A life blighted, a wrist slapped

by Walter Olson on August 25, 2013

In Hopewell, Va., Mr. Montgomery spent four years behind bars after Ms. Coast falsely accused him of a rape eight years earlier, when he was 14. Eventually she admitted she’d made it up. “Coast however was sentenced by Hampton Circuit Court Judge Bonnie L. Jones to just two months in jail and ordered to make $90,000 in restitution for perjury. Jones suspended the rest of the five-year sentence and even allowed Coast to serve the remainder on weekends so not to disrupt her life.” [Jonathan Turley via Amy Alkon, Richmond Times-Dispatch]

{ 4 comments }

1 Hugo S. Cunningham 08.25.13 at 5:20 pm

I detest false accusations, but if a recanter comes forward spontaneously, it is sound public policy to give her a break. Otherwise she would be tempted to stay silent (enthusiastically supported by “survivor” groups and the prosecutor’s allies), while her victim loses more time in prison. She would be encouraged to rationalize that stepping forward and admitting the falsehood would harm other “victims” by discrediting prosecutions in general.

If her recantation was forced by a competent and effective investigation, however, I would take a much harsher view: a sentence as long as the one she intended for her victim.

Ref the link to Jonathan Turley who mentions the Duke Lacrosse case–

Prosecutors who knowingly or recklessly railroad innocent people should be put at the same level of infamy as soldiers who betray their country and doctors who poison their patients. A sentence three times what they planned for their victims would be appropriate, eg in the Duke Lacrosse, if 10 years was a typical sentence of rape and Michael Nifong was framing 3 people, a 3x (3×10) = 90-year-sentence would be appropriate.

Jonathan Turley express disappointment that NC AG Roy Cooper did not prosecute the Duke Lacrosse liar. But he does deserve credit for a solid report that buried Nifong’s case. He may have considered prosecuting the liar, but given it up faced with a racist and dysfunctional jury pool in Durham County. Keep in mind that even after the Duke Lacrosse prosecution had become a national scandal, and a candidate ran pledged to set it right, Nifong still won re-election from a polarized electorate.

2 wfjag 08.25.13 at 8:53 pm

At least Nifong was forced to resign as DA, held in criminal contempt (albeit a 1 day jail term and $500 fine), forced to surrender his law license, forced into Chap 7 bankruptcy and at last report was still facing tens of millions in civil liability in suits the Bankruptcy Court Judge refused to stay. If there a few more examples of false accusers suffering consequences and fewer Al Sharpton type role models, there might be effective deference.

3 Richard Nieporent 08.25.13 at 9:08 pm

Hugo, I guess you did not read KC Johnson’s blog, Durham-in-Wonderland, that chronicled the Duke Lacrosse case. The reason that AG Roy Cooper did not prosecute Crystal Magnum was purely political. He did not want tot antagonize the Black community. Unfortunately, by letting her go free she was able to kill her boyfriend. If he had done his job, that murder would not have happened.

4 prior probability 08.25.13 at 10:45 pm

I’m not at all surprised by the false accusation … at the link I explain why strategic behavior like this is more common than most people think: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=915929

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