You Do NOT Have The Right To Be Believed

A fundamental principle within criminal law is the presumption of innocence; that is, regardless of the accusation, one is considered innocent until proven guilty.

What this tells us is that the burden of proof falls not on the accused, but on the accuser. It is a vital component of fair law and a fair society. If accusations were equal to convictions in lieu of evidence, and the burden of proof fell the opposite way-- well, logic warns us against trying to prove a negative. So, we'd have a lot of innocent people behind bars.

The recent scandal surrounding Harvey Weinstein seems to have started a firestorm that follows a disturbing trend. An accusation of sexual assault/harassment is made to the media. The media prints the story, regardless of evidence, and rarely seeks a counter statement from the accused, beforehand. Within 24 hours, the alleged sexual assault/harassment is deemed factual in the court of public opinion, and the social penal system deals out pseudo justice in the form of ruined careers and public shaming.

Now, I'm not defending sexual offenders; however, in many of the cases, the acts themselves are open to interpretation as to whether or not they qualify as sexual assault/harassment, and the evidence to support them is almost exclusively anecdotal. When we live in a culture that purports to say all victims of sexual crimes have an immediate right to be believed, we're doing away with the fundamental, established principle of presumption of innocence-- and the repercussions to society are harmful.

Human sensitivity is vital to living in a fair and compassionate society, and a right to be believed absolutely extends to an alleged victims family and loved ones-- who have no bearing on proceedings against the accused.

However, as a public, we have to weigh sensitivity against intellectualism. Otherwise, we sink to recklessness and chaos amongst the ranks. If you bring a case of sexual assault against a specific individual to the court of public opinion, then we, the people, as well as the employer, friends and family of the individual in question are entitled to proof-- and, in its absence, entitled to disbelief.


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What Guys Said 33

  • Completely and fully agreed. Well said.

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  • Excellent commentary and brave to post it considering the current climate. I have never been a fan of the court of popular opinion. Yes our justice systems are flawed and this is especially clear in the areas of sexual abuse/harassment but we cannot abandon them in favor of mob rule. Very interesting post.

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  • Thank you for sharing this.
    This is something that has been worrying me a bit too.
    Things like rape and sexual assult is kind of tough because both individuals have a need to be believed and can have their lives ruined if they're not, yet its damned near impossible for us as a society to know anything for sure one way or the other.
    The best we can do is to try to treat them both as if they're telling the truth as best as we can unless evidence clearly proves that a crime has indeed taken place.
    And to try to help both as best we can.
    If a man or woman reports that they've been raped then they should recieve mental health support regardless of how the court case ends up going, it should be taken into consideration as well if he or she requests a restraining order even in the case of innocence.
    But the media and others should try to refrain from judging till a court of law has actually convicted someone of a crime, keep names and pictures hidden etc.
    And even if a verdict does judge him or her posting a picture on TV with full name would still be... problematic...
    An appeal might take place.
    Or any number of other issues...
    Also even if he or she is guilty why should they stay on the right side of the law if everyone still treats them as a criminal after they've served their time?

    I don't know, these things are just a mess...

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  • The issue is that behind all of this there seems to be an agenda. It seems that some people want a world that a woman can incarcerate a man at her word alone, this creates an environment of fear and control. We also see this same kind of thing in the "anti-street harassment laws" in the UK. Or even when a woman clearly lied and is caught on video lying about it, she is legally shielded from disclosure.

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  • 3d

    Look at all the "men" supporting you.

    Haha! Hilarious!

    Good old GaG, where so many posters do not understand rational debate and objective facts.

    What you are posting is merely deflecting the issue. Employers, contractors, partners, owners, etc. do not have to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt when it comes to sexual harassment. There is no such thing as having a trial at a company to convict someone of sexual harassment. Companies do not have to wait until a court has made a decision.

    Why is this?

    Because companies, industries, etc. have their own standards for governing conduct of their employees, contractors, members, etc.

