Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Why Campuses Are Ill-Equipped To Handle Sexual Assault

When Campus Rapists Are Repeat Offenders:

For several years, researchers have been fiercely debating how many campus rapes are committed by serial offenders. A 2002 study based on surveys of 1,882 college men and published in Violence and Victims, an academic journal, found that as many as 63 percent of those who admitted to behaviors that fit the definition of rape or attempted rape said they had engaged in those behaviors more than once.
But in 2015, a study of 1,642 men at two different colleges was published in JAMA Pediatrics and found that while a larger number of men admitted to behaviors that constituted rape, a smaller percentage of them, closer to 25 percent, were repeat offenders.
The difference could affect how universities approach rape investigations and prevention. For example, repeat cases raise questions of whether universities should be faster to remove students from campus after accusations.
Or, whether police, prosecutors and jail officials should be faster to arrest, prosecute and incarcerate students who are clearly guilty of the crime of rape.
“There are repeat offenders who seek out victims and will do this time and time again with impunity because there is no punishment,” said Annie E. Clark, a co-founder of End Rape on Campus, a nonprofit organization that works to assist those who have been raped and to prevent campus sexual violence. She added, “Whatever the number is, it’s way, way too high.”
A few recent cases, and the lawsuits they have spawned — like the one at Kansas State — have again put a spotlight on repeat campus rapes, and the questions they leave about whether something could have been done. Many university administrators say they are hampered in sexual assault investigations by women who are reluctant to identify their assailants or press charges.
Then frankly, that should be the end of the case. If the victim won't press charges in the criminal justice system, with trained law enforcement, investigators, prosecutors and judges handling these serious charges, the universities should be exempt from action at that point.

As I've repeatedly said for years on this blog: there is no one on a university campus (not in the law school, not in the legal department, not in the EOO offices, no one) who is trained sufficiently to deal with seriousness of these kinds of allegations/charges.

And now we have "campus sexual assault investigators" coming forward and admitting that very thing:  they should not be in the position of having to deal with these kinds of crimes because, well, they're CRIMES and thus out of the purvey of a layperson.
Danielle Dempsey-Swopes, a former Kansas State University sexual assault investigator, said she urged the college to be more aggressive in handling sexual assault complaints, ultimately reporting the university to the United States Education Department. “It makes me feel terrible that we might have been able to prevent it,” she said.
She and others at Kansas State say the problem was that the university had taken the position that it was not responsible for investigating accusations of rape in fraternity houses because they are off campus.
In her complaint to the Education Department, Ms. Dempsey-Swopes said she was ordered to “stall” investigating a rape accusation at a fraternity house because the university did not want to be responsible. Also, the departing president of the university’s Interfraternity Council, Zach Lowry, said the university referred sexual assault complaints involving fraternities to his organization without investigation.
“When we get these, they’re pretty disturbing,” said Mr. Lowry, a senior political science major from Stockton, Kan. “When we give them to our judicial board, they’re students. They’re not trained to handle investigations.”
No one who is paid by a university is qualified to handle these investigations because they are compromised, right from the start, by virtue of being agents of the university. The job of the university is to protect the university, not the students or victims of crime.

Then you have students who feel the schools aren't doing enough to protect them, turning around and suing the schools for negligence, which is like suing the locksmith for inadequately installing locks the rapist broke through when he committed a rape. Or like asking the owners of an apartment complex where a sexual assault occurred to investigate and adjudicate the facts of the case. Or a bar manager, or the parking lot owner, or (fill in the blank). It's simply not the role of the universities and colleges to be in these positions.

Pretty simple: a crime is a crime, no matter where it takes place. A victim of sexual assault is a victim of sexual assault, no matter where it takes place. But the appropriate, nay, the ONLY venue these cases should be investigated in is the criminal justice system.

We are trivializing sexual assault by putting the investigations in the hands of college "sexual assault investigators" who possess neither the knowledge, nor temperament, nor skill set to reach a valid conclusion. And then you place the final verdict in the hands of a college judicial board, the same trained experts who also hear cases on such "crimes" like cheating, plagiarism, and smoking ban violations. In other words, also completely unqualified to sit in judgement of such a thing.

College and universities should be put out of the sexual assault investigation business, period. And a clear adjudication of the matter in the criminal justice system would then be the only road map they would need with regard to suspension, expulsion and removal from campus of the offender.

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