Friday, February 15, 2019

Austin's Chief Manley blames victims for misunderstanding his victim-blaming comments

Austin Police Chief Bryan Manley apologized if rape victims felt he had blamed them in his department's coverup surrounding inflated sexual-assault clearance rates, but insisted he had never done so. Here's what he said.
"If my comments made survivors of sexual assault in my community feel like we were victim-blaming, then I absolutely apologize," Manley said in the interview. "Sitting here today, absolutely, if there are survivors in my community that felt like we were in any way victim-blaming or finger pointing, that's not what we were doing. We were trying to point out the possibilities of why we had a higher exceptional clearance rate."
That's not an apology, that's more victim blaming. Rape survivors didn't feel that he blamed them, they observed it.

Here's the context: Manley's predecessor as APD chief, Art Acevedo (now chief in Houston) replaced the head of Austin's sex crimes unit because she refused to alter clearance-rate data to say cases were closed because victims wouldn't cooperate in situations where that wasn't the case.

The department actually did that to her. It's not a perception. It's documented history.

When, last year, Chief Manley spoke to your correspondent about the topic, he continued to claim that the cases were closed because victims wouldn't cooperate, saying there was nothing his department could do in such circumstances.

This was a false characterization. We now know that for certain. Out of a sample of a hundred, Texas DPS said a third were closed improperly. What was improper about them? Results were miscategorized to say the victims chose not to cooperate when that wasn't true.

Victims who observed 1) the department miscategorize their positions after 2) removing the department head who'd been doing it right, then 3) heard Chief Manley doubling down on the false characterization over and over in the media, will feel blamed. That's because they were blamed, in a cynical attempt at media manipulation.

Think "media manipulation" is too harsh? Last fall, Manley told anyone who would listen that his department couldn't help it if victims wouldn't cooperate. But when it was proven he was wrong - when DPS audit results showed many victims had not refused to cooperate and had been wrongly blamed en masse in APD data - he held onto the information for nearly three weeks before revealing it at a hastily called press conference late afternoon on New Years Eve. That's a tactic to minimize media coverage, but it backfired, demonstrating the Chief's mens rea on the subject.

Manley says he was trying to "point out the possibilities" regarding why "exceptionally cleared" cases were miscategorized. But the only possibilities he focused on, in fact, blamed rape victims. He has refused to countenance the "possibility" that APD brass intentionally, improperly inflated the data and removed the head of the sex-crimes unit when she refused to participate in their malfeasance. But that is, in fact, precisely what happened. Manley's "apology" claiming victims misunderstood him is another insult. He's the one issuing all the misleading statements.

If Manley's not going to actually apologize, he should stay mum. No one needs to hear him claim victims are too dumb to understand what's going on here, when everyone but him can see quite plainly.

See prior, related Grits posts:


Anonymous said...

"The department actually did that to her. It's not a perception. It's documented history."

Is really documented history?
Is there a DPS audit that shows APD was coding rape cases correctly when she was in charge of the unit?

I did not find a link to the actual audit but according to:

What you are leaving out of your narrative is that the recent DPS audit findings were that out of 30 cases that coded exceptionally cleared 14 of those cases should have been coded unfounded.

That leaves 16 of 95 cases, about 16.8% coded for exceptional clearance that might support your narrative.

But the audit also found 15 incidents reported by APD as rape offenses did not meet the UCR definition for rape. So they overreported by 15.8%.

The link does not state how these cases were coded originally but assuming they were not coded as cleared that would put the rate of underreporting rape at about 1%. Not supportive of your narrative at all.

The only thing clearly taken form the audit is that APD only got it right 29 out of 95 times according to this audit. If they were better at it in 2012 was not addressed in the audit.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@9:45, yes, it is. Much of it was reported quite ably in the Center for Investigative Reporting podcast that started all this. You should listen to it if you want to debate the issue.

Manley never denied Donegan was removed over the clearance-rate data. His repeated statement was that she was removed because of a "disagreement" over the data between her and APD brass which was resolved by her removal. So he didn't deny she was removed for that reason, he just asserted that the department's definitions were right and she was wrong. Now we know from DPS that was not the case.

Nothing you say I'm "leaving out" changes that narrative. The department was applying the wrong definitions in order to overstate the percentage of cases they'd solved. That remains true.

Anonymous said...


So it's a competency issue. Whew, I thought there might have been a problem. I'm so relieved. Incompetency is now the leading standard.

So Donegan gets her job back and Manley apologizes to her. Hmmm??

Anonymous said...

It's a well-documented fact that the death penalty is sought most frequently in cases where the victim is white, and rarely when the victim is a minority. Grits: Has anyone crunched the numbers to track the demographic profile of the ignored victims in rape cases? Something tells me that there might be a disproportionate number of minority victims in that group.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I have not seen demographic data on the victims, 7:07, but that's probably a safe bet.