ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

An Explosive Report on Rape: Part III

Inability to Adequately Punish

December 1, 2014 by Alex McHugh

As we continue to break down the issues in Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s explosive Rolling Stone piece, we turn now to her claim that “no university on Earth” is equipped to adjudicate a rape case—a point that, again, ACTA has emphasized repeatedly. Rapists need to be put in prison, and that is the work of the criminal justice system.

One of the most telling pieces of evidence to come out in the wake of this report is an uncut interview that a student reporter did with Nicole P. Eramo, the associate dean who chairs UVA’s sexual misconduct board. She admits to pursuing “not guilty” verdicts for students who admit guilt during proceedings, since, in her opinion, it shows “understanding,” and she makes it clear how little the misconduct board thinks of its own investigations. They know the investigations are insufficient and the standard of evidence too low to be fair, and so they act accordingly. This is a kangaroo court in every sense of the word. The student reporter discusses conversations with professors serving on the board who have little knowledge of its procedures and Eramo says many things in the video suggesting that her personal preference for a rehabilitative approach is driving the schools’ handling of sexual assault. Concern for the safety of the campus is worryingly missing from her account of the current procedures in place.  

Erdley’s piece also offers a particularly compelling—and chilling—argument for the inadequacy of suspension or expulsion. First, she cites evidence that most rapists are repeat-offenders: “roughly nine out of 10 rapes are committed by serial offenders, who are responsible for an astonishing average of six rapes each.” That means that even if the university expels a rapist, the community is far from safe. Erdley gives a recent example, Hannah Graham’s suspected killer:

Suspect Jesse Matthew Jr., a 32-year-old UVA hospital worker, will be charged with Hannah Graham's "abduction with intent to defile," and a chilling portrait will emerge of an alleged predator who got his start, a decade ago, as a campus rapist. Back in 2002, and again in 2003, Matthew was accused of sexual assault at two different Virginia colleges where he was enrolled, but was never prosecuted. In 2005, according to the new police indictment, Matthew sexually assaulted a 26-year-old and tried to kill her. DNA has also reportedly linked Matthew to the 2009 death of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, who disappeared after a Metallica concert in Charlottesville. 

Expulsion would not have stopped him from walking away freely into the community and likely continuing his crimes. On-campus adjudication, even when it does “work,” is insufficient in every way. 

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Ribbit

December 01, 2014 - 3:14 PM |

The UVA case needs to be investigated . . . but not for the reasons that might be immidately apparent. There is growing skepticism aroudn the internet. The young woman describes incredible brutality that would certainly have resulted in serious physical trauma (falling through a glass table, being punched, etc) and yet there is no evidence of this being the case. She claimed to have gone to class the next day and did not mention the after effects of the trauma . . . or the reactions of friends to it. This is very strange in a story that is so detailed. Maybe this case should not be taken at face value.

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