Students file complaints against UC Berkeley for allegedly mishandling sexual assault cases

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Michael Drummond /Senior Staff

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Thirty-one current and former UC Berkeley students filed two federal complaints against the campus Wednesday for allegedly mishandling sexual assault and harassment cases, bolstering the nationwide movement to prevent incidents of sexual assault on college campuses.

The announcement came about nine months after nine students filed a federal complaint against UC Berkeley for allegedly discouraging survivors from reporting incidents of sexual assault and allegedly underreporting cases of sexual violence to the federal government, which is required under the Clery Act. At a press conference Wednesday morning, students said they have received no word about their complaint from the Department of Education, which can open investigations after students file Clery complaints.

“It is unacceptable that as we wait for the federal government to respond to our complaint, more students are being sexually assaulted,” said UC Berkeley junior Sofie Karasek at the press conference.

An additional 22 students joined the nine original students in filing a new Clery complaint Wednesday. The 31 students also filed a Title IX complaint with the Office for Civil Rights within the U.S. Department of Education, which deals with Title IX compliance issues at colleges. Title IX, a federal law that was passed more than four decades ago, prohibits sex discrimination that interferes with educational activities or opportunities.

At the press conference, six of the 31 students shared their experiences of reporting sexual assault to campus officials. Recurring themes in their narratives included delayed and unsatisfactory responses from the campus Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination and the Center for Student Conduct after opening cases. Some of the students said their assailants were permitted to stay on campus and graduate, sometimes receiving counseling or reflective writing assignments as punishment.

“If given the choice, I would go back in time and never report anything to anyone,” said UC Berkeley sophomore Iman Stenson at the press conference, “because the process that followed is far more upsetting than the assault itself.”

UC Berkeley sophomore Meghan Warner talked about the blame she faced from peers after an incident last year in which two men sexually assaulted her in a fraternity.

“I was told it was my fault for even going to this frat in the first place because of the reputation, for going upstairs, for not staying with a friend the entire evening, for not fighting back,” Warner said at the press conference. “It took me months to realize that what had happened was rape.”

The press conference came on the heels of Chancellor Nicholas Dirks’ Tuesday announcement that the campus is providing additional resources for survivors of sexual assault. Among the new developments is the creation of the confidential survivor advocate position to help survivors navigate the reporting process, Dirks said in the statement.

Similarly, a new role within UCPD — the survivor resource officer — will aim to help survivors navigate the criminal reporting process. Dirks said the campus will also launch a new “one-stop website” in the coming months that will provide information about sexual misconduct.

“Our hearts go out to these students,” said campus spokesperson Claire Holmes. “We want to demonstrate that we’re putting in resources and that we care about our students.”

Students at Wednesday’s press conference were hesitant to praise the progress campus administrators are making.

“The university will preach your ear off about resources,” Stenson said. “I don’t want to hear anything more about resources. I want to see action.”

At the state level, California’s auditor is investigating UC Berkeley and three other public universities to examine how they handle cases of sexual assault, with results slated for release in June.

Contact Kimberly Veklerov at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @KVeklerov.

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  • LDop

    While the campus must provide better services to students in general, I worry that this is a call for lowering the bar on investigations and ramming through any allegation as sufficient proof of assault.

    Why am I worried? It’s happened before. During my time at Cal in the late 90s and early 2000s, there were three false rape allegations that became major news on campus. In each case the male students were first forced off campus, became subjected to threats, and had their names run into the ground, before the charges were dismissed months later.

    In each case the male students were punished first, despite lack of any evidence and credibility on the part of the false accuser. I still remember one of those cases, which involved a female student who alleged that a male student raped her in her room, in the presence of her roommates and floor-mates, despite the fact that her roommates alleged that she was a habitual liar, made stories up about self-victimization and sought to “prove a point” about a plethora of political issues she was studying. The male student was automatically made to leave.

    ALL allegations of crime should be explored by the police and forwarded to the district attorney. However under no circumstances should the bar be lowered and those accused simply be removed from Cal without a thorough investigation.

