Recently, Manhattan prosecutor Cyrus R. Vance Jr. dropped criminal sexual-assault charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former head of the International Monetary Fund.
It was the right thing to do.
In cases where there is a he-said/she-said rape accusation and evidence fails to corroborate the allegation, our criminal justice system requires that prosecutors drop charges. Unfortunately, the Obama administration is forcing colleges and universities to abandon traditional notions of due process when allegations of sexual assault surface on campus.
Mr. Vance did not let the publics rush to judgment of Strauss-Khan’s guilt cloud his duty to justice.
Nafissatou Diallo’s sexual-assault allegations led to Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s dramatic arrest onboard an Air France plane. He spent several days in jail and was eventually released on a $6 million cash bond to await trial under house arrest.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn maintained that the encounter was consensual. As the investigation continued, Ms. Diallo showed herself to be (at best) a less-than-credible witness. She admitted that the emotionally stirring account she gave prosecutors of her gang rape by soldiers in her native Guinea was a total fabrication. She also lied to prosecutors and the grand jury about many other things, including her actions immediately after the encounter.
Though the evidence in the case did not support Ms. Diallo’s allegations of sexual assault beyond a reasonable doubt, there are voices decrying the district attorney’s actions. Sonia Ossorio, executive director of the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women, said, “The prospect of Dominique Strauss-Kahn simply walking away scot-free is appalling.”
If there was no proof that he committed a crime, why is it “appalling”? Prosecutors have a duty to bring charges only when evidence indicates a crime has been committed. Based on the prosecution’s investigation, it would have been appalling if Mr. Vance had continued forward with the criminal trial.
This speaks to a disconnect between the real world and feminist la-la land. Rape happens. But not every allegation of rape is true.
In the church of radical feminism “Women don’t lie about rape,” so it would be heretical to afford any man accused of rape a fair trial. The recent campus regulations from the Department of Education’s Civil Rights Office codify this unjust belief, and virtually eliminate the accused’s rights to due process.
The new rules mandate how colleges and universities are to investigate and prosecute allegations of sexual assault. Campus judiciary boards, made up of students, professors and administrators, must judge allegations based on a “preponderance of the evidence” standard. In other words, to be found guilty, evidence only needs to prove that “more likely than not” an assault occurred. Among other things, universities are discouraged from giving the accused the right to confront their accuser. Any appeal process has to be available for both parties to exercise, creating the possibility of double jeopardy. Institutions that do not comply with these regulations risk losing all federal funding.
These rules will reduce campus judiciary proceedings to nothing more than show trials. Innocent men wrongly convicted in these kangaroo proceedings could suffer expulsion, damage to their reputation, disqualification for jobs and even criminal prosecution. Yet, women making false allegations are rarely punished.
Crystal Mangum falsely accused three Duke lacrosse team players of rape in 2005 when, in fact, no sexual contact ever occurred between her and those accused. In 2008, Danmell Ndonye, a Hofstra student, falsely accused five men - one of them a fellow student - of gang rape. Ms. Ndonye later admitted that the sexual activity between her and four of the men was consensual, and that there was no sexual contact with her classmate.
The protections our criminal justice system provides for those accused of crimes allowed the truth to eventually surface in both cases. Nevertheless, these young men suffered the threat of expulsion, imprisonment, incurred extensive legal costs, and had their reputations trashed in the media in the process. Worst of all, there are those who will always think those men are rapists, despite all evidence to the contrary.
The motivations for a woman to make a false rape allegation are legion: guilt, regret, even revenge. Reducing protections for the accused will not achieve additional justice for genuine rape victims. Instead, it is more likely to result in erroneous guilty verdicts that will destroy the lives of those falsely accused.
Sometimes, women lie about rape. The federal government’s failure to take notice of this fact has made injustice a prerequisite on college campuses.
Anna Rittgers is a lawyer and senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.