Sunday, July 13, 2014

Call the cops.

     Registering an opinion on the topic of rape seems to be an invitation for a guy to get himself fired.
     However. This is my personal blog, so the odds of me firing myself are slim.
     That said, the New York Times ran a long, front page piece Sunday about an 18-year-old freshman who was raped at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. The article is on how the college, a school I had never heard of before, located west of Syracuse in New York's Finger Lakes region, had mishandled its inquiry into the case, which involved football players, allegedly.
      Now I am not an expert in these matters, and I am a man. However: rape is a serious crime and serious crime should be reported to the police. Is that not so? The story never addresses why she didn't. Now I'm not saying there aren't reasons people don't report rapes to the police, embarrassment, lack of trust, and such. The notion might be that a college investigation would be less traumatic, for the victim, than a police investigation, but that doesn't seem borne out in reality. And I am not saying that, if you don't report a rape to the police, you should take what you get. But colleges have a hard enough time fielding competent professors. They are not in the crime-detection business, and while their bobbling such an investigation is not acceptable, it's not surprising either. recent study showed that 40 percent of colleges haven't investigated any rapes over the past five years. The message from this story, a message that I believe is not driven home enough, and should be, is that if someone rapes you— a football player, a priest, a friend, anybody — you should always call the cops. Immediately. The cops might mishandle it, God knows they do that. But they're the ones with experience in investigating crime, the ones in the best position to have a chance to get it right. Calling the police, I believe, is an important step in a crime being taken seriously. If a crime is committed against you, and you don't call the police, the obvious question is "why?" and there is an implication that you yourself have your doubts as to whether you are actually a victim or not, since these situations can be murky.
     Or am I reading this wrong? I'm not the Jedi Council. But having read the New York Times piece, that's my feeling. If you're raped, call the cops.


20 comments:

  1. Some of us, myself included, do not like or trust cops and view the as the enemy and would NEVER, under any circumstances, call or talk to the cops about anything, no matter what. Years ago, I was robbed at gunpoint on the Lake Street L going west early in the morning, and I did not report it. I would not want to take any action that could result in the prosecution and incarceration of another person as I do not support this system and its courts and prisons, as it is a rich man's government. I similarly responded to such things as a home burglary and the theft of my bicycle. If someone broke into my home and assaulted myself or someone else, I would try to defend against it, and I would seek medical attention for myselfr or another injured person, but I would never call the cops, and I would not cooperate with any investigation, and would in fact go to prison myself before I would answer cop questions about it. Cops are racists, cops are brutal killers.

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  2. Of course. What you should know, from someone who tried to comment on the NYT article but was rejected (because I used the word "asinine"? or because I named names?), is that many schools, such as I know from personal experience, the University of Notre Dame as late as 2002, have programs that actively encourage victims of sexual assault NOT to go to the police, on the specious but completely hypocritical grounds of protecting the victim from the stress of the court process, but in actuality to avoid bringing unwanted publicity to the school. Unfortunately, many traumatized victims do exactly that, only to discover in the end that the school does little or nothing to the perpetrator, or that she is unable successfully to prosecute because no rape kit was done at the time. I have witnessed both of those things happening. At one school after the bad publicity as a result of one such incident -- the very bad publicity the "policy" was instituted to prevent -- the administration laughably "studied" what to do about revising the policy. As I and other of my colleagues laughingly noted at the time, the answer was simple, and as you suggest: Rape is a crime, and is a matter for the police and the courts. Full stop.

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  3. I totally agree with Mr. Steinberg and Mr. Wynn.

    A college or the Catholic Church simply does not have the competence to investigate a crime. If such institutions want to help they can provide a trained and independent social worker/attorney to accompany the victim through all stages of the criminal investigation and criminal proceedings.

    Note that a crime is committed both against the victim and against society. If a criminal is not brought to justice, then such a person might be free to victimize others.

    Finally it is regrettable that in this climate of political correctness – even someone of Mr. Steinberg’s political leanings shows trepidation in addressing this topic. I commend Mr. Steinberg for nevertheless doing so.

    ---JerryB

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  4. Your first commenter must have had a bad experience with police. I suppose if he saw some one being attacked that he wouldn't call the police. Sure there are bad policemen. No organization is 100 per cent clean. But I think it is pretty dumb to take the attitude he has.

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    1. Or is just letting dogma and the concept of perfection be the enemy of the world we live in now. No question the system is skewed, and cops certainly can be racist. But to opt out the way this person claims to -- my guess is, should the situation arise, he'd run to the cops and adjust his philosophy accordingly.

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  5. I note that the administration of our President Obama is pressuring colleges and universities to take a greater role in investigating and punishing incidents of sexual assault. That seems big-time wrongheaded and merely a political stunt.

    Nevertheless colleges and universities should be supportive of the victim as I suggested in my above post.

    --JerryB

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  6. Could not agree more. The whole Penn State investigation made my blood boil because the school was criticized for not investigating. The criticism should have been failing to go to the police. Schools should be required to report crimes to the police and encourage victims to do so. The school should be required to cooperate with an investigation. Nothing more. Nothing less

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  7. One of the problems that came up in the Penn State investigation & apparently in several other college rape investigations, is that the rapes occurred on campus & the college's had their own certified police forces, not security guards [rent-a-cops].
    It's these cops that almost always wanted to keep the university's or college's reputation unblemished & somehow managed to get the victim to either drop the charge, reduced the charge to a simple assault or somehow came up with a way to claim the victim was lying about it.
    In that way, they never even talked to the county prosecutors, so the rape was never added to the national statistics the FBI collects & publishes every year.

    The same seems to be going at military bases with rapes, where the base commanders have been overruling the judge advocate general's office [military prosecutors] & refusing to allow the charges to happen.
    All of the women in the US Senate are trying to pass a law to take the base commander's override ability away, but the Pentagon has been pushing back for several years with its Senate buddies.
    This is yet another reason I call Obama a wimp, because as Commander-in Chief of all US military forces, he could simple issue an order that takes away the base commander's ability to go over the judge advocates, but he won't.
    He's afraid to do so, because he was never in the military & is scared of any consequences.

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  8. The article pointed out that the most frequent victims of this sort of attack are 1st semester freshmen. My guess is that most have never been crime victims before and are operating under the k-12 mindset that when bullied, hit, attacked at school, one goes first to school authorities. The real question is how in the world colleges are not REQUIRED to report. To police or at least direct victims to do so immediately.

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  9. What's the average time served for a rape? I once heard it was between 2-3 years in Illinois, but can't remember the source. Regardless, if it's anything close to that low, it seems like that's also a reflection of us not taking the crime seriously, or at least seriously enough.

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  10. Colleges tend to push calling campus security over calling the police, often making it both an issue of jurisdiction and claiming greater speed of response. In college towns the local police resources can be very limited, making the college even more in control of its own. These factors unfortunately push against calling the cops. But you're still right that victims should call actual police rather than trust the security arm of an organization with a vested interest in keeping everything quiet.

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    1. Patricia: Not to blow my own horn, but please reread my comment.
      Most colleges & universities, especially any state institution, have their own actual police forces, that investigate EVERY crime on campus. The city police don't do that in most cases.
      Here in Chicago, the University of Illinois has it's own police force, as do Loyola, University of Chicago & Northwestern U.
      I believe that smaller schools like Northeastern Illinois, Chicago State also have their own police. Northern Illinois in DeKalb also has its own force.
      That's the problem, they refuse to embarrass the university by confirming that a rape occurred, so the local state's attorney might not be called in.

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    2. Jerry B- Are you sock-puppeting as "Clark St.?" Your comments on this thread are at least mostly on point, but why under two screen names? Seems pretty dishonest to be posting as two different people, no?

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    3. Bill O"Callaghan:

      I post only under JerryB. I am personally known to Eric Zorn -- Mr. Steinberg's very good friend.

      What makes you think Clark St. and JerryB are the same?

      --JerryB

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    4. Mr. Steinberg:

      Note Mr. O'Callaghan's post of 7/14/14 at 4:39PM. It looks like he has just launched a "snide" stinker.

      --JerryB

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    5. Jerry -- My only concern is that posters maintain a minimal standard of civility and stay in vicinity of the point of the post. If you guys want to devolve into bickering over ... well, I'm not sure quite what ... that's your business. I haven't the interest or the time to ride herd on that kind of thing.

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  11. Perhaps it's time to revert to the Statute of Winchester (1285), the first codification of the criminal law in Anglo Saxon lands, which made not reporting a crime a crime in itself. The statute provided that "anyone, either a constable or a private citizen who witnessed a crime, shall make hue and cry, and that the hue and cry must be kept up against the fleeing criminal from town to town and from county to county until the felon be apprehended and delivered to the authorities." All able bodied men, upon hearing the shouts, were obliged to assist in the pursuit of the criminal, with those who failed to participate becoming liable for losses from theft or robbery. Also, those who raised hue and cry falsely were guilty of a crime.

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  12. Colleges investigating rape accusations remind me of the church handling its own molestation charges. Doesn't seem like the best idea. And how the hell do they get away with that? I always wonder where the cops are. Even if you don't like police, what else is there?

    I was a victim of attempted rape. I got away, and a witness called the cops. One picked me up and took me back to my friend's house where I had just been. As I recall he didn't ask details or if I wanted to file a report. I was too shaken up to think clearly at the time, but that seems kinda weird, right?

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  13. Why aren't college police involving local law enforcement in these matters? Seems to me they're more interested in protecting the college's reputation than students. Which makes for a good feeding ground for serial abusers, much like the Church has become.

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  14. It appears that even the first prosecutor assigned to the Sandusky investigated "whiffled" it thanks to the Penn State connection. And so, sometimes you have to go beyond the traditional law enforcement and raise a stink through the media and web to get justice.

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