Domestic violence is real – we’ve seen the stories – and then there is the battle for legitimacy. Victims report not being believed. Some victims, allegedly including high-profile people like Johnny Depp (https://www.rt.com/usa/510693-johnny-depp-movies-netflix/) have endured retaliation after their circumstances were made public.
So we’re told to believe those who raise allegations of abuse, and sadly, at the same time I recall reading multiple cases where the accused is genuinely innocent of the allegations. The Perez case is a solid example of how far false allegations can go (costing Perez his business to the point he was homeless), and now we have Reverend Raphael Warnock’s ex-wife’s allegations making its rounds on the news.
Raphael Warnock, prominent in both politics & religion in Atlanta, and Juan Perez, a Cobb County small business owner, both went through a divorce & were found innocent of false allegations levied against them by their ex-spouses. However, the similarities end there. Warnock received the benefit of a tidy investigation that revealed he did nothing wrong, and he was not arrested. Perez, however, was arrested and suffered the destruction of his business and social life, and was rendered homeless & impoverished, before he was finally exonerated.
See the Perez lawsuit: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4243078/perez-v-bastis/
Warnock, while in the process of divorcing his wife, was accused of running over her foot with a vehicle. According to CBS46 reporter Brittany Edney’s story, “medical examiners determined Warnock’s estranged wife’s foot was ok. Investigators wrote that she was hesitant to show her foot at first but once she did, they too saw no signs that her foot was ran over.”
Yet we do not see any news of Ouleye Warnock – Warnock’s now-former wife – catching any charges for her allegation that turned out not to be true.
Here is a story from 11 Alive staff detailing the accusation with more details: https://www.11alive.com/article/news/politics/warnock-responds-to-police-bodycam-video-about-march-dispute-with-ex-wife/85-74253fd3-092a-448f-8afa-5bdb8ce80888
One striking difference between Perez and Warnock is that Perez was a run-of-the-mill small business owner, while Warnock is a prominent figure in local politics and religion; Warnock is an authority figure under fire while Perez was simply a business owner like the quite a few of the 99%. He was simply locked in a custody battle with his embittered and angry ex-wife. He did nothing wrong (his child was on record testifying that he did nothing wrong). Yet Perez has received absolutely no remuneration for the extensive losses he suffered. In fact, had had to self-deport back to his native Chile to start rebuilding his life. Further, in the Perez matter, the detective – Thomas “Tom” Alva Bastis – is alleged to have known aforehand that the accusations were false, yet sought charges anyway. By all appearances, it seems as if he was allowed to continue a career of levying charges (some of which were resolved with favorable plea bargains or dismissal after evidence disappeared and possible taint was revealed).
While excessive force played by the system against those without privilege, a question needs to be raised about those who put forth allegations that turn out to be utterly rubbish.
The fact that Ouleye’s untrue allegation went without charges sends a message that false accusers are safe gambling for the possible destruction of the accused’s life – without fear of consequences – and the public is harmed by the erosion of legitimacy of domestic abuse charges. Until there is equal consideration for the lives of both false accuser and the accused, there is no justice.
Until we offer alternative solutions to both false accusations and to how unjust and damaging criminal charges can become – and actually act to pursue justice for those wrongly accused – we as a society will be complicit in the damages that failure to act will result in.
In short, the path forward needs to include some kind of penalty for those raising allegations that turn out to be false. Laws and punishments – and corrective actions available prior to intervention by police and courts – need to change, to reflect the fact that abusers are human beings and domestic violence could be prevented if victims were empowered to speak out and receive help by means other than those of limited services that governments currently offer.
December 25, 2020