National Post Barbara Kay: Mothers against fake rape seek to turn the tide of drunken allegations

National Post - Wednesday August 27th, 2014

Universities and alcohol make a dangerous mix

It is probably a good thing that 66-year old UK judge, Mary Jane Mowat, has just retired from Oxford Crown Court. Her new status permits her to remain serenely indifferent to the torrent of abuse already being directed her way by outraged ideologues.

The outspoken judge’s offence was to make some honest and public observations about the low rate of convictions for alleged rape. She said, it “is often difficult to secure rape convictions” as it is “one person’s word against another.” She went further: “I will be pilloried for saying so, but the rape conviction statistics will not improve until women stop getting so drunk.”

Elaborating, in her interview with an Oxford Mail reporter: “[You have] a jury in a position where they’ve got a woman who says ‘I was absolutely off my head, I can’t really remember what I was doing, I can’t remember what I said, I can’t remember if I consented or not but I know I wouldn’t have done’. I mean when a jury is faced with something like that, how are they supposed to react?”

It is only when there are serious consequences imposed on universities that cavalierly expel young men without due process, that fairness will be restored.

The obvious answer is to refuse to convict. Because due process requires evidence to support the allegation. As we all know, when it comes to crime, when there is not enough evidence to convict, bad people routinely go free. But the point of due process is to ensure that innocent people are not punished, which enlightened people feel is the greater of the two evils.

Nigel Roddis/Reuters

That point has gotten lost on university campuses, where rape culture supposedly flourishes at epidemic levels, to the point that a relaxation of the normal rules of justice is required to combat the scourge. Any observer who dares to suggest anything remotely resembling what Judge Moffat has said can expect a wearisome round of social-media flogging.

Or worse. When conservative columnist George F. Will pointed out that the “one-in-five” mantra regarding the numbers of female coeds supposedly raped every year could not possibly be true, adducing supportive statistics from the American Enterprise Institute, the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch dropped his column. Never mind that the figures, even multiplying by ten to account for those that go unreported, have not been successfully challenged. Truth has been a grievously wounded victim in the hysteria that surrounds this issue.

The fact is that drunkenness and vague recollections have been a common factor to most of the rape allegations we read about in news reports. But the campus committees deciding the fate of the alleged rapists bear no resemblance to a real court. Relying on what they call “the preponderance of the evidence,” which usually means acceptance of the uncorroborated female alleger’s in-camera accusation, falsely accused university men are finding their lives turned upside down – suspensions, expulsions, a record that follows them to other universities, and enormous psychological stress that can negatively affect their entire lives from then on.

They – and their moms – (for rape culture looks very different to mothers of young men than of young women), are starting to have a reverse Thelma-and-Louise moment. A few months ago, with support from FIRE, a campus-focused civil-liberties organization, Sherry Warner-Seefeld and Judith Grossman, both American mothers of sons who experienced the nightmare of (proven) false allegations and a “subsequent railroading by university courts” founded a new nonprofit called Families Advocating for Campus Equality (FACE). FACE will work to “promote and insure fairness; and seek justice for all those caught up in the timely and provocative issue of sexual misconduct on college campuses.” (Will there be a Canadian branch?)

It is only when there are serious consequences imposed on universities that cavalierly expel young men without due process, that balance, reason and fairness will be restored. The restoration is already underway, because money talks, and numerous lawsuits initiated by falsely accused former students have been successful. Basketball star Dez Wells, expelled from Xavier University in Ohio on flimsy grounds of non-consensual sex sued the university and won an amount likely to exceed $1 million. Similar actions have been undertaken by aggrieved students from Brown University, the University of Michigan, Occidental College, Swarthmore College, and Delaware State University.

Everyone wants to see justice done to real rapists. Foregoing due process for those accused and shooting the messengers who counsel prudence to women is not the way to go about it. Canadian universities should take a cautionary lesson from their American peers: namely, get out of the business of crime investigation, and turn rape allegations over to the police where they belong.

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