Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

UVA retracts rape story after Columbia University calls it “journalistic failure”

UVA students following their leftist masters

UVA students blindly following their leftist masters

The Wall Street Journal reports on the conclusion to this radical-feminist scandal. I’ll explain later why I am writing about this, too.

Excerpt:

Rolling Stone retracted an explosive article detailing an alleged gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity after Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism concluded that the story was a “journalistic failure that was avoidable.”

The Rolling Stone story was written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely and published last November under the headline “A Rape on Campus.” It sparked a national uproar over sexual misconduct at college campuses. At UVA, President Teresa Sullivan suspended all Greek activities for six weeks and students marched in protest.

But before long, other media reports raised serious doubts about the veracity of the article and the reporting and editing process behind it.

[…]The “most consequential” decision, the report found, was Rolling Stone’s acquiescence to the fact that Ms. Erdely “had not contacted the three friends who spoke with Jackie on the night she said she was raped.” If Rolling Stone had done so, it said, it “would have almost certainly led the magazine’s editors to change plans.”

[…]The Charlottesville, Va., police concluded in March after a four-month investigation that “there is no substantive basis to support the account alleged in the Rolling Stone article,” the Columbia report notes. Police said at the time they were unable to interview the woman featured in the story and their investigation remains suspended until she decides she “wishes to cooperate.”

Jackie was later discovered to be a radical feminist. The author of the retracted rape story is also a radical feminist. And she is presenting herself as a victim:

Ms. Erdely, in a statement, said the past few months have been among the most painful in her life, and reading the Columbia report detailing her mistakes was “a brutal and humbling experience.”

[…]The report said that Rolling Stone’s editors, as well as Ms. Erdely, “concluded that their main fault was to be too accommodating of Jackie because she described herself as the survivor of a terrible sexual assault.”

Columbia, however, disagreed with that conclusion, noting that editors made decisions about “attribution, fact-checking and verification that greatly increased their risks of error but had little or nothing to do with protecting Jackie’s position.”

Newsbusters quotes the report, which shows that Erdely’s story was agenda-driven from the start:

Last July 8, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, a writer for Rolling Stone, telephoned Emily Renda, a rape survivor working on sexual assault issues as a staff member at the University of Virginia. Erdely said she was searching for a single, emblematic college rape case that would show “what it’s like to be on campus now … where not only is rape so prevalent but also that there’s this pervasive culture of sexual harassment/rape culture,” according to Erdely’s notes of the conversation.

Reason.com quotes this part of the report to show her editors were complicit:

Jackie proved to be a challenging source. At times, she did not respond to Erdely’s calls, texts and emails. At two points, the reporter feared Jackie might withdraw her cooperation. Also, Jackie refused to provide Erdely the name of the lifeguard who had organized the attack on her. She said she was still afraid of him. That led to tense exchanges between Erdely and Jackie, but the confrontation ended when Rolling Stone’s editors decided to go ahead without knowing the lifeguard’s name or verifying his existence. After that concession, Jackie cooperated fully until publication.

Reason also comments:

It’s actually even worse than that. When Erdely told Jackie that she really did need to know the name of Jackie’s date (the lifeguard who supposedly masterminded the attack), Jackie stopped answering her phone calls and texts for about two weeks. Eventually, Erdely left Jackie another voicemail in which the writer agreed to stop trying to contact the lifeguard and instead use a pseudonym, Drew. After that, Jackie magically reappeared, calling Erdely back “quickly,” according to the report.

Jackie, in fact, displayed impressive levels of self-preservation and rational behavior—at least, from the perspective of a highly disturbed person whose goal was to spread an incredible lie without exposing it as such. She was highly detailed in her account of the crime, gave descriptions, and recalled (wholly invented) conversations with great accuracy. And she studiously avoided any line of questioning that would have exposed the lie. If a particular question posed a threat, she either invented a reason why it couldn’t be answered, or simply stopped responding.

