In what seems to be a recent development to increase the rate of conviction for men accused of sexual crimes, prosecutions are allowed to use innovative forms of ‘propensity evidence’. A couple of recent cases, ‘Auckland builder jailed for rape…’ and ‘West Auckland man jailed for sexual assault…’ have allowed complainants from previous acquittals to tell their unproven allegations again to the current jury, and unsurprisingly this resulted in convictions for currently alleged offending even though the evidence for that particular current offending may have been inadequate.
Disclosing past convictions to a jury is still disallowed, for good reason. The state has to convince a jury that the evidence proves the current alleged offence beyond reasonable doubt. If a defendant’s similar past conviction is disclosed at trial this will impact too much on the jury’s consideration of the current evidence. Knowledge of past offending will sway a jury’s view of the accused far out of proportion to the limited contribution that history can make to proving the currently alleged offence actually occurred.
If past convictions are allowed to be introduced as evidence, then anyone who has ever offended will be an easy target for false allegations with almost 100% likelihood of conviction.
In this light it’s very weird that previously unproven allegations of similar offending are now allowed to be introduced as evidence. They are having the expected effect of leading to almost 100% convictions.
This represents a huge erosion of justice for any accused. As is the case for many other erosions of fundamental principles of justice, it’s mainly or only sexual cases involved so those disadvantaged will be almost entirely men. Men’s sexuality is the target of a witch hunt.
It may well be that the two cases referred to above involved clear offending by bad men, but if so then the evidence concerning their current offences should have been enough. But keep in mind that those reading the articles will be as swayed as the jury was by knowing about the past allegations.
Previous reductions in justice include the removal of limitations on when sexual crimes can be reported so that many prosecutions are for alleged offending years or decades ago. Aside from the obvious problem with well-researched memory distortion likely to cause a complainant to recall historical events inaccurately, such allegations severely compromise the accused’s ability to find witnesses, alibi evidence and otherwise to defend himself.
Other erosions of justice particularly in sexual trials have included
– allowing cases to proceed at all on the basis of nothing but an allegation;
– removing the right of the accused to face his accuser;
– allowing the complainant to be seen to hide behind screens or walls so as to convey to the jury a view of the accused as dangerous and frightening;
– allowing evidence-in-chief to be presented by way of a previously recorded video interview conducted in less formal, less controlled conditions and not under oath;
– severely reducing the right of the accused to question the moral character and credibility of the complainant;
– removing the right of the accused to cross examine the complainant about her past behaviour including sexual and relationship history;
– general over-protectiveness towards complainants causing judges to curtail questioning if a complainant appears upset, even though that may be because her lies are being exposed by those questions.
This new policy of allowing others to allege similar past unproven offending really takes the cake and shows how brazen our institutionalized hatred against men has become.
Hopefully, someone with enough money will appeal this ridiculous policy all the way to the Supreme Court where its illegality will be recognized. Until then we will see many men sentenced to long imprisonments on the basis of poor evidence bolstered by character assassination.