The Kangaroo Justice of Sexual Assault Cases
“My deplatforming has been just devastating - after forty-six years of appearing on television and radio and writing for all our major publications, as far as mainstream media is concerned, I am totally cancelled.”
"If an alien landed here tomorrow and went by mainstream news", I told Bettina Arndt, "it would be convinced that rape is experienced by every woman, all the time. Why has rape become a prominent topic within our culture?" I asked.
"Rape is an extremely emotional issue", replied the social commentator and men's advocate. "It causes men to rally to defend women and to accept harsh penalties for accused men. It also enlists support from women who identify strongly with alleged victims. As such, it is the ideal issue for feminist purposes."
Sexual violence has been at the heart of the cultural conversation for many years - from the Kavanaugh hearings and consent courses imposed on bewildered employees to #BelieveAllWomen and Lady Gaga rocking the Oscars stage with her campus-rape anthem Till It Happens To You.
Introduced by then-Vice President Biden, the singer's performance prompted mainstream media talk of a 'rape epidemic', while her claim that one in five women endure rape on campus was unanimously accepted.
One lone voice to cast doubt over the alarming statistic was Reason's Robby Soave who argued that "there's nothing wrong with educating people about the importance of consent", but the campus-rape documentary, which Lady Gaga was promoting, wrongly scared people into believing that colleges are full of serial sexual predators.
The Australian Human Rights Commission's investigation into the rape-crisis-on-campus claims later proved Soave right but it failed to halt the protests. "The result was simply overwhelming evidence that campus is a really safe place," said Arndt, "where most young women are generally only at risk of unwanted staring. But sadly, a feminist thesis holds that no matter how many gains are made toward legal gender equality in our societies, all women remain vulnerable to male sexual power all the time, and the coercive force of the state is necessary to protect women."
For decades, feminists have been trying to ensure more rape convictions, explained Arndt. "They are particularly concerned about 'date rape' cases which revolve around 'he-said', 'she-said' consent. Juries are understandably reluctant to convict young men when they don't know whom to believe in these cases, particularly when the men face long prison sentences." This situation has led to the American kangaroo courts – the tribunal system to adjudicate campus sexual misconduct set up by then-Vice President Biden.
"Biden stated he wanted to change the sexual culture of America and the way to do that was on campuses," explained Arndt. "He instructed universities to adjudicate sexual misconduct in a system which required a lower standard of proof, removing due process rights from the accused - the whole goal was to ensure more rape convictions." Mounting cases soon forced universities to set up expensive administrative structures to support the tribunal system, while accused students' families started suing American universities over these tribunals throwing young men out of college. In 2013, mothers of accused men set up Families Advocating for Campus Equality (FACE), an organization dedicated to supporting students dealing with America's campus kangaroo courts. This brought to the fore the plight of families whose sons' lives were crudely taken off track as allegations struck and the emotionally torturous proceedings ensued. Some manage to recover after clearing their names, but many drop out of university altogether, and some even commit suicide.
Australia, too, introduced secretive committees to investigate and determine sexual assault cases, using a lower standard of proof, denying the accused normal legal protections. It was the plight of one such falsely accused student that got Arndt involved. David (not his real name) was cleared after 5 months of emotional torment sparked by allegations of sexual assault made against him by a fellow student. With Arndt's support, he was able to ward off a University of Adelaide committee determined to act as judge and jury in his case, even though the incident alleged to have been assault did not take place on university grounds. David was rightly nervous because this committee had the power to withhold the awarding of his PhD, but eventually, the university backed off - after Arndt's legal team sent letters to the university, questioning his unfair treatment. Once the university revealed details of the accusations, David was able to produce text messages which undermined his accuser's story. With great relief, David gained his coveted PhD and left the university.
"Since helping David, I realised the enormity of the problem," said Arndt. "The system has given women a mighty weapon to punish any man who lets them down - regret sex now has the power to destroy a man's life."
Concerned about the growth of Australia's secretive campus kangaroo courts, Arndt conducted a 'fake rape crisis' speaking tour of university campuses, where she encountered fierce opposition from feminist activists.
"Many of my campus tour events turned ugly," said Arndt. "Tens of protesters at the University of Sydney attempted to block me and others from entering the venue, there was much pushing as well as megaphones shouting obscenities at me." It took police intervention to remove the protesters and for the talk to take place.
"I am more troubled by the attempt to shut me up than the abuse thrown at me," reflected Arndt. "Rather than contest my ideas, the students tried to silence me, and this all took place at a university where contentious ideas are meant to be debated."
The need for the riot squad to protect Arndt's university audience prompted a government inquiry and led to new legislation regarding campus free speech, but this has come at a considerable personal and professional cost. Last year Arndt was deplatformed when End Rape on Campus activists orchestrated a sustained media attack, in protest of her being given an award honouring her work on men's issues.