    Harvey Weinstein is going to face charges of rape, sexual misconduct, etc. That is totally different than a firm canceling a contract with him citing that he breached personal conduct guidelines within the industry. They can claim he has damaged their brand therefore, they can no longer work with him.

    Legislation about the agreement between employee/employer goes even further. As you will note, the woman who gave Trump the finger while riding her bike was fired. Because her company told her that she violated employee conduct guidelines. The same goes for Kevin Spacey. He got fired from certain projects because he violated ethics rules. He will be prosecuted and hopefully jailed. But no one has to wait to decide that. The evidence submitted does not have to meet "beyond a reasonable doubt" for rape, harassment, etc. It merely has to show that Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, Ben Affleck, etc. all behaved in a way that the company sees as being unethical.

    So I have to say your post is basically anti-intellectual. Because it doesn't seem to understand that while everyone has rights. So do companies, firms and corporations. They have a right to protect their brand. And if an employee's actions damages that brand, they can fire him/her. The same goes for partners of a firm, on a project, contractors, it does not matter. Any business relationship can be terminated because someone acted in an unethical manner.

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    • 2d

      Do you know anything about unfair dismissal? Typically if an accusation comes out, the employer will suspend the employee until the case is sorted. Employers can't just sack someone based on an accusation, or at least where I'm from that's the case. Otherwise I could walk into your employment, shout that you're a rapist and then your employer could sack you for bringing their brand into disrepute.

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    • 5h

      Why the hell have you quoted that? It clearly just says HE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED her.

    • 6min

      You keep putting words in my mouth that I've already repeatedly spit out, so there's no point in arguing with you.

  • 'Psuedo justice' is an important concept here.
    I get worried this sexual fearmongering attempts to advance a new form of sexual McCarthyism in workplaces and organizations throughout the United States. I feel like people are too quick to judge but also too quick to lionize celebrities as though they're not like us, giving them so much deference and high praise that we forget they're both vulnerable to attack by wrongful accusation & to the capacity for evil inherent to the life of a sexual abuser. Society needs to develop better standards for belief that depend on weighing multiple types of evidence, not just a supposed witness testimony.

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  • This should include other cases like Duke lacrosse team, Bill Cosby, Bill O'Reilly, etc - not just Weinstein - whether they are guilty or not. I'm not saying they're innocent. But saying they are guilty is just as wrong. People need to stop trusting the media as if they 100% factual. Even with their best intentions, the media is not 100% factual. People have and do lie to the media themselves, and that makes the media look bad. I'm not saying the media is completely innocent, because they have blatantly lied about certain things too for their own reasons/agenda. But believing everything the media prints is ignorant. That's why we have a justice system (or we used to) and why we have a court of law - for the truth to come out. Evidence helps bring out the truth.

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  • Innocent, until proven guilty, as you pointed out. The court of "public opinion" is insignificant. If one believes the media and the "public court", that's their own problem.

    On the flipside, these accusations about sexual assault/abuse or what ever you want to call it, can't just hit like lightning from the clear sky. There has to be Some truth to the story. The problem being, it's most likely exagerrated.

    The verdict. Hang the court of public opinion. Frankly speaking, it's infested with idiots.

    The accusations are verified via infallible evidence. Some girl putting on a little theatre is hardly compelling proof. There have been numerous such cases in the past, most of them ended up being false accusations.. but they don't talk about those in the media now do they? Not intriguing enough, I suppose.

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    • The funniest and saddest part is when this so called assault is actually consensual and the other is getting ideas.

  • Excellent take , you have to admit , regardless of gender , the default view is male = guilty bastard , female = poor innocent victim. This is why more & more men keep their distance from women , I have been encouraged by the fact that 2 female false accusers have finally been jailed , Jemma Beale , a lesbian that is openly misandrist , wrecked the lives of 15 men , she got 10 years , but will likely only serve 5 at the most. Another woman accused a taxi driver of sex assault / rape & thankfully for him , he had a camera in his cab , she got a shorter sentence.

