Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The "Victim" Was a "Girl"

Apart from the obvious—that in both the specifics of the alleged crime and the (to date, non-existent) conduct of the prosecutor the Sacred Heart controversy has no similarities to the Duke lacrosse case—I have no comment on the specifics of the allegations at Sacred Heart. But it is striking to read some of the early press coverage. (Emphasis added throughout.)

Dashiell Bennett, Deadspin:

The victim told police they got naked and assaulted her.

It’s interesting to discover that Bennett—a mere hours after the allegations first went public—had concluded that a crime had occurred, making the (unnamed) accuser “the victim.”

Daniel Tepfer, Connecticut Post:

According to police, the 18-year-old female victim, from New Jersey, was having consensual sex with Sanders in a room at SHU's Roncali dormitory across Park Avenue from the Fairfield campus when Sanders suddenly held the girl down on the bed and called two other males to join him.

Tepfer softens his discovery that a crime occurred behind the “according to police”—but since his “the 18-year-old female victim” isn’t in quotes, the summary appears to be his own. Like Bennett, he has concluded that a crime occurred, since otherwise, how could the (unnamed) accuser be a victim?

Jessica Wakeman, The Frisky.com:

Sanders allegedly held the victim down while Travers and Triner sexually assaulted her; when she screamed and struggled, Travers and Triner fled the room.

It’s unsurprising, of course, that a feminist blog would automatically conclude that the mere filing of a rape allegation means that a crime occurred, thereby making the accuser “the victim.” But what does it say about the standards of Deadspin and the CT Post that they adopted the same guilt-presuming standard?

On another front, Andrew Strickler, Newsday:

He said all three men involved had been drinking, as had the girl.

The (unnamed) “girl” and two of the (named) “men” in the case are the same age. It’s unclear if Newsday policy suggests differing ages of adulthood for males and females.

Trepfer, again:

While Sanders held the girl down, police said the two other males took off their clothes and sexually assaulted her.

The CT Post doesn’t identify the 18-year-old male suspects as “boys.”

Every article I read about the allegations names the three suspects; none names the accuser. Apart from that point, some early coverage--notably that of Stephanie Rietz of the AP--was scrupulously neutral, and a model for others to follow.


skwilli said...

When I first saw this story, my thought was "not again!". But true to form, the press leaped right in as prosecutor, judge and jury, just as expected. "Something happened" indeed! Thanks for commenting on this KC. I have a bad feeling about this one.

skwilli said...

"Sad how some people are so quick to blame the victim." (a comment on another blog about this incident)

My response:

Sad how so many reporters are so quick to say "victim", thus becoming prosecutor, judge and jury. How many lacrosse players need to be victimized before the press begins to act responsibly. "

The alleged victim may have been sexually assaulted by 3 lacrosse players." Now was that so hard? I'll wait for the truth to emerge through the proper channels, not our biased press.

Anonymous said...

KC, I thought you might enjoy this parody of academic life, as seen by outsiders. http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2009/11/iowahawk-geographic-the-secret-life-of-climate-researchers.html

A sample:

"This is the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, home of one of the largest nesting populations of climate scientists in Europe. "

[Gentle ant's-eye scene of idyllic campus lawn, strewn about with drunken mating undergraduates]

"Each year it attracts magnificent migratory flocks of graduate students, adjuncts and visiting faculty from across the northern hemisphere."

[Shots of jumbo jets landing at Heathrow; herds of climate researchers busily milling at Duty Free shops, retrieving baggage, phoning for prearranged limo service]

"Within minutes of arriving on campus, the migratory researchers approach the entrance of the Climate Research Unit and perform the secret credential dance, fiercely displaying their prominent curriculum vitae. This signals to the security drone that they can be trusted with the sacred electronic lanyard badge that will grant them entrance to the hive's inner sanctum."

"During the upcoming research season, this hive alone will produce over 6 million metric tons of grant-sustaining climate data guano, but until recently little was known about the elusive genus of homo scientifica living inside."


