Stop Saying That An Accusation Isn’t Proof

Elle Beau ❇︎
Jul 12, 2019 · 4 min read

Nobody thinks that it is, but Congress ought to be taking Trump’s 20+ accusors more seriously

Photo by Johannes W on Unsplash

No, an accusation is not proof, and nobody thinks that it is. Stop saying that! This is nothing but a deflection from the real issues at hand — that someone, some man, has quite likely acted in a way that has harmed someone else, some woman, and that this thing should be being investigated, rather than brushed aside as inconsequential or out of line to mention.

Because what an accusation is, whether it’s of a crime or wrong-doing of some sort, is probable cause for an investigation - at least around absolutely anything other than sexual impropriety, it seems. It should be for that as well, but because we have an erroneous and toxic cultural narrative that says that lots of women make false accusations, as well as other barriers to justice for women who have been groped, kissed against their will, spied on, and attacked, this is often not the case.

Sandra Newman notes that even within that group, a comparatively small number of false accusations that are made are ever reported to the authorities. It’s Time to Dismantle the Myth of the False Accuser

Donald Trump has been accused by more than 20 women of having done something sexually inappropriate to them, without their consent, and in some cases what he is accused of is outright assault. That is one big smoking gun, but it’s true, accusations alone are not proof. However, they should be the impetus for further investigation and given the fact that he is the President of the United States, the body that should be undertaking that investigation is Congress.

Impeachment is the process by which a legislative body levels charges against a government official. It does not mean removal from office; it is only a statement of charges, akin to an indictment in criminal law. Once an individual is impeached, he or she must then face the possibility of conviction by a legislative vote, which judgment entails removal from office. Wikipedia

So, why isn’t Donald Trump being impeached and investigated? There are a variety of reasons, but one of them is that our society expects, and to some extent, excuses powerful men behaving in sexually inappropriate ways with the women in their sphere. We also tend to trust and believe whoever has the most power in any situation and that victims have somehow brought whatever has happened to them on themselves.

As cruel as this was, it was a kind of defense mechanism to ward off having to entertain the possibility that something terrible could happen to you through no fault of your own. We desperately want to believe that we are in control of our lives and determine our own fate.

Because of this, we tend to believe whoever has the most power in the hierarchy; pedophile priests over children; those nice young men from the football team rather than the girl they assaulted, the White woman who says that a Black kid whistled at her. We want to believe in order and that the world operates justly, even as we also know that there is a might makes right dynamic where those who are the most ruthless prevail. Victim Blaming, The Dominance Hierarchy, And Trump

There is no other type of crime where a public figure who had been accused by over 20 different people, most of whom don’t even know each other, would not be under some kind of investigation. Accusations don’t mean that someone is guilty, but they do mean that somebody ought to be taking all of this a lot more seriously. We do not owe anyone a presumption of innocence in the face of accusations or other troubling evidence. That isn’t what that phrase means. It pertains to who has the burden of proof in a courtroom — that’s all.

According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the presumption of the innocence of a criminal defendant is best described as an assumption of innocence that is indulged in the absence of contrary evidence (Taylor v. Kentucky, 436 U.S. 478, 98 S. Ct. 1930, 56 L. Ed. 2d 468 [1978]). It is not considered evidence of the defendant’s innocence, (empahsis mine) and it does not require that a mandatory inference favorable to the defendant be drawn from any facts in evidence. Innocent Until Proven Guilty

If we have probable cause to suspect someone of wrongdoing, and more than 20 accusations certainly fits that bill, then it is no kind of justice to ignore it and say something as specious as, “An accusation isn’t proof of guilt.”

© Copyright Elle Beau 2020
Elle Beau writes on Medium about sex, life, relationships, society, anthropology, spirituality, and love. If this story is appearing anywhere other than Medium.com, it appears without my consent and has been stolen.

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