"Within hours of the award being announced," recalled Arndt, "these activists recruited journalists to publish maliciously edited extracts from my videos and articles, all designed to discredit me. They rolled out any number of heavyweights, including two Attorney Generals, to demand my award be rescinded, claiming my work denigrated victims." Arndt was subjected to months of negative coverage and a fiercely abusive Twitter storm.
The anti-Arndt fury went all the way to the top as feminist politicians wedged government senators into voting for a motion to condemn her. According to Arndt, these activists have wrongly attributed to her language she had quoted from a police officer leading an investigation into a horrendous murder/suicide case. Attacks on Arndt's family finally persuaded her to withdraw from social media and she now advocates for men's issues through her Mothers of Sons organisation.
"I have certainly been deplatformed in Australia," said Arndt. "After forty-six years of appearing on television and radio and writing for all our major publications, as far as mainstream media is concerned, I am totally cancelled."
Arndt now has a team of lawyers helping male students facing investigation by "dangerous, secretive committees" and directs her efforts through Substack, making videos and working with her campus justice group.
"I am one of very few people out there who are actually grateful to COVID," reflected Arndt. "It got me off the front pages and gave me a chance to recover from the onslaught." The noted journalist and broadcaster went on to receive her honours award at the end of last year but the pain of being cancelled remains.
"I was a feminist; I was trying to help women," she explained, "but men started to talk to me. I realised that there were many issues where men and boys weren't getting a fair deal and this includes the 'manufactured crisis' around sexual assault" championed at universities by End Rape on Campus. But it is not just universities, explained Arndt, "the criminal system is weaponised against all men - false allegations are rampant in this country - domestic violence and sexual abuse accusations are now a standard tactic used by women seeking to deny fathers contact with their children and gain advantage in family law battles."
Feminists' insistence on 'believing women' inevitably suggests that any presumption of innocence for an accused man amounts to a kind of assault on women. "If a woman says she has been sexually assaulted, who am I to question or doubt her? How dare I?" explained Arndt. "It's crass even to ask for details, or to query her as to why she didn't go to the police, nothing she claims is allowed to be doubted. The experience is hers alone to define, and every man must bear the shame. The temptation to exaggerate, to manipulate numbers, and to use rape for strategic purposes is thus overwhelming for ideologues." These sentiments are echoed by Candace Owens, who views this premise as a danger to society as a whole - pointing to the chilling reminder of a dark past where all it took was a white woman's cry of assault to get a black person lynched.
The impact of a system that presumes men guilty is devastating, causing immense suffering to the accused men and their families. The agonising wait for a resolution, the inevitable financial ruin, the prospect of living with a 'rapist label' for the rest of your life, depression, and even suicide... The cases are too numerous to mention, and, it should be noted, they include men accused by women and girls they have never even met - like retired English teacher Peter, who first heard about the allegation made again him when a detective turned up at his door.
A guest on Arndt's recent ThinkSpot podcast, Peter Joyce, was informed that he had been accused of rape by a daughter of a friend, whom he had never met. It turned out that she had accused her father of repeatedly and systematically raping her in her childhood, and recruiting his friends to do the same. It was a complex case with alleged events occurring decades ago. Still, Peter was able to compile evidence that he believes could easily have cleared him, but the police were committed to the 'believe the victim' dogma and refused to conduct a proper investigation. Peter's case was finally dropped. He went on to write the book Dry Ice about his experience and now runs the Blackstonesdrum website dedicated to "the plight of countless innocent people all over the world whose lives are being destroyed by #believethevictim policies", and their past victims.
Arndt told us the tragic story of Kevin Ibbs, whose wife wanted out of the marriage but had her eyes set on getting the house. She set him up to have sex with one of her friends. "That was all happening," told Arndt. "When he was near the end, she said, 'stop' and tried to push him away." The judge ruled that he continued for an additional 30 seconds and to this day Ibbs is called 'the 30 Second Rapist'. He was convicted of rape, sent to prison for 4 years, served 6 months and appealed. It later emerged that the wife had conspired with her friend to accuse him of rape and the two women were eventually served 7 months in jail for perverting the course of justice. It ruined Ibbs' life and he eventually committed suicide.
Suicide was also the tragic fate of British, 24-year-old Grant Townsend, who, although cleared, remained haunted by fear that the 'rapist' title would stick with him for life. Fellow British young men Liam Allen, Ashley, and Jay Cheshire were also falsely accused of rape - the three were the subject of the 2020 BBC documentary I Am Not A Rapist which detailed the devastation incurred on their lives. The harrowing account included the news of 17-year-old Jay's suicide - one of 1419 under investigation men who have died 'untimely deaths' since 2016. "Importantly", stated the HeQual website, "all three false rape allegation cases were not recorded as false accusations - even the most blatant cases of false accusations where the evidence was completely debunked in court, using the accuser own words", are not recorded as false allegations, or as "the horrific crimes that they are."
