Attorney Richard Alexander Interview on the Diana Walter Show – Video Transcript
Sexual Abuse / Child Molestation – “Rape Crisis” Interview Video
Below is the transcript of the original YouTube video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1O0PZx4k-0
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KSTS San Jose, “Talk of the Town with Diana Walter” [Diana Walter] Our next guest is Richard Alexander who’s an attorney with Boccardo… Am I pronouncing that correctly?.. Boccardo Law Firm in San Jose, and you have put together a book called “Rape Crisis” which was, I guess, commissioned by or asked for by the Santa Clara Bar Association. [Richard Alexander] That’s right, it was a project that was requested through a rape task force that has been working in Santa Clara County for the past several years, and as the chairman of the criminal justice advisory board, I was contacted by that group to see if we could offer some help and at the same time I was a member of the board of trustees of the Santa Clara County Bar Association. And the end result was that a committee would begin to do some work and the final product was a book on rape victims’ rights. [Diana Walter] Alright, before we get into just what’s in the book, let me ask you just about rape in general. How big a problem is that, how prevalent is it? [Richard Alexander] The statistics are really questionable because no one actually knows, but generally speaking, about one woman in ten will be sexually assaulted during her lifetime. One of the interesting aspects about sexual assault is that women speak to women about it, very rarely do women talk to men about it. Of the people watching your program right now, the women in the room will know or be related to someone who is a victim or almost a victim, but on the other hand the men won’t, and that’s one of the things that needs to be changed in our society. [Diana Walter] Is that part of the reason why not so many of them are reported is because you would be reporting them in most cases to men? [Richard Alexander] That was a problem in the past. I don’t think that’s quite the problem today. I think, generally speaking, there’s still a reluctance to want to report rape. A rape victim often times one it wants to wait to decide whether or not. Do I really want to be involved in this process? Do I want to have to talk to the police? Do I want to go to court? One of the important things that rape victims need to know, one of the things that’s pointed out in “Rape Crisis”, is that it’s very important to report rapes immediately. Immediately reported rape preserves the evidence of the rape. The rape victim initially wants to go take a bath, clean up, and put it out of your mind, and that’s exactly the wrong thing to do – that’s playing into the rapist hand. Generally speaking, a rapist will commit more than one rape, so it’s important to immediately call the police. It doesn’t help to call the police in half an hour, call them right away. Call the police and give them a description of the assailant, where’s the car going, and what took place, so the police will know what they can do to deal with the crime. [Diana Walter] Of the rapes that occur that we know about, how many is it estimated are reported, about to what, a very low percentage, right? [Richard Alexander] It’s hard to say, it’s something like one in three, or actually one in four. But there’s some other interesting statistics about rape: the fact is that most of the common misconception is that rape is a sexual crime, when in fact it’s strictly a violent crime that’s carried out through sexual means. And the rapist knows his victim approximately seventy percent of the time, according to one commentator. [Diana Walter] Oh, really? [Richard Alexander] Another commentator says that one third to forty percent of all women know their abuser. And it’s not at all unfounded, especially with younger women, for the rapist to be an acquaintance. Acquaintance rape, especially with teenagers and school children, is very, very common. [Diana Walter] So there’s the rape that is depicted a lot in film where you’re snatched bodily off the street or something, while you’re on your way home from the grocery store, that’s more the exception than the rule. [Richard Alexander] That is the complete exception. The rapist will plan a rape, and will have preconceived notions about how the rape will occur, and how it’s going to take place, will pick out a particular victim, and will follow that victim, will make sure that he knows where that victim lives, and where’s the car parked, and what time does she go to work, what time does she come home. [Diana Walter] So it’s not just the spur of the moment? [Richard Alexander] No, it’s not. And it’s not a sexual crime, it’s not one that’s driven by sexual needs. [Diana Walter] What’s, well, what is the motivation for a rapist, do we know enough about it? [Richard Alexander] Interestingly, we know a lot more now than we did ten years ago. Generally speaking, the rapist is fighting back. He’s upset with women in his life, women who dominated him, who have forced his life in certain directions, and he’s gonna reach out and fight back. He’s going to terrorize and brutalize the victim, as one way of getting back at the women who’ve been unfair to him in the past. [Diana Walter] So he’s not necessarily getting back at that particular woman, but he’s getting back at women in general. [Richard Alexander] Very much so. The interesting thing about the television, the film version of rape, is that it happens on kind of a random basis, when in fact this particular rapist is usually has picked out a victim that fits his view of the woman that he wants to get back at. [Diana Walter] Alright, we’ll take a short break and be right back. Phone number (408) 575-1616, if you’d like to call in and discuss rape.