  • svendlarose

    The article fails to point out that complainant Sofie Karasek is president of the Cal Berkeley Democrats. As such, she has an ideological interest in advancing feminism by passing off the more extreme forms of feminism as “anti-rape”.

  • svendlarose

    A short woman can overcome a tall, sturdy man by having him sit down, then standing up herself. It’s called LEVERAGE.

  • Ranger Bagel

    Get it together, Cal!

  • cal_guy

    I’m just worried that they want to lower the bar of legal burden to “Preponderance of the evidence”. This means that the evidence is 51% convincing. In actual courts, the burden of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt” (95%). Accusing someone of a serious crime such as sexual assault, should require the same standards as any other crime. Although rapist are the scum of the earth, they deserve the same due process as any other criminal. Presumption of innocence is a corner stone of justice.

    On the other hand, I don’t really see *why* universities are taking justice up into their own hands. IMHO crimes should be handled by the courts, and they university should expel those who are convicted (in serious cases suspend them while the investigation is ongoing).

    • Kevlev

      True, real rape is a horrible act. But most of the time when I hear about college “rape” its some girl who chose to get very drunk/high and now regrets the partner she chose in the moment. THat’s not rape.. Girls we need to protect themselves at all times from true rape, being drunk and in skimpy clothes is stupid, unless you are with people you completely trust.

      Everyone knows men are much stronger and have the aggression that comes with being MEN . Even a tall woman who is strong for female standards, can be easily overpowered and held down/raped by almost any average size man. Women we need to take proper steps for personal safety, stay with a group and don’t advertise yourself as an easy victim for would be rapists, keep track of drinking and dress modestly (esp. with men you don’t know)!

    • svendlarose

      Civil courts actually use “preponderance of evidence” to determine liability for compensation and injunctive relief. Academic privileges are a civil matter. Therefore, “preponderance of evidence” is proper.

      • cal_guy

        That is false, Clear and Convincing Evidence (like 85% sure) is used for civil wrongs, which is in between the other two. If you treat sexual assault as only a “civil wrong” then IMHO you are devaluing survivors. You are admitting that it is not all that important.

        • svendlarose

          How many civil matters have you tried to an open court? I’ve tried three. All called for “preponderance of evidence.” The only cases in which “clear and convincing” is used are punitive damages, juvenile court, guardianships, conservatorships and similar proceedings. Ordinary findings of liability turn on a preponderance.

          • AnOski

            I think I would point out the obvious; a school is not a court. If it is analogous to a civil trial, try it as a civil matter in open court.

            Why should a school mediate civil disputes, especially in light of the fact that 1) the school is not part of our judicial system, and is not equipped to deal with such disputes and 2) we’re talking about crimes that conventionally result in criminal prosecution and charges.

            It’s like you’re saying that criminal proceedings aren’t enough; you also want a civil means of punishing the accused — without due process of law.

            It’s disturbing.

            What would you do if someone who felt wronged by you turned up at your place of work and started accusing you of having perpetrated some crime, demanding punishment? That’s pretty clear-cut harassment…..

  • https://twitter.com/ArwenLothlorien Eveningstar

    CAL should have a “NO TOLERANCE” policy for sexual assault perpetrators. The fact Chancellor Nicholas Dirks’ will “[provide] …. additional resources for survivors of sexual assault…” demonstrates Dirks does not understand the gravity of the problem or the law and has got his head up his ___s. The reason the University has historically under reported sexual assaults on campus is they do not want anyone to know there is a criminal element on campus. This criminal element would be a reason to not come to Cal and fill the coffers in HUGE tuition payments. With these guys it is always the money that is more important than the welfare of the students.

    • AnOski

      >CAL should have a “NO TOLERANCE” policy for sexual assault perpetrators.

      For convictions with solid evidence, punishments are quite harsh, as I understand it. The trouble is that many accusations are as described above. Drunken incidents that are hard to remember and harder to prosecute or punish, since no tangible evidence remains and accounts likely differ.

