Modern-day feminists and social justice warriors alike have screeched about the so-called "rape culture" pervading college campuses, parading statistics about how supposedly one in five women is sexually assaulted on college campuses.
However, K.C. Johnson and Stuart Taylor's new book The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack On Due Process At America's Universities completely destroys the myth of rape culture on college campuses, and how this myth has had a detrimental impact on due process rights.
Here are nine things you need to know about the campus rape epidemic myth.
1. The one in five statistic is a lie. It is a statistic that has been repeated ad nauseam by the left, including by former President Barack Obama. It's completely bogus.
The statistic doesn't make any sense, as it would mean that there are 400,000-500,000 annual sexual assaults, and yet there have only been 4,558 to 5,335 reported sexual assault incidents on college campuses per year from 2012-2014. Additionally, sexual assaults have declined nationwide by over 50 percent from 1997 to 2013.
The reason for this contradiction is because the one in five statistic was conjured from phony studies that used small sample sizes and faulty line of questioning, as Taylor explained in an interview with the Daily Wire:
They never ask these respondents, these women, "Have you been raped?" They never ask, "Have you been sexually assaulted?" because they know from historical experience that the answers will give you a very low rate, probably as low or lower than the one-in-40 that I mentioned earlier. They ask questions like, "Have you ever had sex with someone when you were intoxicated?" And if the answer is yes, they check that as a rape. "Have you ever had sex with somebody when you didn't really want to," whether or not you told him you didn't really want to. If the answer to that is yes, they check it as a rape, and so on down the list...they include a whole bunch of things that neither the law nor common understanding would classify as rape or sexual assault but these surveys do; they classify it that way.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), a more reliable source than the surveys that produced the one in five statistic, has estimated the rate at which women have been sexually assaulted on college campuses is actually one in 40.
2. The aforementioned statistic was used as the basis for policy under the Obama administration that violates due process rights. In April 2011, the Obama administration issued a letter to campuses nationwide that strong-armed them into doing the following:
- Lowering the standard of proof for sexual assault and rape from a "clear and convincing evidence,"to a "preponderance of evidence" standard;
- Essentially eliminating cross-examination of the accuser;
- Allowing double jeopardy–the accuser can ask for the college to try the case again if the college rules against the accuser;
- Forcing campus investigations to proceed at a faster than necessary rate;
- Subjecting people accused of sexual assault to "interim measures," such as being removed from their dorms, before the investigation commences.
In total, the above measures have severely curtailed due process rights and have resulted in dire consequences for multiple college students.
3. Over 100 lawsuits have been filed by college students who claim that they were falsely accused of sexual assaults and denied due process rights. Taylor and Johnson's book provides 40 examples of this, but one of the most egregious examples that Taylor highlighted in his interview with the Daily Wire took place at Amherst College in February 2012.
Two students, identified in the book under the pseudonyms Michael Cheng and Alice Stanton, began kissing each other on the lips in front of a crowd people and ended up taking their actions to a room, where Stanton performed oral sex on Cheng. Stanton was also flirting with another male student through text message and enticed him to bring his "military trained bod" to her room after she gave Cheng oral sex.
There was just one problem: Cheng was the boyfriend of Stanton's roommate, who was out of town for the weekend. Stanton's actions resulted in ending Cheng's relationship and her ex-communication from her circle of friends. About a year and half later, Stanton, who became a part of the feminist ideologue crowd, took advantage of the Obama administration's guidelines to falsely claim that Cheng sexually assaulted her.
Ironically, Taylor noted that it was actually Cheng who was sexually assaulted because "he was passed out drunk" when their sexual encounter occurred, while she was only "slightly tipsy." But the lack of due process in the campus's investigation resulted in Cheng being expelled from the campus.
Cheng and his attorney were later able to pull together Stanton's text messages to prove that her story was bogus, but Amherst College refused to re-open the case.
4. Many leftists claim that it isn't a big deal that some students are kicked off campus for being falsely accused of sexual assault. It's actually a very traumatic experience. For instance, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) said in a 2015 congressional hearing, "If there are ten people who have been accused, and under a reasonable likelihood standard maybe one or two did it, it seems better to get rid of ten people."
The congressman added, "We're not talking about depriving them of life or liberty, we're talking about them being transferred to another university, for crying it out loud."
Polis is vastly understating the consequences of being falsely accused of sexual assault. Taylor pointed out that it's actually incredibly difficult for someone who's been smeared across campus and in media headlines as a sexual assaulter to rebound from it because it's difficult to get into another college and they will be ostracized socially. The consequences: suicide attempts, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Here is one example mentioned in the book of a student under the alias of Len Reddan, who was falsely accused of rape in 2012 by a student under the alias of Jennifer Armstrong. The university exonerated Reddan, but the damage had been done:
Even after Armstrong's lack of credible evidence forced the university to clear Reddan, he was shunned by his friends, and he dropped out of school in 2015. "He called me sobbing in mid-semester and said, 'I can't take this anymore. I'm so tired. I can't do this anymore," his mother recalled. "It broke my heart. It still does. As a mom it's impossible to hear.