No one at Rolling Stone has been fired, much less charged with crimes. The woman who made the false rape charge has also not been charged with anything. So there is no deterrent there to prevent this from happening again – either to the women who make the charges, or to the radical feminists who “report” on them. Let’s hope that when the lawsuits shake out that both Erdely and her Rolling Stone cheerleaders find themselves bankrupted.

How often are rape claims false?

National Review explains:

Specifically, in their analysis of sexual-assault cases at a large university, the authors found that 5.9 percent of cases were provably false. However, 44.9 percent cases “did not proceed” – meaning there was insufficient evidence, the accuser was uncooperative, or the incident did not meet the legal standard of assault. An additional 13.9 percent of cases could not be categorized due to lack of information. That leaves 35.3 percent of cases that led to formal charges or discipline against the accused.

“35.3 percent of cases that led to formal charges or discipline against the accused”. That’s a lot of Jackie-scenarios.

The trouble is when people don’t do the homework and just come to have a general mistrust of men based on their intuitions and emotions from stories they hear about from the news media – stories like this one. And yet they become so sure that they have an educated and informed opinion, just from hearing news reports. They never hear about the retractions.

My take

So why did I cover this story in past blog posts, and why am I bringing up the retraction now? Well, it’s because of the feminist agenda. I want to point out how the feminist left uses stories like this in order to push a wedge between men and women. Women who are indoctrinated for four years in misandry are less likely to look to men as protectors, providers and moral/spiritual leaders. Marriage, with its traditional gender roles of men working and woman raising the kids, will be out.

If men are all rapists, then how could a woman give up her own dreams and career to stay home and raise kids? If men are all rapists, how could a woman trust a man to be faithful to her? If men are all rapists, then how could a man be trusted to provide for a family. If men are all rapists, then how could a woman trust a man to stick around when she is old and wrinkly? And of course, this lousy impression of men is all reinforced by the binge-drinking, hooking-up, and serial cohabitation that is so popular in university campuses.

There is a reason why Rolling Stone ran with this story, despite all the warning signs – it made the point that they wanted to make. Women who think that they can’t depend on men will naturally turn to bigger government to provide for them, and that’s what people on the left want women to do. Marriage is subversive to their plan. Having a lot of children is subversive to their plan. Homeschooling is subversive to their plan.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Three UVA students who knew “Jackie” challenge Rolling Stone rape story

This is from the leftist Washington Post, of all places.

Excerpt:

It was 1 a.m. on a Saturday when the call came. A friend, a University of Virginia freshman who earlier said she had a date that evening with a handsome junior from her chemistry class, was in hysterics. Something bad had happened.

Arriving at her side, three students —“Randall,” “Andy” and “Cindy,” as they were identified in an explosive Rolling Stone account — told The Washington Post that they found their friend in tears. Jackie appeared traumatized, saying her date ended horrifically, with the older student parking his car at his fraternity, asking her to come inside and then forcing her to perform oral sex on five men.

In their first interviews about the events of that September 2012 night, the three friends separately told The Post that their recollections of the encounter diverge from how Rolling Stone portrayed the incident in a storyabout Jackie’s alleged gang rape at a U-Va. fraternity. The interviews also provide a richer account of Jackie’s interactions immediately after the alleged attack and suggest that the friends are skeptical of her account.

The scene with her friends was pivotal in the article, as it alleged that the friends were callously apathetic about a beaten, bloodied, injured classmate reporting a brutal gang rape at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. The account alleged that the students worried about the effect it might have on their social status and how it might reflect on Jackie during the rest of her collegiate career and that they suggested not reporting it. It set up the article’s theme: That U-Va. has a culture that is indifferent to rape.

“It didn’t happen that way at all,” Andy said.

Instead, the friends remember being shocked. Although they did not notice any blood or visible injuries, they said they immediately urged Jackie to speak to police and insisted that they find her help. Instead, they said, Jackie declined and asked to be taken back to her dorm room. They went with her — two said they spent the night — seeking to comfort Jackie in what appeared to be a moment of extreme turmoil.

[…]They said there are mounting inconsistencies with the original narrative in the magazine. The students also expressed suspicions about Jackie’s allegations from that night. They said the name she provided as that of her date did not match anyone at the university, and U-Va. officials confirmed to The Post that no one by that name has attended the school.

