Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bad reporting, worse lawyering

Posted By on Thu, Oct 14, 2010 at 3:28 PM

Fantastic! Who knew? Everyone is an expert on the prosecution of rape cases, especially reporters who can use reference books.

Here’s what The New Harvard Guide to Women’s Health” says of rape convictions: “Only half of all alleged rapists are ever arrested. Of these arrests, only 3 in 5 result in prosecution, and only half of the cases that are prosecuted are strong enough to be brought to trial. In the end, fewer than 1 in 6 of the cases that do go to trial result in conviction.”

Thanks, Wayne. I can skip law school now.

What made the Gazette's Wayne Laugesen dust off his imaginary legal degree was his indignation at the "disgusting effort" by the liberal group ProgressNow to paint U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck "as a monstrous misogynist who approves of rape."

Though you would never know it, 'cause he never mentions it, what Laugesen was referring to is a recent three-part online series by The Colorado Independent's Scot Kersgaard that focuses on Buck's handling of a 2005 alleged rape case as district attorney of Weld County. At the heart of the story is a young woman who claims that she went to Buck after being raped by a former partner, and that he treated her in a hostile and accusatory manner before choosing not to prosecute the case — despite the accused attacker admitting his guilt in a recording.

“The offender admitted he did it, but Ken Buck said I was to blame. Had he (Buck) not attacked me, I might have let it go. But he put the blame on me, and I was furious. I still am furious,” she said.

Kersgaard went to great lengths to balance his reporting, such as interviewing multiple members of the Greeley Police Department who defended Buck's handling of the case. Yet for Buck's apologists in the media, such as Laugesen, this thoughtful, balanced article was nothing more than "cheap political smack" orchestrated by ProgressNow.

"It may be the lowest point in a political season that’s known for its sleazy, deceptive, negative campaigns," Laugesen wrote in the Gazette without a hint of irony. Because, you see, the problem with his thesis is glaring: according to the reporter who actually wrote the story, the story began like most stories begin, with a bored reporter searching for something to report.

Late the night of Tuesday, September 21, I was surfing the Internet looking for story ideas. At popular politics blogsite Colorado Pols, I found mention of an event at which rape and incest victims were going to talk about their experiences and why they thought a complete ban on abortion, even in the case of rape or incest, is a bad idea.

Next day I tracked down one of the event organizers, Ellen Dumm, executive director of the progressive activist group Campaign for a Strong Colorado. She told me I had missed the event by a day. In that conversation or a subsequent one in which I asked for more information about the featured speakers at the event, Dumm told me she knew a woman who had been raped in Greeley a few years back and that the local DA, Ken Buck, had refused to prosecute. She said Buck had dismissed the charges as mere “buyer’s remorse” and I thought the case well worth looking into.
Days later, Dumm called and gave me the rape victim’s first name and phone number.

I ended up calling the woman early last week. She was congenial and engaging. She was nervous about telling her story, but she thought it was important.

Nobody, especially ProgressNow, fed him the story, Kersgaard wrote. And, not surprisingly, he said, none of the members of the fantasy law firm who are now pounding away at their keyboards with that allegation even bothered to contact him to find out if what they are claiming is actually true.

Says a lot about Buck's lackeys in the press.

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