Tuesday, November 1, 2011

News media often acts as advocate for rape accusers

Last June, the venerable Chicago Tribune reported that it "surveyed six schools in Illinois and Indiana and found that women who report sexual violence on college campuses 'seldom see their accused attackers arrested and almost never see them convicted.' Police had investigated 171 reported sex crimes since fall 2005, with 12 resulting in arrests and four in convictions, the newspaper reported. Only one of the convictions resulted from a student-on-student attack, and the arrest and conviction rates are 'far below the average for rapes reported nationally.'”

That's a pretty grim picture, wouldn't you say?  But is it surprising, given that the Tribune set out to write the piece after hearing from the frustration of rape accusers who claimed they couldn't get justice?

The Tribune proceeded to act as their advocate, and to treat them as actual victims.

Chuck Haga, a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald, discussed the Tribune's survey in a story published yesterday, and pointed out the following fact about it, which is as disappointing as it is unsurprising: "A summary of the report posted on the Tribune’s website did not address the question of false accusations."

It's not surprising because -- and there is no delicate way to say this -- progressive news outlets often side with the rape accuser. Further, progressive news outlets are content to report on the prevalence of rape by relying on surveys designed to reach the conclusion that rape is rampant, including the "study" relied upon by the Department of Education in issuing its April 4 "Dear Colleague" letter (the letter that made it much easier to find men guilty of sex offenses on campus) which found that about one in five college women are victimized by a completed or attempted sexual assault. What's not well known about that particular "study" is that it was the product of self-selecting respondents.

For cases that are actually reported, however, the number of claims resulting in an adjudication of guilt is far lower than the number yielded in such studies. Why is that? Even the Tribune conceded the following: "By their very nature, campus sex crimes are difficult cases to investigate and prosecute. They often involve alcohol and conflicting accounts on whether the physical interaction was consensual, making it difficult for law enforcement to sort out the truth."

While conceding that pesky credibility disputes are inherent to sexual assault claims, the Tribune can't bring itself to state the obvious: in likely most sexual assault cases, we really don't know what happened, but it's reasonable to suggest that for a fair number of such claims, and perhaps a significant number, there was no actual sexual assault.

It trivializes rape to suggest in the abstract that not enough women are getting "justice" without talking about specific cases, and it does a grave injustice to men and boys accused of rape.  Merely because a woman claims she didn't get justice doesn't make her a victim, but you'd never know that reading the nation's leading dailies.