Skidmore decision result of public pressure, not facts

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I highly disagree with “Charlie’s Angle: Skidmore decision best of a bad situation” in the March 31 edition of The Record. I see an institution which acted on public pressure and not on facts. Indeed, I see in Kraebel’s writing a sexual bias towards men which fosters a “believe the woman, blame the man, women are victims and men perpetrators”, attitude which makes handling of these incidents nothing more than a lynch mob which undermines our justice systems, as occurred at Skidmore.

I want to say right up front that I don’t know if it is Kiefer or the “man” who is telling the truth in the matter of an alleged sexual assault on the Skidmore campus, I have no inside information into the facts and circumstances of that one incident. But what I do know, contrary to the photo of Kiefer holding up her hands with one finger on one hand and five on the other in a Saratogian article, in reference to the “one in five” statistic referenced for sexual assault on campus, is that one in five is a lie.

The one in five statistic references one study of sexual assault on campuses which has been reputed as highly flawed and inaccurate. Not only did the study look at only two campuses it broadly categorized sexual incidents in which the parties regretted it the next day as “rape”. Further the study failed to look at both false allegations and also male victims of sexual assault. Even though the study is flawed it has been used by politicians, such as our own Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

It is written into sexual assault legislation that incapacitation by alcohol or drugs can remove a person’s ability to consent. It is also written that incapacitation by alcohol can not be used as a defense against charges of sexual abuse. This works fine when we apply the sexual bias that it is men who assault women but we now know through multiple studies that men also report many unwanted sexual encounters perpetrated by women. Further, the sexual bias inherent in this view was set aside many years ago. So how do we treat a couple who get incapacitated together, are equally unable to consent to sex, have an encounter and both regret the incident the next day? Apply sexual bias, label the man the perpetrator, run him into a one-sided campus system which will then bend to public pressure?

The campus judicial system, like most judicial systems, works on a “preponderance of evidence”, meaning that you only need 51 percent proof to find one way or the other. But, as Kraebel stated, often these cases fall down to one person’s word against the other. As we know, it is common practice for college attendees to drink and take intoxicants and engage in sex. Absent independent witnesses, it is impossible to determine if one person or the other is telling the truth. And what they are reviewing is not whether there was sexual assault, but rather did the conduct violate the school’s misconduct policy. As such, sexual bias that holds men as perpetrators and women as victims would make it so his word against hers was enough to find he violated the policy by having sex with her while she was incapacitated by alcohol. Kraebel’s doubts that Skidmore would have suspended him without evidence fails to take into account the difference in campus judicial and criminal proceedings.

Even though the criminal system requires proof beyond a shadow of a doubt to convict, to charge a person only requires that reasonable cause exist that a person committed a crime. Thus, the lack of arrest or presentation to the grand jury by the DA’s office is an indication that there was in fact no evidence of a crime. I suspect the police and DA remain silent fearing that they too will fall prey to the lynch mob which would publicly shame any not seeing things their way. We only need to go back to the Duke lacrosse team fiasco of persecution by the DA based upon false allegations to see that this in fact occurs.

Kraebel speaks to his biases when he talks of having experience in this area, but having one female relative victimized does not correlate to a fact that all victims are female. However, this bias is evident when he states that these occurrences are OK if “efforts prevent one woman from enduring what she has,” thus ignoring male victims, false allegations and the protections which are in place to protect innocent people from being charged. I suspect it is these biases which has the paper printing the “one in five lie” without fact checking, or looking for an opposing opinion.

Affirmative consent on college campuses, a cause taken up by Governor Cuomo and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, are based upon the one in five lie. Gillibrand used a story in Rolling Stone about a fraternity gang rape at the University of Virginia and a “rape culture at UVA” to support affirmative consent and “one in five.” The problem was that the story fell apart under scrutiny by the Washington Post and other media outlets and an investigation by the Charlottesville Police resulting in a finding of “no evidence” to support the allegations. It has been reported that the story was made up, complete with a fictional perpetrator and faked e-mails and text messages so the “victim” could curry favor with a romantic interest to whom she reported the “incident”.

Even in the face of an obviously false story with more holes than Swiss cheese, Gillibrand stated we shouldn’t resort to “victim blaming” and that sanctions against her would be “inappropriate”. I do agree with Kraebel on one thing he said, that he “knows how hard it is for victims to recover.” Just ask the Duke lacrosse team or the UVA fraternity, or maybe the “Skidmore man” how hard it is to recover from the lynching and persecution caused by false allegations. I would ask Gillibrand how it is that ignoring false allegations and perjury isn’t “victim blaming?”

I’ll close stating, I don’t know who is telling the truth, but neither do Gillibrand, Kraebel or any of the others who gathered for the protest or covered the incident in the media. The difference is, I didn’t base my assumptions on flawed policies based upon junk science and then run a lynch mob, hanging due process, justice, and the Constitutional right to be treated innocent until PROVEN guilty.

James Hays Petersburg, NY

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