Campus sexual assault has long been a smoldering topic, but it was Rolling Stone’s publication of Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s sensational and since-debunked “A Rape on Campus” that poured on the gasoline.
The Washington Examiner’s Ashe Schow has been doing indispensable work covering the topic of campus rape and, in particular, the way allegations are dealt with, both by universities and police. Schow reports today that new numbers from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Labor Statistics show a 4 percent decrease in criminal incidents reported to campus police between 2011 and 2012, with one exception. Between 2001 and 2012, reports of “forcible sex” increased by a remarkable 77 percent.
That’s a shocking number, but as Schow notes, not only have college populations increased in that time, but the definition of sexual assault has widened considerably — recall the distribution of “consent kits” which encourage young couples to sign a paper reading “YES! We agree to have SEX!” and photograph themselves holding the signed “contract.”
The report also found the rate of forcible sex offenses to be 26 per 100,000 students, despite the Washington Post’s recent cover story headlined, “1 in 5 women say they were violated.”
Another concern of Schow’s is the lack of due process in so many cases of alleged campus assault. Take for example the alleged rapist of “Mattress Girl,” who was cleared by both law enforcement and the university and yet saw his reputation destroyed through the resulting publicity. (He’s suing.)
The good news is there just might be a judge out there who takes due process seriously, even when rape is alleged.
Schow reports that a California judge deemed unfair a campus hearing at the University of California-San Diego after which “John Doe” was first suspended for sexual assault against “Jane Doe” and required to attend sexual harassment training and counseling. After appealing the ruling, he was given a one-year suspension, and after that, a one-year-and-one-quarter-suspension.
“When viewed as part of the entire narrative, the sequence of events do not demonstrate non-consensual behavior,” wrote Judge Joel M. Pressman. “What the evidence does show is Ms. Roe’s personal regret for engaging in sexual activity beyond her boundaries.”
John Doe’s attorney released a statement that read, in part, “Colleges and universities must treat all student’s fairly, regardless of gender. All too often the male student is just presumed responsible and given no access to any campus resources. Hopefully Judge Pressman’s ruling today will help correct the imbalance.”