Friday, February 20, 2009

Mankato State University Sees 3 Reports Of Rape This Month

From the Mankato Freepress:

Police are investigating three acquaintance rapes that have taken place at Minnesota State University dormitories this month.

No one at the Mankato Department of Public Safety could be reached Thursday to comment about the incidents, which were reported to campus security on Feb. 1, Feb. 6 and Tuesday morning. Some information about the incidents was available through crime alerts on the MSU Security Web site. [...]

Cooper said the university doesn’t believe the acquaintance rapes are related to two groping incidents, one on campus and one near campus and involving a student, that also were reported this month. That suspect has not been identified, so the university is required to post information about them because there is an ongoing threat.

3 reports so close together are unusual, but 3 rapes on the same college campus this close together may not be unusual at all. As colleges improve their responses to all those who report rape, including those who know their rapists, I believe that the number of reported rapes will rise. And this is good news even if it is shocking to many people.

The story reports that there have been no arrests in these 3 rape reports and that is normal. If any of these cases involved forensic exams, the police may not even consider filing charges until the forensic evidence is processed.

However, the university should not wait until the criminal investigation is complete to begin their internal process related to reports of on-campus rape. Universities can take strong actions without violating anyone's due process rights. This should include action on the individual reports and action related to education about what is and is not genuine consent. It may also require education about anti-harassment policies which must be combined with effective enforcement of anti-harassment policies.

Unfortunately, many people have been taught to view details such as being alone in someone's room, or flirting, as legal consent when they are no such thing. This can lead to rape and it can lead to real rape victims being treated as if they have filed a fraudulent report.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:10 AM   2 comments links to this post


At February 20, 2009 11:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only caution to having the campus start their own investigation independent of a criminal investigation is that, as I've been told from a prosecutor in my state, once the university begins to investigate on their own, the state will likely not do so because the case will be difficult to win in court. Each time a victim or witness tells their story, there is more of a likelihood for variation that can be exploited by a defense attorney. The ADA I've spoken to has stated that once the campus process happens (depending on how far along in the process it gets before the case reaches his office), he will not take the case as the state is unlikely to be able to win the case in criminal court. As such, if the individuals who have been victimized want a criminal case, perhaps the two can investigate jointly or the university can suspend its process until a decision has been made via the criminal process. If the individuals do not wish to report to the police and go through a formal court process (or the case is declined for prosecution), then the campus process can be an alternative. Unfortunately, each variation in a witness/victim's story can and will be exploited in a criminal case and their words used to cast doubt in the eyes of a jury.

At February 20, 2009 12:53 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...


Universities can begin their internal processes without endangering the criminal investigation or requiring the victim to testify repeatedly. The most important part of this process is ensuring the safety of the student who reported having been raped.

This could mean moving the alleged rapist to different housing, instituting a no-contact order and sanctioning anyone who harasses or threatens the student who reported rape.


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