      >The fact Chancellor Nicholas Dirks’ will “[provide] …. additional resources for survivors of sexual assault…” demonstrates Dirks does not understand the gravity of the problem or the law and has got his head up his ___s.

      He can provide more resources or do nothing. Or take resources away, I suppose. What do you propose?

      >The reason the University has historically under reported sexual assaults on campus is they do not want anyone to know there is a criminal element on campus.

      Not at all. Students are caught for various things and punished regularly, and the DailyCal posts reports of robberies regularly. The trouble is that these sorts of accusations are often simply ‘he said, she said’ in nature, and ‘probably guilty’ is not good enough to convict when there’s no solid evidence.

      >This criminal element would be a reason to not come to Cal and fill the coffers in HUGE tuition payments. With these guys it is always the money that is more important than the welfare of the students.

      Rich students get away with rape? No…that’s not how our legal system works. Sure, celebrities get away with some crazy things, but UCPD wouldn’t know who contributes to the school and who doesn’t. They prosecute when applicable and have no tangible relationship with admissions, etc.

      • Captain_Cal

        “Drunken incidents that are hard to remember and harder to prosecute or
        punish, since no tangible evidence remains and accounts likely differ.”

        No, that’s not true. If I get drunk and beat my roommate up, I’m still going to be accountable for assault if he goes to the police. At the very least, it warrants an investigation, not just a casual disregard, which is what the University is doing with these cases. Inebriation is not a defense and differing accounts shouldn’t prevent dedicated investigators from getting to the truth. Just because both people are drunk DOES NOT give carte-blanche for you to do whatever you want.

        “Not at all. Students are caught for various things and punished
        regularly, and the DailyCal posts reports of robberies regularly. The
        trouble is that these sorts of accusations are often simply ‘he said,
        she said’ in nature, and ‘probably guilty’ is not good enough to convict
        when there’s no solid evidence.”

        Students get caught and punished, it’s true. The DailyCal also reports robberies (many of which are carried out by individuals not affiliated with the campus, by the way). But to diminish these complaints to “he said, she said” situations where no one can get to the truth is just not right. What about when they’re not? The University blatantly ignored some of these women when they came forward with documented evidence of threatening behavior, including threats of sexual violence in emails and sexual assault in the form of text messages. Yet the University did nothing! Surely, clearly documented cases of sexual assault go beyond the probably guilty area. Of course, the people who sent those threatening texts were probably drunk at the time, so it’s all good right?

        “Rich students get away with rape? No…that’s not how our legal system
        works. Sure, celebrities get away with some crazy things, but UCPD
        wouldn’t know who contributes to the school and who doesn’t. They
        prosecute when applicable and have no tangible relationship with
        admissions, etc.”

        Totally missing the point. The point is that the University has an interest in downplaying/covering up sexual assault complaints because it tarnishes the image of the school and that makes wealthier individuals less likely to attend and pay tuition. Also note, many of these cases were reported to the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination and the Center for Student Conduct, not the UCPD. These women weren’t trying to involve the police, they were trying to handle this through internal channels that utterly failed them in their time of need. That’s why the complaint is being brought against the University in the first place.

        • http://twitter.com/son_of_guy son_of_guy

          “Just because both people are drunk DOES NOT give carte-blanche for you to do whatever you want”

          Let’s assume that sex is a two way act. It’s something two people do together. Women are equal. Sex isn’t done “to them”, they participate in it. To have consensual sex both parties must give consent. Yes a man physically puts his member in woman, but this does not mean that sex is something he does to her.

          This means that if a man forces his way on a clearly incapacitated woman he is sexually assaulting her and reversely if a woman forced her way on a clearly incapacitated man she is sexually assaulting her.

          The problem arises if both parties cannot consent (and neither party acts to stop sex from happening). What most activists push for is the blame to go automatically to they guy. I think that really devalues women’s sexual freedom as it instigates that sex is always something done to them. Not to mention that this often devolves into she said / he said which really can’t stand the burden of law.

