Opinion | Op-eds

On the failure of Columbia's sexual assault policy

Editor’s note: Due to the deeply sensitive and personal nature of this piece, we have allowed the following to be published anonymously. We recognize that this is one account of the following events and hope it will be read and discussed as one person’s experience and opinion of Columbia’s policy.

UPDATE, 5/16: In light of the extensive debate generated by this op-ed, we felt it necessary to provide additional contextual information. The adjudication process that the anonymous author writes of falls under the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law intended to protect the confidential records of all students. FERPA legally prohibits the University from commenting on all individual cases, including the one described below. This protection of privacy also means that certain factual assertions cannot be subject to the same scrutiny that they would have been had this story run as a news article in the Spectator. As we originally emphasized, this is a personal perspective expressed as one individual's opinion.

We plan to further address and investigate the issues raised by this op-ed in the coming semester. However, for the present, we would like to publish the following statement by Dean of Student Affairs and Associate Vice President for Undergraduate Life, Kevin Shollenberger:

"We know that, in response to the Spectator's recent opinion column, some students have expressed concerns about whether they should report incidents of sexual assault through the University's Disciplinary Process. The University has a dedicated core of both professionals and student volunteers who are deeply committed to assuring that Columbia is a safe space for all members of our community, and especially with respect to protecting against sexual assault. We want to convey in the strongest possible terms to our campus community that the safety and security of our students is our highest priority and we treat any reported incidents with the utmost seriousness. We all hope that any and every person believes that they can and should report such incidents and we urge them to utilize the University's resources if they feel they have been victimized."

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Until recently, I was unaware of the egregious flaws in the Disciplinary Procedure for Sexual Assault. However, after my assault took place earlier this semester, I was encouraged by friends to take action against the student who had violated the sexual assault policy in many different ways, the worst of which was raping me twice.

The most difficult part of the whole incident was the fact that I could not tell my parents, as their conservatism and my current relationship with them would only cause more hurt and pain, something I did not and do not think I can handle at this point. Given that I could not go to my family for support, I ensured that I was well-versed in the policy, and that I followed each of the rules and regulations set forth by the office and University in order to seek justice.

I provided multiple forms of first-hand evidence to the case, including but not limited to phone records, an eyewitness (my roommate in EC), and descriptions of calls to the rape crisis center, which initially remained unanswered. I refrained from providing character witnesses because the sexual assault policy as defined by Columbia University is concerned with the event in the actual moment the assault took place, and not the testimonies of friends of the complainant or respondent that simply claim that he or she is a valuable asset to the community. Another blow to my case was the rejection of my request for a specific supporter. During the process, Columbia allows the complainant and respondent to have a supporter present at all times, but because my initial supporter was an administrator and employee of the University, I was told that it could be perceived as a conflict of interest.

During the hearing itself, there were multiple errors committed by the panel that were actually more hurtful to my own case, including but not limited to the respondent’s submission of a statement that I had not seen before and illegitimate contact with the panel, probing and hurtful inquiries geared toward my witness and best friend, and the approval of all three of the respondent’s witnesses, none of whom I had ever met before beyond simple introductions. The most personally difficult part of the hearing was the respondent’s refusal to speak or answer any questions.

The panel ruled in my favor with a 30-page report detailing the many ways in which the respondent had violated the policy, as well as seven different recommended sanctions, the harshest of which included suspension for the remainder of the semester. The report and panel decision was then forwarded to Kevin Shollenberger, dean of student affairs and judicial affairs, for approval. The way I had mistakenly interpreted the “After the Hearing” section of the policy was that the dean would simply have to approve the sanctions and decision set forth by the panel, and the respondent would then get an opportunity to appeal. I never imagined that the sanctions would be struck down, pared down to the mere removal of the respondent from housing and a mark on his record.

I was distraught with this decision—it felt as though no one really cared about what I had been through, and I felt it strange that the dean of student affairs, who had no true authority over the DPSA office and had not been part of the panel, could impact my life and my case in such a way.

While I focused on recovery, figuring out how to pay for the many anti-anxiety drugs, STD tests, and doctor’s appointments for which Columbia continuously charges me, the respondent had appealed. No one let me know. And this past week, my final week of classes at Columbia, I was called into Dean Shollenberger’s office and notified that there had been a procedural error during the hearing, and the results of the hearing were discounted—the person who made this decision was Dean Michele Moody-Adams. I believe that had the respondent been a member of the community without money and power, this entire case would have turned out completely differently.

There is not much for me to do besides share my story and hope that Columbia actually starts thinking about one of our most flawed policies, and whether we can change it so that the next girl (or boy) who decides to speak up and utilize the tools they have at their disposal can be treated with some degree of fairness and at least understand the decisions of what is, at least in my opinion, a failure of a university.

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Anonymous posted on

fuck this shit

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Anonymous posted on

Sexual assault cases should not be handled by universities, period. Obviously Columbia doesn't understand due process standards on the complainant's side. And to be fair, new guidelines state that they have to use a preponderance of evidence (51% certainty) standard to judge the respondent, which simply isn't fair either.

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Anonymous posted on

Hi Nice text, thanks for sharing.

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Anonymous posted on

This is incredibly disturbing and an affront to the safety of women on columbia's campus. this is why women don't come forward after being raped.

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Anonymous posted on

It's an affront to the safety of all students on Columbia's campus. People who don't understand why sexual assault or rape victims are reluctant to report these incidents need to read this article. And shame on two of our most ineffective and spineless deans.

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Anonymous posted on

agreed

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Anonymous posted on

This is disgusting behavior on part of the administrators, including Moody-Adams. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Oh, and the rapist should be outed and publicly shamed.

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Anonymous posted on

Ashamed of what? That she didn't give them enough information to act upon? That she didn't want to involve NYPD for some reason? What's up with "eyewitnesses" who seems to have consented to sex and did nothing? Did he/she think "Well that sounds like a typical noise when two people are having a romping time, guess I'll just finish my essay." How is that she is willing to call names of deans, but can't spell the violator's name? Isn't the real person to be blamed here the rapist, not the deans?

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Anonymous posted on

Did you *really* just blame the victim, a girl who probably is emotionally wrecked? Why should she be the one do guide herself through the process of creating a "good enough" case to punish her rapist. You and Columbia's policies DISGUST me.

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ohwows posted on

I'm glad to know that studying moral philosophy under John Rawls kindled such an astute ethicist as Michele Moody-Adams. Haha, just kidding!

"It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation."

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Anonymous posted on

this is gross.

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Anonymous posted on

it's Wien, dumbass

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Anonymous posted on

when did administrative procedure become more important than human life? I am ashamed and embarrassed to be a member of this institution.

a university is, etymologically, a COMMUNITY of teachers and students. not an iron-fisted bureaucracy-- "a failure of a university," indeed.

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Anonymous posted on

Deans Moody-Adams and Schollenberger need to be brought to task for this and the rapist needs far more than that paltry slap on the back fo the hand. This story sickens me.

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Anonymous posted on

He raped her twice? In front of eyewitnesses? This isn't the whole story here.

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Anonymous posted on

agreed. sounds kinda unreliable. if you did get raped, wouldn't you take precautionary measures (e.g. pepper spray) to prevent it from happening again. and props to the eyewitness for standing by. wtf.

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Anonymous posted on

"if you did get raped, wouldn't you take precautionary measures (e.g. pepper spray) to prevent it from happening again."

You're victim-blaming. It doesn't matter what she did or did not do in response to the first rape, and rape happens even when you follow every single rule in the How Not To Be Raped Handbook. The fact is that she did not consent to sex; she was raped. End of story. To draw attention to any such things as "Why didn't she..." is to try to discredit her story, to try to say, "Well, you couldn't have -really- been raped because you didn't do A or B or C."

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Anonymous posted on

Still, it doesn't change the fact that we do not know the whole story here. People are not trying to discredit her story, but rather wants some evidences upon which to give her credit. Based on this story alone, there is nothing here except her point of view on the matter, and no wonder people bring the questions of "Why didn't she..?" Also, as a matter as egregious as rape, I am sure those deans would have reacted more proactively if she was showed more willingness. Seems like all she did was submit couple sheets of paper and expected everything to workout by itself. And, why not call police? This completely escapes me, since she will be protected of her identity regardless, and will most likely bring justice to the rapist by doing so. Was she afraid to interact with police department for some reason not listed in her writing above? If she is not going to show the whole picture, and the very best thing she can do is write on a columbia spectator, that will be the amount of justice she will get. To bring the evil into light, she must step into light, regardless of how much she was tainted by that evil.

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Anonymous posted on

Oh, I have no problems asking for more of the story, but asking why she wasn't carrying around pepper-spray is not something that should at all be pertinent to judging this story. Really. Questions about why she didn't try harder to prevent herself from being raped, and then judging her credibility with those answers? Is stupid. Asking other questions, fine. But these types of questions? No.

