Congratulations to Rachel Blount and the Star Tribune for their coverage of Jordan’s story. We appreciate their efforts in taking the time to meet with Jordan and wade through his tumultuous journey. As with all well done reporting, they present both sides of the story. We would like to briefly address a couple of questions that may be left in the minds of the readers.
“According to court documents, multiple witnesses said they saw Holm running down the stairs, either putting on or pulling up his pants.”
These are the actions of an innocent man tucking in his shirt who could not have possibly anticipated the accusations that were to follow. If he had any concern whatsoever that he was going to be accused of any crime, he would have made efforts to not be seen in a potentially incriminating fashion. He had no reason to be uneasy about being seen buckling his belt and tucking in the shirt he had used as a pillow while in the room.
“[The prosecuting attorney] said the victim had no reason to lie.”
Given our desire, as a society, to prevent sexual assaults, it can take mental gymnastics to understand that an accuser could be the one who is actually committing the wrongdoing. Motive is often elusive or hard to pin down. We like things to be rational and we work hard to explain and understand drastic actions, especially those that are criminal. We can try to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes to better understand their motives, but unfortunately this often only provides us with information about what kind of people we ourselves are. At times, we are baffled when we discover a person’s true motive. Recent news has shown us that a motive to lie about an alleged sexual assault could be as weak as having to do with a basketball rivalry. http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/ncaab-the-dagger/one-bernie-fine-accusers-admits-story-complete-lie-162413175.html
Tomaselli, one of the three men who accused Bernie Fine of molesting them, now insists he has never met the former Syracuse assistant coach and the story he has told for five months is a fabrication. The 23-year-old wrote in an email to CNY Central late Thursday night that he lied at the request of fellow Fine accuser Bobby Davis in part because he was still upset his beloved Jayhawks lost the championship to a Camelo Anthony-led Syracuse team.
"It was a game to me," Tomaselli said in a follow-up phone interview with CNY Central. "I had fun trying to make this story come alive.
Clearly, the most powerful tool used to establish motive is based on a person’s character and past actions. Lindsay’s potential motive is drawn out in “You be the Jury.”
It is an admirable and natural instinct to want to protect women so we are compelled to believe her. That is, unless there is something about her character that compels us to disbelieve her. Her own boyfriend did not believe her. Her friends at the party did not believe her. She stated herself that, “No one believed me.” This speaks volumes about her character. Imagine if your wife or girlfriend or friend were in the same scenario and she accused another man of such a crime. Would you stand up for her and defend her? I hope so. What was it then that made the story seem unbelievable coming from her? We have some clues. Lindsay had a clear reputation for lying. This pattern led her to earn the nickname, “Schemin’ Demon.” That’s not a nickname you pick up for telling a few “white lies.” Unfortunately, we don’t know all of the details that led to this reputation because the rape shield law limits probing into her background. We do, however, have an example of her character in action earlier that day. While at a bar with her boyfriend, she intentionally began to openly flirt with her ex boyfriend in an attempt to elicit a jealous response. When her boyfriend did not become jealous, she became angry and started fighting with him to the point where she was kicked out of the bar. Unsatisfied with her boyfriend’s reaction, she then headed to her ex-boyfriend’s house and made out with him before passing out. She later reunited with her boyfriend at the house party where Jordan was. I can’t say for sure what Lindsay’s motive was in accusing Jordan of this crime, but I can suggest based on the little that I know about her that it was about grasping for attention and about playing the victim. She’s demonstrated the extremes she will go to in order to get this attention.
Another example of Lindsay’s character is revealed to us in the evolution of her story. In her initial statement to police she painted a very different picture than what was said in court. She described a scenario where her boyfriend confronted Jordan in the upstairs bedroom, threw clothes at him, threatened him and forced him to leave the room. By contrast, her boyfriend’s statement to the investigating officer was that he did not see anyone in the bedroom. He also told the detective that he was kind to Jordan and did not believe Lindsay. Of course it is reasonable to conclude that Lindsay’s original statement to police was what she wanted the investigative officer and others to believe had happened.
In court, her boyfriend’s testimony reflected his initial statement to police while her story changed to account for glaring discrepancies. Initially she described a scenario where her boyfriend provided her with the attention she may have been seeking, which she originally wanted others to think had happened. This aligns well with her attention-seeking behavior from earlier that day.
Even with this little glimpse into Lindsay’s character and conduct, we can see that she has a real potential to fit the profile of someone who would make a false rape accusation. This profile is based on well-established research. Three different studies analyzing false rape claims in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand (Heenan & Murray, 2006; Kelly et al., 2005; Triggs et al., 2009), have shown that one of the most prominent features of a person making a false rape accusation is that they often suffer from mental illness and/or severe emotional and interpersonal disruptions. In her research, Joanne Archambault suggested that the dynamics of these cases may resemble Munchausen’s Syndrome, where an individual has a desperate need for attention, sympathy, and a compassionate response from others and seeks to elicit that response by fabricating or exaggerating symptoms of illness. There is a common assumption that the motive for a false report is typically assumed to be malice or revenge; people assume that most individuals who file a false report do so to harm the person who is accused. However, most false reports actually involve an unnamed stranger. This is consistent with the thought that real false reports are usually a cry for help, a desperate attempt to access services or to receive simple human compassion.
A Moment of Weakness?
“at Holm's sentencing on Nov. 7, Dillard said he viewed it as "something that was done in a moment of weakness" -- and if he had a choice, Holm would not have gone to prison.”
Is it easier to explain a potential motive for Jordan to commit such a crime than it is to establish her motive for lying? The accusation in this case is so bizarre and troubling that we find it difficult to picture anyone in this scenario. Consider the accusation against Jordan - it’s gross and disturbing to the point of not matching with any reasonable motive. These actions are only committed by sexually deviant people who have progressed along a continuum of sexual perversions. Sexual assault, especially of this nature, does not take place in a “moment of weakness.” To assign motive to Jordan for this type of crime, one would have to completely disregard his character.
In Jordan’s case, the judge reasoned that Jordan had more motive to lie because he had more to lose and, therefore, must be lying. By the same logic, a person of good report or good character would be found guilty every time, as would anyone facing serious punishment. It was this backward line of logic that led to an unjust guilty verdict.
“[The prosecuting attorney] said the evidence supported the conviction”
The evidence did not in any way support the conviction. The evidence was entirely consistent with Jordan’s version of the events. We encourage you to read further to explore the evidence for yourselves in “You be the Jury” as well as in other locations on this website.