Saturday, January 26, 2013

In campus 'peeping Tom' claim, Prof. complains that university is 'playing favorites' by publicizing accuser's name but not the accused's: now he knows how we feel

An Oklahoma State University female student claims her ex-boyfriend, an OSU football player, secretly videotaped them having sex four months ago. She claims he has been showing that video to friends and bragging about it. She says she's seen the video.

Dr. Joey Senat, who teaches Media Law at OSU, has issues with the way the university's communications department has publicized the event. The university's report lists the name, address, and phone number of the 19-year-old OSU student who filed the complaint. In contrast, the suspect's name was blacked out.

"That raises the question that they are playing favorites," Prof. Senat said.

The University countered that since this was not a sexual assault or a violent incident, the reporting party should be made public. The communications department also said the suspect's name was blacked out because it's "an ongoing investigation."

We share the professor's concerns about "playing favorites." It is wrong, by any measure. But this blog is replete with incidents where the news media shields the names of sexual assault accusers but splashes the names of the young men accused on the front page -- on the basis of nothing more than "he said, she said" accusations. The blatant injustice is underscored by the terrible harm often inflicted to the reputations of the young men accused.

It is unfortunate that Prof. Senat doesn't complain that the news media is "playing favorites" when that occurs, because it clearly is.