Phi Beta Cons

Re: Sexual-Harassment Rules

Regarding the new and looser standards of proof of sexual harassment put out by the government, Cathy Young details the record of false accusations of rape, and maintains that they are more common than is thought. If there was bias against victims of rape in the past, now the bias is against the accused. “Under rape shield laws,” Young writes, “it is often difficult to introduce even relevant information that challenges the credibility of the accuser, including a history of making dubious or outright false accusations.” She continues:

In a much-publicized 1998 case in New York, Columbia University graduate student Oliver Jovanovic was found guilty of assaulting and sexually abusing Barnard College student Jamie Rzucek in an encounter that he claimed involved consensual bondage. Email messages from Rzucek to Jovanovic in which she professed interest in sadomasochism and discussed engaging in such activities with another man were ruled inadmissible by the trial judge. The conviction was eventually overturned on appeal on the grounds that Jovanovic was not allowed to present an adequate defense — but not until he had spent 20 months in prison and suffered an assault from another inmate. (Rzucek was denounced as a habitual liar by some members of her own family.) Feminists deplored the reversal of the case as a blow to victims.

How edifying to think of our Ivy League students using their spare time in this way. At any rate, Young writes that several surveys have found the estimates of false rape complaints have ranged from one in eight to one in five.

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