October 17, 2015

ASHE SCHOW: NPR highlights struggle of wrongly accused students.

It’s taken five years, but National Public Radio finally seems to recognize the consequences of campus sexual assault hysteria.

In an article titled “For students accused of campus rape, legal victories win back rights,” NPR describes how the pendulum has swung against accused students.

“As colleges crack down on sexual assault, some students complain that the schools are going too far and trampling the rights of the accused in the process,” wrote Tovia Smith. “In recent months, courts around the nation have offered some of those students significant victories, slamming schools for systems that are stacked against the accused.”

One student who spoke to NPR said “Once you are accused, you’re guilty.” Another told the station that “We used to not be fair to women on this issue,” but now, “we’re on the other extreme, not being fair to guys.”

To many feminists, that’s not a bug, but a feature. Plus:

And while it’s great that NPR is starting to see how badly the pendulum has swung against accused students, it’s important to remember who started the media hysteria in the first place: NPR.

In 2010, NPR worked with the left-leaning Center for Public Integrity to produce a report about campus sexual assault. The report included the story of Laura Dunn, who was allegedly raped by two men she knew back in 2004. NPR and CPI present her story as clear evidence that universities and police — and the Education Department at the time — didn’t care about victims.

But the actual details of Dunn’s case present a different picture. She waited nearly a year-and-a-half to report her alleged attack (and even then she only did so after a feminist professor told all the female students in her class that they had probably been raped). At that point one of the accused students had graduated and there was no evidence to support her claim. Neither the police nor the university pursued the matter. How could they? It was a he said/she said situation from 15-months earlier with no evidence and no witnesses.

Dunn wasn’t happy, so she went to the Education Department, which sent her a letter saying there was “insufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations made in the complaint.”

The lack of prosecutions could have been the result of Dunn’s changing story. When she spoke to the dean nearly a year-and-a-half after the alleged attack, she said part of the encounter was consensual. But a few days later she told police she didn’t remember being raped by one of the men and only found out about it later after the men told her about the encounter. She also acknowledged that she continued to go to the residence of one of the accused students and engaged in “physical contact.” She even watched television with both men.

Conveniently, these details were left out of the NPR and CPI report on Dunn’s case. Philosopher and American Enterprise Scholar Christina Hoff Sommers noted back in January that the case was not accurately reported by NPR and CPI.

If journalists could be sued for malpractice, or if journalistic outlets faced product liability like pharma companies, things would be very different.

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