Guilty Until Proven Innocent

How the government encourages kangaroo courts for sex crimes on campus

(Page 2 of 3)

Defining Rape

But what do these numbers mean? The Pentagon poll defined sexual assault broadly enough to include a slap on the behind-and half of its self-reported victims were men. The CDC study treats all sex under the influence of alcohol or drugs as rape, with no distinction between unconsciousness and impaired judgment. Even the CDC's definition of rape by force could include such transgressions as unwanted penetration with a finger (no matter how brief) during an otherwise consensual make-out session. The respondents were never asked if they thought they were assaulted; in a comparable survey, the federally sponsored 2007 Campus Sexual Assault study, two-thirds of the women classified as victims of drug- or alcohol-induced rape and 37 percent of those counted as forcibly raped did not consider the event to be a crime. (And these were college women in the age of mandatory campus date-rape awareness programs.) Notably, when CDC survey respondents were asked about victimization during the previous 12 months, men reported being "forced to penetrate someone"-an act classified as sexual violence other than rape-at the same rate that women reported forced penetration. Either "rape culture" goes both ways, and women also sexually assault their male partners with alarming frequency, or the CDC definition of sexual violence needs rethinking.

Other claims about America's alleged rape-supportive misogyny typically rely on falsified or out-of-context pseudo-facts. Thus, on the website of The Nation, Jessica Valenti states that "we live in a country where politicians call rape a 'gift from God' "-not only distorting a comment made by Indiana Republican Richard Mourdock during his 2012 run for the U.S. Senate, but neglecting to mention that the gaffe almost certainly ensured his defeat in a Republican stronghold. (What Mourdock said was that life was a "gift from God" even when it began "in that horrible situation of rape.") In The Huffington Post, writer Soraya Chemaly's list of "facts about rape" includes the claim that 31 states allow rapists who impregnate their victims to sue for child custody or visitation. Actually, these states simply don't have laws explicitly barring such suits, mainly because it is presumed to be a non-issue. So far, the only known case of this kind involves a Massachusetts man convicted of statutory rape who sued for visitation with his daughter after a family court ordered him to pay child support.

The Steubenville story, with its evidence of boys behaving abominably documented by social media, came to be seen as Exhibit A for the "rape culture." Never mind that it's quite a leap from the repulsive acts of a few drunk adolescents to the notion that our culture normalizes such acts; or that it's hardly unusual for teenagers to flaunt illegal and socially unacceptable behavior; or that the morning-after text messages in the case made it clear that a number of boys were well aware that something very wrong was done to "Jane Doe" and that legal trouble could follow.

After Mays and Richmond were convicted in juvenile court, the media went into moral panic overdrive. In Time magazine, novelist Peter Smith scolded his fellow men for their failure to reject male solidarity and "say something" against rape-as if a male judge hadn't just "said something" by sending the perpetrators to jail. MSNBC talk show host Melissa Harris-Perry delivered an on-air apology to the victim for failing to make the world safe for her. Twitter threats to "Jane Doe" from two teenaged girls, one of them Richmond's cousin, were seized upon as more evidence of rape culture's pernicious sway. The barrage of threats to Steubenville residents who had been labeled pro-rapist, including the female prosecutor baselessly accused of a cover-up, went unnoticed until Levy's New Yorker article. Even CNN, a major promoter of the "rape culture" meme, got hit by friendly fire: Correspondent Poppy Harlow and host Candy Crowley were vilified as rape apologists for daring to voice some sympathy for the defendants-and, it was falsely claimed, failing to mention the harm to the victim.

Much of this reaction was well-intentioned. Yet in the end rape-culture feminism promotes not only a toxic view of relationships but a skewed and dangerous view of justice. Its key tenets: 1) Women almost never lie when they report a sex crime, and to doubt them is to perpetuate rape culture; 2) rape is any sexual act in which the woman feels violated-unless she suffers from false consciousness and needs to be educated about her violation; 3) rape includes situations in which the woman agrees to sex because of persistent advances, "emotional coercion," or intoxication-or because she doesn't have the nerve to say no; 4) no matter how willing the woman appears to be, it is the man's responsibility to ensure explicit consent-or he may be guilty of rape.

