Colleges Challenge a Common Protection in Sexual Assault Lawsuits: Anonymity

The former college student said she had been raped three times as an undergraduate at Florida A&M University, twice by students and once by an acquaintance who was on campus regularly.

She withdrew from the university and filed suit, saying that campus officials did not do enough to investigate the claims and protect her from being attacked again and again. As a precaution, she identified herself in public court papers only as S.B.

Her school fired back three times with a demand for the court: Reveal her full name or toss out the case.

For years, students have filed sexual assault complaints under pseudonyms, which allow them to seek justice without shame or fear of being targeted. Universities have generally accepted the practice.

But in two recent lawsuits — S.B.’s case against Florida A&M University and a suit by nine women against Dartmouth College — the schools have demanded that students publicly reveal their identities, going against longstanding legal practice intended to protect plaintiffs in sensitive disputes.

Experts on sexual assault cases say that these demands amount to a newly aggressive stance by universities that face potentially damaging lawsuits, and that they run counter to the spirit of federal civil rights policies. The identities of the women in both cases are known to the university lawyers, but not to the public.

“What you’re seeing in this particular case is real hardball,” said Andrew Miltenberg, a lawyer who typically represents men accused of sexual assault. “And it’s still not the way most lawyers or schools handle it. They’re a little bit more gracious about protecting someone who was their student.”

On Wednesday, S.B.’s lawyer sent a letter to more than 40 state legislators objecting to the university’s tactics and asking them to investigate the matter.

Tucker Carlson Caught In “Something Naughty”

Tucker Carlson is a creep. John Iadarola and Brooke Thomas break it down on The Damage Report. Follow The Damage Report on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheDamageRep…

 

“Between 2006 and 2011, Tucker Carlson spent approximately an hour a week calling in to Bubba the Love Sponge, a popular shock jock radio program where he spoke with the hosts about a variety of cultural and political topics in sometimes-vulgar terms. During those conversations, Carlson diminished the actions of Warren Jeffs, then on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list for his involvement in arranging illegal marriages between adults and underage girls, talked about sex and young girls, and defended statutory rape. Carlson, who was hired by Fox News in 2009, also used sexist language to talk about women, including then-co-workers at NBC and public figures. He referred to Martha Stewart’s daughter Alexis Stewart as “cunty,” called journalist Arianna Huffington a “pig,” and labeled Britney Spears and Paris Hilton “the biggest white whores in America.” He also said that women enjoy being told to “be quiet and kind of do what you’re told” and that they are “extremely primitive.”

It’s Not That Men Don’t Know What Consent Is

I think about those bears every time yet another allegation of sexual misconduct against yet another powerful man becomes public. Nearly all of those men deny coercion or aggression or insist that the encounters were “100 percent consensual.”

But rarely do they define what, precisely, they mean by that. Did they discuss, with an enthusiastic partner, which erotic acts to indulge in together? Or were they satisfied that whatever they initiated was fine as long as she didn’t say no? Did they consider passionate kissing a tacit contract for something else? Was forced sex — say, the pushing down of a partner’s head — fair game because lots of guys do it? Did they consider sex with underlings acceptable, or a fair swap for career advancement, in which case they were apparently thinking of koalas, which are not actually bears at all?

The truth is, men are not the most reliable arbiters of whether sex was consensual. Consider: When Nicole Bedera, a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Michigan, interviewed male college students in 2015, each could articulate at least a rudimentary definition of the concept: the idea that both parties wanted to be doing what they were doing. Most also endorsed the current “yes means yes” standard, which requires active, conscious, continuous and freely given agreement by all parties engaging in sexual activity. Yet when asked to describe their own most recent encounters in both a hookup and in a relationship, even men who claimed to practice affirmative consent often had not.

When they realized that their actions conflicted with that benchmark, though, they expanded their definition of consent rather than question their conduct. Their ideas of “yes” were so elastic that for some they encompassed behavior that met the legal criteria for assault — such as the guy who had coerced his girlfriend into anal sex (she had said, “I don’t want to, but I guess I’ll let you”). She then made it clear that he should stop. “He did, eventually,” Ms. Bedera told me, “and he seemed aware of how upset she was, but he found a way to rationalize it: He was angry with her for refusing him because he thought a real man shouldn’t have had to beg for sex.”

Despite all evidence to the contrary, we still want to believe that men who are accused of sexual assault are all “monsters.” True, some of them may be monsters we know — our employers, our clergymen, our favorite celebrities, our politicians, our Supreme Court justices — but they are “monsters” nonetheless.

A “good guy” can’t possibly have committed assault, regardless of the mental gymnastics he has to engage in to convince himself of that (“20 minutes of action,” anyone?). Even men who admit to keeping sex slaves in conflict zones will claim they did not commit rape — it’s that other guy, that “monster” over there, that “bad guy” who did. In fact, one of the traits rapists have been found to reliably share is that they don’t believe they are the problem.

In my own interviews with high school and college students conducted over the past two years, young men that I like enormously — friendly, thoughtful, bright, engaging young men — have “sort of” raped girls, have pushed women’s heads down to get oral sex, have taken a Snapchat video of a prom date performing oral sex and sent it to the baseball team. They all described themselves as “good guys.” But the fact is, a “really good guy” can do a really bad thing.

The Hypocrisy of Baptist leaders like Jerry Falwell on Homosexuality and Rapes

Sometimes, the process of reporting a column is infuriating, and that happened with this column. I’m writing about some of the latest sex scandals in the Catholic and Baptist churches, in particular the revelations (first reported in the Houston Chronicle) that hundreds of Baptist figures committed sexual assaults, including rapes of children as young as three.

What’s infuriating is not only the sexual assaults themselves, but also the way some prominent Baptist blowhards like Jerry Falwell made a name for themselves thundering against gays, even as rapes were unfolding with impunity in their own church network.

But I think it’s also worth exploring whether the problem doesn’t go beyond individual pedophiles; to me it seems the problem is also of unaccountable and patriarchal church structures that relegate women to second-class status. Read my take!