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Man accused of sexual assault may have been misidentified

Undoubtedly, accusations of rape need to be taken seriously. There has long been criticism of the way rape and sexual assault trials have been tried in that the victim is sometimes made to feel like the one actually on trial.

But though we need to tread carefully in the handling of such cases, wrongful convictions concerning sexual assault do occur, and individuals that are accused of perpetrating a sexual assault have the right to be defended in a court of law. A conviction of a college basketball player illustrates the dangers when society rushes to judgment concerning individuals accused of such crimes.

A black college basketball player was convicted for rape after it was alleged that he groped two females at a party. There was no physical evidence that could be used to convict the player, but the player was nevertheless convicted by a jury made up of 11 whites and one of Asian descent.

It turned out that apparently one of the women mixed up the identity of the accused man with another individual at the party. To make matters even more complicated, the other woman also apparently mixed up the identity of the accused man with still another individual that was attending the party. It is thought that the confusion concerning the identity came about because the accusers were shown a team photo by police that included the accused man prior to the identification ever being made.

Defense attorneys are often face a dilemma when representing individuals accused of such crimes. On the one hand, their duty is to defend their client to the best of their abilities. On the other hand, they must question the accusers in such a manner that is to prevent further traumatizing of the alleged victims.

Such a scenario could happen in Colorado as well. When individuals are accused in such a manner, it requires an extreme balancing act on the part of the criminal defense attorney to prevent an injustice from occurring. Attorneys that are effective will do everything they can within the confines of the law to make sure their client gets a fair trial.

The attorneys for the above basketball player are fighting to get their client a new trial. Even if it is not the norm, misidentifications do occur, and a wrongful conviction must be avoided at all costs.

Source: Huffington Post, "How Justice Was Thwarted in Oklahoma Rape Case of Chicago Hoops Star," David Protess, September 18, 2012

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