Most functional people agreed the #MeToo campaign wasn’t the ideal method of confronting sexual assault. Though what is ideal? At least it wasn’t as inappropriate as putting a hand up a girl’s skirt in church. The problem with #MeToo? It garnered awareness, sure, but also controversy. Without offering solutions. It became a fad faster than the growing list of Matt Lauer victims. It also gave a platform to false accusers. Keep that in mind as we go on.
Defamation suits against college students alleging sexual assault have reached an all new high. But is that a good thing or a bad thing? Let’s take a look-see.
… in January 2016, the woman known as Jane Doe in court papers had told the school that her then-husband, identified as John Doe, had raped her… Since he’d already completed classes, the university put his law degree on hold for two years.
Now, John was blaming her for his loss of a job at a law firm and demanding that she pay damages for having hurt his reputation, his career prospects, and his physical and emotional well-being.
…defamation lawsuits like the one Jane faces are a new tool in the battle over Title IX enforcement and are proving to be serious obstacles to students filing sexual misconduct complaints. Activists, college administrators, and lawyers say they’ve seen a spike in defamation lawsuits over the past couple of years…
Looking at rape without the emotional component (we’ll get to this later) the act itself is a pretty straightforward event to prove, immediately after the fact. There are usually defensive wounds, contusions, a rape kit. Which is why, despite how emotional and horrendous a woman feels after such a traumatic event, it’s critical she not only gets the care she needs, but the evidence she needs. To put that asshole away. Okay? Okay.
But a while after a rape? The waters of accusation get as murky as Weinstein’s plant runoff.
It’s difficult to track how many defamation lawsuits arising from campus sexual assault cases are filed nationwide, but lawyers and victim advocates provided numbers that point to a clear uptick. Colby Bruno, a lawyer at the Victim Rights Law Center in Boston, said that a few years ago, about 5% of her cases arising from alleged campus sexual assaults involved an accuser facing a defamation suit; now a little more than half do.
Actions meet consequences, right?
Not only are these suits intimidating, they are unique. Defamation suits are typically filed over what someone says about another person, and unlike other crimes, sexual assaults rarely have witnesses.
Difficult is right. It’s not only “he-said, she-said,” it’s definitions, people. What is assault? Is it kissing, patting, pinching, brushing past? Looking at her the wrong way? No one knows, thanks to pudge dumplings like Lena Dunham saying everything is rape.
But what is rape? You’d think we could all agree it involves penetration. Yet some people believe a pat on the booty is rape (read Woman Claims Sexual Assault… From an Online Video Game and Um, What?! Ireland Police Deem Unwanted Mistletoe Kisses ‘Rape’). See the lack of uniformity here? They don’t match like North Korea’s cute military outfits.
“I would like to start holding the students who make false accusations responsible by including them in a lawsuit if they outright lie,” said Michelle Owens, a Nashville-based attorney who works with accused students.
Some lawyers, like Schneider, think that state legislatures shouldn’t wait for court cases to set precedents — lawmakers should consider laws that explicitly say statements made during Title IX proceedings are protected from defamation suits.
On one hand, due process is the right of every American (see the Constitution). On the other, victims who want to come forward may face a Trump-sized barrier. There are many elements that may keep a woman from saying, “Hey, this dude was inappropriate with my dark places.” Stigmatization, fear, emotional trauma. And no witnesses. Now, we’re adding possible lawsuits for defamation to the mix. More obstacles than your 8th grade PE course.
Then again, women who want to prosecute shouldn’t publicize all over the socials about their attackers. They also shouldn’t blab the intimate details to casual acquaintances. If such thingies are false, they equal defamation (see JUSTICE: Student Falsely Accused of Raping Mattress Girl Sues for Defamation). Discernment. Let’s have it.
With all these “what ifs,” “buts,” “butts,” and “howevers,” let’s boil things down to a simple list of considerations:
- Definitions of sexual assault and harassment need to be established for accurate statistics and prosecution. At least some baselines. Wolf-whistling may be annoying but it’s not rape.
- Men need to keep their peckers in their pants and their hands to their own persons.
- Women need to go authoritative figures to prosecute, not their “What’s on your mind?” section of Facebook
- Everyone needs to stop making this a black and white issue when it’s grey as fifty shades.
Rape statistics. They’re all skewed because of the lack of definitions thanks to truffle stuffers like Lena Dunham, muddying the waters. Punishing actual victims of assault.
Then there are women who straight up lie about assault. Hence the rising defamation suits.
They should be jailed: