Comment: Representatives of the Catholic Church have joined the chorus of women's groups displeased with "Nicole's" recantation of her claim that she'd been raped by Lance Corporal Daniel Smith in the Philippines (see previously reports here and here). Cpl. Smith is serving a 40 year sentence for the rape. The sentiment seems to be among Women's groups that the young man's conviction for a crime his accuser now says he did not commit serves a higher purpose of encouraging women to come forward. They frankly seem to be rooting for the recantation to be rejected and for the young man to serve out his 40 year sentence for rape, justice be damned.
Here is the latest news article, and below it is the letter I emailed this morning to the Archbishop of Lipa:
Church officials dismayed over Nicole's recantation
MANILA, Philippines -- Officials of the Catholic Church expressed disappointment over the recantation of Subic rape victim Nicole of her previous testimony, saying this would set a bad precedence to other women who have been victims of violence in the country.
Sister Mary John Mananzan, chairperson of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines, said she was dismayed when she saw the newspaper reports regarding Nicole's statements.
"I would rather hear her say that she will no longer pursue the case but not recant," Mananzan said in an interview over the Church-run Radio Veritas.
She said Nicole's recantation has a damaging effect on other women who have been raped or abused.
For his part, Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said Nicole’s recent move is like toying with the law.
"It's not a matter of injustice. It's a matter of us having no respect for the law and the people," Arguelles said of the effects of the recantation.
Both Mananzan and Arguelles suspect that someone orchestrated Nicole's recantation.
"I hope she didn’t do it by herself. That's my prayer," Mananzan said.
MY LETTER TO THE ARCHBISHOP:
MOST REV. RAMON C. ARGUELLES, D.D.
Archdiocese of Lipa
Archbishop's Residence, 4127 Lipa City
I write to respectfully express my sincere concerns about the comments of Sister Mary John Mananzan as reported in Philstar.com at http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=449664&publicationSubCategoryId=200 regarding the recantation of "Nicole."
According to the article:
"'I would rather hear her say that she will no longer pursue the case but not recant,' Mananzan said in an interview over the Church-run Radio Veritas.
"She said Nicole's recantation has a damaging effect on other women who have been raped or abused."
I am an advocate for men and boys falsely accused of rape, which is an epidemic in the United States and the UK. Assuming Sister was quoted accurately and in context, I find her comments to be not merely troubling but wholly inconsistent with long-standing Catholic teachings on fundamental justice.
Sister's comments suggest that she wishes Nicole had not recanted but had merely gone away; it appears that Sister assumed the invalidity of the recantation, and her comments could even be read to imply that she believes undoing this young man's conviction will harm the "higher" cause of encouraging women to come forward to report rape.
These sentiments are more than a little unsettling. If the recantation is true, then the young man imprisoned is serving time for a terrible crime he did not commit. The injustice to him is incalculable, and he should not be treated as a sacrificial lamb or some sort of twisted "collateral damage" for a perceived higher cause. There can be no higher cause, of course, than the cause of justice.
This recantation needs to be examined seriously, and if, after fair consideration, it casts reasonable doubt on the guilt of this young man, then justice dictates that he be freed. But it is most unjust to reject the recantation out of hand simply due to a belief that this young man's conviction advances some political agenda.