Attempts to have a reasonable dialogue about the rights and dignity of the presumptively innocent accused of sexual assault are met with ridicule. On-line sites such as Jezebel, The Frisky, and Salon hurl vitriol at, and openly mock, those who dare even to suggest that it is wrong to convict people of sex crimes in the court of public opinion based solely on an accusation.
Well, here's another one we're not supposed to talk about. The New York Daily News reports that the boyfriend of Bethenny Frankel, Michael Cerussi III, was accused of rape as a student at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., but the alleged victim never filed a police report and no charges were ever filed outside of the victim’s complaint to the school. Union College expelled him in 2000, and Cerussi sued the school and the alleged victim. The case settled and was voluntarily dismissed. This is what the New York Daily News.com reports: "According to one of Cerussi’s former lawyers, the school agreed to reverse the expulsion and reinstate him as part of the settlement, though Cerussi never returned to UC."
The Daily News resurrected this long dead non-story for no reason other than as gossip column entertainment. It has no concern about the needless scar it has inflicted on Mr. Cerussi's reputation. But -- just wait -- the Daily News said it "is withholding the name of the alleged victim out of respect for her privacy."
Presumably any concern expressed for Mr. Cerussi's privacy will be met with charges that we are "rape apologists."
We find ourselves in a culture where it's somehow fair game to destroy a man's reputation for no reason other than to titillate the masses based on an old, unproven, he said-she said sexual assault claim.
The great John Leo recently wrote: "Stupid ideas spread when people who know better refuse to confront them." All persons of goodwill need to confront the idea that it's okay to needlessly blacken a man's reputation with an unproven rape claim.