Thursday, March 4, 2010

False rape report ignites discussion -- but it's not the discussion that's needed

A crime was committed at Penn State. So how does the campus community react to it?  By talking about a completely different crime, of course.  The crime that was committed was making a false rape report.  But the university community has decided to use this incident as an occasion to foment hysteria about a different crime -- you guessed it -- rape.

You know the routine: an actual rape didn't occur, but why waste the fear the false rape report instilled in our community when we can use it to scare people about rape? (Has anyone ever seen "The Music Man," and how he concocted "trouble in River City" due to the presence of a pool table?)  So they talk about beefing up safety to prevent rape and all that.

Funny that no gives a damn about preventing false rape claims, isn't it?

The news story about the university's reaction (below) cites women's center executive director Ann Ard who said: "It [a false rape claim] doesn't happen enough to draw any conclusions."  Sigh.  Ms. Ard needs to spend several weeks reading through the objective information on this website to help her "draw some conclusions."  Funny, she does this for a living and isn't familiar with Kanin or the other studies?

Ms. Ard, you may recall, previously commented on the Austin Scott rape case.  You remember that case, involving a Penn State football player accused of rape: "Charges against Scott were withdrawn when the accuser, identified in court documents as Desiree Minder of Pottsville, chose not to proceed with legal action after the state Superior Court ruled evidence of the acquittal of the student she accused of rape at another college could be used at trial."   See here.  What did Ms. Ard say about the Scott case? "Anne Ard of the Women's Resource Center said people shouldn't challenge an alleged victim who has been assaulted more than once. Ard said statistics show about one-third of sexual assault victims are assaulted multiple times. Researchers believe that's because of victims' vulnerability, and attackers' ability to prey on them. Ard said people should encourage these victims who continue to seek justice, even though it seems the system might have let them down in the past."  (Um, never mind that the accused student in the previous case was not found guilty.)

Anyway, here's the depressing story about the false rape that is used to foment yet more rape hysteria, as if there isn't enough already:

False rape report ignites discussion

Innovation Park and Penn State officials will meet today to discuss increasing security, two days after a woman lied to police about being raped.

The woman, who works for a private firm in the Lubert Building, told Penn State Police she was attacked by a man in a black ski mask at about 8:30 p.m. Monday on a parking lot snowbank.

Further investigation proved the report false, but officials have recognized the need to discuss security measures.

"We don't want anybody to panic. We want to be vigilant," said Thor Wasbotten, Assistant Dean for Student Media and Online Operations.

Wasbotten, who said he will attend the meeting on behalf of the College of Communications, said the recent incident brought up the issue of safety at Innovation Park but added that stricter security is not definite.

For now, Wasbotten's goal is raising awareness about safety at Innovation Park.

He said students should be more cautionary and use buddy systems when working at the location late at night.

And for a complex that stays open until 11 p.m. five nights a week, the idea of increased security is welcomed.

Laura Shay (senior-broadcast journalism) said she wouldn't mind having more thorough security measures at Innovation Park, even though safety is already promoted.

"You can't be too safe," said Shay, who works 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday nights. "They couldn't do anything that could hurt us out here. It could really only help -- make it better than it already is."

Prior to Monday's report, a Penn State student told Penn State Police Feb. 3 that a man shook her hand outside of the Outreach Building and wouldn't let go.

And after years of studying at Innovation Park without incident, Shay said finding out about the rape was odd and confusing -- feelings that only intensified when she discovered it was a hoax.

"Who would make something that up?" she said. "It's not even funny to joke about that."

Anne Ard, Centre County Women's Resource Center (CCWRC) executive director, also found the situation to be no laughing matter. During the 13 years she has worked at the CCWRC, she has never dealt with an incident similar to Monday's.

"I haven't heard any reasoning behind it," she said. "It doesn't happen enough to draw any conclusions."

Ard said in the future, students should pay more attention to their surroundings and take more precautions when traveling alone.

Like Wasbotten said, it's all about awareness.

"Just because this was a false alarm doesn't mean it wasn't a real test," Wasbotten said. "Does everybody have their guard up when this happens? Absolutely. Does everyone need to put their guard down when it's false? No."