        • AnOski

          >>”Drunken incidents that are hard to remember and harder to prosecute or
          punish, since no tangible evidence remains and accounts likely differ.”
          >No, that’s not true. If I get drunk and beat my roommate up, I’m still going to be accountable for assault if he goes to the police. At the very least, it warrants an investigation, not just a casual disregard, which is what the University is doing with these cases. Inebriation is not a defense and differing accounts shouldn’t prevent dedicated investigators from getting to the truth. Just because both people are drunk DOES NOT give carte-blanche for you to do whatever you want.

          Yes and no; you’ve misunderstood me. In the case described above, we don’t know how drunk people were, etc., but it certainly sounds like it played a role in the events of that night. We’re not talking about drinking excusing anything that might happen; we’re talking about a retrospective interpretation of events that occurred while someone was intoxicated and no clear violent crime occurred.

          E.g. two drunk people get into a fight. They don’t remember who threw the first punch when they wake up in jail the next morning. Who’s to blame? Alcohol does obscure some things.

          >The University blatantly ignored some of these women when they came forward with documented evidence of threatening behavior, including threats of sexual violence in emails and sexual assault in the form of text messages. Yet the University did nothing! Surely, clearly documented cases of sexual assault go beyond the probably guilty area.

          A threat is a threat. It is not sexual assault. The university may well have ignored some cases (I find it more likely that they would be held up in bureaucracy), but the situation you describe above are ones in which the police should have stepped in.

          >The point is that the University has an interest in downplaying/covering up sexual assault complaints because it tarnishes the image of the school and that makes wealthier individuals less likely to attend and pay tuition.

          I have yet to see any evidence supporting this. With a socially active student population of tens of thousands, many of whom drink heavily, and 31 people complaining about cases that have been raised over the past few years, I have the feeling that this is more of a matter of statistics and a few cases falling through the cracks.

          >Also note, many of these cases were reported to the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination and the Center for Student Conduct, not the UCPD. These women weren’t trying to involve the police, they were trying to handle this through internal channels that utterly failed them in their time of need.

          If they don’t go to the police, what do they expect would happen? School psychologist counseling? Discipline from some internal department not equipped to prosecute people criminally? If I wanted to pursue the issue, I’d follow up with everyone I could, the police included. How is the school supposed to publicize these sorts of events?

      • https://twitter.com/ArwenLothlorien Eveningstar

        >For convictions with solid evidence, punishments are quite harsh, as I understand it. The trouble is that many accusations are as described above. Drunken incidents that are hard to remember and harder to prosecute or punish, since no tangible evidence remains and accounts likely differ.<
        "
        You are obviously not a criminal prosecutor. Even drunken incidents have been prosecuted as for example the Kennedy who is in prison for having raped a woman while she was drunk. The tangible evidence is the "rape kit" and the testimony of the woman who remembers who she was with when she met the alleged perpetrators and who was there when she woke up and was attacked.

        • https://twitter.com/ArwenLothlorien Eveningstar

          AnOski
          You said: “He can provide more resources or do nothing. Or take resources away, I suppose. What do you propose?” A NO TOLERANCE policy which is exactly what the investigators will tell him. Cal has a long history of not documenting these sexual attacks and not pressing prosecution since the men involved come from wealthy families who pay big tuition.

          • https://twitter.com/ArwenLothlorien Eveningstar

            AnOski..You said ” … The trouble is that these sorts of accusations are often simply ‘he said, she said’ in nature, and ‘probably guilty’ is not good enough to convict when there’s no solid evidence.”
            I suggest you get raped or take a criminology and forensic course in rape because there is a pile of scientific evidence derived in a rape case along with the testimony of the victim.

          • https://twitter.com/ArwenLothlorien Eveningstar

            AnOski…then your wrote: “…UCPD wouldn’t know who contributes to the school and who doesn’t. They prosecute when applicable and have no tangible relationship with admissions, etc.” UCPD is NOT the prosecutor. The Alameda County District Attorney’s office is and they give orders to the DA’s office as when they told that office to criminally prosecute the student and community protesters in the Occupy event in 2011.

          • AnOski

            Which is even more removed from the school. Good.

