An alert reader points out that last year’s Rolling Stone piece, The Rape of Petty Officer Blumer, was also authored by Sabrina Erdely.  All the controversy about Ms. Erdely’s adherence to journalistic standards in her piece about a rape at a UVa fraternity house, see here (WaPo) and here (Rolling Stone statement), makes one wonder if there are people digging into the facts of the PO Blumer piece. I have no idea, but it is too bad that journalistic lapses are hurting the larger message.

26 Responses to “Rolling Stone Controversy”

  1. DCGoneGalt says:

    The belief in the larger message is what justifies any action whatsoever to the Army of Subjective Reality, regardless of the issue or their political leanings.

    The AF Reporter just published an article titled “Start by Believing the Accused” (if your head exploded just by reading the title then you really need to read the article) that encapsulates the issue perfectly.  The article starts on page 19 of the PDF.  It compares objective and subjective reality approaches to the issue that of clinical psychology and forensic psychology.  I don’t think we need to start by believing anyone but should rather be an impartial decision maker based on the facts we have available.  However, the points raised in the article are timely and need to be taken to heart.

  2. DCGoneGalt says:
    Washington Post opinion piece on why victim must be believed, and accused treated as guilty, at outset until allegation is disproved.  This is what results when social justice activism is allowed to trump rational thought.  

  3. stewie says:

    I think we should “automatically believe” alleged victims from this aspect: we should take very seriously a claim, investigate it, and only then once we’ve conducted an investigation should we determine whether or not we believe the victim enough to go forward with prosecuting the accused.
    Also, I don’t think “not believing” is the same thing as “conducting a neutral investigation that gathers evidence, then makes an assessment.”

  4. DCGoneGalt says:

    Offering medical and psychological services and conducting a full investigation that results in  disposition of the case based on an objective examination of the facts is what is fair.  Belief based on a desire to offer support is psychs/counselors, not for investigators.

    Satirical piece in how inquiring into the acts of an allegation only furthers rape culture.  Humor only works when it has an element of truth.  This sounds like SAPRO briefs I have heard.

  5. Advocaat says:

    The UVA gang rape story was quite a scoop
    “If we believe the victim, there’s no way we’ll be duped”
        Check facts?  Presume innocence?  How outrageous!
        Because girls never lie and frat boys are rapists
    Too bad we learned nothing from Duke

  6. A.Firefly says:

    “And then someone dared to question the story.”

  7. Random SWO says:

    Someone else just noticed the Blumer story, as well. 

  8. NavyDC says:

    And yet another example of Erdely playing loose with the facts back in 2011:

  9. k fischer says:

    re: AF article “Start by believing….THE ACCUSED.”
    EXCELLENT Article!!!!!!!!
    Stewie, I think the point of the article is there is a difference between clinical psychology and forensic psychology and the military’s approach to sexual assault prosecution is that of a clinician, whereas, they should be using forensics.  Russell Strand’s technique, which certainly has been wholeheartedly embraced by the Ft. Benning CID office is far more clinical than forensic and that does a disservice to the Command, the accuser, the falsely accused, the SVC, the SVP, the TC, and the TDS Counsel.  The only person I can think of who this methodology helps is the civilian defense counsel who makes a lot of money when a bs case that never should have seen the inside of a courtroom gets preferred, investigated, and referred, so that a panel can provide the GCMCA with cover, so that Senator McCaskill does not berate him or her at a Senate hearing and hold up his or her promotion.
    “Availability cascade?”  Sir, I think you are a victim of that.  And, while I think a lot of people on this blog think I wear a tin-foil hat with a sign on it that reads “Defense Kool-Aid Drinker,” this article expresses what I have been unable to articulate without sounding like Mel Gibson from “Conspiracy Theory.”

  10. A. Dreyfus says:

    This speaks for itself. A lengthy yet worthy read among the current post Rolling Stone articles.

  11. stewie says:

    I think it’s both. The victim should be looked at from a clinical standpoint, and the case initially should be about making he or she feels safe, unquestioned, and gets access to what they need. The case itself should be looked at forensically. Is there probable cause based on a neutral examination of witnesses, credibilities, and facts? I get there’s a conflict between the two in that it’s hard to do an effective forensic approach to an alleged victim you are treating clinically, but I think there’s a path there.

  12. Defense Hack says:

    DCGG – Just read the WaPo article and I nearly had a stroke. If our default is “to believe the victim” until we find a reason not to, we will never find a reason. It’s called confirmation bias. She makes this phony argument that we can somehow apply a moral standard of believing the victim before trial and then drop it in favor of the “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” standard once we get to trial. How can anyone with even the most basic understanding of human nature subscribe to that? As a DC, I couldn’t even count the number of times that we turned over strong evidence of innocence, to include statements by the alleged victim describing motive and untrustworthiness, only for the Government to say “well…you see…it’s context….we still believe she was raped….counterintuitive behavior!” The cognitive dissonance that this woman is asking for is amazing, but, hey, even if an accused is acquitted (and not wrongfully convicted), it will all be ok, right?

