The problems don’t end with the falsely accused, though, or even their families. Real victims find themselves at the end of the gun, as well. Though these practices are surely designed to help women, the opposite ends up becoming true. Recently, a Stanford student was charged with sexual assault, and convicted. This case serves as a bright line standard. The man was found on top of the victim, who was unconscious. Regardless of alcohol, drugs, family history, or any other mitigating or aggravating circumstance, this is a clear case. Unfortunately (though this is only my opinion), there has not been enough outrage over such a despicable act. It seems that this is a direct consequence of campus feminists calling everything from rape, to an unwanted hand hold, sexual assault.
The “1 in 4” statistic has been paraded around by everyone, from the President to Tumblr blogs the world over. The problem – it’s a complete fabrication. In her book Who Stole Feminism, Christina Hoff Sommers delves into the study which created the numbers. She found that:
The one-in-four statistic was derived from a survey of 3,000 college women in 1982. Researchers used three questions to determine if respondents had been raped: Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn't want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs? Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn't want to because a man threatened or used some degree of physical force... to make you? And, have you had sexual acts...when you didn't want to because a man threatened to use some degree of physical force... to make you?
The questions used to complete this survey are incredibly vague, which allow for leagues of interpretation and personal spin to be put onto them. It is an an impossibly poor practice of the scientific method. These numbers were derived by the CDC, which on the surface gives them a certain authoritative credence. The FBI, however, reports a vastly different set of numbers. Even with a (needed) expansion of the term, campuses are nowhere near 1 in 4. Troy University in Alabama, for example, reported one rape. Its student population that year was over twenty-two thousand. Never has it been more true that “There are lies, damned lies, and then there are statistics.”
Due process does not just exist as an idea to attain, though. It is put into action hundreds of thousands of times each day. I work as an intern for a district judge in my county, who often presides over juvenile cases. I recently had a chance to witness due process in action regarding a campus sexual assault case. A young man was charged with first degree rape by the accuser, which in my state means there was forced intercourse, against the will of the victim, through means of intimidation or duress. In other words, the person has to be shown to have had non-consensual sex, and the victim must have been in fear of imminent harm or danger: a textbook case of back-alley rape, for example. The accused was not a student on the same campus as the alleged victim, so the college could not handle it internally. The parents of the young woman pressed charges, and it went to a bench trial before the judge. Over the course of over five hours, I listened to both sides examine and cross-examine witnesses, including the accused himself. As would be expected, the stories of the accused and the accuser did not quite match up; as the adages goes, “there’s your side, there’s my side, and there’s the truth.” The judge came to the same conclusion I had throughout the course of the testimonies: that the defendant, beyond a reasonable doubt, did have sex with the accuser without her consent. In fact, she verbally said no. Nevertheless, the facts of the case trend toward a story less reminiscent of a predator roaming the streets, and more toward a young man who got caught up in sexual desire, and made a mistake. This distinction – between a violent, premeditated rape, and a rash, consequential mistake – is something that has been lost in our culture of demonizing every offender the same way. At the end of the day, the accused was found not guilty of the charge, but was found guilty of a lesser, more appropriate charge.
To be clear, I do not mean to gloss over the fact that the accused violated the woman’s right to her body. I am also not one to pretend this case is at all the same as someone being violently attacked and taken against their will. There is a very clear difference, and to suggest otherwise is a total insult to those who really can be called rape survivors. It is a sad case, undoubtedly. Two people had parts of their lives taken because of a mistake the defendant made. More importantly, however, this case also shows exactly how important, indeed vital, the system of due process is to justice. It would not be justice had the defendant been acquitted entirely because the charge was too great for the crime. Nor would it be justice for a young man to have his entire life ruined due to a non-violent mistake.
This is the reason so many of these campus tribunals fail. They fail to allow for the truth be found out, and opt, instead, for emotions to dictate the day. Some would claim that all accounts of rape, or sexual assault, must be believed. That would be a dangerous world, at best. The fact is, everyone must be considered innocent until found guilty. To be fair, no accusation of rape should ever be taken lightly. That would be an equal disservice. It’s crazy, though, to think that no one would ever lie about something so serious. We must stop conflating cat calls with sexual assault, and stop dismantling the lives of the innocent in the interest of making sure no guilty person ever goes free. Oberlin sophomore, Emily Lloyd, said that, “So many women get their lives totally ruined by being assaulted and not saying anything, so if one guy gets his life ruined, maybe it balances out.”
Asche Schow is a prolific contributor to the Washington Examiner. A high rate of her recent articles have dealt with the myth of rape culture, false assault accusations, and the lack of due process on campuses. In one article, she wrote about yet another case of due process being denied to the accused. Yet, in a turn of undeniable karma to campus feminists, and of incredible injustice to everyone else, this same lack of due process recently claimed the college career of a young woman. The young woman in question was drinking, as was the accuser. It was the male, though, who felt as though he’d been taken advantage of, and filed the complaint. According to the young man, the next day he felt regretful, and as though he had been taken advantage of by the young woman. Without any sort of due process, the woman was expelled for sexual assault. Yet again, sans due process, a student was booted from school for what amounted to a drunken mistake.
As C.W.E Bigsby wrote in his analysis of The Crucible, “John Proctor’s flaw is his failure, until the last moment, to distinguish guilt from responsibility; America’s is to believe that it is at the same time both guilty and without flaw.” The modern American collegiate culture has fostered a generation who operate only in the court of public opinion, and no longer recognize the necessity of due process and a fair trial.In Salem, twenty people were put to death, only because they were accused. There was no proof, there was no benefit of the doubt, and there was no due process. We are seeing similar occurrences, today, when people are accused of sexual assault. The public deems them guilty, and they are metaphorically killed. Due process must be brought to college campuses, if justice is really what we want.
At no point would I, nor have I, suggested that those who are guilty should not be punished. Rather, only the guilty should be punished. We are so consumed with making sure every woman is protected, that we fail to appreciate the damage false accusations can do to everyone. If it’s a witch hunt we want, though, don’t change anything. I’ll meet you out back with the torches and a pitchfork. Though, we may find ourselves hunting different monsters.