isn't?

    /yeesh

    Under the western motorwa… • Since Nov 2006 • 522 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I once heard from a police officer who'd been involved in some research about juries.

    They went back in after verdicts were given and interviewed jurors individually and asked them to construct a story of what happened in relation to the crime.

    They found that often not only had the juror mangled/misunderstood the stories of both the prosecution and the defense, but often came out with a story which was impossible based on the evidence presented. It was an argument for judge trials if ever I'd heard one.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6145 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    Except if you have a judge like the Italian one who found that wearing jeans implied consent because of the difficulty in removing them without it, or our own local hero who thought the world would be less fun if a young man had to accept the first no as a final one.

    The thing about juries is that it's harder to find 12 idiots than one.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 724 posts Report Reply

  • andrew r,

    In my Trial experience from the Defence perspective, the 'cluttered' view of the jury just about always benefits the accused . If, on the face of it, the prosecution evidence appears reasonably compelling an accused is always better infront of a jury . If the prosecution evidence looks pretty weak I would be tending to elect judge alone trial which is pretty much always an option , even if by special pre trial application .

    auckland • Since May 2007 • 74 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    The thing about juries is that it's harder to find 12 idiots than one.

    Yes. But the selection process for being a judge is slightly more rigorous than the selection process for being a juror, which basically consists of answering mail sent to you and turning up.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6145 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    Fair call - perhaps idiot is too broad a term. But the selection process for being a judge has at least hitherto selected strongly for privileged older men with sheltered upbringings and a sense of entitlement. The sort of chap like Gottlieb whose first thought on the radio this morning was for the poor blokes who can no longer go out cruising for drunk women with impunity, rather than for women who might like to have a few drinks with friends without losing their ability to enforce their basic rights at law.

    There are bound to be some like that on any jury, but there may also be people who've got a smidgen of empathy or understanding for the things women have to put up with that men don't.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 724 posts Report Reply

  • Bea Brown,

    I doubt any jury will ever convict where both parties are adults, drunk, drugged, out late at night etc etc. Modern women must practise some risk management and not put themselves in the way of danger. This isn't blaming the victim or saying they ask for it, just commonsense. I taught my daughter how to keep herself safe and my son never to have sex with a woman he didn't know or was drunk or asleep. We modelled loving behaviour in our home and brought up young adults with firm values. Unfortunately not everyone can be trusted.
    I don't put a sign at my gate saying I'm out for the day and the front door is open. Both men and women need to protect themselves.
    It interests me that when juries don't give the result people want, there are calls for the case retried or heard in front of a judge or the law changed. The guy has been shamed. The woman stays anonymous. I'd be cross too if I was a family member - of either of them.

    Since Feb 2008 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Nat Websta,

    And the time they get caught out is seldom the first offence

    Or the last offence. A friend of mine was hit on in a very aggressive fashion by Ropati a couple of months ago. When the case came to light in the media, we were astounded to find out that at the time he was saying very nasty things to my friend in a bar, he was actually awaiting trial for sexual assalt. And my friend reckons that there was narry a wedding ring in site that night. So I too am absolutely mistified as to what his wife thinks she's getting by staying with this guy.

    But remember folks, he's always been very respectful to women...

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 17 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    A law change - sounds good to me. What about if a person is drunk, then the onus is on the other person to show he or she had reasonable grounds to believe the first person had consented

    Well, does that mean if a drunk driver crashes into me, I should be prosecuted for not being better at avoiding them?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    He only had to be paid $80'000 for his celebrity status. The blind belief that sporting hero's have some-kind of mystical healing power's over depressed young people is something I find disturbing about New Zealand culture.

    But remember folks, he's always been very respectful to women...

    Apart from the rape charge, did he deny the sodomy actually occurred in the back of the car, or did he say, no no no we had a drunken conversation about expressing intimacy less conventionally. since we had developed a level of trust she decided to accommodate my fantasy hero eroticism fetish, regardless of any obvious physical distress.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2296 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Sorry, I should link that so in makes sense, link

    Since Nov 2006 • 2296 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    If the Ropatis want to give the impression that they're a family of vindictive bullies, they're going the right way about it.

    Given that we've pretty much established that Ropati drove his car around whilst very drunk that evening, with no thought for the welfare of anyone else on the road, I find his brother's talk of a private prosecution against the complainant for her admitted cocaine use somewhat beyond disgusting.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17980 posts Report Reply

  • samuel walker,

    Whatever way you look at it, though, did anyone else look at his wife with their wee baby on her hip, and feel uneasy?

    did you see the pic in the Sunday Star Times.......the angle was different.....could have been a page three stunner.

    I'm torn between it being terrible on the part of the Sunday papers OR on the part of the mother/wife.

    Since Nov 2006 • 203 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I find his brother's talk of a private prosecution against the complainant for her admitted cocaine use somewhat beyond disgusting.

    I don't think its unfair comment to say there are more than a few sportsmen who've been happy beneficiaries of 'what (and who) goes down on tour, stays on tour' discretion over the years. Would it be too cynical to suggest there might be one or two high profile league figures suugesting to Ropati and his supporters that it is time to count your blessings and STFU?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11622 posts Report Reply

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