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At Fla. State, Burden of Rape Cases Falls on Accusers: NYT

Women who don't firmly tell cops to proceed are deemed 'uncooperative,' files show
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2014 4:38 PM CDT
At Fla. State, Burden of Rape Investigation Falls on Accusers: NYT
Florida State University is being scrutinized for the way it has handled student rape allegations.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The New York Times reveals it has uncovered "a pattern to the handling of sexual assault complaints by Florida State [University] students"—namely, that unless an accuser directly asks police to continue the investigation (even after she has already filed a police report and been examined by medical personnel), the cops will stop looking into the allegations, even deeming the alleged victim "uncooperative" in some cases. The report says the burden for proving the crime lies squarely on the accuser, even though victims who feel no one will believe them are especially likely to back down when questioned whether they want to continue, the Times notes. "In the guise of seeking the victim's consent to the investigation, she's actually being bullied out of it," says the executive director of a local nonprofit.

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Procedures for looking into the university's sexual assault incidents have come under increasing scrutiny after star quarterback Jameis Winston was accused of raping a fellow student in 2012; she says that investigators "abandoned" her case, CBS reports. The Times found that investigation was riddled with errors. The new Times report indicates that other women’s cases have been similarly disregarded after they expressed uncertainty to police about prosecuting or how to proceed next. "If a victim comes in and reports a violent crime, I don't think it's appropriate to then say ... 'Are you sure you want to go forward with this?'" says one of Florida's chief assistant attorneys. "The appropriate thing to do is to assume by her being there, making the report, that she does want an investigation and to proceed with it accordingly." (Read the entire Times article here.)

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