One of the great curiosities is how the same folks who are outraged by junk science in the courtroom when applied to certain cases, certain crimes, “bite mark” analysis for example, or “bullet lead” analysis, aren’t perturbed at all about the testimony of someone like “forensic psychologist” Barbara Ziv.
Ziv, a professor at Temple University, may be remembered from her testimony against Bill Cosby. Her putative “expertise” is in dispelling “rape myths.” To put it differently, she’s an expert in promoting the #MeToo narrative, the litany of excuses for why anything a self-identified victim does proves their truth. Remember everything? Guilty. Remember nothing? Guilty. Remember some but not all? Guilty. Ziv gives the excuse for why, no matter what the case, it proves guilt. And she’s quite good at it.
But unlike hard science, which can be tested and retested with the results proving or disproving its efficacy, assuming the testing is done for the legitimate purpose of determining an accurate outcome rather than validating “duct tape” analysis on behalf of the Forensic Duct Tape Experts of America Association, there is no science behind Ziv’s expertise. And to the extent there is any doubt that her “expert” testimony is fallacious, this is the sort of stuff to which Ziv testifies.
While being cross-examined, Ziv testified that no more than 7 per cent of sexual assault allegations are false, and she thinks the number could actually be as low as 2 per cent.
This, as discussed here many times before, is not merely untrue, but outrageously false. The study upon which this was based had not only been debunked, in itself, but showed that 5.9% of allegations were provably false, notably hard given the problems with proving a negative, with the next 58.8% being inconclusive, which obviously means some or all are also false. Even the 35.3% that are deemed true may not be, as subsequent DNA testing and false confessions have revealed that the proven rape convictions turn out to be wrong sometimes.
Yet, this is what Ziv, the expert, the person permitted to testify as an expert in court, to give her opinion, to “educate” the jury as to “rape myths,” testifies under oath to be true. And judges let her, because she does a damn good job of bolstering the prosecution’s argument that all the flaws in its case aren’t flaws, but “rape myths.” “Ah,” says the jurors. “Rape myths.”
A forensic psychiatrist with expertise in rape trauma took the stand as a prosecution witness at former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s Manhattan rape trial on Friday, explaining why some sexual assault victims do not report attacks or avoid their abusers.
Is there such a thing as “expertise in rape trauma”? It begs the question of there being “rape trauma” at all, but that’s the narrative, hauled out when it’s convenient and decried as bunk when it’s not.
Ziv said most victims of rapes and sexual assaults know their attackers, do not fight back during the attacks, and maintain contact with their attackers. She also said some resist coming forward promptly because they feel ashamed or fear retribution.
Most? That’s dubious itself, but nonetheless, depends entirely on how one defines “rape,” whether it’s substantively non-consensual, if not forcible, or post-hoc regret.
Cheronis also asked Ziv if a woman could view a consensual encounter years later as nonconsensual because she had come to regret it.
“Anything is possible,” Ziv answered. “It’s not usual.”
Cite? Ziv says so, and that’s good enough for testimony by an “expert in rape trauma” in a court of law when the defendant is hated.
To be sure, there are rapes, and they are heinous crimes. There are women who are raped, come forward immediately, tell the police, go to the hospital where a rape kit is created to be tested to learn or prove the identity of their rapist. They are, too often, treated like dirt by callous cops, their rape kits abandoned for years, their perpetrators allowed to walk the streets and, perhaps, rape again.
Nobody needs an “expert in rape trauma” like Ziv to make excuses for them. But worse, and more ironically, few in the #MeToo movement give these women a second thought, care a whit about the fact (note the word “fact” here) that these women didn’t hide behind excuses for their decades-later claim of rape, but cried rape immediately, loud and clear, remembered exactly what happened to them and weren’t “afraid” to do something about it.
The cops failed them. Prosecutors failed them. The #MeToo choir failed them. Ziv didn’t fail them, but only because they had no use for an apologist like Ziv.
Barbara Ziv has now firmly established her bona fides as an expert it “educating” juries on the narrative to explain away all the problems with rape accusations, the “myth” that all the indicia of false accusations doesn’t apply when someone claims to be a rape victim. Her testimony helped to take down Cosby. Her testimony may help to take down Weinstein, or at least that’s why the People of the State of New York are paying her. The expert in high profile cases gets to enjoy the reputation of being the “go-to” person for such services, and her testimony in Weinstein solidifies her gig as the person to pay when you need someone to put lipstick on the pig of excuses.
But it does something more, beyond Ziv’s making money off her side gig. It establishes the existence of such a thing as an “expert in rape trauma,” the prosecution’s justification for calling an expert to educate jurors on “rape myths” based on the trauma of victims. And if victims of “violence” suffer trauma that impairs the ability to do all the things expected of a victim, like accurately recall what happened, accurately identify the perpetrator, come forward when it happened rather than years later when it’s at the height of fashion, the same will be true for every victim, whether a mugging, robbery, burglary, whatever. No matter what happened, what was said, what was remembered, it will always prove the same thing: the defendant is guilty.