          • https://twitter.com/ArwenLothlorien Eveningstar

            There should be independent investigations by the school utilizing the University’s police department but with oversea review by the University. In Universities there are oversight review committees who take responsibility for checking for example if professors within a departments are doing research and/or publishing. This is called “Peer Review”. In this context there would be a University committee who would oversea their police departments implementation of the new sexual investigation policy to make sure the department was properly investigating cases by interviewing witnesses and taking the complaints of female assault victims seriously. In the context of alleged perpetrators the Committee could establish a disciplinary committee providing for Due Process such as the ability to hire counsel, opportunity for cross-examination, confrontation, standards of review, etc. with the ultimate capacity to expel or suspend an alleged perpetrator.

          • AnOski

            In substantiated cases, there are. I agree. You seem to be talking about cases in which the police have been involved, an investigation carried out, and a guilty verdict has been rendered.

            From what I’ve seen on here, the people behind this movement are asking for an independent investigation to be carried out by the school, with academic/enrollment ramifications for accused rapists. Without due process, a trial, etc.

          • AnOski

            No tolerance to what? An account given months later re. a night on which she was clearly impaired?

            Per my other comments, “If I wanted to pursue the issue, I’d follow up with everyone I could; namely, the police. How is the school supposed to publicize these sorts of informally investigated accusations? The school is, after all, liable for any punitive actions they take that are not grounded in verdicts established in a court of law.

            E.g. you show up at my office, go to my boss, and accuse me of having committed some crime against you. S/he fires me based upon your account. I sue them for wrongful termination, etc. I sue you for slander. It doesn’t matter if my boss “investigates” the incident. They’re not qualified. A school is not qualified to step in for our judicial branch of government, nor should it be.”

        • AnOski

          You are obviously not familiar with the “accusations…described in the above” article, in which the purported victim didn’t even think that a crime had been committed until literally months later. A rape kit was rather out of the question.

    • Kevlev

      Yes, if they can prove it beyond reasonable doubt. But just because a girl comes forward saying she was assaulted most often isn’t enough to convict. You can’t ruin a man’s reputation and future education/job just because someone says there was non-consensual sex. If there is evidence of assault, they use a rape kit, and other witnesses, that is getting somewhere. But no he-said, she-said one on one story is enough to justify. There are false rape reported all the time. Need to uphold the process of law, or else it is no better than the way vigilantes operate.

  • AnOski

    “It is unacceptable that as we wait for the federal government to respond to our complaint, more students are being sexually assaulted.”

    I don’t get it. Are you asking rapists to give it a rest while the government sorts out a major policy change, or are you saying that the current response is unacceptably slow in light of the unavoidable fact of ongoing crime/an inadequate response framework? I don’t think you can stop these sorts of crimes from happening in general, so the statement doesn’t make much sense as it is.

    “I was told it was my fault for even going to this frat in the first place because of the reputation, for going upstairs, for not staying with a friend the entire evening, for not fighting back,” Warner said at the press conference. “It took me months to realize that what had happened was rape.”

    I went to a bar once, got abominably drunk, and apparently made out with a woman — a fact substantiated by friends, but that I can barely remember.

    I suppose she might have been taking advantage of me. We were both drunk out of our minds (at least, I think she was); my will certainly was not my own. I certainly wasn’t the instigator. Dunno. It’s hard to say.

    That woman at the bar could have accused me of taking advantage of her. Thankfully, she didn’t. I wonder what would have happened if she had.

    It’s a tough decision to ruin someone’s life because of a drunken mistake someone regrets. Or a putative claim of sexual assault that, granted, may be founded in solid fact. In this country, though, we assume that someone is innocent until proven guilty.

    Should you be able to get blackout drunk at a fraternity, go to a brother’s room, and not be pressured into sex when you’d only planned on going to second? Of course. The trouble is that…well, you’ve been to such parties. You’re Trayvon Martin. They’re Zimmerman. Probably guilty is not good enough to convict, especially when there’s no solid evidence.