However, I think you're missing the point of this article. The problem is not the credibility of the victim's testimony - an argument that, yes, you can make though this is definitely not the place to do it. The problem is that the university's campus proceedings were fraught with error. Whether or not the story is true, the fact is that an entire panel did rule in her favor with a thirty page report about how the perpetrator did wrong, but: Not telling the victim that the perpetrator had appealed? Not allowing her to have a supporter? Suggested sanctions could be struck down by someone who was not at the hearing? These are problematic and need to be addressed, whether or not the victim is credible.

Saying "seems like all she did was submit couple sheets of paper and expected everything to workout by itself" is patronizing. She didn't just "submit paper". She was following university procedure - a procedure set up for the exact purpose of dealing with these issues efficiently and with as little added pain to the victim, which she probably would not have gotten with official legal proceedings (but, clearly, didn't get anyways with the university). Why do you start questioning the procedure now, a procedure practically every university has? Don't you ever stop to think about why these procedures exist in the first place?

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Anonymous posted on

why is she following university's procedure to begin with? obviously whatever the procedure a "university" has to offer is flawed compared to what police has to offer don't you think? why the university did not interact with police is also questionable, but it will be lot more relieving if she tells us why she didn't call police.

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cc09 posted on

I suspect that you're under the impression that rape is a onetime crime and is clearly understood to be a crime committed by someone with whom the victim has little or no relations and are not taking into account the possibility that this may be part of a abusive relationship with a long term partner. As with spousal rape, these rapes tend to occur repeatedly as the rapist may feel entitled or expecting to sex based on their history of sexual interactions. Furthermore, often victims of these rapes question themselves and don't necessarily remove themselves from the abusive relationship.

As to why she didn't go to the police, she as the victim has every right to pursue the path of justice with she feels most comfortable. If she were to have gone to the police, it would have forced her to account the traumatic experience to various people, and, as many victims of rape attest, the recounting of the incident, especially strangers who may be predisposed to doubt the victim. Furthermore, given the profile of Columbia, her going forward to the police may have cause a media frenzy, which she may have not desired. From what she wrote, it sounds like before her friend's advice, what she wanted to do most was simply escape this situation. Going forward to the police with the possibility of meeting the media and becoming the poster child for sexual assault victims in higher education is the last thing she wanted for her last semester at Columbia. And lastly, she may have had a complicated relationship with the accused and for her own personal reasons would not like to see him be tried as a criminal but removed from a volatile surrounding.

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Anonymous posted on

Precisely. I suppose anyone commenting on how this victim should have or could have done things differently to avoid this, or how obviously something's untrue because it doesn't add up in your head, has the privilege of never having been raped. Count yourself lucky that you don't know firsthand what it's actually like.

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Anonymous posted on

and you mean you have first-hand experience to patronize those who hadn't the privilege of never having been raped? people are just wanting to know (most likely) what happened the second time she was raped despite eyewitness being present. some should act out of compassion and support the victim, but some should also act out of suspicion and bring evidence to court so the perpetrator can actually be struck down. we need balance of both

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tinyhoovies posted on

Yeah, let's make sure we do all we can to make rape victims feel like criminals. There's no way we could defeat rape culture, then! Yay!

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Anonymous posted on

Omg! Poor patronized victims who've never been raped! They need our protection!

Give me a break. The deans' role in this situation was not to bring evidence to court on behalf of the perpetrator; that was clearly what the panel itself was for, and clearly what actually did occur there. What the deans actually did do was to act, without justification or even explanation, against the ruling of judges who had actually heard the evidence of both accuser and rapist.

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Anonymous posted on

oops. meant that to be a reply to cc '10..

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Anonymous posted on

You cannot buy pepper spray in NYC. I was told by police it is against the law to have it in city limits.

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Anonymous posted on

You can purchase it at several licensed dealers in New York. One of which is somewhere in midtown west.

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Anonymous posted on

Shame on you Deans Moody-Adams and Schollenberger for selling out and neglecting to protect your students.

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Anonymous posted on

Why not file charges with the NYPD for rape? Let the rapist be punished to the fullest capacity of the law.

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Anonymous posted on

It doesn't seem like the person who wrote this article has nearly enough evidence to convict this person of rape. My guess was it was not some kinda clear-cut rape case but a case of person a doesn't really wanna have sex but person be really wants to. Getting raped twice means the "victim" probably remained friends with the "rapist" even after the first rape.

Further, I think it's poor journalism for the Spectator opinions section to publish something like this anonymously.

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Anonymous posted on

if you read closely, you'll see that the accused was convicted and the panelists at the hearing recommended that the rapist be punished to the fullest extent, but the deans, who were not part of the hearing, overruled the conviction.

and remaining friends speaks to the problem of not knowing what to do when something like this happens, which i understand especially after reading this.

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Anonymous posted on

"but a case of person a doesn't really wanna have sex but person be really wants to"

That IS a clear case of rape. You're making a false distinction that has nothing to do with the law.

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Anonymous posted on

Oh, really? Well, then, Scarlet Knight, would you like to post YOUR name at the top of YOUR post?

Let's have some sensitivity to the victim, here, please. A story coming directly first hand is going to be far more affective than the story from a second-hand observer, even as an anonymous post.

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Anonymous posted on

What's worse is that if one seeks counseling for anxiety and depression incurred after such a traumatic incident such as rape, the administration forcibly makes the student take medical leave for 1 full year. I have had a few friends who have had to leave their community, their friends, their studies, and it has honestly sent them spiraling down deeper into a psychologically unstable pit. Forcible leave of absence should be illegal! Just because something happens off-campus does not make Columbia any less liable. The administration should be concerned for their students' well-being and not trying to push a potential tragedy out the gates.

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Anonymous posted on

thank you for your courage, and for sharing your story.

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Anonymous posted on

This is a story the NYT should cover...

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Anonymous posted on

lol what? NYT would really love to cover this jumbled up piece of writing. I am sure this girl would want to show up and give NYT relevant information, when she couldn't do that to NYPD. might as well go stand on college walk with banner that says "i was raped, i seek justice, i won't tell you who or how, but you should trust me cause i'm the victim." cool story

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tinyhoovies posted on

Way to go. I sure hope your sister/cousin/mother/aunt/friend/coworker never gets raped! Oh, wait! Statistically, a few of those people probably have! They'll never come to you. At least, I hope SO HARD that they never come to you. You'll only re-traumatize them. You'll only violate their trust. Make them feel like more of an enemy for a crime that wasn't their fault, but took away their life.

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Anonymous posted on

Looks like our freshman here is going on a rampage to blame as many thing as he/she can on university. Why don't you a e-mail this link to NYPD, see if our victim is willing to talk to police? I admire your activism, but maybe its acting out too early. This reminds me of Kobe Bryant's case. At first its all fun and good, but when the relatioinship goes south, you try to use anything to your advantage to slap your partner in the face. However, to the dismay of your expectation the matter gets out of hand, and you drop the case entirely. Looks like the victim here too, doesn't want the matter to get out of hand by involving police...

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Anonymous posted on

i don't understand what you're trying to say

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Anonymous posted on

ye i don't either, but that's because i just read this article, which i don't get what the victim is trying to say. i'm sorry

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Anonymous posted on

I see, but I still think the university can do more.

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tinyhoovies posted on

So, do you really not know what victim blaming is? Because you're doing an awful lot of it.You also seem to be a HUGE supporter of rape culture. "She's probably making it up" "Dumb bitches always trying to keep a man from doing his thing" "Why you gotta hate, dumb bitches?" "She probably totally wanted it" Give me a BREAK. I mean honestly; YAWN.

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Anonymous posted on

yea, thats EXACTLY what he said

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Anonymous posted on

If you were raped why would you go through the school to seek justice? Isn't this a criminal matter? Wouldn't the police have jumped all over this guy? Don't most people call the police? In this case you called the school? Doesn't make sense.

If there isn't enough evidence to get the police involved then why would the school hammer this guy? I know you think your word is good enough but it's not.

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Anonymous posted on

A translation of this comment:

Dear Victims,

It does not matter what you experience at the hands of a rapist. It does not matter that schools actively encourage you to "keep it quiet" and report to public safety officials on campus instead of police officers. It does not matter that your rapist probably has some sort of powers at disposal (money, friends, social influence, etc.) to make your life a living hell if you try to tell. It does not matter that Columbia University promised you a safe environment, that Columbia told you that you could trust it and the administration. It doesn't matter that you think that campus proceedings will lead to quicker and less traumatic (for you) justice than going to the police. It doesn't matter that you want to avoid the exhaustion of a legal battle after being raped.

Because you did not tell NYPD, you are always a liar.