The inroads these ideas could make in the actual justice system have been limited by constitutional protections for the accused, including the presumption of innocence, a high standard of proof, and the right to confront the accusing witness. But colleges are almost perfect laboratories for feminist rape prosecutions, even if the penalty can be no worse than getting expelled.

Campus Kangaroo Courts

The campus is a place where sex happens a lot-including sex in random, often drunken encounters rife with potential for misunderstanding and regret. The Online College Social Life Survey, collected from nearly 25,000 students on 20 campuses from 2005 to 2011, found that women and men alike drink heavily when hooking up with a casual partner: an average of five alcoholic drinks for women, six for men. When you try to criminalize much of this confused and confusing sex, subjecting it to second-guessing by secretive quasi-judicial panels operating under arbitrary rules and influenced by the deference to feminist orthodoxy that prevails on many campuses, the results will not be pretty.

Complaints from all sides about the way colleges handle sexual assault reports raise the question: Why should an offense as serious as rape be "prosecuted" by a college, rather than turned over to the police? The answer is that the vast majority of these charges would be unlikely to survive the most basic legal scrutiny.

In at least one case currently under review by the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, the police reviewed and closed the woman's complaint. University of Colorado at Boulder sophomore Sarah Gilchriese says a male student, a fellow member of the school's Alpine Club, sexually assaulted her when they were drinking together. From media accounts, it is unclear whether Gilchriese accuses the man of using force or simply having sex with her when she was, by her own account, intoxicated but not "blackout drunk." Prosecutors at the Boulder District Attorney's Office declined to pursue the case, believing that they had little chance of obtaining a conviction.

But the university's Office of Student Conduct found the man guilty of "non-consensual intercourse" and punished him with an eight-month suspension. Gilchriese filed a grievance in response, complaining that the male student was allowed to finish the semester and stay on campus for four weeks after the hearing, and was scheduled to be allowed to return after his suspension even though she was still attending school. (She obtained a restraining order to keep him off campus.)

In other college cases that have made news, local authorities have gone so far as to proclaim the defendant's innocence. As mentioned earlier, that was true for Dez Wells, the basketball player expelled from Xavier University on a disciplinary charge of sexual assault. And in February 2010, University of North Dakota student Caleb Warner was convicted by a campus tribunal and banned from school for three years, just three months before the Grand Forks County District Court issued a warrant for his alleged victim's arrest for making a false police report, a charge that prompted her to leave the state. The sanctions against Warner were vacated in October 2011 after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) brought national attention to his story.

The case of Landen Gambill is perhaps the best illustration of how skewed, misguided, and detrimental to justice the crusade against rape culture can be. Gambill, a University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill student, became a cause célèbre when the school tried to forbid her to speak publicly about her alleged assault on the grounds that it constituted harassment toward the male student cleared of the charge. The student Gambill accused was a former boyfriend whom she had started dating in high school before they both enrolled at UNC. She claims he repeatedly abused her, physically and sexually, over the course of the relationship. They broke up in their freshman year at the university; four months later, Gambill filed a complaint accusing her ex-boyfriend of rape. A five-person panel of students and faculty-two men and three women-found him not guilty except for a single charge of verbal harassment.

Gambill, who turned to activism after this experience, has expressed outrage not only at the acquittal but at the process itself. As an example of the "victim-blaming" that she says she had to endure, she cites this question from a jury member at the hearing: "Landen, as a woman, I know that if that had happened to me, I would've broken up with him the first time it happened. Will you explain to me why you didn't?" Gambill also says that her pre-college history of mental illness and attempted suicide was used to damage her credibility even though it was a result of the abusive relationship-and that, after the hearing, a meddling juror decided to give a written account of the alleged assaults to Gambill's parents.

