Pleading insanity

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Saturday, July 5, 2014


WHEN we were law school freshmen, the men used to gather after class, like most first year male law students do, for some drink and more debate on the law. One particular evening, two of our female classmates joined us and it was probably because of their presence that the discussion on criminal law eventually drifted to rape.

When everyone, including the girls, had one drink too many, one of my male classmates asked another: “If I am accused of raping her (pointing to one of the girls) and I hire you as my lawyer, how will you defend me?” The answer came without hesitation. “I will plead insanity because only one who is out of his mind could have thought of raping your victim.” After that, none of the girls joined us in our drinking/debating sessions ever again.

Insanity was not the reason why the police in Bristol, England released a man from detention for 36 days upon a complaint of rape lodged by his girlfriend. Thirty-year-old Rhiannon Brooker, a law graduate, accused Paul Fensome, 46 of raping her five times, physically assaulting her six times and imprisoning her once. She also said Fensome caused her to have a miscarriage.

But the police soon realized that Fensome “had clear alibis for the dates of the alleged rapes”, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). They released him from custody and instead charged Brooker with “perverting the course of justice” for lying about the supposed rapes and physical assault “as an excuse for failing her exams (!)”.

The Bristol Crown Court convicted the law graduate and sentenced her to a three-and-a-half years in prison for “lying in an utterly wicked way” and for “being ruthless in her attempts to mislead.”

In sentencing her, Judge Julian Lambert noted that Brooker “was a bright star and shining example of what can be achieved by those who lack special privileges” but “all that went wrong with tragic consequences when she began to lie. These lies had a terrible, corrosive effect. The effect was like ripples spreading through a pool of sadness.”

The BBC report showed a picture of the fake rape victim. I mean no disrespect but looking at her, my former law classmate would have had no qualms about pleading insanity as a defense for Fensome if he had been accused of raping her here.

I’m not sure though if a claim of insanity will work for Henry Areglado who is in jail after allegedly touching the behind of a woman, who turned out to be a policeman’s wife. That the woman was in shorts at the time of the commission of the offense doesn’t improve Areglado’s position. Even granting that the pair of shorts constituted “sufficient provocation,” self-defense is not recognized in crimes against chastity.

Areglado’s case is the second I’ve read about a man getting into trouble because of a libido gone amok over the sight of slightly covered legs. Last year a man got so carried away while being seated in the bus next to woman in shorts that he started doing something naughty.

Alas for him, the woman turned out to be not just a policeman’s wife but a policewoman herself. When the bus arrived in Dumanjug, she had him arrested him and brought to the police station. The last time I saw the unlucky guy on television, he was tearfully begging for forgiveness, invoking his physical deformity and his ignorance that the woman he had taken a fancy on was a peace officer. I don’t know if the cop took pity on him but his case and that of Areglado are fair warning to men with runaway libidos against giving in to uncontrolled passions.

As for the woman who cried wolf, I mean rape, you can draw your own lessons. I will not be tempted to tell the men to beware of law students or graduates when they are taking or have taken an examination. The consequences are too dire to imagine. (frank.otherside@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 06, 2014.

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