From,
Suck It Up & Stop Whining

PS: Also, by this reasoning, if you report to campus police for a theft, you're a complete idiot if no one is charged, because -duh- theft is a CRIME and you should have involved NYPD.

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Anonymous posted on

"Like" Facebook style.

Well said.

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tinyhoovies posted on

Finally, someone who's not a complete asshole. THANK you.

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Anonymous posted on

Does anyone know what is the best way to try to fix this situation (or, more likely, to make sure this situation doesn't happen again)? Should we contact Dean Shollenberger and Dean Moody-Adams and express our anger? Do we hold a protest? Do we try to use outside pressure on Columbia? Should we start some sort of awareness campaign of showing the severity of sexual assault/sexual abuse/sexual molestation/sexual harassment on Columbia's campus?

The anger is broiling, but I don't know how to use it. Any suggestions would be welcome.

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Anonymous posted on

If your anger is boiling because of this story which is missing a lot of information, please go ahead and do it. She didn't tell us everything, and obviously she didn't tell a thing to police department. I suggest you calm down and wait until you get all the facts right.

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Anonymous posted on

and i suggest you to put down your self-importance to know how everything happened before you can make one courageous move and identify any amount of fault in the administrators who made this case worse.

not enough information? the panel's 30-page indictment didn't make it clear that there was?

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Anonymous posted on

"self-importance to know how everything happened before you can make one courageous move", so you wouldn't care if your courageous struck down a person with not enough information to support it? how is that self-importance anyways, or are you just writing whatever comes to mind? it's called skepticism btw. also 30-page indictment you read this yourself? why don't you enlighten us so that it will be clear to us then? how about the reason why panel struck it down? i would love to know more because it seems like you do.

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EllenMarie posted on

Are you a troll? Because you're starting to sound like one. What you're doing is VICTIM BLAMING. You're only feeding into the frenzied fire of rape culture by making these rude and utterly disgusting remarks. Please stop talking. You'll never gain any respect or trust from someone who's been raped by spewing this bullshit all the time.

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Anonymous posted on

The answer is simple: spread the word. Let it be known that the policy is flawed. This issue is not restricted to Columbia University; I have heard horror stories of victim blaming *by the administration* of other institutions across the nation. If further light can be shed on the countless injustices taking place in our schools, I've no doubt that it will galvanize people to demand more proactive treatment and harsher sentences.

Processes for handling cases of assault are only beginning to reach functioning levels. It is through our concerted efforts that we can remove the stigma towards reporting cases of rape and assault and demand justice.

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Anonymous posted on

we support you.

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Anonymous posted on

very gross if true, but i just don't get why you dind't call police. also why would interacting with your parents will hurt your relationship with them, shouldn't they be your biggest supporter in this? please give us more fact. i'd love to support you but the questions people are bringing up are clouding my mind

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Anonymous posted on

Appealing for justice through the criminal justice system is a very daunting process for victims. Once a victim makes the decision to file charges, the case is prosecuted by the state and the victim loses all control in the process except whatever the state chooses to grant the victim. The exhausting process can drag on for months. Imagine being raped (an incredibly humiliating, painful, and often brutal experience), and then having to go into court and tell a lot of stern, official strangers every single last detail of what happened to you. You also know that you have to face the perpetrator in court, which can be a frightening experience when all you want to do is never to see him ever again. Also - consider all the high-profile sexual assault cases that were put through court and get picked up by the media - the way that victims are vilified by the public as being sluts whores, prostitutes who are lying about regretted sex. In the Kobe Bryant case, the woman eventually refused to participate in the prosecution was because she had been the object of multiple death threats despite changing her identity and moving across the country to escape the ceaseless censure of the media and the public. Once you put your name out there by filing charges, in the minds of the broader public you either become "poor rape victim" or "greedy whore" - would you want to be that person?

As for her parents - Not everyone has a relationship with their parents that would make them feel comfortable disclosing extremely private and painful matters. They might be estranged. Or they might be close, but she might fear that they would pressure her to go to the police, or that they might constantly force her to talk about it, or simply that they would forever look at her differently. The decision to disclose to anyone - friends, family, police officer, the school newspaper - is extremely difficult. It's hard for many survivors to predict how someone will receive them, it's hard to work up the words and talk about what happened out loud.

I hope this helps paint a better picture of some of the issues and decisions that many rape survivors encounter, and that you will come to see that survivors need empathy and support from the public if they are to feel comfortable coming forward. If someone discloses a sexual assault to you, I hope that you will not demand more "facts" from them, as they are not accountable to you or to anyone for a traumatic experience they never asked for.

I appreciate you asking questions and working to understand a complex situation that may be unfamiliar to you.

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Anonymous posted on

She mentioned her parents' "conservatism." They might be among the many people who still tend to think rape doesn't happen to good girls and therefore she must've brought it on herself somehow. It happens.

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Anonymous posted on

This is a really wonderful and succinct reply to "Why didn't she just go to the police?!" Thank you.

It's worth mentioning that the victim might also be aware of how difficult it can be to prove that a rape occurred in the first place, and the institutionalized victim-blaming that sometimes does occur in hospitals and police stations; cf., this horrifying Washington City Paper article: http://www.washingtoncitypaper...

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Anonymous posted on

1. Show up to Shollenberger and Moody-Adams' offices. Tell them students will not tolerate this. Speak to them about being involved with the student effort to improve the policy. Regardless of the "facts" (since a lot of people are obviously interested beyond having a right to be), there was top-down involvement by administrators that was clearly unwarranted and illegitimate. The disciplinary panel made a decision that was vetoed, potentially weakening any sort of power any panel might have in the future.

2. Tell students, parents, professors and other administrators about this. If support for Columbia weakens inside and outside the university, administrators will be pressured. Withhold your donations, etc. If the victim's allegations of money and power being involved is true, everyone can have a role in balancing this terrible equation.

3. Keep the Spec and the NYPD out of this discussion. This survivor kept anonymous for a reason. Despite Columbia's ridiculous loopholes and general fucked-upness in its policy, it was obviously still preferable to the NYPD's. Taking this case outside Columbia will still not remediate the mistakes committed by administrators here.

4. Obviously, the atmosphere on this campus is still not supportive of survivors. Talk to your friends, get involved, change attitudes in each of your personal relationships. "Activism" need not be grand or showy, but starts with members of the community.

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Anonymous posted on

1. "top-down involvement by administrators that was clearly unwarranted and illegitimate" where do you base this claim? Where in this piece of article were you able to infer this? Don't you think you should talk to those deans first at least to get the both sides of the story???

2. "victim's allegation of money and power being involved". Money and power? I don't think that was the point of article, but rather a flawed bureaucratic procedure was. Also, even if true it's an allegation, and you are willing to act upon allegation without seeing if it is actually true or not?

3. Keep Spec out of discussion, that's alright. Keep NYPD out of this discussion? what the f***? you just said Columbia's policy was fucked up, but still better than NYPD? How do you know of this? Why not take this outside Columbia and get both birds with one stone? The perpetrator will be punished, and Columbia's policy would be reviewed accordingly wouldn't you think?

4. Obviously, the atmosphere on this capus is still not supportive of survivors. Umm yeah people will be ready to support full out once they have all the facts, we can be all assured of that. This writing is quite short of "all the facts". You are right in that "Activism" need not be grand or showy, but it should definitely be smart and sound in foundation.

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Anonymous posted on

so basically you have a problem with students doing anything about this. that's cool.

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Anonymous posted on

That's right I have problem with students doing anything "STUPID AND UNINFORMED" about this. that's indeed cool.

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tinyhoovies posted on

Dude ... did you have something to do with this? I'm starting to think that you did. Why else would you fight SO HARD to silence a rape victim publicly?

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Anonymous posted on

This.

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Anonymous posted on

i support you, anonymous writer! f all the people asking why you didn't go to the police. I was raped my freshman year (I'm a senior now) and I never went to the campus police or the NYPD. I'm so proud you DID go to Columbia about it and SHAME ON THEM for not helping you and for making an already terrible situation a thousand times worse.

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Anonymous posted on

"I was raped my freshman year" ye you should all go and make a facebook group "I was raped and did not go to police," because we all believe you when you say that kind of thing on internet am i right? SHAME ON YOU for not going to police in your freshman year and making this kind of thing happen continuously you idiot. More likely you are a slut who went around with guys, and now you are thinking "One of them was a rape right? Yes I'm right."

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Anonymous posted on

Are you serious? Do you have any idea how many women feel ashamed of having been raped and decide not to tell anyone about it? It's people like you that make women so afraid to tell the truth. Shame on YOU for being a sexist asshole.

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Anonymous posted on

Isn't your anonymity preserved when you go to police? Can't you just call them and tell them what happened? Not that I am siding with "shame" I think it is stupid to comment things like "I was raped too" on internet... you might as well have gone to police and said that so things like this won't happen again.

