Thursday, February 25, 2010

New report findings on college sexual assault

The Center for Public Integrity released a report this week about the judicial proceedings and consequences for accused sexual assault perpetrators on college and university campuses. Not surprisingly, the group found that the consequences alleged assailants face are minimal. Expulsion is rare and only done in the cases when the judicial board believes that he or she poses an ongoing threat. Such judicial boards admit that their goal is not punishment but rather education. But even this re-education seems minimal and as we have documented in several of the sexual assault cases we have covered, the institution often takes very few steps to minimize the emotional and potential physical distress to the victim. This leaves alleged victims having to deal with on-campus encounters with both the perpetrator and other unsympathetic parties. While the alleged assailant may receive a suspension, it is often the victim who will leave the school permanently.
Schools seem betwixt and between about these issues. They clearly are not serving their students well with this quasi justice system. And they would rather not be dealing with these issues at all. But the criminal justice system is not the most conducive place for dealing with on-campus sexual assault crimes either. Cases frequently are not strong enough for prosecutors to take on.
So it seems that neither the institutions they attend nor the justice system they have access to are serving these (mostly) female students well--or (barely) at all.