Also, photographs that were texted to one of the friends showing her date that night were actually pictures depicting one of Jackie’s high school classmates in Northern Virginia. That man, now a junior at a university in another state, confirmed that the photographs were of him and said he barely knew Jackie and hasn’t been to Charlottesville for at least six years.

The friends said they were never contacted or interviewed by the pop culture magazine’s reporters or editors. Although vilified in the article as coldly indifferent to Jackie’s ordeal, the students said they cared deeply about their friend’s well-being and safety.

[…]They also said Jackie’s description of what happened to her that night differs from what she told Rolling Stone. In addition, information Jackie gave the three friends about one of her attackers, called “Drew” in the magazine’s article, differ significantly from details she later told The Post, Rolling Stone and friends from sexual assault awareness groups on campus. The three said Jackie did not specifically identify a fraternity that night.

[…]The article’s writer, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, did not respond to requests for comment this week.

Rolling Stone also declined to comment, citing an internal review of the story.

The leftist site Slate has an article by well-known radical feminist Hanna Rosin, who analyzes the Washington Post article.

She writes:

The Washington Post has an update on Rolling Stone‘s UVA story that strongly implies, without outright saying so, that the gang rape at the center of Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s article might be fabricated. Post reporter T. Rees Shapiro spoke at length with the three friends who met up with Jackie, the student who says she was raped, on the night in question. In the Rolling Stone story this scene was crucial. Erdely described Jackie as standing mute in her bloody dress, the Phi Kappa Psi house where the alleged rape happened looming in the background, as her friends callously debated whether they should take her to the hospital and risk ruining their social reputations. This set up the larger theme of a university culture and social scene indifferent even to the most brutalized victims of rape.

Earlier, those friends told the Post that Jackie told them she’d been forced to have oral sex—a much different story than what Jackie told Rolling Stone. This new Post article adds some details that make the entire account seem more suspicious. Jackie had told her friends—referred to by the pseudonyms “Cindy,” “Andy,” and “Randall” in the original story and in the Post’s follow-ups—that she had a date on Sept. 28, 2012, with a handsome junior in her chemistry class. (In the version she told to Rolling Stone, that date was with someone she’d met at her lifeguarding job.) But in the Post story, the friends imply that this junior might not exist and may have been invented by Jackie to make Randall jealous.

When the friends first heard about this junior, they were intrigued and asked Jackie for his number. They started exchanging text messages with him, and he described Jackie as a “super smart hot” freshman. He complained, though, that she liked a “nerd 1st yr”— meaning Randall—who is “smart and funny and worth it.” Jackie’s friends could never find this junior in the UVA database nor on social media. She provided her friends with a picture of him, but the Post has since learned that the guy in the picture is a high school classmate of Jackie’s who does not go to the University of Virginia and was in another state participating in an athletic tournament on the night of the alleged rape. (More recently, Jackie gave her friends the name of a different guy. The Post also contacted him, and he said he’d never met Jackie.)

[…]Jackie has now given her friends two different names for the man she was with that night. Neither of them was in fact with her, ever dated her, or even knew her all that well. She appears to have invented a suitor, complete with fake text messages and a fake photo, which suggests a capacity for somewhat elaborate deception. Jackie, though, has not recanted her story. Her attorney would not answer questions for the Post‘s story on Wednesday and has told reporters to stop contacting Jackie.

Here’s the most disturbing journalistic detail to emerge from the Post‘s reporting: In the Rolling Stone story, Erdely says that she contacted Randall, but he declined to be interviewed, “citing his loyalty to his own frat.” Randall told the Post he was never contacted by Erdely and would have been happy to be interviewed.