[Diana Walter] We’re talking with Richard Alexander, an attorney from the Boccardo Law Firm in San Jose, and we’re discussing rape. Richard mentioned that one out of ten women in her lifetime will be raped. [Richard Alexander] Sexually assaulted or attempted rape. [Diana Walter] What’s the definition of rape, the legal definition? [Richard Alexander] The legal definition of rape is being changed presently, but it’s generally looked upon as sexual intercourse without consent. [Diana Walter] It covers a big gamut, I mean… [Richard Alexander] It’s generally referred to as a common sexual intercourse, it doesn’t involve any other kinds of sexual stimulation. It’s also different legal categories. [Diana Walter] You also mentioned that in the majority of cases the two people the rapist and the victim do know each other. I would imagine maybe a classic case would be the date where he thinks she’s led him on, and she says no at the end of the evening. [Diana Walter] Well, it’s not quite that simple, but it’s not all too uncommon to talk to teenage victims who find themselves in a situation where there’s been some drinking and also some close physical contact, and then it gets carried away, and the victim at that point in time is just unable to say no, and finds herself in a situation where she’s unwilling but it’s difficult for her to separate herself from the actual attack. And that’s not at all uncommon with older women who are attacked as well. Very often the rape victim is not thinking very clearly when the rape is occurring. That’s why it’s important if you think you’re going to be the victim of a sexual assault to begin thinking creatively as to what you can do to avoid this rape. [Diana Walter] Alright, let’s get into that because the rule of thinking used to be that if you thought you were going to be a victim of a rape but you just were fairly passive about it because you were maybe in fear of your live, and so you know, you just go along with it and that was the lesser of two evils, that’s no longer the theory, is it? [Richard Alexander] If there’s a gun or a knife, that’s obviously the thing to do. But it’s important to keep in mind that most rapists have a preconceived notion as to what the victim is going to do or should do. I’ve spoken with rape victims who’ve avoided the attack by engaging in rather bizarre behavior: by urinating lying on the ground, eating grass, encouraging the rapist, encouraging them by saying… I had one client who was walking out of a dance and a fella came up to her and said that he was going to take her away and she said, well I’ve been looking at you all evening, that’s a good idea, and she went back inside and excused herself to get her coat, and called the police. As it turned out the fellow was a rapist who had committed prior acts, he had a gun, the police were looking for him. She was very, very lucky. [Diana Walter] Yeah, very lucky, I was gonna say. It was kind of a risky thing for her to do. [Richard Alexander] But she was thinking creatively, that’s the important thing to do. [Diana Walter] Alright, so you no longer… the passive is not the way to go, you should fight, scream, scratch, whatever you can do to get away. [Richard Alexander] Screams are the most effective form of defense. It’s often helpful not to call for the police, just call for fire. Generally, the sociologists say that a fire call has responded to much more quickly by the general public. [Diana Walter] It’s my impression, and I might be wrong, but that not that many rapists are ever one, caught, or two, convicted and sent to prison, and of those that are, they aren’t in prison very long, and it would seem to me that that would deter a lot of women from even getting involved in reporting the rape because they might fear retribution. [Richard Alexander] There are big changes in our criminal justice system that I think need to be talked about. One is that rapists are being sentenced to too long terms today. The California Penal Code provides for terms of three, six and eight years. In addition, further years can be added on if a weapon is used in the course of a rape. The important thing to know today is that all of our police departments throughout Santa Clara County and throughout the Bay Area provide sexual assault investigating teams who are sensitive to the needs of rape victims. Rape victims should also keep in mind that there are number of rape crisis hotlines that are available to provide them with important counseling and to provide counselors who will remain with them throughout a criminal prosecution. [Diana Walter] From the beginning through the court and everything? [Richard Alexander] From the time that a rape victim first presents herself to the local hospital for a medical exam, which will normally be at the expense of the police department. She can arrange to have a rape crisis counselor right there, a person who’s been trained, who has worked with other victims, who can begin to explain the kinds of feelings and reactions that a victim will have because those are extraordinarily significant, who understands the catastrophe that accompanies the rape in terms of the psychological damage that occurs, and who also understands the criminal process: how the