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  • RishJoMo||

    Sounds like a whole lot of crazy smack to me dude.

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  • Live Free or Diet||

    Except Paula Jones, of course.

  • WTF||

    Only Republican politicians can commit sexual harassment.

  • John C. Randolph||

    ..and Kathleen Willey.

    Also, according to current feminist orthodoxy, Lewinsky was raped because Clinton had all the power.


  • ||

    Lewinsky was raped because Clinton had all the power

    The narrative then was: "it's just sex!". And "consenting adults!"

  • Raudskeggr||

    Things have changed; due to the increased political polarization, the feminist establishment, particularly in academia, has become increasingly radicalized in recent years. Furthermore, they have been emboldened recently by public sympathy due to a number of high profile rape cases, and the fact that the Obama Administration needs their political support and money.

  • Res ipsa loquitur||

    The Constitution isn't a death pact you know !!!!!!!11

  • Agammamon||

    I'm still unclear why any crime, other than the most miniscule of misdemeanors, would require *any* sort of hearing by the college. Why isn't a rape accusation being handled by the local police force and prosecutor? At the very least, it should require agreement from *both* parties to accept binding arbitration from a (non-government) third-party.

  • WTF||

    Because police and the courts need actual evidence, and the accused is entitled to a presumption of innocence, so they wouldn't even handle most of these college 'rape' cases, since they're not really rape, or any crime at all. The college on the other hand can destroy a man's life with little or no evidence, and will happily do so to promote the feminist agenda.

  • Ted S.||

    FedGov demands it, using the fact that these schools accept federally subsidized student loans as the camel's nose under the tent. (I think it's part of Title Ix, the same law that more or less mandates genital quotas in the athletic department.)

    What always baffles me is why this reasoning is considered absolutely normal when it comes to denying due process, but if you were that private schools that accept any federal aid have to be held to the same free speech standards as truly public unive3rsities, academia will treat you as though you're some sort of freak.

    (Not that I'm saying the feds are going to do a good job of maintaining 1A rights in this way; it's just that the difference in treatment of what sort fo federal control is allowed is striking.)

  • Joe Clave||

    That's what makes Hillsdale so great, they are not beholden to silly rules because they don't accept federal $. They rely on tuition and private donation.

  • ||

    "Well, they're on double secret probation"

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Feminism is a jaundiced and corrupt style of thinking along the lines of fundamentalist religious zealotry that seeks to institute morality through law. It's one thing to work toward dissolving inequality where it actually exists but it's an entirely different matter to turn the basic ethical principles of respect and equality into a dictatorial principle that codifies misinterpretation, histrionics, and compulsive rigidity.

  • Raudskeggr||

    "Feminism is a jaundiced and corrupt style of thinking along the lines of fundamentalist religious zealotry that seeks to institute morality through law."

    *arbitrary* moral values motivated by the highest self-interest of the moralizer. Just as with fundamentalist movements.

  • MaleMatters||

    I fully agree except that the problem isn't "feminism" if we agree it means equal rights and responsibilities. The problem is radicalized and politicized feminists.

    See "For Feminist Writers: Distinguish Between Feminism and Feminists!"

  • wareagle||

    and here is part of the residue of a particularly noxious strain of feminism - the pretense that all men are rapists in waiting. Can't imagine anything that could go wrong with that.

    Inculcate a bunch of young women, most of whom expect to one day marry and have kids, that all men are predators and then act surprised when shit like this happens and when societal problems manifest.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Ultimately the best thing to do is to train young men to be more self confident and far less reliant on female attention to the point where women are required to be the aggressor or 'predator' in feminist parlance.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Pretty soon, women will so outnumber men on college campuses that this will happen by default.

  • MSimon||

    Pretty soon, women will so outnumber men on college campuses that this will happen by default.


