Rape shield laws have always been controversial with defense counsel and some civil libertarians because they shield the identity of the alleged victim but not the alleged attacker. Now, the coalition government in England appears ready to address that controversy by banning the identification of both alleged victims and criminal defendants in rape cases.
While opposed by some advocacy groups, shield laws have long been criticized for failing to recognize that being accused of rape stigmatizes the defendant — not just the alleged victim. There are cases of false accusations and many acquittals in rape prosecutions. Liberal Democrats changed their policy in 2006 to advocate giving defendants in rape cases anonymity. That change followed the case of Warren Blackwell, 36, who was falsely accused of rape — not unlike our own scandal over the Duke Lacrosse rape case, here.
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