Chris Halkides said...

If we don't name the accuser in a rape case, we should not name the accused, either. These days, the social stigma associated with being accused of rape is at least as great as the stigma with being raped.


Unknown said...

Could I summon the vast scope of this readership to locate a college that has a course for credit that treats this subject objectively and professionally and lays out the unvarnished truth for underclassmen as regards this potentially life threatening situation?

Duke taught us that the Academy has entire departments ( from which originate these journalists) that spend millions defining the presumed " victims" and " perpetrators" in these cases and as Duke demonstrated they are serious and dedicated to that mission . It is not hyperbolic given what we learned that the lacrosse player has a target on his back .

Is there a single course with credit that lays it out for what it is for our young male athlete ?

Anonymous said...


A friend of mine invited for Thanksgiving dinner and had named his turkey Nifong.

Suddenly, I lost my appetite.

Gary Packwood said...

James 11/25/09 11:45 AM said...

...Is there a single course with credit that lays it out for what it is for our young male athletes?
This problem did not begin with the faculty and I doubt the problem is going to end with the faculty. Any faculty member - male or female - who would teach such a course would be 'whispered about' across campus as one of T.H.O.S.E. faculty members that likes to be around young male athletes.

The problem began innocently enough in the late 1980's when universities across the country hired 'Student Affairs Professionals' to create 'programming' on campus for undergraduate students who were less socially adept shall we say and more prone to stop their studies before they graduate. Graduation rates are important to universities.

Upon arriving on campus, Student Affairs Professionals 'found' Anger Studies Professors who were short of students to teach and the rest is history. It was a match made in hell as both groups needed an enemy to provide traction for their programming and course enrollments.

Male athletes of course became the enemy. As a group male athletes are not especially socially challenged; require little or no campus programming and have little use for Anger Studies courses.

The same would be true for members of fraternities.

Several of the comments to the AP article in Hartford Courant are a good summary of what is going on with male athletes on campus. Especially the comments about Jocks.


A few young women and men on campus develop a mentoring relationship with student affairs employees and report every campus rumor about the male athletes and fraternity members. Most of which are not true.

The rumor mill pumps up the campus judiciary system which is part of student affairs and the harassment and hassling begins in earnest.

And of course, the male athletes and fraternity brothers respond with their own version of what they think is a game and the hassling and harassment takes on a life of its own.

The guys have one goal. To expose the female student friends of student affairs professionals and anger studies professors as liars and gossips who like to party just as much as the young men.

The root source problem is really quite simple, IMO. Students affairs professionals and anger studies professors have very little to do expect...keep this game going.

Eventually they believe that course work and programming will be REQUIRED for each and every undergraduate student. Course work on diversity, naturally. And then student affairs and anger studies faculty will be busy.

When people ask me for solutions I tell it like it is. Every male athlete and every fraternity member needs to attend several workshops each year that are organized by and conducted by practicing attorneys at law who understand what is really going on.

Either that or the alumni need to band-together and put an end to faculty and staff members on campus who have nothing to do.

Anonymous said...

Actually, this represents a stunning example of collateral damage done by Precious.

It's certainly not inconceivable that a crime was committed by some number of male college athletes in this case- but my gut reaction, after following the Duke case closely for so long, is that it's probably a crock. That's kind of sad for the woman. I have clearly formed a prejudice.

RL alum '75

Anonymous said...

"Male athletes of course became the enemy. As a group male athletes are not especially socially challenged; require little or no campus programming and have little use for Anger Studies courses."

I find it interesting that statistics show that black football and basketball players are the athletes that struggle the most to graduate. I wonder why the AS faculty are not reaching out to help them.

Anonymous said...

Halides was right. Alleged victims and the alleged perpetrators whould neither be named. Trial is the time for said information to be made public - both of the alleged victim and the alleged perpetrators.


Anonymous said...

Hanky Panky at Davis: http://www.margaretsoltan.com/?p=20452