There’s been plenty of coverage here and around the web of the utter collapse of credibility at Rolling Stone in the aftermath of the UVA rape hoax story, but with the pieces all falling into place it seems as if there will be little in the way of consequences for everyone involved. Writing at the Washington Examiner, Ashe Schow examines the extensive list of culpable individuals and groups who took part in all of this who it seems will go about their business without any fallout heading their way.
And beyond those at RS who allowed the hoax to go forward, those who helped spread the story once it was published faced no consequences either. U.Va. president Teresa Sullivan offered no apology for her role in treating Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity accused in the RS article, as guilty from the start. Similarly, there appears to be no investigation to discover the vandals who smashed windows and spray-painted hateful messages at the fraternity house.
Next, Ashe comes to the real landmine in the entire discussion. What about the girl who cried wolf?
Jackie, the source of the false article, still has her privileged status as a victim, despite there being no evidence that she is the victim of anything.
As the author notes, this is nothing new. The now infamous Duke lacrosse hoax gripped the attention of the nation in a similar fashion, but there was precious little which even amounted to an apology after that story fell apart. In some ways, this isn’t difficult to understand. We’ve been conditioned as a society for so long to exercise the maximum amount of care when dealing with traumatized rape victims that a default “untouchable” status is conferred upon them. For actual victims that’s certainly justified, but we should remember that this is treated as a special class by the media and that means that increased responsibility is called for. If a complete “hands off” and no questions asked policy is in place for rape victims, the system is deprived of critical data. With that in mind, if you find someone who knowingly and intentionally perpetrated a false accusation (along with media abettors who propagated it) there should be similarly enhanced consequences.
We all watched with a sort of train wreck fascination as Police Chief Timothy Longo stumbled through an extensive explanation of how they had done their level best for months on end to get to the bottom of the “Jackie” case. After who knows how many man hours and resources were invested in the process they threw up their hands. Jackie had clammed up and lawyered up, refusing to say a single word to the cops to help them bring the perpetrators to justice. What was happening at that point was clear to pretty much everyone, but the cops were still afraid to utter the four words everyone was thinking: “She might have lied.” Was this an isolated anomaly?
What if we were to find a case of an elaborate conspiracy to carry out such a fraud? If you think it’s impossible, there is just such a question being examined in Arizona this month during the trail of Tyler Kost. After being accused of rape by no less than thirteen females, his attorney uncovered some material on social media which, if true, points to a grievous crime of a different nature.
Lawyers for a 19-year-old accused of sexually assaulting several girls at his former school have claimed the alleged victims lied about the accusations and decided to “teach him a lesson” after being inspired by a Hollywood movie.
Tyler Kost appeared in court on Monday after being arrested last year when he was accused of a series of sexual crimes against 13 girls aged between 13 and 17. The Associated Press said that most of the girls were former classmates at his school in Arizona.
But lawyers filed documents with the court that included a group Facebook chat where three of the accusers and three witnesses made plans to target Mr Kost and referred to the movie John Tucker Must Die, in which ex-girlfriends take revenge on a former boyfriend. The exchange happened weeks before the women accused Mr Kost of sexual assault.
— Marc Martinez (@marcfox10) April 6, 2015
Again, we need a final determination from the courts, but what if that’s true? What happens to the girls involved if this turns out to be a complex scheme by a bunch of girls who decided to take a Hollywood revenge flick from the silver screen to real life? Circling back to the acknowledgement that we need to err on the side of excessive vigilance when dealing with people traumatized by sexual assault, shouldn’t we be equally alert to ensure we don’t confer that special status on people who didn’t actually suffer such trauma? And isn’t a false accusation of such a serious nature just as deplorable as the crimes of a true assailant?
The questions posed by Ashe Schow deserve an answer, but I’m not holding my breath that we’ll actually get one any time soon.