But a considerable percentage of UM supporters want to wash this case away on the grounds that it has not (yet) yielded a criminal court conviction. The "reasoning" of these folks is that it's not "rape" unless the court says it was "rape". This same reasoning assumes that the only actual crime committed by Al Capone was tax evasion.
This line of reasoning says that Richard Nixon did no wrong since he was not convicted, even though he resigned the most prominent position in our country to apparently avoid prosecution. This viewpoint says that William Calley did not commit murder until a military tribunal said he did. Bernie Madoff was not doing anything illegal until he was caught and convicted. The New York City Police were not corrupt until the Warren Commission said they were. And so on.
There is "guilty", and then there is the legal standard for "guilty". People can be guilty in ways other than the most strict legal definition. It was the University of Michigan that determined through their quasi-legal judicial process that Gibbons was "guilty", and it punished him with expulsion. That's the most severe penalty that such a university process could render in any case.
So we are left with the age-old question of why didn't the victim press charges in 2009/2010. This is a question we can't answer. If the victim ever wants to tell us, we'll be interested in hearing the reasons, but we have no right to chase her down and hound her to explain. We may never know her exact perspective.
To help us understand why a woman may not want to move this type of case forward, MSUSpartan76 has offered some explanations.
- Women are often not believed. Cases can be contaminated with "rape myths" and stereotypes.
- The legal system all too often downgrades or drops the charges through plea bargaining so the offender never has to admit committing the heinous crime.
- Women are often subjected to brutal cross examination practices by their own lawyers to prepare them for what they will face in court. This often causes the women to drop charges.
- The questions asked of the victim are often personally intrusive, making them feel further violated, a situation reserchers call "secondary victimization."
- In the past (and it still happens), police expressed doubt in the women's stories, were unsupportive and even threated to charge the women with crimes for not cooperating.
In addition, a first offender can get off with probation and a fine. Jail time is not mandatory.
So, would you put yourself through that knowing that the probability of getting justice was less than 5%? Would you put yourself through that knowing that your assailant could come back at you to "punish" you? Would you put yourself through that to add to your trauma, which will take years to overcome without the added burden of the public trial and its consequences?
That the young woman chose to keep her privacy does not construe innocence to her assailant. It merely shows she understands the whole process is stacked against her.
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