False allegations of abuse or domestic violence....
Perceptions don't always equal reality.
Gordon, who experienced false allegations of domestic abuse has quite a bit to say about this issue, as you read in his contribution above and in his Letters from the Executive Director. As for myself, I have never been accused of domestic violence or abuse but I have been the victim of a false allegation. You might think that you know what it's like but not until you are wrongly accused do you feel what it's like.
I supported Gordon when he was falsely accused, I believed him when he told me he didn't do it and he has since been vindicated. I appreciated the fact that he was trying to prove a negative, that he did not do something but not until I was falsely accused myself did I truly appreciate the full impact of the experience.
If you are charged with a crime you have a number of protections and the burden of proof, that it was you that committed the crime that you are charged with, is on the prosecution. You do not have to prove that you did not commit the criminal act; many times an innocent person does not have an alibi, after all they didn't know they'd need one.
In cases of domestic abuse or violence there is no real burden of proof to have a protection order placed against you when it is a civil order as opposed to criminal. However; civil protection orders are de facto convictions in their consequences. In my case I was falsely accused of criminal activity in published verbal statements. It was a hurtful and unpleasant experience; surprise and shock that the accusation has been made against you, followed by disbelief that you are being accused of something that you did not do. Then your mind races. You're mentally on the defensive and assert why you did not have the motive and the means and the opportunity to commit the act. You know that the mere allegation can leave a scar on your reputation if you can not absolutely completely disprove it or an actual perpetrator is identified.
There are civil remedies among which you can check your state laws, usually know as codes or statutes, to see if you can file civil suit for defamation. Some allegations are so egregious that merely being accused of it constitutes "defamation per se". Being accused of criminal activity, adultery, having a sexually transmitted disease are examples of defamation per se in many states. Again, check your state laws for specifics. If you need to hire a private investigator to clear your name you can add that to the damages in any subsequent lawsuit.
First hand I can tell you it's a very bad experience that you will not soon forget. It will leave a bad taste in my mouth for a long time to come. You will find out who your real friends are.
Below is an op ed piece he wrote and then an excerpt from a blog article that I wrote in " Worst in the First" about false allegations; "Justice in New Hampshire".
Copied below is a letter to the editor, Delaware State News, November 29, 2010.
In AG Beau Biden’s own words ...
Recently, I was looking at the online minutes from previous Family Law Commission meetings, when I came across this statement from a Family Law Commission member in regard to the Delaware Attorney General Office’s response to the concerns of the public regarding the very real problem of false allegations of domestic violence.
This particular FLC member, in a moment of clarity, issued what can best be described as a reality check for the rest of the Commission:
“I want to remind everyone that previously we had the Attorney General here to talk about False Allegations and he told us that essentially he would not pursue that because of various legal issues.”
This stance is even more alarming when you consider Family Court Judge William Walls’ counsel to the Commission regarding the recourse for prosecution of false allegations (May 14, 2009 FLC meeting):
Judge William Walls – “The actual enforcement or punishment would be in the Attorney General’s office.”
I researched, and found the particular meeting that the FLC member had referred to (Family Law Commission Meeting Minutes, April 17, 2008).
Attorney General Biden and one of his deputy attorneys general were the guest speakers at this meeting.
The (then) FLC Chairperson Senator Sorenson’s very first issue for Attorney General Biden was:
Senator Liane Sorenson – “The issue that keeps coming up at our Public Hearings once a year and also by members of the public is the issue of False Allegations. The public has asked why people get away with claiming abuse when it really didn’t happen.”
Several hundred professionally articulated words later, Mr. Biden skillfully evades Senator Sorenson’s question, and just as Mr. Biden prepares to pass the rhetoric-laden baton to his deputy attorney general, Senator Sorenson interrupts the segue and tenaciously reiterates:
Senator Liane Sorenson – “One of our problems that has come up repeatedly to the Commission from the public has been the filing of False Protection From Abuse orders.” In other words, you (Beau) didn’t answer my question; what is your office doing about it?
You see when you read Attorney General Biden's response:
Attorney General Biden – “False Protection From Abuse orders are not the issue ... The vast majority of them are sought in good faith and are granted accurately.”
(Read Beau’s response in its entirety, Family Law Commission Meeting Minutes – April 17, 2008, Pgs. 7-8.)
It becomes quite obvious, just as it did with the aforementioned FLC member, that his de facto policy in regard to false allegations, whether it be a Protection From Abuse Order or the actual filing of a false police report, is non-prosecutorial: he will not prosecute the perpetrator nor protect the innocent victim of the allegation. Oh, and the public outcry regarding false allegations that Senator Sorenson (in futility) spoke of – evidently, Attorney General Biden thinks it to be a collective figment of the imagination.
Falsifying evidence is not uncommon although in DE all you have to do is allege that someone violated a protection order, no evidence is required, so you don't have to bother to make any up.
Here is the heart warming story:
"Ruggiero faces 21 new charges"
Will we ever read a headline like that in Delaware? Doubtful. AG Biden and Patricia Dailey Lewis, who runs the Family Division of the DOJ, will not prosecute for false allegations of domestic abuse made in Family Court and have said that. While I am not aware of anyone in Beau Biden's office ever flat out saying that the DOJ doesn't prosecute people who make false police reports of domestic violence/criminal contempt of protection orders (PFA) I can tell you that they don't. That statement is supported by empirical evidence. Not since the Jim Crow era has there been such widespread abuse of the civil rights of one class of citizens by another class of citizens gone unaddressed by police and prosecutors.
One prosecution, in Delaware, like Ruggiero, would set an example that would reverberate down to the Family Court. False allegations and false police reports of domestic abuse would plummet if people saw that there could be serious negative consequences. Police and court resources could be saved for actual victims of actual crimes, taxpayer dollars could be saved not to mention innocent people and their children would be spared the adverse experience.
Making a false police report is a crime, a misdemeanor, in Delaware. Attorney General Biden took an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the State. Apparently they do in New Hampshire.