No Evidence

cottage

© Susan Spaulding

“It happened in there.” Fifteen-year-old Christina Stevens pointed at the opening of the tiny, twisted cottage sitting in the park.

“I’ll have a look.” Senior Officer Angela Conner nodded at the teen then turned to her partner. “Watch him.”

“You bet.” Rookie Officer Jordan Beck grabbed handcuffed seventeen-year-old Sam Kelly by the shoulder.

“Why are you doing this, Chrissie? You know I didn’t do…”

The boy was interrupted by an elbow to the gut. “No talking to the victim, perp.” Beck scowled at the now doubled over high school senior. Then he gave the young blond girl his most charming smile.

After a few minutes, Conner walked back out of the cottage holstering a strange device.

“What’s that?” Chrissie sounded nervous.

“It’s a Temporal Scanner, Ms. Stevens. We’ve been using them for about five years now.” She turned to her partner. “I scanned the time frame when she said the incident occurred. Kids were in and out of here last month drinking beer. Stevens and Kelly were present but never at the same time and never alone together. Uncuff him. There’s no evidence.”

Tears welled up in the girl’s eyes. “But you’re supposed to just believe me.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of September 30th. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a flash fiction piece no more than 200 words long. My word count is 197.

Yes, I know this story will be especially unpopular in light of the recent testimony given at the Brett Kavanaugh hearings to potentially confirm him as a Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. I’m not defending Kavanaugh and I’m not saying that his alleged victim Dr. Christine Ford is not being truthful. I’m also not saying that victims should routinely be disbelieved or ignored. However, I am deeply disturbed by the thought that 100% of all allegations of sexual assault must be believed without any evidence whatsoever and with no consideration for any other circumstances.

In my wee fictional tale, I decided to create the one piece of technology that could impartially examine the evidence at the time in which a crime was to have allegedly occurred. If Temporal Scanners were real, we could look back at any point in history and observe what actually happened. Memories (and any other motivations) would be irrelevant, since investigators could see and hear what really occurred.

It wouldn’t be a matter of belief. We would actually know.

To read other (more acceptable) tales based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

I’m sorry, but there are always two sides to every story. I’m just presenting the flip side of the coin.

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47 thoughts on “No Evidence

  1. Nice technology. Is its range limited, or can it reach back to events as much as four decades past? It could be awfully handy to have as a defense against last-minute scurrilous accusations against political nominees.

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    • Alas, it’s totally fictional so no help there. Yes, it would be a nice bit of tech to add to law enforcement and other investigations. It would do away with eyewitness testimony and I suspect, once people realized that it was a reliable device and its findings admissible in court as evidence, the guilty, when accused, would be confessing in droves. The flip side of the coin is that no one would dare to make an allegation if they didn’t believe it was true (though a person could still believe a distorted or inaccurate memory).

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  2. The problem with Kav’s story is… well, a lot of it is just fiction. Leaving aside the claims from Dr Ford for the moment, Kavanaugh has been caught in so many other “mistruths” that certainly the FBI put in his candidate file and the committee ignored… and yet there they are: his claim to have been hands off on two particular cases has been found to be a lie. His claim that he “worked (his) butt off to get into Yale”: a lie… one of his immediate relatives is a major donor. His claim about the Maryland drinking age: a lie… one he certainly should know better than to try since, you know, he’s a judge. The last two may seem inconsequential, but at the same time… if something that transparent is so easy to see, what are we to make of the bigger things he’s trying so desperately to opaque?

    But even when he starts his testimony with this rambling, near-incoherent scramble about the Democrats and the Clintons and God only knows what else… whether you support him or not, was there anything there to even remotely suggest he has a judge’s sense of impartiality? If this is an indicator of how he conducts himself in the courtroom, I’d begin to wonder how many of his decisions have been overturned because of judicial impropriety.

    Whether or not I believe him at this point is academic. Based on his performance, no, I dont. As others have pointed out, this is a man with some pretty major issues, some involving drinking (He was in so much denial on that point that it was painfully awkward he needs detox and fast.), and he came into that hearing like an abuser who got caught. “I’m the victim here!” No, sir, you werent.