    • Captain_Cal

      “I don’t think you can stop these sorts of crimes from happening in general, so the statement doesn’t make much sense as it is.”

      You certainly can. Stop a pervasive culture of victim blaming and featherweight punishments for those who commit such acts. That’s what the entire point of this is. The University’s response was inadequate and does not in any way help prevent such crimes from happening again. That’s a key part of the article.

      “I went to a bar once, got abominably drunk, and apparently made out with a woman — a fact substantiated by friends, but that I can barely remember… That woman at the bar could have accused me of taking advantage of her. Thankfully, she didn’t. I wonder what would have happened if she had.”

      Here’s what would have happened: You would have been fine. Her claim would clearly be invalid as there were multiple witnesses who could attest to the fact that you didn’t force her to make out with you. Now if you dragged her up to your room alone and proceeded to coerce her into having sex with you when she’s clearly not capable of giving consent, well that would be different. Or if you had made out with her and then engaged in a systematic campaign of sexual harassment via different mediums trying to convince her to have sex with you again and then proceeded to defame her when she refused. That too would be different.

      “It’s a tough decision to ruin someone’s life because of a drunken mistake someone regrets. Or a putative claim of sexual assault that, granted, may be founded in solid fact.”

      Way to be an apologist. The fact that this is a tough decision only further adds to the difficulty of the situation for victims. When a victim is preparing to go to authorities and someone like you says, “Hey now, this guy’s a nice boy, why would you do this to him? He probably feels bad. He probably was joking. You’re going to ruin his life.” that just enables further victimization. It also puts the blame back on the victim for a crime they didn’t commit. The problem is, the University officials have been thinking like that when people bring claims to them. That’s pretty much spot on to what one University representative said when one of the girls brought her complaint to them. Yes, innocent until proven guilty is important, but even when that policy applies there should still be an investigation (you know, the proven part).

      “Should you be able to get blackout drunk at a fraternity, go to a brother’s room, and not be pressured into sex when you’d only planned on going to second? Of course. The trouble is that…well, you’ve been to such parties. You’re Trayvon Martin. They’re Zimmerman. Probably guilty is not good enough to convict, especially when there’s no solid evidence.”

      If that’s not straight up disgusting victim blaming couched in sympathetic rhetoric, I don’t know what is. “Well, you’ve been to such parties.” Newsflash ladies, don’t be going to them wild parties if ya don’t want to be sexually assaulted! You know what those parties are like! How dare you put yourself in a situation where someone could take advantage of you in a way you hadn’t expected! I’m not even gonna touch the Zimmerman/Martin comment, but the probably guilty statement is ridiculous. These women aren’t even asking for a criminal trial or a conviction! They didn’t go to the police, they went to University officials, trying to handle it internally. They just want the University to take their claims seriously and act appropriately. At this point, the University isn’t even trying to gather evidence, they’re blowing these claims off! Therein lies the whole point of these women speaking out and filing a federal complaint. Good for them, shame on you for not realizing the central point of this effort.

      • svendlarose

        CPT Cal,

        “Taking a claim of rape seriously” necessarily involves criminal and administrative charges to get these bastards off the streets. Whoever “aren’t even asking for a criminal trial or a conviction” support rape by letting rapists go free. Every person who makes an allegation of rape should be required de vi et armis to give the evidence. Every person who showers away the evidence should be prosecuted for letting a rapist go free.

        This said, real rape is apparent from that moment. The use of force or imminent threats of force, which is an element of the crime, is unmistakable. Equally unmistakable is someone who does not know that what is happening is sex, because of mental immaturity or intoxication. “Dutch courage” is not rape. Seduction is not rape. Pushiness is not rape. Rape is being forced to service your foster sister at the imminent threat of a sharp object near your eyes. When you expand “rape” to cover cases of seduction, pushiness or Dutch courage, you diminish my standing as a survivor of sexual violence. (Technically, oral rape isn’t called “rape” in California, but “oral copulation by force.” Same difference.)