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Anonymous posted on

How do you think the justice system works? You can't just anonymously call the police to report a rape and expect the rapist to immediately be punished. In order for any charges to be brought against them, you would need to go through a trial, which is generally not easy for various reasons, including the fact that you need more evidence than just saying they raped you. This is especially hard in a situation like the one detailed here where the rapist and victim seem to have a relationship to some degree. Imagine if your significant other raped you right now--would it be easy for you to immediately see them as a rapist and to report them to the police? Probably not; you rationalize for them, doubt your understanding of the situation, etc.

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Anonymous posted on

No, OF COURSE your anonymity is not preserved. You can't go through a trial anonymously. Trials involve telling a jury face to face what happened to you while your rapist sits there not far away staring at you waiting for you to mess up so he can go home free. You have NO idea what you're talking about so stop blaming rape victims for what RAPISTS chose to do to them.

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tinyhoovies posted on

THIS.

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Anonymous posted on

In theory, your anonymity is preserved, but you still have to face the accused at trial, which can be far more traumatic than you might imagine. But before it even gets to that point, here's what you can expect:

--If you report the rape immediately, your have to be examined by a doctor for forensic evidence. This involves being poked, prodded, and even having parts of your body photographed. The doctor may or may not be a caring person who understands the psychological trauma you're going through.
--You will be questioned at length by police officers you HOPE have received sensitivity training.
--All the while, most likely, your case will boil down to one person's word against the other, or who can afford the better expert witnesses.
--You'll be grilled privately by the D.A.'s office in preparation for your public grilling by the defense attorney. There's no telling what will come out in the defense's attempt to discredit you, and all that will become public record for the rest of your life, for your "conservative" parents (in anonymous' case) and anyone else who knows you to read. Even if you've never done anything to be ashamed of, a clever defense attorney will make it look like you have, and some of your relationships may never recover.
--You may be hounded by the press, depending on whether your case is of interest.

It may surprise some to learn that this nightmare none of us would want to go through at the best of times is really not something one feels up to facing right after experiencing trauma.

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tinyhoovies posted on

"Shame on you for not going to the police"

Really?

REALLY?

You are the REASON most women do not report rape. YOU.

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Anonymous posted on

How dare you?

Have YOU ever had to deal with anything like this before? I did. When I was fucking FIFTEEN. You know what the police in my town did? Looked me straight in the eye, told me that the guy who assaulted me was a "good kid" that would never do a thing like that, and that I was lucky he didn't charge me with trying to file a false police report. A few years later, when I went to college, I was assaulted- I fought him off before he was able to penetrate me, but nonetheless, I was still sexually assaulted. I didn't report it, because guess what?

Police rarely take rape cases seriously. Many people know this- it's why rape is a crime that goes largely unsupported.

Oh. But I suppose that because I didn't report the assault that occurred when I was eighteen, I'm just a slut.

Shame on YOU.

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tinyhoovies posted on

I was fifteen too. I'm sorry.

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Anonymous posted on

I second this.
I was raped during my freshman year (the attacker wasn't a Columbia student) and I didn't go to NYPD for a variety of reasons. In part this was because the counselor I saw at Columbia discouraged me from contacting the police.
She explained that the police tend to be rather insensitive in their interrogation of the survivor and that they tend to view the case less in terms of "did he rape her" and more in terms of "can it be proved in a trial that he raped her."
In part this was because in the immediate aftermath I wasn't ready to cope with the rape and couldn't bring myself to go to the police. By the time I felt like I had the strength to do so, several weeks had passed.
My counselor spoke highly of CU's sexual assault policy, though, and framed it as being much more survivor-friendly than NY law.
I'm so sorry that Columbia has failed you in this.
If you haven't seen a counselor yet, I highly recommend doing so. Rachel Efron helped me a great deal.

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Anonymous posted on

"the counselor I saw at Columbia discouraged me from contacting the police."

Seriously? I can't believe that counselors are saying that. Counselors aren't supposed to sway your decisions, but give you facts and let you make up your own mind.

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Anonymous posted on

While I am more than sympathetic to the writer (and won't bother to engage in victim-blame), it cannot be denied that a full story has been presented to us. Of course, no one should ever dismiss rape accusations flippantly before a full inquiry is made; the point is a full inquiry was made.

If the plaintiff could not gather enough evidence to prove her case, I am truly sorry for her. A full inquiry was made, under reasonable policies (the accused obviously wouldn't have to answer questions for Constitutional reasons). If a procedural error was made during the hearing, realities of legal practice would mandate what essential amounts to a mistrial.

The only findings made during the hearing (based on the recommendations made by Hearing) were events of sexual misconduct, not rape. If the committee had found a rape had occurred, it would no longer be within Columbia's jurisdiction to neglect reporting the incident. Also, rape would result in much more than mere suspension.

It would seem based upon a flimsy presentation of the story, the Committee erred on the side of caution with their recommendation, rather than affirmed a rape actual took place.

Lastly, anonymity after a miscarriage of justice only protects those who seek to oppress you. It requires a lot of strength to pursue such a dramatic violation of basic human dignity and justice, but hiding in the shadows and providing a warning will not protect the men and women who are claimed to be in danger of this policy. We support survivors, more than any ignorant person would guess, but we cannot support a victim too afraid to step forward with more than empty promises to accomplish something.

These objections to procedure are fully echoed in today's legal system; many of these so-called problems were created to guarantee justice, not deny it. A procedural error that unduly effects the prosecution of a crime is a very awful way to escape a crime, but a guarantee that must be put into place nonetheless.

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Anonymous posted on

Getting drunk, having sex with someone because you are using poor judgement, and then regretting it does not equal rape. I'm not saying that this is at all what happened in this case because there was no information presented but there really is a line between victims rights and the rights of those accused. Being convicted of a rape when none was committed is a horrible thing too. I know this may come of as insensitive but there needs to be a certain level of evidence presented. Rape is a horrible thing and I am all for any measures that make it easier for victims to talk to people or have their voices heard but people can't immediately jump at the throat of someone accused of committing a rape, its just unfair

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Anonymous posted on

this, this all the way. being raped and being accused of raping when it did not happen is equally horrifying

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Anonymous posted on

"being raped and being accused of raping when it did not happen is equally horrifying"

Ahahaha, no. It's not. You seriously think being falsely accused is as bad as being raped. Please.

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Anonymous posted on

people's lives and families are ruined because of false accusations of rape. people's lives and families are ruined because of rape. both are horrendous, without requiring a comparison between the two.

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Anonymous posted on

And typically, the men who are successfully convicted of rapes they didn't commit are men without the power and privilege the alleged assailant above seems to have had.

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Anonymous posted on

I think that being falsely accused and convicted of something, spending a large portion of your life in prison, not having the opportunity to get jobs after you leave prison (maybe getting raped in prison) is bad. Comparing it to getting raped is apples and oranges. They are both very bad, hard to compare directly, but very bad. Scoffing at the idea that being falsely accused of rape is bad is as bad as someone saying "Rape? Oh thats not that bad."

Think before you speak

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Anonymous posted on

Ahahaha. Please, you mean to say you know "exactly" how horrifying each are to make comparison? Okay maybe I shouldn't have said "equally", but rather "both". But your comment is just wow, hahaha.. please.

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Anonymous posted on

Yeah, because those dumb bitches totally like to make rape accusations and be traumatized by the court system and flawed policies such as this just for fun! It's totally cool that a whole bunch of people will now think of you as a rape victim after you make the false accusation and totally worth the humiliation involved!!!

/sarcasm

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Anonymous posted on

I imagine that being falsely accused of rape would be a horrible, traumatic ordeal. But are false accusations of rape and particularly false accusations of rape leading to conviction and jail time are a very common occurrence? Just consider that most victims of rape never come forward and press criminal charges and only 6 percent of rapists will ever spend a day in jail--despite what some people would have us believe, people aren't throwing around rape accusations willy-nilly, quite the contrary, people who have been raped don't usually speak up.
The other thing is, and I know you mean well so I really hope you take this to heart: legally, when someone is wasted they are not able to consent to sex. Having sex with someone who cannot give there consent is sexual assault, so don't do it! Just don't do it. It's simple, don't have sex with someone who is drunk and might regret their "poor judgement" later and you won't have to worry about getting accused of rape.

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Anonymous posted on

Actually, if an individual is intoxicated, his or her consent is invalid. Try again.

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Anonymous posted on

"I'm not saying that this is at all what happened in this case"

Of course you are. There's no other reason you'd bring it up.

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Anonymous posted on

Step away from the blaming and accusations and ask: can we really abide a community where one of our own hurts like this?

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Anonymous posted on

OH MY GOD, PEOPLE, YOU ARE MISSING THE POINT.