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    • Actually, I’m only using Kavanaugh as a jumping off point to make a commentary on whether we should automatically believe 100% of all sexual abuse allegations with no evidence whatsoever? If that’s the case, why even have an investigation and trial. The court could move right to sentencing.

      Of course, that’s ridiculous. Bill Cosby was tried, convicted based on the evidence, and is not in prison. Harvey Weinstein has been indicted, is out on bail, and if convicted on all charges, could spend the rest of his life in prison (and given that Cosby is 81 and sentenced to three to ten years, he may well spend the rest of his life in prison as well).

      I’m just saying that we shouldn’t find a person automatically guilty in the court of public opinion. Although I’m glad the FBI is formally investigating the allegations, they’ll be incredibly difficult to prove to a legal standard. But then again, the Senate isn’t a court of law, and this isn’t a criminal investigation. Certainly if sufficient doubt in Cavanaugh’s credibility remains after the investigation is over, he won’t be nominated to SCOTUS, and in fact, he could be impeached and removed from the judiciary altogether.

      I’m not Brett Kavanaugh and I don’t know what’s going through his head, but I hope that if I were in that position, I’d withdraw from the nomination for the sake of my wife and two little girls. Why put them through any more hell?

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      • He wont withdraw because (1) it’s now a matter of personal pride and (2) IMHO he doesnt care about his wife and children. He says he does, of course, but he no more cares about them than a wife-beater cares about his spouse. Look at his wife: she positively glares at him now in every picture. And if you notice, he’s stopped wearing his wedding ring.

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      • Short of mind reading or being a fly on the wall when they’re alone together, we can’t really know what’s going on, but yes, I suspect things are pretty tense between them right now. Does he love his wife and children? Only Kavanaugh can know that. The rest is the projection of our emotions on other people.

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  3. Topical take. I agree with you James. The presumption of guilt without any evidence is troubling. It all seems to be political at this stage. The confirmation seems to be in real trouble and the judge was not impressive in his testimony. Interesting times.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Do you ever watch the show “Black Mirror” on Netflix? There’s an episode where police have a device that can tap into people’s memories and create a video image of what they saw and heard. Not too dissimilar to the device in your story.

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    • Also an interesting suggestion for a technological solution. However, it would be of no use to determine where memory has been corrupted by trauma and subsequent psychological treatment that includes hypnotic or pharmaceutical techniques to retrieve memories. False memories have been thus created, and even nightmare memories can be retrieved from the subconscious and made indistinguishable from real ones that were formed during conscious activities. This device would be subject to the same shortcomings as a polygraph, when the subject believes the false memories to be true ones.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Actually, my device can look back into time, rather than into anyone’s memory. Memory is highly unreliable as an objective measure. The only way we could truly know about a past event is to view the actual event. Of course, like time travel, it’s total fantasy.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Beyond sexual assault, there are many crimes where the accused is sent to prison based on only circumstantial evidence, forced confessions, or faulty eye witnesses. To say that our criminal justice system (And the Kavanaugh case is far from that) should be perfect when it comes to rape and sexual assault while allowing innocent people to be locked away for life, even after additional evidence is discovered later, is a bit absurd.

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    • I agree that we should have an impartial system when it comes to dealing with all crime, but some crimes pull at emotions more than others. Once passionate emotion is in play, especially among large groups of people, reason doesn’t stand a chance.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. At this point, I feel I should say that there’s a difference in how I see personal vs. court/legal situations. I do have friends who have come to me and disclosed that they were sexually assaulted. Of course I believe them. Why? Because they’re my friends, I know them, they have no reason to lie to me, and it’s a personal communication.
    How is a legal/court situation different? In a court situation (and although the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings aren’t a courtroom situation, in this case, they might as well be), the allegation is disclosed to potentially apply a consequence on the accused, should the accused be proven to be guilty. Since that consequence can be significant and even severe (in the case of an actual trial, if found guilty, the accused will likely be imprisoned, losing many freedoms and rights), the court cannot simply take the alleged victim’s word for it (even under oath) without examining any corroborating evidence (if it exists).

    That I believe a friend when he (yes, boys and men can be sexually assaulted, too) or she tells me they’ve been sexually assaulted, does not mean in a formal trial or hearing, that I will automatically believe allegations of one person against another without desiring to know the facts and examine the evidence. That is not heartless or sexist, that is rule of law.

