WHY SHOULD WE BELIEVE A STORY THAT EVEN THE TELLER WON’T STAND BY? How are we supposed to handle sexual assault accusers who won’t cooperate?
The story Jackie told was easy to discredit — her friends denied her account of a conversation between them, the fraternity didn’t hold a party the night in question, and even the supposed date she had that night was a fictitious person. But the police still wouldn’t close the case because something could have happened to Jackie and maybe one day, if she decides to cooperate or someone else comes forward, justice can be done.
But the situation brings up an interesting question: How should we handle accusers who refuse to cooperate, especially when their word is the only evidence available?
At some point, isn’t the collective societal good supposed to overtake the good of the individual? Isn’t that the liberal way?
Let’s say something horrible did happen to Jackie, something so terrible that she would rather tell a false story about a gang rape from phantom fraternity brothers than the truth. That would mean there’s a monster out there who could harm other students, other women. And if she is the actual victim of something, she’s not helping herself or other students who could be future victims.
Advocates who claim women should be taken at their word may continue to support an accuser’s right to proceed — or not proceed — with an investigation on her own terms. That could mean giving a statement to a college administrator, or to the police, or doing nothing at all. And that might be acceptable for the single accuser, but there’s a larger population in danger.
Sometimes, when an accuser refuses to cooperate with an investigation — even by a school — the case is dropped. This happened with Columbia University student Paul Nungesser. One of the three women who accused him of sexual misconduct stopped cooperating with the university and her accusation was dismissed.
Other times, an accuser’s word in the absence of other evidence is used to expel an accused student, as was the case with Joshua Strange, even when police couldn’t indict.
Of course, such behavior from the universities leads to lawsuits and headaches, and is one element in the current national debate over campus sexual assault. But as more lawsuits from accused students come in and are settled, more due process will have to be afforded to these students, resembling a more formal police process. And if, ideally, these cases are handled by the police, an accuser’s refusal to tell her story or provide any clues as to what happened will be a detriment to the case.
This isn’t about justice. This is about preparing the battlespace for Hillary 2016′s “war on women” narrative, and the preparers don’t care who gets hurt in the process: men, or women.