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    • It's not the default at all. I've seen people bully female victims into submission even when they had substantial evidence, calling them rude names, claiming they're only doing it for sympathy and that they shouldn't try to ruin the life or career of the rapist/sexual abuser.

  • Excellent take

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  • I have to agree fully with this. As a liberal, I naturally wish conservative politicians nothing but heartbreak and ridicule. Nevertheless, this morning I got an email urging me to join them in insisting that a "child-molester" had no place in politics. While I agree that a child molester has no place anywhere, including politics, I disagree that merely the *accusation* is enough to destroy someone's career and life. I immediately emailed them back saying that I felt that they were subverting due process.

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  • Great Take. I 100% agree. I hate this weird double standard where if a guy is accused of any kind of sexual misconduct it's automatically considered true. It's absurd

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  • Absolutely beautiful.

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  • Correct throughout. But try telling that to "listen & believe" people, you get an earful.

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  • 4d

    I agree 100%

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  • I think this sexual harassment claims is getting out of hand.
    The thing is before 1990 and 2000, if you got an SH claim, it would be a scandal and then go away.
    No loss of job or anything.
    Nowadays, it's like a career death sentence.
    What's up with that?

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  • God I hate law. It's followed me home... But yeah, I agree. Our whole society needs this foundation of evidencing otherwise it could cause chaos. Witch-burning times are behind us.

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  • The various media companies should get sued for deformation of character.

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  • Correct. Innocent until proven guilty.

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  • More from Guys
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What Girls Said 15

  • I do not agree with the media dragging people's names through the mud. However high profile cases are hard to keep quiet and it's idealistic to think that the media would ever respect people's privacy.

    In everyday situations it would be nice if it was kept out of the public eye. If the names of the accuser and accused were not released. If a person filing has the right the anonymity then so should the person being accused of the crime.

    However sexual assault charges are often not easy to prosecute, even if they something did happen that was non-consensual. Trials take time and money. Without clear cut evidence many times the accused isn't even charged, let alone do they face trial or conviction. It's just not worth the resources, to the courts, to prosecute. This is the unfortunate but true nature the justice system.

    The issue when cases come out and face public scrutiny is not so much that the supposed victim should automatically be believed. It's the way they treated by many people that don't believe them. Not just random people on the internet calling them liars... (which they don't know. It's one thing have your doubts but you have no proof they ARE a liar) but people in their community becoming downright abusive and volatile to them. Bullying them. One family had their house burned down after their teenage daughter accused a classmate of rape. Like even if you think she made it up, why would you go burn down her home?

    Not believing someone is one thing, but attacking them personally is another.

    And the thing is this is really the only sort of situation where people get this riled up. You never hear people calling others names and crap, burning down their homes, for accusing someone of theft. Rape is seen as so horrible that often it's easier for us to NOT believe it happened. And this may be actually mental. Our brain's reaction. We see information we don't like and our cognitive bias sets in.

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    • *often it's easier for us to NOT believe it happened. And because rape is so awful, so are the accusations, and thus we become hostile to the accuser. Even when we don't know either way what really happened. Sometimes we are even hostile when there IS clear evidence.

  • What a great take! Logic and reasoning is what is needed today. Emotional feminists run around saying that we have to believe the accusers no matter what otherwise we're supporting rape culture. I shake my head and this stupidity.

    Innocent until proven guilty.

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  • Now this is my kind of girl! :) Well done for putting logic ahead of aggressive, privillege-hungry, emotional trends. I know it took courage and I am glad you speak up. Nice take!

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  • Finally someone who's said what's on my mind! It seems like you can go accuse anyone of sexual assault and have everyone believe you no matter how many holes are in your story.

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  • I agree with being critical but at the same time it seems like it just swings to another extreme; accusing the victim of being a slut, an attention whore, a media whore, just out to make some money/revive their career etc etc etc.
    This sort of mentality should go both ways. We shouldn't immediately take the accuser's side but neither should we immediately side with the accused either. Too many times have I seen the accused be defended by people who are absolutely trashing the accuser. And then people wonder why victims of abuse (sexual or otherwise) never step forward, or do it 30 years later.

