Let’s face it, there are a lot of bad things out there. When people talk about the worst of the worst, it often references sex crimes. There’s another level of stigma about them – and for good reason: victims of these crimes have faced unspeakable trauma. That said, an allegation is never proof.
Many people automatically assume the worst in these cases. It’s not hard to find people who say “I believe anybody who speaks up.” They’re being sympathetic. It’s generally a good trait, but it makes it hard for justice to truly be served. Look at jury selection in the Weinstein trial right now. It’s hard to find impartial opinions. In court, the prosecution has to prove guilt; the defendant does not prove innocence. When somebody points a finger, makes an accusation, or files a criminal complaint, it will impact the accused for the rest of his life.
Allegations can take everything
To generalize, when a man is accused of a sex crime, his friends, family, coworkers and neighbors withdraw. They change allegiances. Many question how the person they thought they knew could do such a thing. It means immediate social alienation.
A man who was accused of rape in the UK summarizes from his own experiences, upon being charged:
[He] told his university first. “We won’t judge you for this,” his lecturers assured him. “But I knew, deep down, as humans, they would. How could they not?”
He may be in another country, but those concerns apply here too. Any they compound: men are fired or put on leave at work. Professional reputations suffer. For most, a Google-search for their name will be tainted forever. An accusation can cost a man his livelihood and his name.
In another powerful quote from the article referenced earlier, the accused man states:
If I was in the jury, who would I feel more sorry for? It’s never going to be the guy defending himself for rape.
These cases aren’t hopeless, though. Two notorious examples in recent times are the case of the Duke Lacrosse team, and the retraction of Rolling Stone‘s infamous “A Rape on Campus” story. The Duke example was a courtroom fiasco, while the Rolling Stone case was a cultural talking point. In both, innocent people suffered due to false allegations.
The right support can be the difference
Given the severity of even the mildest accusation, it’s essential that men protect their name as soon as possible. The timing of response matters, and there are often clues that charges may be coming. An accusation or an investigation is a sign that help may be needed. While the Cosmopolitan story is about the UK judicial system, the takeaway applies here too: he may not have his freedom if it weren’t for his legal team.
Legal defense is important, but it’s just an important than anyone facing such serious charges has moral support from loved ones. It’s the hard times in life that prove who is loyal, who is a friend and who be with you unconditionally. Nobody can predict the future, but sometimes good people are in a bad position. When that happens, a little help can go a long way.