“Disarm you with a smile
And leave you like they left me here
To wither in denial
The bitterness of one who’s left alone” – Smashing Pumpkins, Disarm
A friend passed along an article earlier about a potential defense strategy in the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse case. (And when I say “sexual abuse” I mean “alleged forcible anal rape of underage boys”) It appears that the defense will follow the time-honored tradition of calling into question the credibility of the accusers.
Now, I have no qualms about Sandusky receiving a vibrant well reasoned defense. Everybody charged with a crime deserves such. There’s a bit of a problem with this strategy though. If one can show collusion or a history of frivolous lawsuits it may cast doubt on credibility. But what exactly do a history of emotional or psychological problems, or even a history of criminal activity prove? Isn’t that what one might expect from a man who was raped by a father figure as a young boy?
If the defense is smart it might reverse the roles here. “Your honor, and members of the jury, this accuser has no history of emotional distress, psychological problems, or any trouble with the law. The witness is a fine, upstanding citizen. He couldn’t possibly have been abused as a child.”
Honestly, this could blow sky high on the witness stand. One emotional breakdown by an accuser who discusses openly with the jury the difficulties he’s had in life because of the trauma he suffered at the hands of a man he trusted – and it’s game over.