courts work and furthermore, we’ll provide background and support to that victim. So that not only the victim but the significant people in that victim’s life will have good advice as to how to help that victim through this very difficult time. Plus, also rape crisis counselors are aware of the availability of third party lawsuits, civil suits, in which the individual can obtain compensation for the injuries that they’ve suffered. Cause rape and the aftermath of rape is an emotional disaster, this is a true catastrophe. [Diana Walter] So, beyond the criminal court case, you can still civilly, you can still retain an attorney and sue the rapist? [Richard Alexander] That’s right, one of the things about our criminal justice system is that our district attorneys represent the people of the state of California in prosecuting a crime. Unfortunately in rape, the victim is the chief witness. The criminal case is not prosecuted for the benefit of the victim, it’s prosecuted for the benefit of the state, whereas a civil lawsuit to obtain damages, or an application to the state of California to obtain damages, as result of being a victim of a crime, is something that is definitely for the benefit of the victim. The aftermath of rape can be really severe: the lost time from work, extensive medical injuries. We were talking about television and the film version of rape… Most rapes are exceptionally violent. There is attached with them gross physical injury. [Diana Walter] In the TV connotation, they have it on TV, they are always very violent. [Richard Alexander] But, you don’t see the injuries. People hit with tire irons, fractured skulls, lacerations to their body, and those are the things you don’t see, but these are the things that the doctors see, and that I, as an attorney who’s represented rape victims in the past, have seen. [Diana Walter] Alright, now take me through this from step one. Because if we do nothing else today we might be able to encourage people who might become rape victims or maybe know of people in their family that have been already involved with the rape that went unreported why it’s important to report it and why they shouldn’t have the same fears that, I think, a lot of women do have. For example, if I were raped I’m going to worry about how the police are gonna react. In other words, for many years, I think, the rape victims were made to feel guilty. [Richard Alexander] That’s not the case any longer. We know that rape is not a sexual crime, it’s a crime that’s carried out through sexual means. The victim doesn’t bring it on herself, she’s not responsible for it, she’s as much a victim of a breaking and entering to her house, as she is having her body broken and entered. [Diana Walter] What if I am a rape victim and I would not be able to identify the attacker? Then I might figure it, what is the point of going through all of this, if there’s no chance at all that you’re gonna be able to catch this fella? [Richard Alexander] It depends on what you mean by identify. For a while in the East Bay we had a rapist who had a particular odor. [Diana Walter] Yes, stinky, yes. [Richard Alexander] Yes, exactly. Other rapists will have other identifiable features. It may be the method of operation. A victim at the time of a rape is obviously not thinking clearly. [Diana Walter] So, the fact that I don’t have his name and address does not necessarily mean that I couldn’t have some clues that the police might be able to track down. [Richard Alexander] Exactly. The important thing is to immediately call the police, give them a description, call a rape hotline, don’t destroy any evidence, don’t take a bath, don’t clean up the house. [Diana Walter] Don’t do anything. [Richard Alexander] Don’t do anything. Wait until they get there, talk to the police, talk to a rape crisis counselor. They’ll take you to a doctor in a medical facility here in San Jose, the valley Medical Center, and in San Francisco to San Francisco General Hospital, throughout the Bay Area, places where evidence can be collected and properly documented by physicians who are familiar with the needs of rape victims. Full medical examinations will be provided at no cost to the victim and once all that information is collected, then a rape victim can later on, two-three weeks, a month later, calmly exercise a reasonable judgment whether or not she wants to go forward. That’s the point in time when you make a decision. [Diana Walter] Alright, alright. So, you don’t necessarily… so, the fact that you’re calling a rape hotline or calling police does not necessarily mean that you have to go ahead and press charges? [Richard Alexander] No [Diana Walter] Alright. [Richard Alexander] But if you don’t… [Diana Walter] Then you can’t… [Richard Alexander] You’ll never be able to in the future. [Diana Walter] Okay, I want to ask you why it is California has, I’ve read some statistics prior to your visit… Alaska, California and Nevada have the highest rape rates in the country. I don’t know if you have an answer but I’m certainly curious to know why it’s more prevalent out here. Maybe it’s the air or something… but I have to take a break first. So, we’ll be right back. We’re talking with Richard Alexander, the subject is rape.