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    • Perfect example: www.girlsaskguys.com/.../q2733599-why-does-everyone-every-hollywood-celebrity-wait-for-20-30
      People jumping to conclusions about the people who have stepped forward with their stories. Claiming they’re hungry for attention or wanting to make a quick buck. That they didn’t step forward because they’re weak/pussies or because they’re lying, or just bandwagoning. If we’re going to treat the accused with respect and dignity, then we should treat the accuser the same. Think what you want of them behind closed doors but without any evidence, none of us are entitled to name-calling or jumping to conclusions.

    • I entirely agree with this; it's sort of a Schrödinger's cat situation, right? You have to treat both sides fairly until you see evidence leaning one direction or the other.

      Calling an accuser a slut tells women that it's not okay to talk about assault. Which I never condone.

  • 4d

    Guy on my team has had 2 filed against him so far. He told them he didn't do anything and the first girl was fired, next time the girls vouched as a group and they said he was under investigation then it just disappeared. Now the thing is, he says "I never did anything" and whines about it but everyone hears it... All the time, all of them do it he's just the least discreet about it. Even though he knows we all have heard he still calls them liars and pretends he has the upper ground. So anytime I hear people preaching "false allegations" I think of him.

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  • ok i get it . in America now you can be elected president of the united states even tho
    you have admitted to abusing and assaulting women . and then you can run around the world
    kissing the asses of dictators and enemies whilst throwing your own country under the bus .
    not only that . any female who accuses you (Trump et al) of abuse or rape has no rights
    whatsoever to be believed . who cares if the accuser has no credibility but the accused does?
    WhoooHaa!! for Anti Intellectualism Anti Feminism the NRA the Christian-Alt-Right-Wing
    supporters of the United States of Trumpocracy = rape . god forgives sins . get elected .

    but . however . below is a list of all women based on the principle offered at hand .
    they have no rights to be believed . N. O. N. E OF THEM . NOT ONE .

    (BILL CLINTON)
    Juanita Broaddrick . ‎Gennifer Flowers . ‎Kathleen Willey . ‎Kathy Shelton

    (HARVEY WEINSTEIN)
    Amber Anderson . Lysette Anthony . Asia Argento . Rosanna Arquette . Vana Barba
    Jessica Barth . Kate Beckinsale . Juls Bindi . Zoë Brock . Cynthia Burr . Liza Campbell
    Marisa Coughlan . Florence Darel . Emma de Caunes . Cara Delevingne . Sophie Dix
    Lacey Dorn . Dawn Dunning . Lina Esco . Alice Evans . Lucia Evans . Angie Everhart
    Claire Forlani . Romola Garai . Louisette Geiss . Louise Godbold . Judith Godrèche
    Trish Goff . Larissa Gomes . Heather Graham . Eva Green . Ambra Battilana Gutierrez
    Daryl Hannah . Mimi Haleyi . Lena Headey . Lauren Holly . Paz de la Huerta
    Dominique Huett . Jessica Hynes . Angelina Jolie . Ashley Judd . Katherine Kendall
    Heather Kerr . Mia Kirshner . Laura Madden . Natassia Malthe . Brit Marling
    Sarah Ann Masse . Ashley Matthau . Rose McGowan . Natalie Mendoza
    Katya Mtsitouridze . Emily Nestor . Connie Nielsen . Lupita N’yongo . Gwyneth Paltrow
    Samantha Panagrosso . Juliana De Paula . Zelda Perkins . Vu Thu Phuong . Sarah Polley
    Giovanna Rei . Tomi-Ann Roberts . Lisa Rose . Erika Rosenbaum . Annabella Sciorra
    Melissa Sagemiller . Léa Seydoux . Lauren Sivan . Chelsea Skidmore . Mira Sorvino
    Tara Subkoff . Paula Wachowiak . Wende Walsh . Paula Williams . Sean Young