This should not be a discussion about whether this person was raped or not! It's a discussion about whether Columbia University and the administration handled an alleged rape case properly. Which - if you read the article - they did not.

If you continue to focus on the "Well, we don't know all the facts about whether she was raped or not! So, y'know, we can't judge about whether the administration did a good job!", you are a borderline rape apologist.

Holy crap, some of the comments here are making me lose faith in humanity

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Anonymous posted on

Because whether the administration did a good job or not depends on what happened. If there was rape and this is indeed what happened, yes they are in fault. But, if not it's entirely diffferent story. This may sound insensitive, but this is why in any court cases evidence matter so much, because it is always impartial. I think you are losing faith in humanity for no reason, when you should keep faith.

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Anonymous posted on

The point is that no determination can be made about proper handling of the case if no other information is given. We don't know what kind of follow-up procedure occurred (if it did) after the mistrial was declared. I guarantee you the administration did not simply declare "Oh, sorry we goofed, your rapist is going to get off and there's nothing we can do about it."

The easiest way to short-circuit a discussion about where Columbia handled the case properly is to hurl accusations of being a rape apologist at anyone who disagrees with you.

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Anonymous posted on

how can you guarantee that?

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Anonymous posted on

The facts of the case cannot change how the administration handles a case because they do not know them prior to their presentation. I'm sorry, but your comment was the dumbest thing I've heard in a while.

How are the facts of the case relevant to whether she can have a supported present? How is it relevant to whether she is advised by a counselor to not seek justice? How is it relevant to whether she is told that her alleged assailant is appealing before it happens?

Way to miss the point. Procedure is what happens REGARDLESS of the specifics. If the procedure is flawed then all cases, regardless of the evidence presented are mishandled. Seriously, when a man is falsely convicted of rape do you rag on him for all his mistakes or do you hold the people who actually handled the case responsible for theirs?

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Anonymous posted on

why on earth would anyone expect academic administrators to be able to "handle a rape case" better than the justice system that already exists for such a purpose.

If admins like shollenberger, et al were supposed to be trying rape cases, they'd be in the DA's office, not student affairs.

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Anonymous posted on

I, too, was cheated of justice by Columbia's sexual assault procedure. For my case, the sanction suggested that the person be removed from housing and undergo 4 weeks of counseling. The bastard appealed the decision without my knowledge, and I learned of the final decision in a letter from Helen Arnold, the director of the Disciplinary Procedure for Sexual Assault, that he would live on campus "due to undisclosed reasons." Dean Quigley approved the appeal without ever being part of the panel. My numerous requests to speak to Quigley were denied by his secretary, and I was directed to Jasmine Rush, Associate Director of Judicial Affairs. To console me, she said that he would never live in the same building as I did, nor could he register for the same classes. This was not comforting since he could be signed in anywhere.

I requested that people who live in the same building as the aggressor be notified of the sanctions, since he had a history of harassing/assaulting girls. (By the way, he lives in EC at the moment, in a suite of 6.) The director denied my request, citing the FERPA act, even after I sent the letter below.

"Dear Jasmine Rush,

Thank you for taking the time to meet with me on Friday. I have detailed my concerns about the appeal below:

Safety
The revised sanction does not allow AGGRESSOR to have swipe access into dormitories on Columbia campus with the exception of his own. However, he can still be signed into a dormitory by a friend or a person living in that particular dormitory without Security being alerted. Further, there is no reconciliation between the ID that is held as collateral and the name that is signed in the guestbook. This gives the opportunity for the accused to violate the sanction with the only record being the videotape that films the incoming and outgoing residents/guests.

Transparency
I was not given a reason for a modification of the initial sanction, nor was I carbon copied the letter of appeal. Under the Campus Security Act, I am entitled to this information: "The Campus Security Act also requires that both accused and the accuser be informed of campus conduct proceedings involving a sexual assault." This means that any correspondence regarding this proceeding must be made available, whether by direct or indirect means, to the accused and the accuser.

Further, the Campus Security Act or the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy requires all universities in the United States to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses. The crime in question is not limited to crimes reported to law enforcement. More details about the definitions of the crimes can be found here: http://www.securityoncampus.or.... Under this Act, Columbia University is required to issue timely warnings about crimes that pose an ongoing threat to students and employees. In addition, schools that maintain a police or security department are required to disclose in the public crime log any crime that occurred on campus or within the patrol jurisdiction of the campus police or the campus security department and is reported to the campus police or security department. The log is required to include the "nature, date, time, and general location of each crime" as well as its disposition if known. In addition, Columbia University must publish an annual report made available automatically to all current students and employees by October 1st that contains three years worth of crime statistics for the campus, unobstructed public areas immediately adjacent to or running through the campus, and certain non-campus facilities including Greek housing and remote classrooms. This information was taken from the websites http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/... and http://www.securityoncampus.or... .

FERPA Regulations
According to the article here http://www.securityoncampus.or..., "FERPA has never prohibited schools from releasing disciplinary results with all information that might personally identify a student redacted from the records. Some schools, such as the University of California at Davis, have released this type of information for many years." Columbia University has the option to follow in the same path.

There is a stronger reason to inform students of my case, as well as other crimes of this nature. AGGRESSOR was expelled from the Peer Health Exchange for his behavior toward another female. More information can be obtained about this matter by contacting FEMALE NAME . My case was the second documented example of his behavioral misconduct. I believe this demonstrates a strong tendency to disrespect women, either by harassment or sexual assault. Columbia University not only has a federal obligation to inform the public of a threat, but a moral one under higher law."

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Anonymous posted on

Now, here is something with a bit more substance to pursue. I think the next action would be to leverage legal action against the University (the person was clearly found to be guilty of his crimes, or no sanction would have occurred at all). I'm sure the ACLU would be more than happy to assist you with that regard.

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Anonymous posted on

I contacted legal offices who specialized in Education and Sexual Assault. The one who responded directed me to Safe Horizons.

It's pretty sad, but all my letters, phone calls and complaints went to waste. I'm glad this anonymous writer decided to publish her story. Perhaps Columbia will finally improve their failure of a procedure.

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Anonymous posted on

So is Safe Horizons going to help you?
I would like to see some real legal action taken again CU, especially because it looks like you have the grounds to do so.
All this information that is supposed to be made public is kept underground somehow.

what I don't understand in all of this is why. Why would CU's administration make it easier for student to be a rapists and to get away with their crime on campus? What do they gain?

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Anonymous posted on

Safe Horizon is a counseling center for victims of abuse and rape. I decided not to pursue this issue legally since I didn't think anything would change.

Columbia's best interest is to attract more students. It's a business. Why would they tarnish their image? Just to give you an idea what they would do to sustain their image, here's an example: Columbia is required under law to release rape statistics on campus. To avoid publicizing this, these numbers were released in books that no one reads: "Facts About Columbia Essential to Students." After I complained that these numbers were not really visible, James McShane (you know, the guy who sends you security alerts) made the first Annual Security Report available just last year, again in a pamphlet that no one reads. Numbers found here on page 22: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/pub... .

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tinyhoovies posted on

Sounds like you need to brush up on Rape Culture.

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Anonymous posted on

It's bad PR for the university if there is a convicted, acknowledged rapist who is a student. They would rather just hush the whole thing up and pretend rape does not occur on college campuses, even though ages 18-25 are the years women are most likely to be raped - 1 in 5 women on college campuses is raped by the time she graduates, a stat that comes straight from the department of justice. it's the same reason someone else mentioned they force victims to actually seek mental health counseling to drop out of school for a year - it's bad PR if they stay enrolled and commit suicide or have serious mental health issues. Way to stand behind an innocent member of the community.

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Anonymous posted on

If it happens on campus, the university takes charge of the case. You can go to the police, but as soon as the police approaches the school to deal with it, the school says that it's an internal affair and takes charge of investigating/punishing/etc. It's stupid and horrifying and in the worst interest of the victim (and the best interest of the rapist, generally), but that's how it is. Yet another thing that needs to be changed.

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Anonymous posted on

I'm 99% sure that's not accurate. If a student reports a rape to the police and they believe it to be a credible account, the NYPD will not suspend its investigation merely on the say-so of Columbia. That is: the fact that a rape (or a murder, etc.) occurred on campus does not immunize an assailant from criminal charges should the victim choose to press them.

(The department may bureaucratically botch the investigation of its own accord, and Columbia may be less than fully cooperative, but the NYPD doesn't automatically give up when the owner of a property where an apparent crime occurred waves them off. Think of what that would imply: an apartment building could just chose not to have a violent crime investigated because it would drive down the desirability of other units.)

What you might be thinking of is that use of Columbia's disciplinary process requires the victim not to pursue a separate investigation with the NYPD. If you approach the police first about a rape or sexual assault—as I understand it—Columbia's process will no longer be available to you. That's a pretty fucked up policy in its own right, but it's different from what you're describing.

