Former New England Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson was one of the lucky ones. On July 16 the three-time Super Bowl player was arrested in Weston, Mass. for assaulting his wife. But last Monday Jackie Johnson came clean: “My husband, I adore him, and, it was my fault. . . . It breaks my heart to think I would be responsible with one emotional, irresponsible call in destroying this beautiful man’s reputation.” Judge Rucker Smith of Sumter County, Georgia can also thank his lucky stars. When he announced his decision to break off a romantic relationship, his girlfriend bit him fiercely on the leg. Then the woman called the police to allege that he had attacked her.
On May 5, the jury acquitted the judge of all charges against him.
And let’s not forget TV talk show host David Letterman. Last December Colleen Nestler of Santa Fe, NM claimed that Mr. Letterman was using mental telepathy, facial gestures, and televised code words to induce her to move to New York. Judge Daniel Sanchez granted an order directing Mr. Letterman to cease the harassment. The laughable injunction was eventually dropped.
But few men have the financial wherewithal of a former NFL player, sitting judge, or media personality. So when they are accused of domestic violence, men often find themselves dragged into a legal machinery that eventually leaves them penniless, disillusioned, and broken.
Often the false claims are made during an acrimonious divorce or child custody case.
This past January Wendy Flanders of Lancaster County, PA alleged her ex-husband acted in a threatening manner towards her, and requested a restraining order. Unfortunately for her, the whole incident was caught on surveillance cameras that proved her allegations were a complete fabrication. Flanders is now charged with making false reports and criminal conspiracy.
Restraining orders now come a dime a dozen. Each year 2-3 million restraining orders for domestic violence are issued in the United States. And get this – in half the cases, violence is not even alleged. All the guy has to do is think strange thoughts, make facial gestures, or use code words – just ask David Letterman.
Many men find the allegations so stigmatizing and humiliating that years later, they are still afraid to tell their story. “William” was a Department of Defense sub-contractor with a high level TS/SCI security clearance who supervised an information security project. When he broke up with his girlfriend, she retaliated by claiming abuse. DoD Directive 5220.6 requires that a clearance be revoked, even on the basis of a mere allegation. As a result William and the 30 project personnel had to be laid off. “John,” a successful consultant with a six-figure income, filed charges against his ex-wife after she assaulted him. In turn she requested a civil restraining order, which served to pre-empt the criminal charges against her. The civil order was then leaked to Dunn and Bradstreet, thus destroying the man’s reputation and business. A year later the woman recanted her allegations, saying John had never been physically abusive.
False allegations of rape are also commonplace, with one-quarter of rape claims believed to be a hoax. Last February Tamara Moonier of Orange County, CA accused six men of brutally raping her at gunpoint. But a home video showed a laughing Moonier cheering the men on: “I just like sex, I can’t help it!” If convicted on all counts, the men could have spent the rest of their lives in prison. But Ms. Moonier faces a maximum sentence of 44 months for her little white lie.
Which of course brings us to the three Duke U. lacrosse players accused of raping an exotic dancer. The DNA tests don’t match, the pieces of the story don’t add up, and legal experts say the chances of a conviction are slim to none.
But no matter, prosecutor Mike Nifong, who is facing a tough re-election bid, says he has no plans to drop the case. Kathy Seligman, mother of one of the accused players, recently told CBS News, “You just can’t imagine what it’s like to see someone do this to your child.”
Over 200 years ago, brave American colonists rose up against the shackles of English tyranny. Their aim was to found a republic based on laws that enshrine the presumption of innocence, a respect for due process, and the preservation of civil liberties. Sometimes the hard lessons of history only can be learned from first-hand experience.
Carey Roberts has been published frequently in the Washington Times, Townhall.com, LewRockwell.com, ifeminists.net, Intellectual Conservative, and elsewhere. He is a staff reporter for the New Media Alliance.