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Ohio Judge Forces Rape Victims To Take Lie Detector Tests

Ohio Judge Forces Rape Victims To Take Lie Detector Tests

Sadly, we write fairly frequently about victim-blaming and refusal to believe rape survivors on Care2.  Our society’s general unwillingness to take rape seriously stands squarely against the facts – only 2 percent of victims report rape falsely, the about the same, statistically, as any other crime.  One judge, however, seems even more likely to disregard this.  The Plain Dealer, a Cleveland newspaper, reports that Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Judge Alison Floyd has ordered four teenage girls who were victims of sexual assault to take polygraph tests.

Yes, you heard that right.  Floyd has refused to comment after she ordered victims in separate cases to be examined after she had found their attackers delinquent, the Juvenile Court equivalent of guilty.  She also ordered the teenage boys who were accused of rape to take the lie detector tests, as part of an “assessment” before the teens were sentenced.

Everyone involved seems puzzled and upset by Floyd’s action, which is fairly inexplicable, especially since she refuses to clarify her reasoning. 

“The situation made no sense to us,” the mother of a 16-year-old victim said in a message relayed through Cleveland Rape Crisis Center Director of Advocacy Ashley Hawke.

“I believe even more damage was done by the judge letting the perpetrator know she was ordering the victim to take the polygraph. He apparently took this to mean the judge did not believe her and he used this to tell their peers that the judge did not believe her and was ordering her take a lie detector test,” the mother wrote.

“It felt like the blame was back on her and she was being victimized, by not only him [again], but by the system as well.”

This is extremely well put.  Robin Palmer, the director of the Mokita Center, a group that contracts with the court to do polygraph testing, says that she doesn’t recall these tests being done without the victim’s request.  And the prosecutor has filed two briefs, asking Floyd to stop ordering rape victims to submit to polygraph tests.

It’s hard to see how this could be interpreted other than to undermine the conviction of the perpetrators and to call the integrity of the victims into question.  And let’s just remember that these are teenage girls, who have already been through an immensely traumatic experience.  The last thing the judge should be doing is giving the idea that the system doesn’t believe them.

You can – and should – tell Judge Floyd what you think.  You’ll find her contact info here (h/t to Feministing).

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Photo from Nigsby's Flickr photostream.

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103 comments

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3:59PM PST on Feb 15, 2013

might be a better idea to make the rapists take a lie detector test, oh yes I forgot they didn't do it..... they all say that.... most never admit it and are such good liars that they pass the lie detector tests....

5:14PM PST on Feb 11, 2013

Their is a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. You have worded the article in a way that claims the boys are guilty, something that remains t be proven in court. As for the lie detector test which are notoriously unreliable, neither side should be compelled to take them. The accused have a right to refuse something which can falsely establish their guilt and likewise the victims should not have to take a stressful and unreliable test which will only serve to muddy the waters even more.

10:11AM PST on Feb 11, 2013

For myself, due to jobs I have held, I have taken more polygraphs than the normal person & have found one commonality: I am guilty before they even start asking questions. I however have a friend that you can catch him with the proof in his hands, a hundred witnesses all pointing at him, & according to the machine, he is as innocent as a newborn so my faith in these tests is nonexistent to start. Of course I & my friend are anomaly's & easily recognized by a properly trained operator. As long as both sides undergo the same neutral tests are given to both sides by qualified operators, I would think it was a positive thing.

6:16PM PDT on Aug 19, 2010

Both the suspect and the victim should take lie detector test. Neither one should be told that they are taking it. Even if stastics are 2% that falsely accuse, those people who have been accused their lives have been ruined. I also believe their should be a megans law so to speak for those who do falsely accuse.

8:52AM PDT on Apr 24, 2010

That is sick!

9:20AM PDT on Apr 19, 2010

That is completely sick. I thought polygraphs were not allowed in court as evidence? I went to that site to find the judges information but it wasn't up. I wonder if he is starting to get in trouble?

4:42PM PDT on Mar 30, 2010

It's not enough that the woman was raped, now she has to take a lie detector test. AWFUL>>>JUST AWFUL

12:02AM PDT on Mar 30, 2010

I can see thw value of a lie detetor test for the alleged perpetrator, but not the victim.

10:58PM PDT on Mar 28, 2010

just a part of our rape culture. There needs to be boycott.

10:27PM PDT on Mar 28, 2010

My grandfather was accused of rape once, and it was several years before the truth came out. By then, his reputation had been dragged through the mud and the event followed him for the rest of his life. I do not have any objection to thorough questioning of both the victim and the accused.

But this does not seem like a similar case. Ordering victims to face further questioning after the verdict simply victimizes them further.

Maybe (and this is a BIG maybe) the judge had good reasoning for the decision, but if it was carried out so publicly, then she should have been completely open about those reasons as well.

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