The Modern-Day Witch Trial: On Using a Restraining Order to Accuse a Mother of Rape

Posted on February 9, 2014

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The last post addressed the case of a mom who’s been accused of serial rape by the father of one of her children.

Ignore whether it’s okay to allow a man’s record to be contaminated with an uncorroborated allegation of rape scrawled on a restraining order application—an allegation, incidentally, that will ruin his life (there’s not an employer on the face of the planet who’s going to respond to “She accused me of rape” with “Oh, fiddlesticks. When can you start?”).

Ignore that and consider what judge, in the “bad old days” before restraining orders existed, would have allowed a woman to be publicly labeled a rapist, merely by implication.

Now consider how far back in history we’d have to reach to find a time when such an unfounded allegation would previously have been taken seriously. I’m not a historian, but my guess would be during the period when we last had witch trials.

It was probably possible, say, as recently as the 1600s to have a woman tried as a succubus (a demon in female form who forcibly copulated with men while they slept) just based on “persuasive” testimony like “She consorts with the devil!”

Our modern-day witch trials, restraining order adjudications, which proceed from the same non-evidentiary basis, don’t threaten penalties like drowning or incineration. I wonder, though, whether their draconian punishments were the only aspects of the original witch trials that were unjust.

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