Now 22, Reddan suffers from severe anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, which have harmed his physical health. "I get to college," Reddan recalled, "and then all of my dreams and aspirations and everything just go out the window a month after I get there. You feel like you're on top of the world, and then someone makes up something about that completely destroys you....It destroyed my reputation....And [in his home town], I'll be at a bar, and some girl's like, 'What's your name?' and I tell her, [and then she says], 'Oh, I've heard stories about you.'
"His life has been destroyed by what the process has done to him emotionally," Reddan's mother added. "He feels like he'll never be normal again. [He has said,] 'I wouldn't commit suicide, but I think a lot about killing myself. As of March 2016, Reddan was still taking medications and receiving counseling but was having trouble completing courses at another college.
"We've all of heard cases, stories–and they're true stories, some of them–of women being terribly traumatized for many years, maybe for the rest of their lives, by having been raped," Taylor said. "Well, the trauma seems to keep quite similar when it's experienced by a male who's been wrongfully accused. Obviously, nothing's been done to him physically, but in terms of the psychological harms, I think the situations are quite similar and they're really, really horrible."
5. The media has a bad habit of overhyping false stories of sexual assault. No example illustrates this better than in 2014, when reporter Sabrina Erdely scoured through college campuses determined to find a story to prove that campus rape culture exists. She ended by publishing a story about Jackie Coakley, who claimed that she was gang-raped and brutally assaulted by seven members of University of Virginia's Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. Erdely's ideological determination to prove the existence of campus rape culture resulted in sloppy journalism on her part, as she took Coakley's word at face value and only interviewed those who were sympathetic to the campus rape culture narrative. Erdely failed to interview the accused fraternity members.
Erdely's published article went viral and was widely hailed by the media as an exceptional piece of journalism. When others, like Reason's Robby Soave, began questioning the obvious holes in the story, the media mocked them as truthers. The problem was that eventually it was discovered that Coakley had concocted the tale of the gang-rape in a vain attempt to win over a male student in whom she had a romantic interest. Rolling Stone eventually had to retract the story.
Instead of using the incident as a lesson in proper journalism, the media instead tried to spin the story as necessary to highlight the problem of campus rape culture, even though it was an inaccurate story.
6. Some campus bureaucrats actually try to pressure students into providing false testimony against students accused of sexual assault. Taylor and Johnson's book points to an example of a female student at Colgate University who went by the name "OP" on a Yik Yak thread in January 2016 in which she confessed to giving false testimony toward a male student accused of sexual assault due to bureaucratic pressure.
"I really was pressured to say certain things," OP wrote. "It wore me down. It wasn't like I was trying to lie, but they call you in for questioning, it's intimidat[io]n."
OP described the questioning she received as like "being interrogated by the police."
"I didn't argue when the investigator said things I knew weren't true," OP wrote. "I did at first, but I eventually got too confused and intimidated."
She called for an "unbiased" process, although people in the thread were excoriating her for providing false testimony.
This example illustrates how even though the Obama administration certainly forced college campuses into establishing these kangaroo court systems, the ideological fanaticism of campus bureaucrats makes them more than willing to go along with the process to advance the narrative.
7. Another one of the justifications given for the kangaroo court systems is a statistic claiming that only two to eight percent of sexual assault claims are false. This is another bogus statistic. Taylor and Johnson explain that the statistic originates from studies that only count claims that have been thoroughly examined as false, not claims that would be considered "unfounded" by law enforcement because they didn't meet the legal standards of sexual assault and didn't distinguish between claims proven to be false and those that were left as "uncertain."
The book pieces together more reputable studies offering contrasting information, such as a 2012 Urban Institute study that found that 15 percent of men accused of sexual assault were proven to be innocent through DNA evidence, and a 2016 dissertation which found that 66 percent of sexual assault allegations from a local police department were classified as "uncertain."
8. Contrary to the leftist narrative, athletes on campus do not routinely get away with sexual assault. To be sure, there are star athletes who "sometimes receive favorable treatment by schools," as the book acknowledges. However, the book notes that "athletes' visibility provides perverse incentives" for universities to make examples out of them to advance the rape culture narrative, as Taylor told the Daily Wire:
One example is that last fall, Yale kicked out its basketball captain in the middle of one of the greatest seasons they've ever had on a ridiculous allegation. Even if you take the woman's word for what happened it's ridiculous, and she didn't want to make a complaint. Yale sort of forced her to make a complaint in order to make themselves look like, "Oh, boy, we're really being tough on rape, we kicked out the basketball captain." It was an outrage, a travesty, and the people at Yale that did this should all be fired, but they won't be because that's how Yale operates.
9. States have abetted the kangaroo court systems on college campuses through "affirmative consent" laws. Taylor explained to the Daily Wire how ludicrous such laws were:
And affirmative consent basically means that there's a presumption that every sex act was a crime on the part of the male unless, you know, he can prove that every step of the way he explicitly asked for permission, or at least implicitly. So, "May I touch you here? May I touch you there? May I touch you in the other"– if you forgot to say "May I touch you in the other place" and you touched her in the other place, bang! That's a sexual assault under these laws...
Taylor also pointed out that it's hypocritical that the laws only apply to college students, adding that state legislators supporting the laws are only doing so to pander to the feminist radicals.
"I think some of them may come to their senses when some of their own sons are railroaded out of college, but it may take awhile for that to sink in," Taylor said.
Taylor's full interview with the Daily Wire can be read here.
Follow Aaron Bandler on Twitter @bandlersbanter.