  • Kyfho Myoba||

  • John C. Randolph||

    So, I'm guessing that Cathy Young is on the left-wing feminist hate list now?


  • Tamfang||

    What you mean "now"?

  • mnarayan||

    On one hand this seems like a good article. On the other, I think Reason must be showing the wrong author.

  • ||

  • Benjamin||

    The irony is that feminists may be accomplishing something churches have been trying and failing at for years: successfully promoting abstinence!

  • some guy||

    I assure you there is still plenty of sex happening on college campuses.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    Go Cathy! Her last few posts have been winners. This is easily the best treatment of this subject I have read. Reason needs to find out which brand of vodka Cathy is drinking and send a case to Tim Cavenaugh.

  • some guy||

    So, if an inebriated person cannot consent, what happens when both are inebriated? Did they both rape each other or does the first one to declare "rape" win?

    (I know, I know. Men are alwasy capable of consent.)

  • VicRattlehead||

    First to cry rape wins in schools, as far as legally the DA wont even touch it unless physical evidence is present

  • Carolynp||

    I was thinking the same thing. Additionally, I was thinking what we need is a large number of college men willing to walk into rape counseling centers and ask about whether or not they were raped at the last frat party as they had a great amount to drink and feel they were taken advantage of.

  • OneOut||

    It never fails to make me scratch my head in disbelief when a story like this admits that BOTH the students were drunk, but only the male is guilty of rape.

    These "morning after" rapes are destroying too many young men and they also empower women with the threat of "next day regret" rape.

  • freeAgent||

    What bothers me is that in so many of these cases it seems that the woman decided after the fact that she would have preferred to not have sex and they're encouraged to project those current feelings about the experience onto their memory of the experience itself. The results of this are obviously incredibly scary for and unjust toward young men.

  • Acosmist||


    "Don't stick it in crazy" is a good thing to keep in mind to try to avoid some of these situations, but it's not completely reliable. Still, if a woman seems like an attention whore, don't ever be alone with her.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Young men need to be just as aware of the sexual environs as they are hunting deer, seeking a career, or managing money.

  • MSimon||

    The obvious answer is to always invite a sober woman to watch.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Any thoughts that just a bit of thinly concealed racism might be involved here?

    As for a "rape culture", Americans have no idea what these words and that terms means. There is some writer over at "The Nation" who keeps yapping about this, but she (JV) really has no idea what it means either. Of course the fact that she is a rabid feminist might have something to do with her views.

    A "rape culture" is more on the level of what is going on now in the Congo. Also try the war in Bosnia in the 1990s and the Serbian policy of mass rape of Bosnian Muslim women and young girls. And then do a little reading about the Rape of Nanking in 1937 by the Japanese Army in China, by the late (and lamented) Chinese-American writer Iris Chang. Then compare a real "rape culture" to incidents of rape (real and imagined) by a bunch of drunken horny morons in our own stupid, degenerate culture.

  • Black Liberty Unchained||

    I wonder if the stigma of sleeping with a nerdy chinese kid influenced Ms. Walker's decision to change her story. Maybe she got teased about it? Racist!

  • VicRattlehead||

    a girl got me kicked out of college with a fucking 3.75 Avg for having sex while we were both drunk, i declined to jump into a relationship with her because she gave it up on the first night meeting me so she filed assault charges, police dropped it when my lawyer sent the email records outlining how i declined to date her and how she threatened me with reporting me because i refused. school didnt even allow me to admit the absolving evidence in my defense and convicted me on he said she said.

  • Tamfang||

    Except for the "he said" part, eh?

  • Hunthjof||

    Coming to a military base near you. Recent proposed legislation will take prosecutions of sexual assualt out of the hands of the normal military justice system and instead have it taken care of be a separate military justice group. No doubt this unaccountable group will be filled with the same "rape culture" types prevailing on campuses. Guilt will be assumed. You might as well dress this group up in scarlet robes and name the head Tomás de Torquemada.