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Anonymous posted on

It's really important that this story is shared. I only wish the article had been more coherent and well written. Though I am nonetheless moved to anger and action as a sympathetic female reader, I can only imagine how much more effective this piece could have been with some editing and rewriting. There is no reason not to explain the situation in a detailed, forthright manner, particularly under the auspices of anonymity.

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Anonymous posted on

may i have your attention please?

the following is a public service announcement: if you are ever sexually or physically assaulted, or are in imminent danger of being sexually or physically assaulted. do not contact your RA, columbia public safety or members of the columbia administration. call the fucking police like any reasonable person would.

thank you for your cooperation.

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tinyhoovies posted on

Wow. A hundred dollars says you're male.

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Anonymous posted on

Most of these comments show a serious lack of understanding about what a raped person goes through, what's in their heads, how they feel. It's all so much more complicated than what you seem to think. Women are second class citizens, when a rape happens it's not because the rapist is a monster, but because the woman is a whore or dressed too provocatively or failed to adequately protect herself. We spend so much time teaching women how not to be raped we are not telling men not to rape. So here's some advice: If she hasn't said yes, the answer is no, if she's drunk, the answer is no, if she says no, the answer is no. Don't try to convince her that she wants you or talk her anything she doesn't seem into. If you don't want to be accused of rape, don't put yourself in situations where you might get accused of rape. You have to CYA because no one else will.

And regardless of how confusing this article is, this woman was failed by the system that was supposed to be set up to help her. Frankly, I think these University Tribunals either need to be done away with or they need to work more closely with the police because time and time again, they've shown that they're more interested in being able to say there have been no rapes on campus than actually helping out the victims of rape.

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Anonymous posted on

Don't you think that if the victim were trying to get back at someone she would have identified her violator? It's starkly clear that she is trying to do what she has to do to best move past and learn to live and deal with her experiences and the university as a support system, an institution that claims to support issues of justice, and of decent, respectful human beings would not be able to follow through on a hearing decision that was actually already made for them. It is disgusting and humiliating to know that I am part of an institution that in this case as well as many others plays a game of money and power and many decisions are made solely for strategic reasons. The NYPD could not have handled the case and would not have control over the university's decisions to remove the violator from campus/housing/etc. or any other actions that could protect the victim from any further grief. It is sad and disturbing that there are people on this campus who truly think that this article is not worth a movement from students/parents/alumni/administrators/etc. to fight for what is important to us. I am so disappointed in Dean Shollenberger & Dean Moody-Adams, who attempt to be involved in student affairs and appear as though they show support when they cannot even provide support to students at the bare minimum of their deserved emotional/physical needs in a time of crisis.

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Anonymous posted on

File a Title IX complaint against this school. This is absolutely abhorrent.

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beckpatricias posted on

May 6, 2010 Thursday
Perhaps the "students" at Columbia University have FAILED to understand that the term RAPE is a CRIMINAL OFFENSE. WHEN DID THE VICTIM CONTACT THE NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT?
THIS IS NOT A DISCIPLINARY MATTER. RAPE IS A CRIME.
///////////////////////END/////////////////////////////END/////////////////////////END/////////////////////////////END//////////////

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Anonymous posted on

why call CU and not the NYPD?

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Anonymous posted on

Dear Anonymous - I am a mother of a freshman at CC. I admire your courage and I wish I could give you a warm and long hug right now. I understand you did not want your parents involved and I respect your reasons. However, I urge you not to discount their ability to handle what happened. If you turned out to be a strong intelligent woman gaining admittance to one of the most amazing educational institutions in the world (notwithstanding the disappointing facts as presented in this article), I cannot somehow not conclude that your parents had something to do with this accomplishment, and would want nothing but your happiness, safety and continued success despite a terrible personal experience such as what you have endured and continue to endure. Pls. go to them as there is nothing like your real family as a source of unconditional love and strength. You love them so much that you' chose to spare their feelings. Is it fair to them to not assume they love you as much. If you believe you were raped, then I believe you. The evidence hopefully will lead to the truth. But the evidence cannot be competently evaluated and legally pursued without involving the appropriate entities, including your parents and the police. As a parent I am very disappointed at the Columbia Deans for leaving you with a feeling of abandonment when you need their support the most. If there is anything they can say in their defense, as a parent I'd like to hear it. This is sending a worrysome message to parents and their daughters who attend Columbia. I wish you all the best and pls. be safe. You are a strong and bright woman who can bounce back and focus on a very bright future. Pls. let your parents be part of your recovery and continued strength. Who you choose to be around you makes a huge difference to your future success. Good luck in your finals - you are in my thoughts.

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Anonymous posted on

It's very sweet of you to assume that all parents are as supportive as you are. Unfortunately, they are not. There are plenty of people in the world who would still blame their own child for bringing a sexual assault on her or himself. I support the author's choice not to inform her parents; I think she probably knows them better than we do.

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Anonymous posted on

Why were the comments by the sexual assault survivor who believed the administration messed up big time deleted?

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ColumbiaSpectator posted on

Apologies--a glitch in our commenting system was causing only a portion of the comments to show up (in other words, it was more than just the ones you reference not appearing). It should be fixed now, but let us know if you see anything else amiss--we haven't deleted anything. Sorry for the confusion.

--Ben Cotton

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Anonymous posted on

This is absurd. The deans who shot down the case's decisions are insidious. A part of me wishes the rapist would be publicly shamed...but Idek.

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Anonymous posted on

Sadly, this story of an academic administration failing a rape victim is all too familiar to me. I was raped while a student at a private boarding school, and my school didn't seem to have any procedures in place for dealing with it. Or if they did, I was never made aware of them and none of the administrators seemed to be either. Like the author of this post, I too did not feel that I could confide in my parents about what had happened, so I did not have any adults, powerful and wealthy or otherwise, backing me, whereas my rapist did. The single worst event in my life was made even more painful by the administration's inaction. While I felt sympathy from several of those in power, none of them were able to create any consequences for my rapist, and I was left alone to suffer in shame and silence while my rapist was able to pretend that nothing wrong had happened and I was over-reacting.
Somehow, we need to make a change at Columbia and in schools across America. As past victims, we need to come together and create a plan to help bring perpetrators of rape and sexual assault to justice. We need to raise awareness of acquaintance rape and its prevalence. We need to end our silence and shame through action.

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Anonymous posted on

Although I will predict that my reasoning will be decried as insensitive, I think it is still something that needs to be said in light of many of the above posts. I do not intend to place blame on any individuals but instead seek to clarify the issue.

As awful, traumatizing, horrific, or evil a crime may be, you must PROVE using FACTS and EVIDENCE that a crime occurred in order for justice to be had in the United States. Furthermore, the behavior of ANY and ALL individuals that are involved is OF COURSE DICTATED by the FACTS. I would hate to live in a world where all people were treated EXACTLY the same or with EXACTLY the SAME credibility, even alleged rape victims, regardless of the different facts surrounding their circumstances. For example: dictating that all people must eat cheese and milk even if your body cannot produce the lactase enzyme is nonsensical even if you can prove that these foods are healthy in some quantity.

In this particular case an awful, traumatizing, and horrific act has POTENTIALLY/ALLEGEDLY occurred. If this alleged crime on US soil has not been decided by a US court of law, I apologize for how my skepticism may appear (i.e. monstrous to some) but I refuse to acknowledge that the word of this anonymous person or a closed Columbia tribunal process is enough to condemn another human being. That is the entire point of our legal system. You may not like it, and you strive to change it, but that IS how it is designed. This is simply a fact. Even perpetrators of the Holocaust were given an OPEN, PUBLIC, and as-fair-as-humanly-possible trial. This is the triumph of the modern democratic world.

So in summary of the above, you need (1) facts, regardless of how emotionally harmful it may be to provide them, and (2) an open, rigorously overseen due process in order to CONVICT someone, I.E. PROVE BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT THAT HE/SHE COMMITTED, a crime. Make no mistake, the author of the above article is accusing someone of a crime but has NOT PROVEN it and we should MAKE NO ASSUMPTION as to whether he/she is indeed a terribly traumatized and hurt individual or a false accuser. I reiterate that I am fully aware of how harsh this might sound, but the logical implications (slippery slope) of ANY alternative are unacceptable to me and most judicial processes.

Let me be clear: the law is intended to protect the innocent as much as it is to punish the guilty. In emotional circumstances it is easy to forget this, but I implore you to remember that especially in the United States you are INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY.

As an example of the very flawed reasoning in the comments here, an above poster said:
"As to why she didn't go to the police, she as the victim has every right to pursue the path of justice with she feels most comfortable. If she were to have gone to the police, it would have forced her to account the traumatic experience to various people, and, as many victims of rape attest, the recounting of the incident, especially strangers who may be predisposed to doubt the victim."