A web site called GotNews is claiming to have identified the Jackie from the story, and the Jackie they identified was a student activist in high school. That woman’s Pinterest page sported a lot of radical feminist “rape culture” memes. Also, the author of the Rolling Stone piece is a well-known feminist activist and she has in the past confessed to “shopping around” for victims in order to further her feminist agenda. That link takes you to a Youtube video where she explains her feminist agenda in her own words. This is what students learn as gospel in college, though. Our laws and our culture are built around this Sabrina / Rolling Stone view of men.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Feminist lawyer’s son falsely charged by university kangaroo court

From the Wall Street Journal. (H/T Stuart Schneiderman)

It starts like this:

I am a feminist. I have marched at the barricades, subscribed to Ms. magazine, and knocked on many a door in support of progressive candidates committed to women’s rights. Until a month ago, I would have expressed unqualified support for Title IX and for the Violence Against Women Act.

But that was before my son, a senior at a small liberal-arts college in New England, was charged—by an ex-girlfriend—with alleged acts of “nonconsensual sex” that supposedly occurred during the course of their relationship a few years earlier.

What followed was a nightmare—a fall through Alice’s looking-glass into a world that I could not possibly have believed existed, least of all behind the ivy-covered walls thought to protect an ostensible dedication to enlightenment and intellectual betterment.

It began with a text of desperation. “CALL ME. URGENT. NOW.”

That was how my son informed me that not only had charges been brought against him but that he was ordered to appear to answer these allegations in a matter of days. There was no preliminary inquiry on the part of anyone at the school into these accusations about behavior alleged to have taken place a few years earlier, no consideration of the possibility that jealousy or revenge might be motivating a spurned young ex-lover to lash out. Worst of all, my son would not be afforded a presumption of innocence.

In fact, Title IX, that so-called guarantor of equality between the sexes on college campuses, and as applied by a recent directive from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, has obliterated the presumption of innocence that is so foundational to our traditions of justice. On today’s college campuses, neither “beyond a reasonable doubt,” nor even the lesser “by clear and convincing evidence” standard of proof is required to establish guilt of sexual misconduct.

These safeguards of due process have, by order of the federal government, been replaced by what is known as “a preponderance of the evidence.” What this means, in plain English, is that all my son’s accuser needed to establish before a campus tribunal is that the allegations were “more likely than not” to have occurred by a margin of proof that can be as slim as 50.1% to 49.9%.

How does this campus tribunal proceed to evaluate the accusations? Upon what evidence is it able to make a judgment?

The frightening answer is that like the proverbial 800-pound gorilla, the tribunal does pretty much whatever it wants, showing scant regard for fundamental fairness, due process of law, and the well-established rules and procedures that have evolved under the Constitution for citizens’ protection. Who knew that American college students are required to surrender the Bill of Rights at the campus gates?

My son was given written notice of the charges against him, in the form of a letter from the campus Title IX officer. But instead of affording him the right to be fully informed, the separately listed allegations were a barrage of vague statements, rendering any defense virtually impossible. The letter lacked even the most basic information about the acts alleged to have happened years before. Nor were the allegations supported by any evidence other than the word of the ex-girlfriend.

The hearing itself was a two-hour ordeal of unabated grilling by the school’s committee, during which, my son later reported, he was expressly denied his request to be represented by counsel or even to have an attorney outside the door of the room. The questioning, he said, ran far afield even from the vaguely stated allegations contained in the so-called notice. Questions from the distant past, even about unrelated matters, were flung at him with no opportunity for him to give thoughtful answers.

The many pages of written documentation that my son had put together—which were directly on point about his relationship with his accuser during the time period of his alleged wrongful conduct—were dismissed as somehow not relevant. What was relevant, however, according to the committee, was the unsworn testimony of “witnesses” deemed to have observable knowledge about the long-ago relationship between my son and his accuser.

That the recollections of these young people (made under intense peer pressure and with none of the safeguards consistent with fundamental fairness) were relevant—while records of the accuser’s email and social media postings were not—made a mockery of the very term. While my son was instructed by the committee not to “discuss this matter” with any potential witnesses, these witnesses against him were not identified to him, nor was he allowed to confront or question either them or his accuser.

This reminds of exactly what Ari wrote about in his novel “Bias Incident“.

