In 1990, four women were convicted of sexual assaulting two children. They were convicted on the testimony of a doctor who testified that the children’s injuries were the result of satanic ritual common among lesbians. This doctor ultimately recanted her testimony in addition to other witnesses who were presented at trial.
Based on this, the Court of Appeals exonerated the four women and overturned their conviction. The court claimed that the convictions were the result of untruthful claims perpetuated by stigma against lesbians and there was no additional evidence to suggest the women are guilty. As a result of their exoneration, the women will have civil recourse for compensation for the decades that they were incarcerated.
Sex Crimes and Stigma
There is a lot of stigma that surrounds the issue of sex crimes because no one really wants to discuss it, and the allegations generally strike an emotional cord with the community. This means that when allegations of a sex crime occur, the police and prosecutors may try to charge the first suspect that they find. As police officers and prosecutors and juries are all human, they are all susceptible to feelings of avenging the victims and punishing perpetrators. That means that they frequently connect sex crimes and alternative lifestyles.
For example, the four exonerated women were convicted because the police and community wanted to ensure that they incarcerated the actual perpetrator. Unfortunately, they fell victim to social stigma against lesbians and allowed that to influence their decision to falsely testify, charge, and convict them.
Some other common examples include:
- Social Economic Status
Defenses to Sex Crimes
It is not uncommon for someone to be falsely accused of a sex crime. This frequently happens with child sex allegations. Sometimes adults around children give unintentional hints to a child to allege sex abuse. If a child is an actual victim, a parent or other authority figure may pressure them into claiming it was the defendant when they really didn’t know the identity of the perpetrator at all. This can happen both intentionally and unintentionally. It can also happen with doctors interviewing the child, family members, or teachers.
If you have been charged with a sex crime in the Los Angeles area, you should immediately contact Gurovich, Berk & Associates at (213) 385-1555. Our sex crime attorneys are available 24/7 to provide a free consultation. It is important to provide your best defense in order to avoid the criminal results of a felony.