An Ohio judge recently ordered four teenage sexual assault victims to take polygraph tests. As if suggesting that the girls may be lying isn't bad enough, the tests are pointless, since their attackers have already been found guilty.
According to the Associated Press, in four separate cases Cuyahoga Juvenile Court Judge Alison Floyd ordered the girls (and their attackers) to submit to polygraph tests, after she found the teen boys delinquent (the equivalent of "guilty" in the juvenile system). Since the court doesn't pay for the examination of victims, the victims' families would be responsible for the cost of the tests.
All of the girls have ignored Judge Floyd's order, but in a statement sent to the newspaper The Plain Dealer, the mother of one 16-year-old victim said her daughter was still upset by the request. She explains:
I believe even more damage was done by the judge letting the perpetrator know she was ordering the victim to take the polygraph. He apparently took this to mean the judge did not believe her and he used this to tell their peers that the judge did not believe her and was ordering her take a lie detector test.
Thankfully, prosecutors are siding with the girls. Briefs were filed by prosecutors in two cases asking that the judge stop ordering rape victims to take polygraph tests, and in another motion Assistant County Prosecutor Nicole Ellis wrote:
It is clear that the court is attempting to re-investigate the case after the child was found delinquent... The legislature enacted the rape shield statute to protect victims from undue harassment, a tendency in sexual assault cases to try the victims rather than the defendant.
An attorney representing one of the boys says Judge Floyd, not the defense team, proposed testing the girls and the judge hasn't responded to several requests for an explanation.
Obviously women occasionally make false rape accusations, but Judge Floyd's request is still baffling. Why submit the girls to polygraph tests, which are unreliable even when the subject isn't reliving a traumatic assault, when there was enough evidence to convince her to convict the boys? (And she'd already done so, to boot.) The only thing Floyd has accomplished is discouraging other victims from coming forward by sending the message that even if your attacker is convicted, no one will ever really believe you.