Dr. Schneiderman adds his comments:

The process rests on a sad irony. Many years ago feminists decided strong, independent liberated women do not need to be protected by men. Not by their fathers, not by their brothers, not by their husbands.

As a matter of fact, a gentleman who offered a small courteous gestures of respect was routinely denounced by feminists as a gross insult. He was treating a woman as a member of the weaker sex.

If a man opened a door for a woman, he was called a sexist for assuming that the woman could not open the door herself.

The feminist message was clear: modern women can take care of themselves.

Well, not exactly. Since men are predators, prone to abuse and molest strong, independent women, these women need an extra level of protection: they need to have an extra-judicial procedure that can inflict serious punishment on any male who would see fit to ill-treat them.

No one needs to worry that women might abuse the privilege by bringing unfounded charges against certain men. No, it can’t happen. Women always tell the truth.

Apparently, the problem of violence against women is so bad that the criminal justice system cannot deal with it. It is so out-of-control that the civil justice system cannot do the job.

That’s the real problem: feminism.

When you have a group of feminists who set out to destroy the traditional gender roles of men, and who criminalize the traditional virtues of men, then you should NOT be surprised that government has to grow to fill the void. They told women that chastity was out, and chivalry was out. Traditional male roles of protector, provider, and moral/spiritual leader are out. What kind of men do women choose if they want to avoid all of those traditional male virtues? Bad men. And when bad men aren’t doing what the feminists want, they resort to big government to coerce and punish them. Every other man looking on to this situation is going to be reinforced not to pursue relationships with women, out of fear that they could be hit with false accusations for upsetting her – even if he hasn’t done anything at all!

Eventually, men will just opt out of all contact with women in order to have their freedom to say and do what they feel like. I will look forward to the day when feminists spent the last 40 years of their lives alone in their apartments, talking to their cats. What man in his right mind would want anything to do with these nutcases and their weird ideology?

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New York TV meteorologist admits rape accusations were false

From CBS News.

Excerpt:

A TV meteorologist admitted Wednesday she’d made up claims of being repeatedly attacked by a stranger on the city streets, allegations that sparked an extensive investigation before police said she told them she’d invented the story to get attention.

Heidi Jones, who has worked for stations in New York and Texas and filled in on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” pleaded guilty to misdemeanor false-reporting charges.

Her plea deal calls for three years’ probation, continuing psychiatric counseling and 350 hours of community service — the amount of time police spent looking into her phony claims, prosecutors said. Jones is due to be sentenced Oct. 26.

[…]Jones, 38, told police Dec. 1 the same man attacked her while she was running in Central Park last September and again outside her Manhattan apartment in November, authorities said.

After she provided a detailed description — including the alleged attacker’s race, height and clothing — detectives spoke to possible witnesses and canvassed the area to look for a suspect.

Ultimately, when a detective interviewed Jones again around midnight on Dec. 13, she admitted she’d concocted the assaults, according to a court document prosecutors filed in January.

“I made it up for attention. I have so much stress at work, with my personal life and with my family,” she said, according to the document.

What I find alarming about these stories is how often the accuser is not charged, or not given jail time. But men can spend years in jail on a false charge, (see links below), for which there could not be any evidence, of course.

Studies show about 40-50 percent of rape accusations are false

False accusations of rape or sexual assault are commonly used by women to get attention and sympathy, or to get an alibi when they’ve done something wrong, or to get revenge on someone.

Here’s a Fox News article from a prominent equity feminist, Wendy McElroy.

Excerpt:

“Forty-one percent of all reports are false.”

This claim comes from a study conducted by Eugene J. Kanin of Purdue University. Kanin examined 109 rape complaints registered in a Midwestern city from 1978 to 1987.

Of these, 45 were ultimately classified by the police as “false.” Also based on police records, Kanin determined that 50 percent of the rapes reported at two major universities were “false.”

Although Kanin offers solid research, I would need to see more studies with different populations before accepting the figure of 50 percent as prevalent; to me, the figure seems high.

But even a skeptic like me must credit a DNA exclusion rate of 20 percent that remained constant over several years when conducted by FBI labs. This is especially true when 20 percent more were found to be questionable.

