An Open Letter to Sgt. Art Eld, Orlando Police Department

Dear Sergeant Eld,

I write this letter to you because you were identified as the spokesperson for the Orlando Police Department in a story on false rape accusations that recently ran on NBC Channel Two in Orlando, both in their television broadcast and on their website.

There were some statements attributed to you by the station that raise some questions that I think need to be posed, given the gravity of the subject at hand.

You were quoted as saying, “We want victims to continue to report crime. We don’t want to spend endless hours and resources chasing ghosts.”

You added to that comment by saying, “False reports take personnel away from other calls for service, increasing the response time for real victims,” and that, “It also taints the jury pool in Orange county for true legitimate rape cases.”

Finally, you were quoted as saying, “False reports cause unnecessary fear in the community.”

With all respect to the dangerous and often thankless work done by police everywhere, and with great appreciation for your public call to address this problem, isn’t there something else that these false reports cause?

Like the lives of men devastated, their reputations and well being destroyed? Like innocent men behind bars?

I found it troubling that it appears you did not mention this, especially given the reality that so many men have ended up in prison, falsely convicted and paying an egregious price for lies that have been all too often carried to the courts by police that are either poorly trained, overly chivalrous or under skilled at what they are paid to do. I say that because something else that sheds light on these tragedies was also mentioned by Channel Two, but for some reason was not quoted from you or another direct source. The story said, “Cops said they don’t want to arrest the women, but feel they must.”

I found this to be a staggering statement, and quite telling.

I thought it was the duty of the police to arrest criminals, regardless of their sex? In fact, I am pretty sure that is true.

Why would your officers not want to arrest criminals that are causing such pervasive and destructive problems? Because they are girls?

Are the officers on your force confusing their squad cars with white horses, or has it been a matter of routine policy in the past to give women who make false allegations a pass on their crime?

Since the problem itself has grown to such proportions that the police department has to make public proclamations about its severity, it would seem safe to conclude that police inaction on false allegations has been a systemic problem all along.

What percentage of false accusers have been arrested and criminally prosecuted in Orlando in the past 10 years? The answer to that question will either exonerate the police department (and the D.A.’s office) or prove my point entirely.

Being a professional in law enforcement, I am sure you are aware of  The Innocence Project. Are you aware that the crime for which most of their beneficiaries are proven to be innocent is rape?

I am also sure you are aware of how convicted sexual offenders are treated in prison, and the unspeakable things that can happen to them there.

Does this not make the veracity of allegations of critical importance in the criminal justice system, in which you play such a vital role?

But now we hear, from you, that those untruthful allegations are a problem because they cause an undue workload on police officers? Because people in the community get scared?

We will never know, Sergeant Eld, just how many men are languishing in prisons right now because a woman had consensual sex with them and later regretted it, or because, as we saw in the Hofstra case, a woman wanted to cover herself with her boyfriend- and because those types of claims are often treated by police as factual with no evidence. It is, just as the story said, an epidemic problem, and clearly not just with the women making the allegations.

Those men in the Hofstra case were saved by a video taken on a camera phone, but there have been many, many men not near so lucky.

Perhaps you should consider that it is not the public at large, or the average police officer, or even the unfortunate victim of a real rape that pays the price for false allegations. It is innocent men- men who have done nothing wrong, that bear the brunt of these easily accepted and usually unpunished lies, in the most horrific way possible.

Kind Regards,

Paul Elam

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