  13. A. Dreyfus says:

    Defense Hack – Are you telling me that you don’t buy counterintuitive behavior, wherein if a victim is telling the truth she is telling the truth and if lying she is still telling the truth? Sounds perfectly logical to me!

  14. Defense Hack says:

    I get counterintuitive behavior, but it only explains the bizarre behavior of the victim, not that the victim’s story is contradicted by other facts.

  15. RKincaid3 (RK3PO) says:

    Counter-intuitive behavior = “human lie detector” bolstering a shaky claim by evidence other than the story itself.  Shameful that it is admissible.
    As for the various sympathetic Rolling Stone-defending puff pieces and the counter-points (like Rendazzo’s) now making the public rounds on mainstream media outlets, AMEN.  At least it is no longer a one-sided publicity agenda and the other side of the story–that the presumption of innocence is not some quaint, antiquated vestige of paternalism and is actually a substantive guarantee of liberty–can be heard and considered.  Now maybe a full and balanced disussion can occur wherein the default response is no longer “victim blamer!” or “rape culture perpetuator!”

  16. k fischer says:

    Defense Hack, 
    I find it hard to believe that a prosecutor would espouse counterintuitive victim behavior when you shared with them statements a complaining witness made describing motive to fabricate and untrustworthiness.  That sounds very insidious.  Are you sure?  
    On second thought, I remembered I had one of those conversations just last week with the Guv’mint.  Carry on…..

  17. Defense Hack says:

    I’ve had TCs tell me, in short, that “the victim may be lying about a lot of stuff, but she’s not lying about the assault, despite the fact that her husband saw text messages on her phone that she tended to indicate she was in an extramarital affair, etc”

  18. stewie says:

    When used by government properly, counter-intuitive behavior is fair. All it does is remove some preconceptions some folks might have about how an alleged victim of sexual assault should act (they should be crying, they should be sexually chaste, etc).  That’s fine and fair.
    The problem is, it’s used way beyond it’s utility by folks on the government side to the point of ridiculousness.
    I don’t think it’s true that “if we believe the victim until we have a reason not to we will never not believe the victim.”  It’s about an initial approach WITH the alleged victim that emphasizes getting her treatment (medical and psychological) and that takes her initial allegation seriously by objectively investigating it.  If an objective investigation shows it to be lacking, then you proceed from there accordingly.
    Now, I’m not suggesting that’s what the person who wrote this article feels in her heart of hearts, but simply suggesting that the proper way to handle these things does involve a two-track approach that at least initially does combine “belief” in the victim with an objective investigation.

  19. D Wright says:

    After reading the Blumer article for the first time today, it is apparent that Ms Erdely makes absolutely no attempt to interview witnesses who may have information about the alleged victims’ claims.  

  20. Defense Hack says:

    Did someone fact-check “The Invisible War?”

  21. Zachary D Spilman says:
  22. k fischer says:

    ‘re: Invisible War.  Read Ariana Klay’s testimony at Mr. Faraj’s website.  It’s no wonder her court martial resulted in an acquittal.

  23. Neutron73 says:

    k fischer
    Wow…..I am reading that thing and I am just amazed Mrs. Klay is given any kind of credibility talking about sexual assault in the military.  How in the world did they use her as some sort of subject matter expert for that movie is beyond me.  Her testimony at that trial and the Article 32 is atrocious.  And I’m not even done with the transcript yet.

  24. k fischer says:

    I’ve heard the repeated assertions that the 15-6 investigating officer said she was wearing make-up and running shorts, so she found no misconduct.  When you watch her and her husband’s role in The Invisible War, it makes me shake my head.  I notice that she seems to be standing next to Gillibrand at some of her pressers about how the military fumbles sexual assault prosecutions.
    She got her day in court, Mr. Faraj destroyed her credibility, his client was acquitted, and the taxpayer’s dollars continue to be wasted based on the false narrative that she is a victim and the military does nothing.  

  25. Advocaat says:

    Wow is right…thank you for the post re Klay’s testimony, @kf; it was incredible in the purest sense of the word.  I suppose the Invisible War was aptly named; truth was indeed the first casualty here.  This case highlights why, once upon a time, verbatim Art 32 transcripts used to be so important in sexual assault trials.

  26. k fischer says:

    In the new spending bill:
    There’s $257 million for the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response programs, including $25 million more to expand the Sexual Assault Victims’ Counsel program. But Democrats, led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), are expected to make a final push to expand the program this week.