[Diana Walter] We’re talking with Richard Alexander about rape. We’re going to mention in a minute the book he’s put together for the Santa Clara County Bar Association and how you can obtain a free copy. First of all though, I want to ask you: I saw some statistics, I think it was out of the Almanac where the incidents of rape, reported rape at least, was incredibly high in Alaska, which I think maybe that’s because there aren’t as many women up there or something, how they’re really in demand, which is a stupid thing to say, but I can’t imagine why it’s so much higher. And California and Nevada, we’re very high, we’re higher, with Colorado, I think, fourth place. Is there any reason for that? [Richard Alexander] The only reason that I can suggest is that: remember that we’re talking about reported rapes. [Diana Walter] Yes. [Richard Alexander] And there’s a much greater sensitivity on the West Coast, and there’s a greater acceptance and greater understanding not only by police departments and by the courts, but also by lawyers and by just everyday people. [Diana Walter] So we could say that those statistics are maybe a good sign then that women in California at least are reporting them more often. Maybe the incidents is not higher, we’re just reporting them more often. [Richard Alexander] I don’t think the guilt is associated with reporting a rape here. Because it’s understood that it’s a violent crime. It’s not a sexual crime, it’s just carried out through sexual means. [Diana Walter] Let me ask you quickly about television, because it’s such a common theme in many programs. Has it helped or hurt? Maybe it’s done both, I mean. It certainly is depicted in not a true way, but on the other hand maybe it’s made us more aware of it, and maybe people are reporting it more often now because of television, what do you think? [Richard Alexander] I’m not qualified to answer that. [Diana Walter] That’s real violent, I mean. [Richard Alexander] It definitely is violent, and we know there’s a high incidents of violence, and we’re training people to be violent, and we know that the good guys win because they’re more violent than the bad guys. [Diana Walter] Yes, but you don’t… you wouldn’t think, a personal opinion now, you wouldn’t think that the rape is on the increase because it is depicted as often as it is on television. [Richard Alexander] I don’t know. [Diana Walter] Don’t know? Not even yes or no on an opinion I can’t get out of you. Alright, let’s talk about civil suits. I wasn’t even aware you could do that beyond the criminal case. And what about the civil suit? I’ve gone through that, do I have to win in court in a criminal court in order to be able to see this guy in a civil court? [Richard Alexander] No, you don’t. The burden of proof in a criminal case is a very high burden of proof, and a case must be approved by the district attorney beyond a reasonable doubt. But in a civil suit an attorney for a rape victim, you’d only prevailed by a preponderance of the evidence. That evidence which is more convincing has a more probability of truth, and that victim can obtain the compensation for the real injuries that she’s suffered. Our courts throughout the United States are very sympathetic to rape victims, and our juries understand the true nature of the injuries, of psychological injuries of rape victim suffers, and are awarding a substantial awards against the rapist. [Diana Walter] What kind of rewards we are talking about against the rapist? [Richard Alexander] Victims are obtaining awards of upwards of a million dollars. [Diana Walter] Really? [Richard Alexander] The important thing is you have to keep in mind that those people have suffered gross traumatic injuries, and those are actions that are not brought against the rapist. Normally, the rapist is gone or is apprehended, or is without funds. But they are brought against those people who have set the condition for a rape. Who know that the apartment they rented was a place of the prior rape, or where the security company fails to take the proper precautions in a particular