“Let’s Do Away With the Burden of Proof In Sex Cases”

Stanford student Elisabeth Dee, class of 2016, one of the organizers of a demonstration called “Carry that Weight” where students were urged to carry a pillow or mattress around for a day to symbolize the burden placed upon survivors of sexual assault, has called on the school to actively reduce the burden of proof required to find someone guilty of sexual assault. Stanford already uses the lowest burden of proof legally permissible, “preponderance of the evidence,” and young men now have fewer rights in college sex tribunals than illegals crossing the border, but for Dee, that’s too many. She proceeded to mouth a hostility to due process that may be unprecedented in this blog’s reporting, and that’s saying a lot.

Stanford, Dee clucked, “puts so much emphasis on the burden of proof.” The school should not be focusing on “defending the perpetrator, because essentially burden of proof is a defense of the perpetrator.” Dee continued: “No one should have to” prove they’ve been raped. “You should take people at their word because nobody would lie about this kind of painful experience.” (Both the article and Dee use the term “burden of proof” when it appears they really mean “standard of proof.”)

Dee obviously is terribly unschooled in notions of fairness that are foundational to our traditions of justice, notions that pre-date both our Constitution and even Magna Carta. We have standards of proof not to protect the guilty but the innocent. Dee says they aren’t necessary because an accusation of sexual assault is as good as a conviction, an echo of the warped feminist mantra that women don’t lie about rape, a meme as inane and as wrong as “she asked for it.” The fact is, Stanford ought to raise it’s burden for sexual assault, given the life-altering consequences of  rape lies and wrongful expulsions, and Stanford’s student newspaper ought to condemn her comments instead of printing them without comment.Let’s rip off the scab and reveal an ugly pus: Dee’s misandry is about par for the course when mainstream feminists and progressives talk about sexual assault. The following comments are from this year alone, and they weren’t made by outlier nutcases who have a blog but no job:

  • Amanda Childress, Sexual Assault Awareness Program coordinator at Dartmouth College, declared that campus policies aren’t going far enough to protect students. She asked: “Why could we not expel a student based on an allegation?” Dartmouth defended Childress’s comment, noting that she “was asking a question—a provocative one—meant to generate dialogue around complex issues for which answers are necessary to continue to strengthen and promote fair and equitable processes at all colleges and universities.”
  • Ms. Magazine quoted Caroline Heldman, a professor at Occidental College on suits filed by men for alleged violations of their due process rights in connection with sexual assault claims: “These lawsuits are an incredible display of entitlement, the same entitlement that drove them to rape.
  • California’s new “affirmative consent” law would require consent at every step of a sexual encounter. The co-author of the bill in the Assembly, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, was asked how an innocent person is supposed to prove consent. She said: “Your guess is as good as mine.”
  • petition to ban a statue of a sleepwalking man at Wellesley College said the statue was “a source of apprehension, fear, and triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault for many members of our campus community,” and “a source of undue stress for many Wellesley College students.” Zoe Magid, a Wellesley College junior, said this about the statue “. . . it’s making students on campus feel unsafe . . . .”
  • Sen. Claire McCaskill circulated an extensive survey about sexual assault to 350 college and university presidents. The survey classifies persons who make accusations of sexual misconduct as “victims,” and in one place calls persons merely accused of sexual misconduct “offenders.” Then on page 14, it contains this query: “Below is a list of policies and procedures that may discourage victims from disclosing and reporting assaults at some schools . . . . 1. Disclosure of offender’s rights in the adjudication process . . . .” The implication: it is somehow improper to insure that students accused of serious sexual offenses are aware of their rights.
  • A jury acquitted former Dartmouth student Parker Gilbert of raping a female student at the school in a “he said/she said” dispute. A juror told a reporter “(The woman’s) story of how the night played out, the evidence wasn’t there to support that.” And: “There is tons and tons of evidence that just doesn’t add up.” But WISE, an organization that seeks to empower victims of domestic and sexual violence, issued a formal statement: “Today’s decision in the Dartmouth rape trial of Parker Gilbert is devastating and there is no doubt that it sends a terrible message to survivors of sexual assault.”
  • Duke University Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek was asked what would happen if two students got drunk to the point of incapacity, and then had sex. “Assuming it is a male and female, it is the responsibility in the case of the male to gain consent before proceeding with sex,” said Wasiolek.
  • Jessica Valenti ridiculed the efforts of three mothers who started Families Advocating for Campus Equality (FACE) that seeks to raise awareness about the injustices faced by presumptively innocent college students accused of sexual misconduct. Each of the three founders of FACE has been touched directly by campus rape injustice: their sons were ensnared by it.
  • Ezra Klein evinced satisfaction that possibly innocent young men will be expelled for rapes they didn’t commit: “Critics worry that colleges will fill with cases in which campus boards convict young men (and, occasionally, young women) of sexual assault for genuinely ambiguous situations. Sadly, that’s necessary for the law’s success. It’s those cases — particularly the ones that feel genuinely unclear and maybe even unfair, the ones that become lore in frats and cautionary tales that fathers e-mail to their sons — that will convince men that they better Be Pretty D–n Sure.”