False accusations are not rare. They are common.

If you would like to get an idea of how false rape accusations are handled by the police, here is an example. Usually no charges are filed, or if charges are filed, then they get off without jail time. (But the accused men can go to jail for years, see below)

False accusations in divorce trials

False accusations of domestic violence and sexual abuse are also commonly made during divorce settlements in order to get custody of the children, and the attendant benefits.

Consider this article from Touchstone magazine, by Stephen Baskerville.

Excerpt:

Today it is not clear that we have learned anything from these miscarriages of justice. If anything, the hysteria has been institutionalized in the divorce courts, where false allegations have become routine.

What is ironic about these witch-hunts is the fact that it is easily demonstrable that the child abuse epidemic—which is very real—is almost entirely the creation of feminism and the welfare bureaucracies themselves. It is well established by scholars that an intact family is the safest place for women and children and that very little abuse takes place in married families. Child abuse overwhelmingly occurs in single-parent homes, homes from which the father has been removed. Domestic violence, too, is far more likely during or after the breakup of a marriage than among married couples.

Yet patently false accusations of both child abuse and domestic violence are rampant in divorce courts, almost always for purposes of breaking up families, securing child custody, and eliminating fathers. “With child abuse and spouse abuse you don’t have to prove anything,” the leader of a legal seminar tells divorcing mothers, according to the Chicago Tribune. “You just have to accuse.”

Among scholars and legal practitioners it is common knowledge that patently trumped-up accusations are routinely used, and virtually never punished, in divorce and custody proceedings. Elaine Epstein, president of the Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association, writes that “allegations of abuse are now used for tactical advantage” in custody cases. The Illinois Bar Journal describes how abuse accusations readily “become part of the gamesmanship of divorce.” The UMKC Law Review reports on a survey of judges and attorneys revealing that disregard for due process and allegations of domestic violence are used as a “litigation strategy.” In the Yale Law Review, Jeannie Suk calls domestic violence accusations a system of “state-imposed de facto divorce” and documents how courts use unsupported accusations to justify evicting Americans from their homes and children.

The multi-billion dollar abuse industry has become “an area of law mired in intellectual dishonesty and injustice” writes David Heleniak in the Rutgers Law Review. Domestic violence has become “a backwater of tautological pseudo-theory,” write Donald Dutton and Kenneth Corvo in the scholarly journal Aggression and Violent Behavior. “No other area of established social welfare, criminal justice, public health, or behavioral intervention has such weak evidence in support of mandated practice.”

Makes you want to run right out and get married, doesn’t it? Me too!

Domestic violence rates

Here’s a recent article in the liberal UK Guardian that summarizes the evidence.

Excerpt:

Domestic violence has traditionally been understood as a crime perpetrated by domineering men against defenceless women. Research spanning over 40 years has, however, consistently found that men and women self-report perpetrating domestic violence at similar rates. Professor John Archer from the University of Central Lancashire has conducted a number of meta-analytic reviews of these studies and found that women are as likely to use domestic violence as men, but women are twice as likely as men to be injured or killed during a domestic assault. Men still represent a substantial proportion of people who are assaulted, injured or killed by an intimate partner (50%, 30% and 25% respectively).

If the empirical research is correct in suggesting that between a quarter and half of all domestic violence victims are men, a question follows: why has women’s domestic violence towards men been unreported for so long, and what has changed in the last five years to make it more visible?

One reason may be the feminist movement. Feminism took up the cause of domestic abuse of women in the 1970s, with the world’s first women’s refuge being opened by Erin Pizzey in 1971. Feminism understood domestic violence as the natural extension of men’s patriarchal attitudes towards women, leading men to feel they had the right to control their partners, using violence if necessary. Feminists campaigned successfully to bring the issue into the public arena, thereby securing resources to establish services to help victims. This activism and advocacy led to governmental and public acceptance that “domestic violence” was synonymous with violence against women.

