Renewed focus on sexual assault may have consequences for local college students

On behalf of Tracy Teiger

Law enforcement and college administrations are focused on fully investigating allegations of sex crimes

In 2014, the nation had a serious, sometimes heartbreaking, discussion on sexual assault, date rape and other sex crimes, especially on college campuses. Everyone can agree that the goal of the criminal justice system should be to only convict those who are guilty of crimes. However, knowing with any certainty how prevalent sexual assault is on college campuses is a difficult task. Protecting both the rights of rape victims and those accused of such crimes is a complex, emotional, and nuanced area, one with no easy answers.

Young students in college have their whole lives ahead of them. When a misunderstanding, unfounded allegation or false accusation results in charges of sexual assault or date rape, the potential consequences are serious and may last a lifetime.

College campuses cracking down on date rape

The Department of Education Office for Civil Rights is currently investigating 88 institutions of higher education for potential violations of Title IX regarding their treatment of allegations of sexual assault. A renewed focus on sexual assault and prevention has meant some colleges are focusing on sexual assault more than ever before, including new methods and treatment of students accused of sexual assault.

When it comes to serious and shocking allegations such as sexual assault, it can be easy for the public to assume the worst. Rolling Stone magazine recently apologized for publishing an article regarding allegations a fraternity gang raped a student at the University of Virginia, for example, which later turned out to involve many unanswered questions.

And while the press may be able to report such incidences however they choose, America's criminal justice system is based on the proposition that all people are innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, for those students accused of sex crimes, the consequences can be immediate, even if later they turn out to be unfounded. For example, a student accused of sexual assault may be suspended or expelled from school, even if no criminal charges are ever brought.

Conflicting data, unreliable memory

Numerous studies have attempted to quantify the number of sexual assaults that occur on college campuses. The Department of Justice, the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, and the Campus Sexual Assault study are three such surveys, all of which reached conclusions that contain significant differences on the frequency of sexual assault.

In addition, memories of sexual assault are notoriously unreliable. Post-traumatic stress disorder can influence a person's ability to remember, according to numerous studies, such as one recently published in the scientific journal Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. That means many allegations of sexual assault can involve conflicting accounts and unreliable witness testimony.

A criminal defense attorney can help

College students who have falsely been accused of sexual assault should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Such allegations can have a lifetime of consequences, including jail time and registration as a sex offender. The experienced team at the Teiger Law Center can help students falsely accused defend their rights in court and help to prevent one accusation from having significant lifetime consequences.

Keywords: Sexual assault, date rape, college campus, Title IX

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