  • c5c5||

    The feminists among the military are very exited over this. The new rules take the chain of command out of the picture and give the accuser full control of how to prosecute.

    This was based upon the fear that too many commanders would "protect" those accused.

    My feminist military friend excitedly told me this (I'm also in) and said I could "thank so-and-so feminist activist group" for this new change.

    The military has gone completely insane over sexual assault this last year and it will only get worse.

    I am a female in the army and I am not seeing all this sexual assault towards women. Instead I see 90% of females ready to have sex with the guys. I don't see much regret either.

    It is not so much the females in the military - it is the activist civilian groups that have pushed this.

  • Anomalous||

    The solution is simple: eliminate the Department of Education.

  • Volren||

    I keep expecting some group to start setting up booths on campuses handing out pamphlets, tape recorders and sex consent affidavit templates to young men. One of the men's rights groups? It would be rather entertaining.

  • Raudskeggr||

    But don'y you see? The young man in this article *did* document the consent. He has multiple communications from his accuser explicitly stating that it was mutually consented (and even mutually enjoyed).

    But college officials said that since she was drunk, she was *incapable* of consent, because apparently women aren't responsible for their choices when inebriated.

    And then, with regards to here saying that she had a good time later on, College officials say that she was "Confused" and "in shock"...again implying that her mental state left her incapable of deciding these things for herself.

    It's a perfect system of twisted logic: The accused is always guilty; even when the accuser says they're not they're just "confused".

  • SuperOBD SKP-100||


  • Raudskeggr||

    The real kicker here is that campus officials are the ones who pushed this. First, she was drunk at the time and so according to their twisted logic that means she couldn't consent to sex (even though he was also drunk, somehow he still could). Then she text him multiple times saying it was all good, over a period of months, even inviting him for dinner. But school officials play this off as her being "confused" and "in shock". So they set up some kangarette court and railroad this guy out of the school.

    This is exactly what we expected to happen from the latest reforms enacted by the Obama administration about how colleges should handle rape claims. It rests squarely on the shoulders of the president throwing innocent people under the bus so that he can solicit a few more political favors and campaign contributions from the feminist lobby, that will be ever so important when Hillary Clinton runs in a couple of years.

    Yes, I would bloody well sue too.

    These people who are motivated by bigotry and bloody-mindedness must not be allowed to have the power to ruin lives like this. The male college student is already a threatened species; and the far-left "social justice" activists wouldn't really shed tears if they became extinct.

  • OneOut||

    Their actions are pretty much understandable when you read the paragraph about the Federal funding being tied to meeting the administrations guidelines.

    Understandable, not defensible.

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  • Obbop||

    Though it is not a perfect defense against a lying female or a female with an axe to grind for whatever reason I urge all males to demand a signed consent to engage in fornication before engaging in any type of intimate activity with a female.

    Never ever do anything with any gal in any way under the influence of any intoxicant...even one beer due to the immense power of a female to destroy your life with but a mere grievance against you.

    I urge all males to peruse the Web for information found at the several MGTOW sites. Men Going Their Own Way. Read the shared experiences at those sites. Read the gathered news stories. Learn of the multitude of horrors confronted by decent, law-abiding, moral gents caught up in the voracious machinery of females and various institutions, organizations and other actively engaged in a growing pro-female anti-male agenda.

    Intelligent, learned men are declaring that there is an actual ongoing War Against Males within the USA and I believe that claim is true.

    Beware, men. The danger is real. Do not rely upon luck alone to protect you from destruction. Being a decent moral person is not enough to protect you.

    You have been warned!!!!

  • ibcbet||

    Irony.. eliminate the Department of Education

  • thom77||

    Well, if anyone was curious about what the legal system in this country would look like if leftists had as much control over the constitution as they do college campuses, here you go.

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  • OneOut||

    In my younger days there were a couple of times when I was ashamed of who I had woken up with in the morning. Looking back, I'm glad I didn't have the power of RAPE!!! to allow me to relieve myself of the embarrassment and shame I felt upon sobriety.

