Doc exposes attackers’ railway – The Hollywood Reporter

Sexual assault is one of the least reported crimes in the United States, and very rarely is the perpetrator prosecuted. The headlines, however, would lead us to believe the opposite: that the legal system is besieged by a flood of false reports from vindictive and/or heartless women. For the amazing disconnect between reality and perception, eye-opening Victim/Suspect uncovering an unhealthy combination of factors: a tendency to distrust whistleblowers when the subject is raped, some law enforcement agencies’ lack of incentive to exploit factual evidence in the case as such, manipulative interrogation techniques and a repulsive antiquated notion of consent. “He didn’t push you down, it wasn’t rape,” one accuser recalls being told by a police officer.

As she did in her previous documentary, the force is powerful and unsettling red scroll roll, directed by Nancy Schwartzman, aims to shed light on how victims of sexual assault are often more embarrassed than one might think. In the cases examined in her new film, they were also turned into suspects by the police — not after the investigation discovered they wanted to press charges, but in the first place. In some cases, they were charged and arrested for lying before the results of their rape kit were processed.


Key point

Measured and sometimes messy, but unquestionably important.

The documentary is also a portrait of investigative journalism, focusing on Bay Area reporter Rachel (Rae) de Leon. Noticing a nationwide trend of stories of assault accusers withdrawing their claims and then going to jail for making false statements, she persuaded her editors in China to The nonprofit Investigative Reporting Center says there’s something worth uncovering — though it takes a lot of effort to sell them on the need for a full investigation.

It’s good to see a hard-working reporter dedicating her energy to such an important issue, especially given the brutal fake journalism the film shows is a big influence on the ordeal of a journalist. number of whistleblowers. Having a de Leon-centered class doesn’t lessen the impact of the movie’s revelations — taking her dream job, she travels across the country, banging sidewalks, literally knocking on doors trying to Talk to reluctant law enforcement officers. But it keeps things to a certain extent. The time spent taking her home or cycling to work, although brief, is embarrassing and should have taken the time to clarify certain passages about the legal cases themselves. better. Reinterpretations used to highlight the film are more distracting than helpful.

De Leon’s four-year investigation entailed multiple Freedom of Information Act requests and the involvement of other CIR journalists to search the resulting police records. In the end, she collected information on nearly 200 cases. Victim/Suspect focus on two of them. Both women withdrew and/or apologized to the police, but they asserted their innocence to de Leon and anyone else who would listen.

One of these two cases was ongoing while de Leon was reporting, and involved Dyanie Bermeo, a North Carolina college student who was charged with making false statements shortly after she alerted police that she He was assaulted by someone impersonating a police officer. The second accuser, Emma Mannion, met de Leon a few years after her experience as a student at the University of Alabama. Members of the Tuscaloosa PD began a suspicious investigation into her reported rape by grilling her – in the hospital room where she was being examined vaginally.

The most disturbing material in the documentary is undoubtedly the police interrogation footage. Such tapes have become a familiar element of true-crime movies and series; here, as in Be a murderer, they expose manipulative (but legitimate) interrogation practices, such as the Reid Technique to obtain confessions. “I am breaking psychological barriers,” one detective assured de Leon. Her filmed interview with him shows her in total command, using her own impressive methods to tear down his manslaughter stance. Police interrogation activities sometimes involve false claims that they have video footage refuting the accuser’s allegation. In the case of Mannion, Schwartzman and de Leon created large holes in that line of attack.

The interrogation room footage also shows a big difference between how accusers and defendants are treated in sexual assault cases – if the defendant is even brought into that room. A Connecticut detective told de Leon that he never questioned two college football players accused of rape because they “didn’t want to be interviewed.” In another farce, an accused man, a member of an influential family, after several conversations with a friend about fishing, was told that he had done nothing wrong, and he thanked the officer for doing “a very thorough job”.

In contrast, the women in those interrogation rooms – which sometimes lasted for hours – were greeted with statements like “I don’t trust you at all.” And then, when the police assume someone is a liar and not a victim, a vicious cycle begins: They make her “false statements” on social media, revealing her name. hers. In addition to provoking cruel comments from the usual trolls, these posts are picked up by so-called journalists and re-posted without the slightest attempt at endorsement.

Lawyers and other experts weigh in on the fallacy of justice. Law professor Lisa Avalos describes the “media fascination” with Missing Girl Syndrome, and points out that the greater risk by far, for both men and women, is not that they will falsely accused of sexual assault, but that they will be assaulted. Carl Hershman, a retired San Diego Sex Crime Unit detective, explains why so many cops prefer to close a case — and get it off their desks — by arresting a woman. rather than taking the time to investigate her statements.

women talking Director Sarah Polley recently said on Marc Maron’s podcast that she believes we’re experiencing a backlash over #MeToo. That might explain some of the cases de Leon investigated, but the problem is ingrained and predates any recent social movements; Journalist’s work covers 10 years’ worth of cases. Victim/Suspect shed light on a terrible reality that has turned the lives of many women upside down. And it offers unequivocal confirmation of an essential truth many observers find difficult to accept: Withdrawal is not proof that crimes were not committed, but merely evidence that mind games Reason works, especially when someone is young, naive, and hurt.

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