I am sorry but this is simply wrong. The victim does NOT have the right to pursue any path of justice he/she is most comfortable with. We may wish that were true, want it to be true, or think it morally desirable, but it is NOT A FACT and is simply WRONG. A simple counterexample: if he/she wishes to skin alive the alleged perpetrator and his family, including his children, this may give him/her the most satisfaction but IT IS NOT HIS/HER RIGHT TO DO SO AND IS AGAINST THE LAW.

If she goes to the police and follows the letter and spirit of the law she may very well be humiliated or feel even worse in some way. THAT DOES NOT CHANGE THE LAW. If the police officers obey the law, EVEN THOUGH YOU MAY NOT LIKE IT, that is how the law currently operates. If the police disobey the law, and ignore facts or in some way violate procedure you may take legal action against them. If they harass you, harm you, or in some other way cause injury resulting from legally unacceptable behavior you have options.

HOWEVER, please remember that there is a reverse side to this issue. What if a person had a bizarre set of beliefs or a mental state in which it was emotionally painful to speak his own name, or to acknowledge officers’ instructions, or otherwise interact with people? If he is accused of a terrible crime and must be questioned, interviewed, or arrested, do we skip these actions because we may hurt him emotionally? In our legal system this answer is essentially a flat “no” because our law provides for such behavior by police/officials, even if individuals may derive emotional harm from the interaction, because it is considered reasonable and fair. I sincerely understand and respect the pain that crimes can cause to victims, but sometimes you must overcome this pain in order to follow due process. It may be embarrassing or hurtful to detail a rape, but the alternative is vague accusation of crime without evidence.

Please understand the implications of allowing any claim without evidence in a courtroom. It may even be true that a detective or police officer trying to obtain this evidence is skeptical or questions your integrity, and this may even be hurtful, but it is well within their job description and right to do so. Just as I would never want for a human being to be raped, I would never want a human being to be falsely convicted of rape. Both are terrible crimes.

You must respect everyone involved here and their respective rights lest you commit a crime against an innocent accused.

I am not saying that the alleged victim shouldn’t receive counseling if he/she went through a traumatic experience, and the accused may be a morally bad person even if legally innocent, but this is our legal system.

That the victim should exclusively rely on systems outside of the US Court System to pursue legal justice for a criminal act (criminal as defined by the state and federal law) does not make logical sense but furthermore it does not help his/her cause if a crime was truly committed and criminal justice is sought. Again, and one final time, I want to reiterate that I feel enormous sympathy for the pain and suffering that may even be involved in the following of due process but even this is not an excuse to circumvent it.

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Anonymous posted on

You're absolutely correct from a legal standpoint. In a properly executed trial, guilt is determined by a jury/judge only after an equitable hearing of evidence and testimony conducted according to the standards of the U.S. judicial system. However:

1) I would submit that guilt in the court of public opinion need not be synonymous with guilt in the legal system, even in a healthy society. Those evidentiary protections exist chiefly to guard against the unjust imprisonment of a person by his/her government; they do not—and should not, as far as I'm concerned—serve as a proxy for one's own judgment. It's certainly not unheard of for an evidentiary technicality, however just and valid from a legal standpoint, to doom an otherwise compelling case.

NB: I am NOT arguing that we should form judgments purely on the emotive content of testimony, nor am I saying this individual's op-ed constitutes damning proof per se. (I would certainly prefer it if people approached criminal cases with a sensible degree of skepticism and a rational eye, as you advocate.) All I'm saying is that the strictures of the legal system may allow for one verdict when a reasoned interpretation of the facts dictates another. I think that's an important caveat to what you're arguing.

2) To address your response to the "every right to pursue the path" line: technically, that's true. You have the right to pursue whatever you damn well please from the legal system, but it doesn't mean you have a right to the resources of that system to advance it. For example: you'd almost certainly be thrown out of the room if you walked into an ADA's office and demanded that someone be skinned, but it's your right to try anyway.

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Anonymous posted on

Great point about the distinction between the burden of proof required for conviction and punishment by the government, and that required for public belief. Given that rape is such a sensitive, private, and damaging affair, it would be wrong to require anyone who bravely tells about their experiences with rape to be held to the same standard as a plantiff in a courtroom. Rape victims should not be put on trial when all they're trying to do is talk about what happened; it's wrong to deny them the privacy and anonymity to which they're entitled. m10 sees rape purely as a legal issue, and while that doesn't make him a "rape apologist" or participant in "rape culture," it does blind him to the real problems of rape and the terrible effects on rape victims. They should be able to discuss the terrible things that happened to them without being held to the evidentiary standards of the courtroom!

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Anonymous posted on

what the fuck? this many girls at columbia have been raped at one point in their lives? i had no idea rape is more common than i thought.

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Anonymous posted on

wonder if this was written by a man or a woman? Also, as for Dean Schollenberger's comment, I know he can't respond with regard to this specific student's case, and his hands are tied in terms of what he can say on the record, but his response to so many outraged student comments seems so trivial, like something copied and pasted from a handbook. I understand why he must or feels like he must use this tone, but it just seem like fluff.

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Anonymous posted on

One the one hand, reading between the lines it seems like the deans let the guy off because he's from a wealthy family. On the other hand, how does one put herself in position to be raped a second time by the same person? Third: The university is not the place to handle a rape case. if you got raped, go to the police. If rape is a violent crime - and I think it is - shouldn't it be taken to the police the way an assault would be?

Finally. Maybe she was raped. Maybe she wasn't. Maybe he did go further than she wanted the first time. But unless he pounced on her and dragged her to a room, it seems that there is a chance that she met him again and figured he wouldn't go beyond her boundary the next time. OK - from a legal perspective it may be rape, but will she take some responsibility for the second time. And in order to not put lots of innocent people behind bars, maybe one standard should be that if you willingly go on a date with someone after he supposedly raped you, and then decide to get intimate with that person (short of intercourse), you can't claim rape for the previous time. This is all just guessing on my part because we have no idea what really happened.

One big concern from a man's perspective is: it seems like rape is one crime where the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt does not apply. I know it's hard to prove rape, but unfortunately there've been too many cases of false accusations (Duke Lacrosse anyone?), and it's scary to think that if a woman has regrets - maybe without beer goggles the man doesn't look as attractive - she can cry rape, and then it's a roll of the dice to determine if you get convicted of a crime and spend time behind bars. If we are willing to see X number of guilty people walk free from assault charges in order to not convict one innocent person, shouldn't that standard apply to rape as well? Or are we willing to loosen the standards with rape, knowing that many more innocent people get convicted so we get a higher conviction rate for guilty people?

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Anonymous posted on

Let's stop all the vindictiveness here. Be sensible, everyone on every side.

The way I see it is this: What happened is fucking horrible, and the Columbia administration seems to be in error. However, they are legally prohibited from commenting or stating their side of the story. Moreover, none of us really know the entire story, only this unverified article.

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Anonymous posted on

I just can't even believe the skepticism and insensitivity of the people here. Of course we shouldn't believe everything we're told right off the bat, a little skepticism is healthy, but why is it that no one EVER believes rape victims? It's not as if all women got together one day and said, "Hey, to get back at men for treating us like second class citizens since the beginning of time, let's accuse them all of rape!" In fact quite the opposite happens, women get raped all the time and feel ashamed, guilty, as if they did something wrong and deserve it, and often years later, they realize they're not alone, and that it wasn't their fault, and that there were resources available to them that they didn't know about.

Even when women DO know of these resources, get rape kits done, go to the police, etc, the system doesn't always work in their favor. Case in point, when the assailant's family has a lot of money, or if the judge or jury thinks she "asked for it" because she went to his apartment, or had a few drinks with him. How was she to know he'd rape her? Should all dates be supervised? And perhaps this man raped the author twice in the same night, or maybe while she was figuring out the appropriate steps to take concerning the first rape, he attacked her again. You're right, we don't know the details, but why do you automatically but blame on her? Why is your first instinct to blame the victim?

Also, what sort of evidence do people need? She already stated the phone calls to rape crisis centers, eye witnesses, do you want a video tape of both rapes as they occurred, with her clearly and loudly protesting?

False accusations of any crime are terrible, and those who make them should be punished. However, the number of false accusations are EXPONENTIALLY outnumbered by unreported rapes, women's voices who are never heard because they are scared and beaten (both emotionally and sometimes physically) into submission.

So kudos to this woman for writing this article, and kudos for trying to take the appropriate steps.