building, a third party who fails to warn or who sets the stage so that a rapist can commit a crime. [Diana Walter] This may seem like a self-serving question, but from your standpoint, would it be recommended that anyone who has been involved in a rape seek civil damages if the rapist is known. [Richard Alexander] You have to look at the facts of each case, but one good thing to keep in mind is that today’s rapist may inherit some estate. You know, in five or six years from now may be in a position to satisfy a judgment. A rapist can be sued successfully, many women are doing it. A young woman in Chicago took a case against her rapist who was locked in jail who had no resources, but she took a verdict against him for some five million dollars for the injury that she suffered. Now, whether or not she’ll ever be able to collect it, I don’t know, but that’s it’s a common thing that’s happening today. [Diana Walter] You talked about preponderance of evidence. What kind of evidence do we have to have, I mean? They would normally be the victim’s word against the rapist’s word, wouldn’t it? What else do you need? [Richard Alexander] Well, if you reported a rape immediately, that tends to prove that a rape occurred. [Diana Walter] Alright. [Richard Alexander] Also, the doctor perhaps… Let’s talk about a hypothetical case where the victim’s taken to the Valley Medical Center, and in that case the examining doctor there will have photographs of the injuries, will show exactly what this victim went through, were there any sutures, any stitching was needed. Both, photographs, all their laboratory records would be available as well to prove the case. [Diana Walter] That would prove that there was a rape, that wouldn’t necessarily prove that Joe Schmidt here, or whatever his name might be, is the rapist. [Richard Alexander] Right, but you have to look at the facts of each case. We can look at some of the evidence that’s obtained in a medical examination and that can establish identity. Hair, body fluids can always be identified and help to prove that this particular person was the rapist. [Diana Walter] Alright, tell me about the book “Rape Crisis”. What’s in there? Why should everybody have one? [Richard Alexander] “Rape Crisis” is good not only for women to read, and for mothers to share with their daughters, and for teachers to share with children in their classes, but also for men to have an opportunity to look at as well. Because it explains not only how rapes can be prevented, but it explains the emotional aftermath of rape, and what’s been referred to as a rape crisis syndrome, the kinds of things that people generally go through. What role significant men play in the rape victim’s life after the rape and how they can help a rape victim. [Diana Walter] Fathers, brothers, boyfriends? [Richard Alexander] Exactly. Often times, when I’ve spoken with rape victims, the significant man, whether it’s a husband, or a brother, or a father, often feels very guilty and is also in need of counseling. And that’s why it’s important to obtain assistance through a rape crisis center and to call a rape crisis center here in San Jose, or Palo Alto, or throughout the Bay Area to provide this kind of background and help. [Diana Walter] I want to ask you this: you’re just keyed on it, you said it tells you about how to prevent a rape, how does one quickly, how does one prevent a rape? [Richard Alexander] Common sense [Diana Walter] Okay. [Richard Alexander] Again, locking doors and watching where you’re going, and don’t present yourself as somebody who appears that they can be easily mugged or easily attacked. Walk with determination, you’re going to your car, put your keys in your hand, and walk as if you know where you’re going. [Diana Walter] And say no like you mean it, huh? [Richard Alexander] Exactly. [Diana Walter] Alright, thank you very much Richard! I don’t believe we’ve given the address. If we haven’t, I’ll do it as soon as we get back to tell you how you can get the book “Rape Crisis”. We’ll be right back to tell you about tomorrow’s show.