Hypothetically Speaking: If I Were Ever Publicly Accused of Rape…

The Court of Public Opinion
The Court of Public Opinion

…how should I defend myself?

Or, to be more accurate, I guess: how would I be allowed to defend myself?

Say an ex-girlfriend or just a woman that I know, publicly says “J.R. LeMar raped me.” Can anyone tell me what is the proper response to such a thing?

I know this seems odd, but this is something I’ve been thinking about for awhile, due to the way I’ve noticed rape allegations made in public get reported, and how people tend to react to them. That includes this story from Monday:

Beth Stelling’s Alleged Rapist Defends Himself on Facebook; Another Victim Comes Forward

The gist of it is that a stand-up comedian named Beth Stelling alleged that she had previously been abused and raped by an ex-boyfriend whom she refused to name. Someone else then publicly claimed that the man in question is a stand-up comedian named Cale Hartmann. And now another stand-up comedian named Courtney Pauroso, has come forward to also alleged that Hartmann raped and abused her in the past.

Hartmann defended himself on his Facebook page in a multi-paragraph note. In which he says, among other things:

My career and life do not deserve to be taken away without some basic level of due process just because of an allegation on the Internet. She is being praised and lauded to no end while people take joy in destroying me as the new villain of the week. How would that make you feel?

Well, I’d feel pretty crappy about that. Yet, both in the comments in response to his note, as well as in the original article, the consensus seems to be: he did it. Case closed. Everything he’s saying to deny it is a LIE. He’s guilty.

I have to say, I have a problem with that. Look, I don’t know any of these people, I’d never even heard of any of them before Monday. So I have no clue what did or didn’t happen. And certainly the fact that we have TWO women making claims against him adds extra weight to the charges. Look, rape is something I take seriously. Just a few days ago I unfriended a longtime internet friend, someone I’ve “known” since Myspace, because he’s STILL adamantly defending Bill Cosby, and I just can’t take that anymore. But I’m looking at this on a case by case basis. A few months ago, there were allegations made against porn star James Deen. And it was the same type of situation, someone says it publicly on Twitter and…that’s it? It’s just believed?

Again, more than one woman has since come forward about Deen, but I’m talking about the initial reporting and reaction. I can’t figure out what a man who might actually be innocent (yeah, I know false rape accusations never happen… except when they do) is supposed to do in a situation like that?

Apparently, if you don’t say anything YOU’RE GUILTY. And if you defend yourself YOU’RE GUILTY. Call your accuser a liar and you’re “blaming the victim.” Try to suggest anything about her motives for lying, say anything about her background, and you’re a monster. Meanwhile, your background gets scrutinized with a fine-tooth comb. From what I can tell, from reading the internet, the only acceptable reaction to being publicly accused of rape is to immediately confess that you’re guilty and turn yourself into the police, I guess.

And if you happen to not actually be guilty, well, tough shit.

Does that seem fair?

'Hmmm...It is: innocent until proven guilty? Or is it: guilty until proven innocent?'
‘Hmmm…It is: innocent until proven guilty? Or is it: guilty until proven innocent?’


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