Sun. Aug 7th, 2022

Solutions offered for moving forward

Sexual assault incidents continue to be a controversial issue on college campuses. The amount of research studies that focus on sexual assault cases happening on college campuses continue to grow. Statistics also continue to change. More and more college women are speaking out about the events that they have experienced. While I fully agree that victims should be the primary focus of sexual assault reports, I do recognize a severe lack of media attention given to the college men who have been falsely accused of these damaging allegations. This happens more frequently than we hear.

An increasing number of men are suing their colleges for the way these situations are handled by the school. Brian Harris of St. Joseph’s University in Pennsylvania, Kevin Parisi of Drew University in New Jersey, and Daniel Kopin of Brown University, are examples of innocent men who are being accused of inappropriate behavior towards women. Their stories are similar to the most extreme of the  recent false sexual assault accusation stories, the Duke University lacrosse team case.

I am here to stand up for those who have been falsely accused sexual assault. I have heard and read the stories of men in college who strongly feel that the school system has treated them unfairly when handling these. There is inadequate discussion about the rights of the accused. We forget to look at both sides of a situation unbiased partly because of the natural sympathy we feel towards women. As a woman, I think that it is necessary to look at this issue from a different lens and speak up for men.

The 2012 FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, titled “False Allegations of Adult Crimes,” states that women perpetrate the majority of fabricated adult crime offenses reported. While we sympathize with victims of sexual assault (who mainly consist of women), all situations are a two–way street. Falsely accusing a person of sexual assault is not only detrimental to their reputation but may result in psychological damage, depression, and the destruction of a potential career path. This is not an article written to defend those are indeed, guilty of sexual assault crimes, this is merely a way to stimulate thinking and increase student awareness of both sides to the story. So much focus immediately goes to the accuser and we neglect to focus on the other side of the situation. It is absolutely possible to walk to West Chester’s Public Safety, recite a story out of revenge and carelessly disrupt the life of an innocent man.

Yes, I agree that women should speak up if they have experienced sexual assault. Men should also speak up if they feel they have been wrongly accused. Students who are suspicious or aware of a friend who may have fabricated a sexual assault accusation should speak up. It is no excuse to be guilty and regretful over a one night stand, and report sexual assault. It is also not an excuse to falsely report sexual assault out of a downward spiral of depression, revenge, mere ignorance to the definition of sexual assault, or purely for attention. Knowing men that this has happened to, makes me passionate about equal rights for those who have simply been in the “wrong place at the wrong time,” or involving themselves with the wrong woman at college.

West Chester University’s “timely warnings” rarely give specific details of the incident, consuming our students in paranoia. These warnings are sent before receiving confirmation that the incident was indeed a truthful report with a cause for concern. These warnings are possibly making adult crimes appear to be more prevalent on campus than they actually are. For example, West Chester Police Chief Scott Bohn issued a statement regarding the April 22 carjacking timely warning. He states that it was “not a carjacking”, and that the accused “never took any aggressive steps to enter the car or to even get near the car.” If students are receiving warnings about situations that are proven to not be of any danger, are we receiving sexual assault warnings that are not even sexual assault?

West Chester University’s informational page on sexual misconduct features resources and answers to questions about reporting a sexual assault. There are no resources for students who feel they have been wrongly accused. If you feel that you have been wrongly accused of a sexual assault on campus, here are a few resources for you.

The Community of the Wrongly Accused, Foundation for Individual Rights of Education, National Coalition for Men, Article on frequent sexual assault warnings at West Chester University .

Courtney is a Communication Studies major. She can be contacted through the Public Relations Student Society of America, Social Media Chair.

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