A recent report in Business Insider calls out colleges and universities across the country for underreporting and mishandling sex crimes that happen on campus. The University of North Carolina was specifically mentioned for the piece calls its “protect[ion] of rapists.”
While we are not supporting non-investigation of sex crimes on campus, we do know firsthand from our criminal defense practice that false accusations of sexual assault are far from uncommon. It is understandable that a sex crime can substantially affect the victim’s life but a false accusation of a sex crime can substantially affect the accused’s life as well.
But, you don’t have to take our word for it. The mother of a male student at a New England liberal arts college detailed the ordeal her son went through after an ex-girlfriend accused him of nonconsensual sex acts during their relationship in the Wall Street Journal earlier this year.
In her piece, Judith Grossman: A Mother, a Feminist, Aghast, the mother describes an urgent text she receive from her son requesting that she call him immediately. When she did, she learned of the sex crimes accusations and that her son had to make an appearance before college officials in a matter of days related to the allegations.
The writer, an attorney, was able to come to her son’s defense in a system that she recounts as almost hostile to the idea that he could have been falsely accuse of a sex offense in the first place. The charges against him were ultimately dismissed.
The goal of Mrs. Grossman and of our work as defense attorneys is not to ignore that sexual assaults do happen on campuses across the country, but to acknowledge that not everyone who claims to be a victim is in fact a victim; for a variety of reasons, people lie about sex crimes. In instances of false accusations of sex crimes, it’s the accused who all too often becomes the real victim.
Source: Business Insider, “Colleges Have Been Way Too Soft On Sex Crimes,” June 14, 2013