    I could have ruined the lives of several fat girls that didn't deserve to suffer because of my ability to reinvent my actions of the night before.

  • MamaLiberty||

    Two very obvious requirements to resolve this. First, a charge of rape is a criminal matter and needs to be resolved in a court of law. ALL of the evidence, witnesses and circumstances need to be available to a jury and figure into the deliberations. The witch hunt tribunals at the college need to follow the same rules, if they exist at all.

    Even more important, however, is the serious requirement of both men and women to be completely responsible for themselves and safeguard their own lives and health. No person has any right to coerce or force another to perform unwanted acts of any kind, of course, but there are many ways to protect oneself from getting into that position in the first place.

    The sane advice for both men and women, any age, is not to go stupid places and get drunk/high and naked with strangers. That's a bare minimum.

  • Dimitri Cavalli||

    As I understand, rape is a crime. So why isn't the Department of Education telling colleges and universities to report all allegations to the police to investigate them. Didn't the Catholic Church get in trouble for trying to handle sex abuse allegations in house?

    If school expels a student for sexual abuse, wouldn't he be free to enroll at a another school and sexually abuse female students there or at a job or on the street? How is this different than a bishop transferring an abusive priest to another parish? Shouldn't schools issue a press release to inform the public that student X abused someone? If an expelled student rapes someone else, wouldn't the college be neglient because it failed notify the public?

    Watch for the coming clash of identity politics. If too many students who turn out to be black or members of other minority groups get hauled into these campus courts, I'm sure it will be blamed on racism even though the schools did only what the government and feminists wanted them to do.

  • TheMule||

    Viewing the "rape culture" dogma in the macro, the long term effect of it as it becomes more entrenched in government policy is to make it impossible for cautious and sensible men and women to find each other and mate and easy for brutes to reproduce as long as they can get away with it. The long term consequences will be that future generations in the US be more greatly populated by men prone to sexual aggression and women more likely to kowtow to it as the state will efficiently harass any man who pursues sex in a careless and clumsy manner.

    Control freaks on the left can never figure out that morality isn't imposed by concentrating arbitrary power into the hands of a few but grown by allowing the average person to learn real life, make mistakes, and grow wiser. Everything else is just a divide and conquer agenda hatched up by political psychopaths.

  • ucky||

    insane radical feminists, craven old hags that view all sex as rape, rule the campus. so why be surprised that feckless administrators, the kind of weak cowering people that reduce us daily, embrace the ugly fascism of these rabid old thugs. this is the kind of society that "progressives" want; us vs. them, all white males are evil and corrupt, "tolerance" means "agree with us or be publicly vilified", etc. if i were a kid, i'd be looking at tech/trade school in high demand areas. Vassar? they can go ____ themselves.....

  • ||

    As the husband of a Vassar grad, I'm embarrassed on her behalf at Vassar's witch-hunt tactics.

  • Floyd R Turbo (American)||

    Bring on the Femmebots !!!

  • JackB1||

    I think you misspelled the guy's name in your first sentence. Looks like it's "Xiaolu."

  • Response||

    When I was going to school some 25 years ago there already was a procedure for ensuring that the male student was prohibited from having sex with female students - it was to major in computer science.

  • Agreenweed||

    Guilty until proven innocent is a great precedent to set for our law students in our universities.

  • Rapier Half-Witt||

    I'm curious to know if "normal" women will turn feral on the feminists when men are forced to stop talking to them entirely (much less touching them). Yes, feminists, actions have consequences just as your "win" may blow up in your ugly face.

    I also wonder if they are feminists because no man would have them. Sour grapes and all that.

  • Agreenweed||

    This article is one of my all time favorites. Thanks Cathy.

  • CN_Foundation||

    This should soon resolve in the federal civil circuit after a jury punishes a University enough to cause clear loss of income by the University for an entire decade and should occur very soon.


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