Thank you for the question. Here are a few of my thoughts:
1. Sexual assault needs to stop being a "man vs. woman" issue. It's a perpetrator vs. victim issue. Victims need to feel comfortable reporting a crime - but in a case of a sexual assault, it's just not that easy. It's not the laws that need changing, per se, it's the stigma and denial that happens to victims by themselves, their peers, employers, coworkers, teachers, religious leaders and families that needs to be changed. There's a lot that happens between the time an assault takes place to the time that it's reported - we need to work on that as a society.
2. Sexual assault needs to be adjudicated in a court of law - not in a sensationalist media event or in hearings. There is a procedure to follow, laws and rules of evidence. The perp, male or female, is innocent until proven guilty. That's the U.S. justice system, like it or not.
3. I cannot comment with certainty on this case in particular. But Hudson County never disappoints and often stinks. Things are covered up here at an alarming rate by people with just a little bit of power. Katie seems to have followed protocol and does make a striking allegation. She has risked enormously to put herself in the front of a media storm. I admire her tenacity and courage and really hope she gets her legitimate day in court.
4. Moving forward - talk to your children, tell them your own stories (most of us likely are or know someone who is a victim of some kind of unwanted sexual comment, groping, or assault - most often by someone we know). Role play, create a plan, a code word, open up the dialogue to your sons and daughters about what is right and wrong and empower them with tools for situations where they could become a victim. Create a loving environment where open dialogue is welcome and your kids know they have a safe harbor in a storm.
Just my two cents.
Thanks. Absolutely agree with all your points. Here are the two issues I'm trying to wrap my head around.
1. When a rape involves one person's word against the other. A high percentage of rapes involve 2 people with no witnesses as in this case. The legal system offers little in the way of justice if the prosecutor feels they won't win a case.
2. The flip side - is when someone is accused of rape that they didn't commit. Their professional career can be destroyed if it's made public.
My advice to a son would be to get some form of documented consent - paper, email, text, voicemail or recording, etc - before engaging in any sexual activity. My advice to a daughter would be to document the non-consent at the time or as soon as possible using similar means.
Personally, I think that the law should be changed. Proof of sexual interaction without proof of consent should be grounds for a conviction. Granted - consent could be forced - but there are ways to tackle that (preset codewords, etc).