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    • And, you might add, the purpose of the rule of law is to protect the innocent, punish the guilty, and deter future crimes. The protection is based on verifying, insofar as possible, the actual facts from objective evidence — though comparisons of subjective testimony from multiple eyewitnesses, character witnesses, subject-expert witnesses, and the like may be needed to approach a semblance of objectivity and address probabilities and uncertainties. The protection of the innocent extends also to those who must *administer* sanctions and punishment, that they not become guilty of harming others unnecessarily. The presumption that the accused remains innocent unless actually proven guilty is another aspect of protection, specifically because uncertainties may render an absolute determination of facts impossible. Hence an accusation or an appearance of possible wrongdoing is not evidence of any actual wrongdoing; and punishment without actual sufficiency of proof is not justice.

      These principles ought to be obvious, and any one of us would wish for such caution and protections to be applied to us were we to be accused of some wrongdoing. Hence they represent the famous “Golden Rule” that we should not do to anyone else what we would hate to have done *to* us, and we should do for others what we would like to be done *for* us. This is not to be confused with another so-called “golden rule”, cited in mockery, that says “he that has the gold, makes the rules”. It is, in fact, quite the contrary of such a notion.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. One of the worst things to do is say that since there is no “evidence” then an accusation is imagination or fantasy. On the legal level, if there is not proof then there isn’t much that can be done in terms of punishment. (Historically, even if we know what is alleged is true, punishment [or respect or freedom for the victim as another possible outcome] has been not forthcoming as a rule.) Understand, evidence isn’t the same as proof.

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    • Actually, I just read a news article quoting special prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, who had questioned Dr. Ford last Thursday, that the case against Kavanaugh would be incredibly difficult to prove. Of course, she’s talking about in a court of law, but in the court of opinion, he’s already been found guilty. My guess is regardless if Kavanaugh is confirmed or not, the Senate Democrats will move forward to impeach him and remove him from the judiciary. In fact, I think Pelosi already said something to this effect.

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      • But James — impeachment is a legal process that requires sufficient evidence to substantiate the charges that could justify impeachment. Accusations that are “incredibly difficult to prove” legally cannot contribute to impeachment proceedings.

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      • That prosecutor is being irresponsible in that the regular questioning was interrupted when the hearing was going on for Kavanaugh. Don’t follow process, just make a declaration for the majority.

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      • A former FBI supervisory special agent has said today that the supposed investigation (the so called supplemental background check) sounds like a planned “staged event” too rather than a real look at the matter. You don’t say (by order of the office of POTUS) not to look into things and then declare you’ve looked. Writing a directive that says not to look here or there and then gabbing to the press that you’re “fine” with whatever the Senate wants doesn’t stand up as following through on getting to the truth.

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      • https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/blackout
        …..
        anterograde amnesia experienced by alcoholics during episodes of drinking, even when not fully intoxicated; it is indicative of early but still reversible brain damage.
        …..

        ……
        A transient episode that occurs during a state of intense intoxication (alcoholic blackout) for which the person has no recall, although not unconscious (as observed by others).

        …….

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    • On the contrary, Marleen, a harmful accusation without evidence is no different from one based in imagination or fantasy. You would not want one leveled against you, so why would you accept one leveled against anyone else? Much, much, worse than saying that a baseless accusation is tantamount to fantasy is to destroy the accused by presuming it is valid, thereby denying the accused their right to be deemed innocent unless sufficiently proven otherwise.

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    • Oh, and about that:

      In the midst of the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination hearings in September 2018, Fair, referring to Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, tweeted that they were “entitled white men justifying a serial rapists’ arrogated entitlement” and that they “deserve miserable deaths while feminists laugh as they take their last gasps.” She made additional comments expressing support for post-mortem castration and corpse desecration. At least one student expressed the fear that Fair’s comments would cause students, who hold opposing views, to feel threatened. Georgetown University responded by saying that her expressions did not violate the university’s policies. (emph. mine)

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  8. Unequivocal statement from friend (or cohort) of the nominee seeking a promotion: “… denying the possibility that he ever blacked out from drinking and in downplaying the degree and frequency of the drinking, Brett has not told the truth.

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