      • AnOski

        >>”I don’t think you can stop these sorts of crimes from happening in general, so the >statement doesn’t make much sense as it is.”
        You certainly can. Stop a pervasive culture of victim blaming

        I don’t think Berkeley is doing much victim blaming, nor have I found that sort of culture to be pervasive here in California. It may be in some circles, but you’re overreaching with that assumption.

        >and featherweight punishments for those who commit such acts.

        Convicted rapists are usually punished quite harshly. Out of the (tens of?) thousands of cases tried annually, a few odd ones result in lenient sentences, and those cases tend to make the national news, from what I’ve seen.

        >That’s what the entire point of this is. The University’s response was inadequate and does not in any way help prevent such crimes from happening again. That’s a key part of the article.

        Unless the author of the article went out of her way to choose a poor example of a case that has gone ignored, the school is not missing cases in which the evidence is overwhelming, etc. As I said in a comment below, thirty-one cases of “maybe the school didn’t handle things ideally” in a school of tens of thousands of socially active twenty-somethings sounds…I don’t mean to be insensitive, but it sounds reasonable to me. I can’t think of another department that actually handles things well; when I wanted to apply for a major, it took a month and I had to to check on the paperwork three times; the first time, they told me it would be done by the end of the week. Two weeks later, the person at the desk couldn’t sort it out and her manager wasn’t there. Finally, someone who knew how to fix the issue (twenty seconds on the same computer everyone else had been using) was at hand, and things were sorted out.

        >>”I went to a bar once, got abominably drunk, and apparently made out with a woman — a fact substantiated by friends, but that I can barely remember… That woman at the bar could have accused me of taking advantage of her. Thankfully, she didn’t. I wonder what would have happened if she had.”
        >Here’s what would have happened: You would have been fine. Her claim would clearly be invalid as there were multiple witnesses who could attest to the fact that you didn’t force her to make out with you.

        I had one friend on hand, and he left before I did. I would have been my only witness, and I wasn’t exactly a good witness at the time. Your platitudes are not reassuring.

        >Now if you dragged her up to your room alone and proceeded to coerce her into having sex with you when she’s clearly not capable of giving consent, well that would be different.

        Each of us would have only our own account of events. Same as it would be if nothing had happened. Barring other sources of evidence.

        >Or if you had made out with her and then engaged in a systematic campaign of sexual harassment via different mediums trying to convince her to have sex with you again and then proceeded to defame her when she refused. That too would be different.

        I agree; presumably, there would be external sources of evidence in that case.

        >>”It’s a tough decision to ruin someone’s life because of a drunken mistake someone regrets. Or a putative claim of sexual assault that, granted, may be founded in solid fact.”
        >Way to be an apologist.

        Asking for sufficient burden of proof is not ignoring crime.

        >The fact that this is a tough decision only further adds to the difficulty of the situation for victims. When a victim is preparing to go to authorities and someone like you says, “Hey now, this guy’s a nice boy, why would you do this to him?

        If a crime occurred, a crime occurred. If someone forced me to do something sexual, it would probably color my opinion of him/her. I wouldn’t lose much sleep over “that nice fellow who raped me.”

        >He probably feels bad. He probably was joking. You’re going to ruin his life.” that just enables further victimization.

        I would agree, in that sort of situation. It’s one case, though; a woman beset with self doubt. I doubt you’d experience the same dilemma.

        >It also puts the blame back on the victim for a crime they didn’t commit.

        In the specific scenario you depict, the accused is presumably guilty of rape, and the woman is expressing self doubt.

        No one has blamed the victim for anything in the example you laid out. What are you blaming her for having done? It’s not explicit in anything you’ve said.

        >The problem is, the University officials have been thinking like that when people bring claims to them. That’s pretty much spot on to what one University representative said when one of the girls brought her complaint to them. Yes, innocent until proven guilty is important, but even when that policy applies there should still be an investigation (you know, the proven part).

        The last time I checked, police were in charge of that sort of thing. Same goes for other crimes on campus (stealing, assault, etc.). Consequences may result in school action, but the school isn’t usually the one to actually investigate such issues. Police.