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Anonymous posted on

Just want to weigh in here that I think there should be a serious exposition of the rules deliberating rape accusations on campus. Until that happens, I highly recommend that victims consider going to the police. My only evidence for that is circumstantial, as is the case with most of us. But the incentive is there for Columbia to avoid admitting rape occurred on campus, and the particulars of this case's treatment by the administration have a definite ring of truth to them. Also, why would this person write this article leveling these type of charges at the administration if not to redress the University's systemic mistreatment of rape victims to which they were exposed? Since it was an anonymous letter, why not make up some truly damning accusations, if this was really just about bitter revenge and not fixing a failed policy. I'll repeat, it rings very true... the responses here are overwhelmingly supportive, and I imagine that we as the student body can do something about this next year.

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Anonymous posted on

Agreed that an alleged crime ought to be handled by the real experts--the police--not half-trained university administrators.

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Anonymous posted on

This is a reply to some of the comments following my first post and the Editor’s note additions. I will again preface my comment by stating that my words will seem harsh in comparison to the often highly irrational and prejudicial alleged-victim-siding from previous posters. Nevertheless, rest assured I am not making any claim with respect to guilt nor do I mean to disrespect any victims of rape, which is a terrible crime.

The Editor’s note update on 5/16 seems reasonable. This piece is a pure opinion piece and it is now confirmed as NOT fact-checked. I stated this in my first post and want to reemphasize it. Being that we have NO CONFIRMED FACTS, NOTHING contained in this opinion piece should be taken at face value, even though it may potentially be 100% true. Some may call this cold-hearted rationality; I call it the foundation of modern democratic justice and human rights. The label, however, is not important as long as we all understand what we’re talking about. Conclusions or judgments based on fact-less accusations have no place in a US court of law.

"umm": your reply post is certainly intelligent and I think we are close to 100% agreement at least insofar as I understand your position.

Point 1: It is certainly true that public opinions (or individual moral judgments) do not always align with court verdicts. However, I think we both agree and understand that while the US court system may be imperfect in our eyes, the court of public opinion is infinitely more so. No human-made system is infallible at present, to my knowledge, and simply because the US court system is not perfect does not mean we should immediately revert back to the Code of Hammurabi or papal dictates as law. As you imply, in some cases individual morals may appear to succeed where current court procedure fails, but the point is that our system works BETTER OVERALL. You may prefer that hate crimes against churches are dealt with more harshly or one particular defiler be punished rather than let off, but are you prepared to accept mandatory prayer and the burning of heretics at the stake in order to get it? US law is ideally being constantly modified and updated to reflect the morality of the public as a whole as perceived by its elected representatives and thankfully not the peculiar ideas of any one single citizen or group of citizens. While US law may fall short of this ideal, most other legal systems do not even come close. You are essentially pointing out that we must continually work to improve our legal system (which I agree with) rather than seriously proposing that there is some better current alternative to the US court system based on popular opinion or emotions (which I think would be insane).

Point 2: This is a somewhat trivial technicality and while it may be true I do not think it indicates any substantive disagreement between us. The fact is that the President via pardons, Congress via laws, and the judge/jury via court protocol determine the punishment and range of punishments available for crimes, not the prosecutors or the victims. Technicalities are certainly meaningful in law and I do applaud your intent of being precise, but I think in this case it does not change the conversation much if at all.

“Paul”: I think that we severely disagree in our opinions but it is hard for me to say with complete certainty because of the ambiguity of your wording. For example you say:
“Given that rape is such a sensitive, private, and damaging affair, it would be wrong to require anyone who bravely tells about their experiences with rape to be held to the same standard as a plantiff in a courtroom. “
The problem with your statement is dead simple: you make no distinction between an accuser CLAIMING TO BE RAPED and someone who HAS BEEN PROVEN TO BE RAPED IN A COURT OF LAW. Free speech does not extend to libel and slander. I would AGREE with your statement if the accuser has evidence but no legal system to appeal to (think Africa) or has leveled charges that are validated in a US court of law. I would COMPLETELY DISAGREE if the accuser has REFUSED TO LEVEL CHARGES or has had their charges REJECTED by a US court of law. The problem is that if you are okay with the latter, then you must also be okay with any individual who would like to participate in the mass media and talk about any alleged crime they like and accuse whomever they like. If you make an exception for alleged rape, you must also make exceptions for alleged murder, alleged child abuse, alleged fraud, etc. Rape stories absolutely do not allow you to ignore the Constitutional rights of the accused.
In general, and especially in the context of the above article, I think there is a serious consideration of libel and slander IF the accuser is judged wrong about the rape in US courts. Although the article does not mention the alleged rapist’s name here, the alleged victim has leveled very serious accusations against this person to individuals within Columbia. Furthermore, through certain details in this article, the accuser may have indirectly revealed the identity of the accused to many others. Make absolutely no mistake here: you can ruin someone’s life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness though such public accusations. Refusing to let such stories undergo the scrutiny of the legal system may make emotional sense to some individuals but unfortunately those individuals must pay a price for this: they cannot expect the public to believe them nor can they expect the accused to not seek an injunction if they promulgate criminal accusations.

The rest of your post is equally flawed:
“Rape victims should not be put on trial when all they're trying to do is talk about what happened; it's wrong to deny them the privacy and anonymity to which they're entitled. m10 sees rape purely as a legal issue, and while that doesn't make him a "rape apologist" or participant in "rape culture," it does blind him to the real problems of rape and the terrible effects on rape victims. They should be able to discuss the terrible things that happened to them without being held to the evidentiary standards of the courtroom!”
It is not my understanding that you are entitled to make anonymous indictments and criminal accusations publicly about other individuals which is what we are primarily discussing here. I do not “see this as a legal issue” as much as it IS A LEGAL ISSUE. Certainly rape victims have been horribly wronged and they should be granted the fullest extent of their First Amendment rights. The problem is you are automatically equating those who CLAIM to be raped with those who HAVE BEEN RAPED. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME. Even if 99.99% of alleged rapes led to convictions I would remain completely adamant that you remember this. Alleged victims should be allowed to discuss precisely what they are allowed to discuss under the First Amendment and which does not infringe on the rights of other people. Alleged victims should NOT be provided free reign to publicly libel or slander whomever they choose without recourse. Your statement seems to imply the latter.

I also wanted to reply to Katie, sorry for this enormous post.
Katie: I do not doubt your good intentions and I completely understand your life experiences may strongly sway your interpretation of the article but I think your line of reasoning is extremely dangerous.

You state the following:
“Also, what sort of evidence do people need? She already stated the phone calls to rape crisis centers, eye witnesses, do you want a video tape of both rapes as they occurred, with her clearly and loudly protesting?

False accusations of any crime are terrible, and those who make them should be punished. However, the number of false accusations are EXPONENTIALLY outnumbered by unreported rapes, women's voices who are never heard because they are scared and beaten (both emotionally and sometimes physically) into submission.”
You ask what evidence is needed, and I would simply say “legally admissible evidence.” This article and everything stated in it could be a complete fabrication and is not supported by a scrap of evidence heretofore. The author may be the most honest person in the world and we may be reading the truest record of events we’ll ever get, but that does NOT make her anonymous article evidence. I do not mean to be condescending, but you seem to be naïvely accepting her word as fact unquestioningly because you sympathize and/or empathize with her or because one particular statistic may be in her favor. This is an extremely dangerous line of reasoning because it quite simply replaces facts with speculation. If you or a family member were falsely accused of rape and a similar article was printed in a widely circulated media source I am sure you can see how there would be a need for more than what we are provided above.
The main logical result that would be concluded from your post is that if 9 out of 10 alleged murderers are convicted, then we should drop charges against every 10th accused and skip to sentencing for the rest. The other main alternative would be something along the lines of “since most accused are guilty and since most rapes aren’t reported, we should just convict everyone accused of rape since that will make women less frightened about reporting it.”
One final thing I would like to add is that lest any of my statements imply I am a “rape apologist” you should be aware that I am also therefore a “Holocaust apologist,” “pedophilia apologist,” a “murder apologist,” and many other unsavory epithets. This is because I do not see any fundamental reason why my arguments should not apply to these other crimes as well. If there is evidence and due process that determines a verdict of rape, or murder, or other crimes I have absolutely no issue with punishing the criminals who are responsible to the fullest extent of the law. I only have a problem when accusations are equated with and used in lieu of facts, and I have this problem whether the accusation is that of petty theft or genocide.

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Anonymous posted on

It's horrible to realize that an attrocity such as this can slip through the cracks or be influenced by money and power here at Columbia. What's worse though is the fact that this mirrors the real world in a large sense, except that the real world is usually lost.

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Anonymous posted on

Conflict of Interest

Time to take organizations, schools and churches out of the business of dealing with criminal events on their properties and have the real jurisprudence system deal with such things as rape, child molestations and sexual abuse. These organizations are more interested in maintaining their reputation, fund raising and image, rather than ensuring that justice is done. Let the real courts and the real police handle real crimes.

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HSIiZOvYrIAezwSufCTixs posted on

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