Elisabeth Dee didn’t call for accused rapists to be hanged, and there was no racial animus to her rant, but her disdain for due process is an echo of the lynch mobs at the hanging trees of the Old South. This hostility to due process is something that advocates against sexual violence, including mainstream feminist writers and bloggers, tolerate without significant complaint. They would do well to read the history of the deep south. Underlying the defense of lynchings of black men and boys for rape was the assumption that rape accusers were “victims” just because they said so. The hangman and his sympathizers had no doubts about the guilt of the men and boys hanged –“their guilt was clear in every instance,” clucked one writer. Due process wasn’t just unnecessary to the fair administration of justice when rape was alleged, it was a hindrance to the fair administration of justice. The criminal justice system was “incapable” of meting out the punishment that was needed. The motivating impulse of the lynch mob was that the system could not adequately respond to rape by black men. As one lynching symptathizer put it, lynchings “are extraordinary measures demanded by extraordinary occasions.”

Sound familiar? See the quotes above. Battling injustice with injustice that puts innocents at risk is something all people of good will — including feminists — ought to condemn. Sadly, they won’t.

As for Elisabeth Dee’s assertion that women don’t lie about rape — well, that’s simply wrong. Some women do lie about rape. These are some of the stories in the recent news:

A 20-year-old woman has been jailed for six years after she falsely accused a man of rape that led a gang to beat him to death. A woman was jailed for a false rape claim that caused a young man to be arrested and to have his life unravel.

A 23-year-old mother was charged with obstructing justice and making a false rape report after lying that she’d been raped when she was really having sex with her boyfriend and another man.

Texas Tech police say a female student admitted to making false statements about a sexual assault that allegedly occurred in September.

Another student — a 20-year-old — has been charged with lying about rape.

A woman who falsely claimed her friend’s son had raped her in Aberdeen has been jailed.

A 24-year-old woman is accused of false reporting to police that she had been violently raped while sitting in her car in a park — the police uncovered a Craigslist ad where the woman solicited men to “rape” her.

woman lied that a police officer sexually assaulted her.

In Canada, a complaint by a 37-year-old woman that she’d been sexually assaulted was found to have no validity.

A woman was sentenced to probation and community service last month after making a false report about a home invasion and sexual assault.

Another woman pled guilty to lying about an abduction and sexual assault.

And we have given up reporting on India — the Rape Crisis Cell of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) says that more than half of the rape cases registered with the women’s panel between April 2013 and July 2014 were found to be false.

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4 thoughts on ““Let’s Do Away With the Burden of Proof In Sex Cases”

  1. The “one in five campus women experiencing sexual” seems hard to believe. This implies that at many as one in five campus men are rapists. Even to an informed layman, such as myself, the methods by which this statistic was derived seems very dubious. Perhaps a credible study should be performed by an independent person rather than a politically involved player. Credible figures seems important to this debate. One rape is one rape too many. However, policy based on incorrect statistics may have unforeseen consequences. As an example, if one if five pedestrians were being mugged then it might result in a general curfew and worse. Similarly, vastly inflated figures regarding sexual assault may result in extreme (but unwarranted and counter productive) responses.