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    • (BILL COSBY)
      Cindra Laddc . Carla Ferrigno . Kristina Ruehli . Linda Brown . Joan Tarshis
      Linda Joy Traitz . Victoria Valentino . Beverly Johnson . Tamara Green . Judy Huth
      P. J. Masten . Helen Hayes . Louisa Moritz . Donna Motsinger . Therese Serignese
      Janice Dickinson . Jewel Allison . Heidi Thomas . Barbara Bowman . Lise-Lotte Lublin
      Chelan . Helen Gumpel . Beth Ferrier . Andrea Constand . Chloe Goins

      (Bill O'Reilly)
      Andrea Mackris . Wendy Walsh . Rebecca Gomez Diamond . Juliet Huddy
      Andrea Tantaros . Laurie Dhue

      (Roger Ailes)
      Julia Roginsky . Gretchen Carlson . Megyn Kelly . Kellie Boyle . Rudi Bakhtiar

      (Louis C. K.)
      Dana Min Goodman . Julia Wolov . Rebecca Corry . Abby Schachner
      Unnamed Woman

      (Roy Moore)
      Leigh Corfman . Wendy Miller . plus 2 more

      (Clarence Thomas)
      Anita Faye Hill

      (Donald Trump)
      Ninni Laaksonen . Jessica Drake . Karena Virginia . Cathy Heller
      Summer Zervos . ristin

    • (Donald Trump) . contd
      ristin Anderson . Jessica Leeds . Rachel Crooks .
      Mindy McGillivray . Natasha Stoynoff . Jennifer Murphy . Cassandra Searles
      Temple Taggart McDowell . Jill Harth . . .
      the child rape case vanished . Nancy O'Dell . (so courageous) .
      who made no denials after Trump admitted assaulting her,
      "I moved on her like a bitch", in the Billy Bush video .

    • *Kristin Anderson

  • 4d

    For someone who claims to be opposed to sex offenders, you seem to be defending them pretty hard.

    There is no other crime where the victim is assumed to be lying from the start. Is that right?

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    • 4d

      There is no other crime where the victim is believed from the start... without proof. I'm not defending sex offenders. Obviously. My entire premise is to defend whomever is telling the truth.

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    • 3d

      What? I'm just pointing out the procedure for reporting a crime and I'm a dick?😂😂

      I literally spent over an hour at a station giving an eyewitness account to an incident I wasn't even directly involved in but I'm a dick for pointing out how the system works... lol

    • 3d

      @El_Prez you are also boring. Cheers.

  • 7d

    I don't understand what the purpose of posts like these are. Most of the men in these high-profile cases literally admitted to what they did/were doing. What other evidence do you need? Yes, this is a disturbing trend; it's disturbing that it took so damn long for people to finally start paying attention to just how rampant sexual harassment really is within the entertainment industry. In Weinstein's case, the court of public opinion isn't just looking at one or two random people coming to the forefront here, we're talking about DOZENS of different individuals, all accusing the same man. It's not a question of just believing the victim in any and all circumstances it's using basic, goddamn common sense and drawing the appropriate conclusion from that. Is it really more believable to assume that the majority of these women are all evil liars, hoping to ruin the career of one innocent man? Or does it make more sense that a guy with considerable power and influence, who had ample opportunity to take advantage of the young and vulnerable, and intimidate them into staying silent had a secret pattern of abuse?

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    • 2d

      well said

    • 2d

      Did they say that we should believe that the people coming out are evil liars? No one said that. We should review the case, review the evidence and the facts, take statements and come to a mature conclusion based on that and charge whoever accordingly.

  • Very good Take, I can totally see why and I like this.

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  • 7d

    Innocent until proven guilty is a LEGAL concept.
    The rest of it is mob justice. You can't control what people think one way or another. You can't control what the media does either because they just want to sell papers. Sometimes things work well for the accused, and sometimes they work well for the accusers.

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  • 3d

    I couldn't agree more

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  • 6d

    Although it is a good thing to feel finally comfortable enough to share a painful memory with the public, the media needs to pump the breaks a bit and at least do a little fact checking.

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  • Great Take. I agree 100%

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  • good take

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