[…]The dual stereotypes of the violent man and passive woman have undoubtedly obscured the existence of male victims of domestic violence in the past. Men were also unlikely to view their own victimisation as either domestic violence or a criminal assault, and so were unlikely to seek help.

Large sums of money have been spent on educational campaigns to encourage female victims to seek help. Until there are similar campaigns for men, it is unlikely that the true number of male victims needing help will be known. If the current trends continue however, women may find themselves increasingly likely to be charged with domestic assault, and men more likely to be offered help and protection.

I wonder how many women believe the official feminist line on domestic violence? The raw numbers are so rarely discussed.

More domestic violence studies from multiple countries are discussed here.

Related posts

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Christina Hoff Sommers takes on sexual harassment hysteria on campus

Christina Hoff Sommers

Christina Hoff Sommers

Christina Hoff Sommers writes about feminism gone wild in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Excerpt:

American courts take exacting precautions to avoid convicting an innocent person of a crime. It was therefore startling to read the April 4, 2011, directive on sexual violence sent by the U.S. Department of Education’s assistant secretary for civil rights, Russlynn H. Ali, to college officials across the country. In an effort to make campuses safe and equitable for women, Ali, with the full support of her department, advocates procedures that are unjust to men.

[…]Marching under the banner of Title IX and freed of high standards of proof, campus disciplinary committees, once relatively weak and feckless, will be transformed into powerful instruments of gender justice. At least, that is the fantasy. But here is the reality: Campus disciplinary committees—often a casual mix of professors, students, and an assistant dean or two—are well suited to resolving cases involving purported plagiarism and cheating, and violations of college rules on drugs and alcohol. But no one considers them prepared to adjudicate murder, arson, or kidnapping cases, or criminal assault. They lack the training and the resources to investigate and adjudicate felonies. So why are they expected to determine guilt or innocence in cases of rape?

As with murder and arson, serious charges of sexual assault should be left to the police and the courts. The Department of Education should not pressure universities to enact a system whereby a student can be found guilty of a major crime by a mere preponderance of evidence.

[…]Being a victim of rape is uniquely horrific, but being accused of rape is not far behind. If the person is guilty, then the suffering is deserved. But what if he is innocent? To be found guilty of rape by a campus tribunal can mean both expulsion and a career-destroying black mark on your permanent record. Such occurrences could become routine under the Ali dispensation.

So why is Ali taking such draconian measures? Because she asserts that rape on campuses has reached epidemic levels, citing a study that states that 19 percent, or almost one in five women, will be a victim of assault or attempted assault during their college years.

But is that figure accurate or even plausible? Research on sexual assault is notoriously hard to conduct, and the studies are wildly inconsistent. A 2003 Bureau of Justice Statistics special report, “Violent Victimization of College Students, 1995-2002,” found that among the nation’s nearly four million female college students, there were six rapes or sexual assaults per thousand per year during the years surveyed. That comes to one victim in 40 students during four years of college—too many, of course, but vastly fewer than Ali’s one in five.

The study cited by Ali used an online survey, conducted under a grant from the Justice Department, in which college women were asked about their sexual experiences, on campus and off, and the researchers—not the women themselves—decided whether they had been assaulted. The researchers employed an expansive definition of sexual assault that included “forced kissing” and even “attempted” forced kissing. The survey also asked subjects if they had sexual contact with someone when they were unable to give consent because they were drunk. A “yes” answer was automatically counted as a rape or assault. According to the authors, “an intoxicated person cannot legally consent to sexual contact.”

Surely, reasonable people can disagree on that: If sexual intimacy under the influence of alcohol is by definition assault, then a significant percentage of sexual intercourse throughout the world and down the ages qualifies as crime.

The Justice Department stamped a disclaimer on every page of the survey report, advising that it is not a publication of the Justice Department and does not necessarily reflect its positions or policies. Ali, however, treats it as an official government finding and ignores the controversies and ambiguities surrounding her “one in five” figure.

I’m a huge fan of Christina Hoff Sommers. I really recommend her book “The War Against Boys”. Must-reading for any parent. The article notes in the author bio that she is working on an updated version of that book, and you can bet this topic will be covered.

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