A reporter recently has taken the media to task for rushing to judgment when reporting about serious crimes. He cites a number of recent instances where the suspect was either misidentified, or when facts surrounding the crime turned out to be untrue.
This reporter was not reassured when media members defendant themselves by claiming to have relied upon statements from law enforcement officers. Sometimes, the law enforcement reports were also inaccurate.
This same reporter also referenced a number of rape allegations that were reported by the media that turned out to be untrue. He mentions the Duke lacrosse’ players that were accused of raping an exotic dancer, and only later was it discovered that the dancer likely fabricated her story. Also, he tells the story about a group of black teenagers that supposedly confessed to raping and beating a jogger. Only later were the youths exonerated because of DNA evidence.
The reporter bemoans that factual accuracy, skepticism and prudence no longer seem to play in part in our reporting system – either by the medial or by law enforcement officers. Yet inaccurate reporting can often serve to destroy an individual’s right to privacy and his or her life.
Though there is only so much that criminal defense attorneys can do to prevent false reporting from occurring, these attorneys can at least attempt to make certain that the true story of what occurred is presented in the court of law. False allegations of rape can lead to years of imprisonment while a possible guilty party is allowed to wander the streets.
Source: Sun Sentinel, “Media, law enforcement must put value on accuracy,” by Charles Lane, Dec. 19, 2012
- The accusation of rape or sexual assault can be devastating. Please see our Denver criminal defense website for more information.