Tuesday, November 5, 2013

One of the best, and most important, essays we've come across for the wrongly accused at college

Chris Powell, the managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Connecticut, has penned a short and powerful essay that should be required reading on all American college campuses. Powell says the indignation -- he calls it "the ritual and politically correct indignation" -- being ginned up by claims that rape is mishandled by the University of Connecticut stems from an implication "that all accusations of sexual assault are valid and provable, when of course they are not. Some such accusations are completely false. Some, especially in the college environment, where raw passions collide with tender feelings, arise more from resentment and regret than from any violation of criminal law. And even the most truthful accusation against the most contemptible predator may be unable to disprove a lie."

Powell says that "if the accusers really want a public review, they can always bring suit in court against the people they accuse and against the university itself" instead of asking a federal agency to review their cases.

Then Powell addresses the elephant in the room. "[I]t must be asked . . . why UConn handles sexual assault accusations through a student disciplinary system quite apart from police investigation and why such accusations are not just automatically forwarded to the police for them to handle exclusively." He states the obvious: ". . . sexual assault is a crime, not a student disciplinary infraction, and the university is not part of the criminal-justice system and is hardly more competent to judge intimate relationships between students. Indeed, such administrative reviews seem like the work of a sort of Office of Broken Hearts, a mechanism by which aggrieved students can get the university to scold the worst cads without requiring the aggrieved to take full legal responsibility for their accusations, a mechanism for smoothing over cases that probably would not sustain criminal prosecution."

Powell notes: "Most of if not all the sexual assault complaints may have been impugned from the start by the failure of the accusers to make them directly and promptly to the police. Timeliness is everything with physical evidence in rape cases, and delay inevitably raises suspicion that emotional developments are distorting events.

"As some observers have suggested, maybe rape complaints on college campuses should be investigated by state police rather than college police, but that is hardly the problem when no complaints to police are made at all."

Powell ends with the quote that ought to be read and re-read by every college administrator: ". . . while Governor Malloy says he wants assurance from UConn that sexual assault victims are treated with 'the utmost respect,' will anyone in authority in Connecticut ever respect them enough -- and respect the public enough -- to stop patronizing them and instead start explaining the distinction between victims and accusers and the supremacy of due process of law?"