The cruel ordeal takes its toll on the accused men's families too, stresses Arndt who set up the Mothers of Sons website, which tells the agonising tales of mothers who witnessed their son's torment. Mothers like Erin, whose 18-year-old boy was falsely accused of rape. The young man was cleared when DNA from two other men was found in the accuser's vagina but none from him - the girl's lies were exposed in court and the case was dismissed. "The jury stood and applauded Erin's son when he emerged from the courtroom," said Arndt, "but police refused to charge the girl for fear of deterring victims from coming forward."
Dan's mother Michelle told of her son's former partner Sara Jane Parkinson, who was sent to prison after making a string of false rape and violence allegations designed to destroy him. Dan's story was featured on Sixty Minutes, argued Arndt, because it is so rare that women are caught out and punished for making false allegations. In her moving testimony, Michelle rightly expresses anger over women like Parkinson making a mockery of real sufferers of domestic violence, by wasting resources and distracting from women in genuine distress. She advises anyone accused of sexual assault to go on the attack but, perhaps most importantly, she shares her thoughts of the imprisoned men who shouldn't be - victims of a judicial system that fails to consider the male's word.
“We've reached the point in Australia where most cases which end up in the Family Court include allegations of violence or sexual abuse,” said Arndt. “The situation is so serious that the police union recently spoke out about false violence allegations being made against their own members.”
Former police officer Evelyn Rae recently told Arndt of her resentment over being required to enforce unjust, anti-male laws in relation to rape and domestic violence. It is Rae's belief that 75% of woman allegations of domestic violence are false - that in all her 12 years of service, "just 3 cases of sexual assault were legitimate."
Another woman with expertise in the justice system is Sydney silk (barrister) Margaret Cunneen, who went public recently with her concerns about the feminist influence on criminal justice. Cunneen spent decades as a crown prosecutor, convicting some of Australia's most prominent rapists and other villains, followed by service as a commissioner in charge of a large child abuse investigation. She is currently at the bar, defending accused men, including many alleged rapists.
Feminists have been pushing for a 'yes means yes’ affirmative consent model. Under the proposed new laws, an accused would have to prove to have taken active steps to ascertain consent throughout the sexual proceedings – which, according to Cunneen, 'would render most of the sex most of us have as potentially illegal'.
"The main game here is to provide more cannon fodder," argued Arndt, "a new supply of accused men to face a justice system already weaponised against them."
Cunneen has argued that feminists have already succeeded in stacking the system, by removing the filtering process which once ensured that only rape cases with sufficient evidence went through to trial, and by requiring police to refer in their 'facts sheets' to complainants as 'victims'. After the complainant has been declared a 'victim,' she explained, the system then takes hold; "there's not much more investigation, just a zeal to get to the end and to convict the charged person."
But without proper evidence, more cases fail and conviction rates go down, enraging feminists and prompting politicians to demand greater action to ensure the safety of women and even greater legislation to ensure rapists get punished. Just as concerning have been changes in domestic violence laws so that a woman can simply allege she fears violence could occur for a man to be charged with domestic violence, removed from his home, and often denied contact with his children for years until the case is heard in Family Court.
"The reality is the justice system is already firmly tilted against men, as Margaret Cunneen made very clear," said Arndt, spelling out the numerous legislative changes already making it harder for accused men to have a fair hearing. "The new changes to the consent laws are an absolute gift for vengeful women who seek to destroy their ex-lovers," she added, mentioning recent Australian research showing that family court judges find that only 14 per cent of sexual abuse allegations turn out to be true.
Our culture has been contorting to appease feminists' demands for many years now, concluded Arndt. Even our language is affected - "we no longer speak of rape; we speak of 'sexual assault' - an endlessly expanding category that includes murky consent issues inherent to 'date rape'; affirmative or enthusiastic consent; alcohol-induced inability to consent; and once-innocuous acts - stolen kisses, a hand where it shouldn't be, even an unwanted hug on a continuum with forcible penetration."
"We are really blurring lines here," warned Cunneen, "men, all men and mothers and sisters and friends of men, ought to be very concerned because what wasn't rape last year may be rape next year, if the purpose of these reforms is simply to increase the numbers of people who are convicted of rape.”
Hannah is a London based journalist covering culture and current affairs. She writes about photography, film and TV for outlets in the UK and US, and covers current affairs with particular interest in the Jewish world. She is also an award-winning filmmaker and photographer. Her films were screened in festivals worldwide and parts of her documentary about Holocaust survivor Leon Greenman were screened on the BBC.