Via VC I see that Cathy Young has written an excellent article describing how Rape Shield laws can prevent men accused of rape from presenting the strongest possible defense.
In a much-publicized 1998 case in New York, Columbia University graduate student Oliver Jovanovic was convicted of kidnapping and sexually abusing a Barnard College student whom he had met on the Internet. While Jovanovic claimed that the encounter involved consensual bondage, the trial judge ruled that the defense could not use e-mail messages in which the young woman had told him about her interest in sadomasochism and her S/M relationship with another man. Jovanovic was sentenced to 15 years in prison. His conviction was eventually overturned by an appellate court that held he was denied the chance to present an adequate defense -- a ruling predictably deplored by feminist activists as a blow to victims. ...Rape is a terrible crime, but even more terrible is a false accusation of rape. If it can be proven that a rape allegation was intentionally false I think the accuser should face the same penalties she intended for her victim.
For some feminists, the dogma that "women never lie" means that there is, for all intents and purposes, no presumption of innocence for the defendant. After the 1997 trial of sportscaster Marv Albert, defending the judge's decision to admit compromising information about Albert's sexual past but not about his accuser's, attorney Gloria Allred decried "the notion that there's some sort of moral equivalency between the defendant and the victim" -- forgetting that as long as the defendant hasn't been convicted, he and his accuser are indeed moral equals in the eyes of the law.
(More about rape accusations.)