        >>”Should you be able to get blackout drunk at a fraternity, go to a brother’s room, and not be pressured into sex when you’d only planned on going to second? Of course. The trouble is that…well, you’ve been to such parties. You’re Trayvon Martin. They’re Zimmerman. Probably guilty is not good enough to convict, especially when there’s no solid evidence.”
        >If that’s not straight up disgusting victim blaming couched in sympathetic rhetoric, I don’t know what is.

        Nope. What I’m saying is that the evidence simply wasn’t there for a conviction. Was it self defense? As an objective outsider, I don’t know. That doesn’t seem reasonable, but I can’t rule it out.

        Look at the above story:

        “I was told it was my fault for even going to this frat in the first place because of the reputation, for going upstairs, for not staying with a friend the entire evening, for not fighting back,” Warner said at the press conference. “It took me months to realize that what had happened was rape.”

        She didn’t know she was raped? Then it probably wasn’t rape. Unless she didn’t know the meaning of the word beforehand, but I find that unlikely. If someone hits me and I don’t know they hit me or didn’t think it was a malevolent attack, I probably won’t pursue assault charges.

        We don’t know how the above events unfolded. However, the “several month” retrospective is not a good example of an accusation that law enforcement (or the school) should pursue with the idea of enforcing punitive actions unless there is substantial evidence.

        >”Well, you’ve been to such parties.” Newsflash ladies, don’t be going to them wild parties if ya don’t want to be sexually assaulted!

        Everyone should be careful. You might wind up like me (a guy), drunk and making out or doing god knows what with anyone at a bar or in a fraternity. It happens to guys, too. If you drink enough, you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s just how alcohol works — on men and women alike. Women seem to regret the potential outcomes more, so I suppose they should be as careful as they want to be.

        I’ve never had sex with a girl while very drunk, so I don’t know what that’s like, especially afterwards. I suppose I might regret it in the morning. If I didn’t remember what had happened, I would not assume that sexual assault had occurred, though.

        >You know what those parties are like! How dare you put yourself in a situation where someone could take advantage of you in a way you hadn’t expected!

        You hadn’t expected it? I don’t know what to say to that. When I go to such parties, I, a guy, expect some undesirable attention. How you could be oblivious to that aspect of parties is beyond my understanding. I think you are mistaken. I think it is reasonable and prudent to be cautious in such a situation. I am a guy.

        >I’m not even gonna touch the Zimmerman/Martin comment, but the probably guilty statement is ridiculous. These women aren’t even asking for a criminal trial or a conviction!

        What are they really asking for? Academic ramifications for the accused person without a trial or real conviction? Asking the school to inquire with their friends and acquaintances “Have you ever noticed xxxxxx being inappropriate or….?”

        You’d better be damn sure that you have good cause to start that line of inquiry; if someone started talking to my acquaintances in such a manner, and I caught wind of it, I’d get to the bottom of it and legally pursue the person spreading such rumors. That’s slander, and it would be documented with the school. I would sue you for slander and the school for mishandling the situation.

        >They didn’t go to the police, they went to University officials, trying to handle it internally. They just want the University to take their claims seriously and act appropriately.

        What does this mean? If there’s a robbery on campus, it’s not the school’s responsibility to try to track down the robbers. They call the police in. Same goes for all other crimes. It sounds like you’re asking for another avenue of punishing men accused of sexual crimes without due judicial process. It’s downright disturbing.

        >At this point, the University isn’t even trying to gather evidence, they’re blowing these claims off! Therein lies the whole point of these women speaking out and filing a federal complaint.

        They might as well ask the state or county government to investigate their claims, as opposed to the local police who have jurisdiction. This doesn’t make any sense. If they believe that it is a crime, they should take it to the police.

        >Good for them, shame on you for not realizing the central point of this effort.

        If what you’re saying is true, your point is to create a new avenue of pursuing and potentially punishing people accused of sexual crimes by avoiding (or in addition to) conventional legal/criminal proceedings.

        Shame on me? What you’re suggesting is extremely disturbing.