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Campus Sexual Assault

PR: Lawmakers Need to Restore Presumption of Innocence in Campus Sex Cases to Avoid ‘Frightening Consequences’

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Contact: Gina Lauterio

Lawmakers Need to Restore Presumption of Innocence in Campus Sex Cases to Avoid ‘Frightening Consequences’

WASHINGTON / April 9, 2015 – Following release of a report detailing the many mistakes of a Rolling Stone article that had alleged a gang-rape at a University of Virginia fraternity, SAVE is now calling on legislators and campus administrators to engage in reasoned debate on the campus sexual assault issue to restore due process and the presumption of innocence.

Commentators have noted how Rolling Stone reporter Sabrina Erdley approached the topic with a pre-conceived narrative. By her own admission, Erdley set out to locate a case that would reveal “what it’s like to be on campus now…where not only is rape so prevalent but also that there’s this pervasive culture of sexual harassment/rape culture.”

These pre-conceptions may have lulled Erdley into accepting the uncorroborated claims of self-identified rape victim “Jackie” as truthful. Erdley envisioned her article would pressure campus administrators to institute policies to curb campus rape that serve to reduce due process protections.

Commentators on all points of the political spectrum have voiced concerns about the loss of the presumption of innocence for students accused of sexual assault:

In response to a call for the intentional use of false convictions to curb campus sexual assault, for example, liberal editorialist Jonathan Chait charged, “This is a conception of justice totally removed from the liberal tradition.”

And conservative editorialist Robert Tracinski recently denounced how UVA president Theresa Sullivan “acted with a presumption of guilt against her own university and its students.”

“The presumption of innocence has long been a bulwark of American law,” notes SAVE spokeswoman Sheryle Hutter. “Any infringement on the presumption marks a worrisome trend to authoritarianism in our society with frightening consequences.”

Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is working to promote effective solutions to campus sexual assault: