No Orgasm, No Rape?!? USC Faces Federal Investigation

DSC_0424_zpsbb73e1fcHello. I was raped. I was manipulated. But I am still here. You are not alone.

These are the opening lines of Tucker Reed’s blog. A student at the University of Southern California, Reed and the Student Coalition Against Rape (SCAR) that she founded are the lead complainants behind the latest federal investigation of USC’s failures to prosecute student reports of sexual assault and rape.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR) investigation of USC comes in response to a Title IX suit filed this May by SCAR. The complaint is on behalf of USC students and staff claiming that their civil rights had been violated when the university ignored or mishandled complaints of sexual assault and rape.

Supported by other survivors of assault on the USC campus in Los Angeles, Reed addressed reporters at a press conference last Monday, saying that she and her fellow students “were blamed for their victimization and were forced to watch impotently as their cases were routinely misreported, misconstrued, mishandled or discounted entirely.”

When bringing the rape she suffered by her ex-boyfriend in 2010 to the attention of USC officials—along with multiple audio recordings of him admitting to it—Reed claims that one official told her that the goal was to offer an “educative” process, not to “punish” the assailant. Her case was dismissed and her assailant has since graduated.

Ari Mostov, another SCAR member involved in the complaint to the OCR, told ABC News that a campus authority disregarded her report, claiming it could not be considered an assault because her assailant “didn’t orgasm.” She also claims that after the assault was reported, USC officials were unwilling to shift her class schedule to spare her from seeing her assailant throughout the semester:

I was told that if I called [the Los Angeles Police Department], the detectives would be very tough on me and that defense lawyers would call me names in court. The school did everything it could to dissuade me from talking about being raped and asking for help.

As atrocious as the alleged misconduct by the school is, these are not stand-alone university cases. The OCR is investigating similar misconduct by Occidental College, Swarthmore College, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Linda Fairstein, well-known former New York sex crimes prosecutor, said that the issue has been on U.S. campuses for decades but has been suppressed by school administrations. Fairstein, currently senior advisor for the sexual misconduct consulting group at the private firm K2 Intelligence, has observed an increase in reports of allegations—thanks in part to social media outlets and blogs:

The events [go] viral. The victims I was seeing as prosecutor in the 1970s and 1980s were very isolated, but now they are empowered through the Web and it gives them the feeling they are not alone.

Alexa Schwartz, another USC student behind the complaint and co-founder of SCAR, was encouraged through social media to speak up about her assault. She and fellow SCAR members remain hopeful that the federal investigation will incite change on USC’s campus. At the press conference she said,

Now the ball is in USC’s court. Their response will determine whether all this effort has paid off.

Photo courtesy of Tucker Reed’s Covered in Band-aids blog via Tumblr. Reed is pictured in the center.

Comments

  1. This is 2013 and American school heads, who are clearly men, STILL want to blame women for being assaulted. They obviously think nothing of the opposite sex, regardless of the fact their mother, their sister, their aunts, nieces, wives and daughters are all women.

    Would they give a shit if it was their daughter?

    Probably not.

  2. Charles Huckelbury says:

    Every female student–no,every female–should be taught to call the police if she is assaulted in any fashion. Colleges, like countries, are self-interested entities who will protect their operation and image at all costs. Do not believe administrators who warn you about how the police will treat you. Yes, rape prosecutions still need to be improved, but there is no stigma attached to being a victim of an assault, sexual or otherwise. Dial 911 and do it as soon as you can reach a phone. The a**hole who did it won’t stop if he is merely scolded by his dean. Let the professionals handle him. Jail is where he belongs, not back in the classroom.

Speak Your Mind

*