Because the real courts have failed them, sexual assault victims have turned to the campus kangaroo courts for justice. But now, those have failed them too.
Last week, the most read article on the NYTimes.com website was this piece titled “Elite Kid Justice.” It highlights the case of a 16 year old boy who raped a teenage classmate, filmed it on his cell phone, and then shared the video with his friends under the heading “When your first time having sex was rape.” But the judge refused to try him as an adult because “he comes from a good family.”
“He is clearly a candidate for not just college but probably for a good college,” Judge James Troiano of Superior Court, sitting in Monmouth County, said last year.
I have no words. But “gobsmacked” comes to mind.
Hey, I don’t care if you’re an Eagle Scout, if you rape a 16 year old girl, you should go to jail. REAL JAIL.
The week before, another story kept popping up on my social media feeds. A Missouri man who pled guilty to molesting an 11 year old girl was sentenced to probation. Oh, and he has to register as a sex offender, which is very, VERY bad.
And of course here in Georgia, we’ve had the case of our Speaker of the House abusing his position to keep a client from going to trial for the rape of a 14 year old girl for 6 years.
What do all of these stories have in common? The justice system has woefully failed the victims of sexual assault in every single one of them. So, is it any wonder that victims have sought justice elsewhere?
If you were “lucky” enough to be sexually assaulted on a college campus, the Obama administration has provided you with an entirely separate venue for your grievance. (If you’re not a college student, well – you just have to take your chances in the real justice system like the rest of us.) Simply by issuing a “Dear Colleague letter” through the Department of Education, an entire system of kangaroo courts were set up whereby presumption of innocence and due process were thrown out. But as I wrote last week, the real courts have invalidated many of these rulings. Because the rights of the accused were violated (under the same Title IX that set up this whole process in the first place) the courts are reversing these campus decisions REGARDLESS OF THE VALIDITY OF THE CLAIMS.
The problem for the victims is that the courts are invalidating the punishments of the innocent AND the guilty. Look, I totally understand why a victim would prefer not to report an assault to law enforcement (I didn’t report mine either.) I get that you don’t want to be questioned, to have your behavior, clothing and history publicly vetted. As a victim myself, I would be far more sympathetic to an alleged victim than to an accused rapist, which is why no attorney worth his salt would allow me within a mile of a rape trial. But if I were a college administrator, I would be allowed to serve on one of these campus tribunals. I would be very sympathetic to any female student coming forward with an accusation. And even if your assailant won’t be going to jail, at least you won’t have to sit in the same class room with him or pass him in the halls of your dorm.
At least until he sues and the college is forced to readmit him and then you’re right back where you started.
The problem here is that the remedy for injustice is not more injustice Even rapists have rights. There is no point in cutting corners to punish the offenders because it can backfire and destroy your chances and the guilty can avoid any punishment at all.
So, what CAN we do?
Well, we can start by demanding better training for law enforcement. Rape victims should be able to rely on “Sexual Victims Units” that are trained in how to properly investigate these cases. We can require them to hang onto the rape test kits for as long as necessary. We can hold judges who fail to properly carry out their duties. Last year, voters removed from office the judge who made headlines in 2016, after sentencing a Stanford University athlete to six months in prison for the sexual assault of an unconscious woman. We can insist that our DA’s actually prosecute sexual assault cases instead of letting the accused plead out to far lesser charges so that they can “take the win.” We can provide more counseling for victims.
But most of all, we need to educate the public. We need to know our rights BEFORE we ever become victims. We need to know where to take our friends if they are assaulted. We need to learn what signs to look for, and know that sexual assault victims often behave in contradictory ways.
We need to understand that young men from “good families” can still be rapists. So can star athletes, famous actors, billionaires, ministers and beloved family members.
Learn what to look for. Learn how sexual predators gain access to their victims. Talk to your children. ALL of your children. Males can be victims just as easily.
Defense attorneys are notorious for putting rape victims on trial for their own assaults. Why do they do it? For the same reason politicians resort to dirty campaigning: because it WORKS. But only if we let it. After all, juries are made up of regular men and women. People just like you. Maybe if we start putting rapists in jail even if the victim had a few drinks. Or was wearing a short skirt and no underwear. Or had previously had consensual sex with the accused. Or had a bad reputation.
The only way to solve the epidemic of sexual assaults is for these cases to be tried in criminal courts. Because it’s certainly not going to be solved by a bunch of college administrators and government bureaucrats.