    I’d be happy to contribute to crowd-funded study to get to the truth of the matter.

    1. Innocence must always be protected. I would never trust a system without any kind of due-process to properly investigate. There are many cases of sexual assault which are true….and the offenders need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But for the cases which are not true…..the innocence of the accused person must be protected. Having the power to throw somebodies life away at will by making an accusation is a power which does not belong in the hands of anybody. I am writing from the perspective of a sexual assault victim. I was sexually abused when I was a young child, about 4 or 5 years old. It happened when I was in a foster home. I have absolutely zero tolerance for sexual assault/abuse! However, later in life as a college age young adult without the financial backing to hire a decent lawyer, I was falsely accused of damaging a property when a roommate threw a house party. I was thrown in jail. Even with the “due-process” that I went through regarding this property damage case, the specific county where this transpired and it’s flawed criminal justice system did not due me any justice at all. I was arrested and detained, they later shackled chains around me and I was shipped off on a prisoner transport van before I even had a chance to speak to anybody regarding the “accusation” which led to the issuing of the warrant for my arrest. The pain and suffering I experienced, physical and psychological, from being an innocent person falsely accused was horrific. Even as a victim of sexual assault myself, I would never want anybody to suffer what I suffered when I was a victim of a broken/flawed “due-process” criminal justice system and falsely accused of property damage. Somebody had the power to throw my life off course over a false claim of property damage, somebody or some group/organization. It was wrong what happened to me. It was absolutely disgusting how I was treated. It was un-American. Enough flaws already exist in our current “due-process” criminal justice system, I can’t imagine a society whereby this whole entire process is skipped over and we go from accusation to declaration of guilt and conviction. I do not trust this and will not ever trust this type of system, and once again, I myself am a victim of sexual assault. I am deeply disturbed by the data which states or claims that 1 in 5 women are or will be sexually assaulted while attending college here in America. If that 1 in 5 assault taking place on a campus is the same offender then it won’t be hard to convict, the guy will have a track record of claims against him. But likely it is not the same guy always being accused by multiple woman, therefore it is potentially fair to assume that these 1 in 5 woman who are being assaulted are potentially being assaulted by the 1 in 5 population of young men on campus. Once again, this is assuming that each campus isn’t dealing with an isolated loner (or a few loners) serial sexual assaulter. I AM COMPLETELY DISGUSTED AND HORRIFIED IF THIS IS TRUE. If 1 in 5 woman will be sexually assaulted in college, I will never roll those dice with my potential future daughter, or niece, or any female family or friend. A 20% chance of being sexually assaulted is not a chance any sane parent, or any sane female deciding on whether or not to move to a new campus or community for college would ever take! And……if 1 in 5 young men in America is a rapist/sexual assaulter……what the f*&@ is going on in America??? If this statistic is anything close to true……20% of our young men are sick and demented animals that would attack or assault our woman….OMG……I am not proud to be an American….if this statistic is true. I PRAY THESE STATISTICS ARE NOT TRUE. I support Glen Laslett’s comment above whereby he is suggesting for a new, independent, unbiased study of this issue by a non-politically affiliated organization/research group. IF THIS IS THE STORY WHICH WILL PERMANENTLY STICK IN THE MINDS OF MOST AMERICANS…….20% of our daughters will be sexually assaulted by 20% of our young men during their college years…….expect to see a major drop in college attendance, but potentially a boom in on-line or alternative education, and a major boom in sexual offender prison populations. Once again, I pray that nobody goes through what I went through as a sexual assault victim, but I also pray nobody goes through what I went through as the victim of a false accusation (property damage charges from a house party) which led to a false prosecution, which created much pain and suffering in my life. I REALLY REALLY REALLY HOPE AND PRAY WE GET THIS RIGHT.

    2. At the risk of appearing heartless, consider giving additional thought to the blithe statement, “one rape is too many.” We simply cannot eradicate rape any more than we can eradicate any crime, and as always we must find a balance between security and liberty.

      Rape is, of course, a terrible crime, but to eliminate it as the ‘one is too many’ assertion implies, is to suggest a society where complete and total surveillance is the norm.

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