When conversations turn to the topic of sexual assault, most people focus on the impact such events have on victims. They often talk about the psychological impact as well as the social stigma that accompanies the act. The conversation typically then turns to the topic of justice and how it can be awarded to victims.
Rarely ever though does the conversation touch on how a sexual assault allegation can affect the person being accused. When you think about it, it’s not hard to see why. Our society is ruled by the idea of justice; and to think that someone accused of a crime is actually innocent doesn’t tend to be our first thought.
As frequent readers of our blog know, this isn’t the first time that we’ve touched on this topic. In fact, we talked about this issue before in a piece we wrote in November of last year. In the post we focused on allegations of sexual assault on college campuses and the perceived justice that colleges and lawmakers should be granting victims. But as we pointed out in the post, sexual assault policies must also consider the impact on the accused as well, especially if there is little to no evidence to suggest that a crime occurred.
This fact is perhaps best illustrated by the sexual-assault case out of Columbia University that many across Missouri may have heard about on the news. Even though no criminal charges were brought against the man accused of sexually assaulting a female student on campus nor was there a criminal trial, he has still been labeled as a rapist by fellow students and has been “shunned on campus.”
This case and others like it show the importance of our criminal justice system and the presumption that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, college campuses do not operate under the same presumption of law, meaning those accused but never found guilty, must endure judgment from society that oftentimes does not consider all the facts before making a decision about guilt or innocence.