Earlier this summer New York Governor Andrew Cuomo followed the trail blazed by California legislators and put a new “affirmative consent” law in place to combat sexual assault on college campuses. (These are commonly known as Yes Means Yes laws.) The law is due to take effect in October and it required some changes on the part of the state police, including redirecting some of their personnel and resources away from their normal duties. Now that we’re only a month away from the launch the troopers announced their new plans and began making changes. (Press & Sun Bulletin)
New York State Police plan to assign 12 senior investigators to help campus and local police statewide deal with college date rapes under the state’s new consent law.
Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said Wednesday that the new victims’ unit will also employ nurse examiners as consultants to ensure evidence is properly documented and collected and cases are promptly investigated. The senior investigators will provide training to local authorities about the law and investigative and interrogation methods, and interact with the colleges, he said.
“We won’t tolerate police agencies or campus security that don’t take it seriously,” D’Amico said at New York University, part of a campaign to highlight the effort. The unit was established by the state law requiring uniform protocols meant to prevent and respond to campus sex assaults.
Here’s an amazing census fact for the citizens of the Empire State who may be scratching their heads over these new rules. There are approximately 2.2 million students attending colleges and universities in New York, roughly half of which are women. There are 19.7 million residents of the state, approximately ten million of which are women. How is it that the other nine million women aren’t getting the same level of protection against sexual assault as the young women on campus? Perhaps even more to the point, this law seems to be attempting, in its own ham handed way, to address the problems of rape investigations taking place on campus. Why are these kangaroo courts being tolerated for such serious crimes and allegations in the first place? This law wouldn’t be required at all if every allegation of criminal activity was treated in an equal fashion.
As to the “Yes Means Yes” aspect of the new rules, New York is coming late to a party which is already drawing less than positive reviews. We’ve seen how this is shaking out in California and the news isn’t good. (Washington Examiner)
It has been nearly a year since Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the first-in-the-nation “yes-means-yes” policy on sexual consent. Since that time we’ve seen more schools adopt the policy, more lawsuits from students and more rulings from judges determining the merits of campus kangaroo courts.
One recent ruling, limited in scope but broad in its potential ramifications, addressed the yes-means-yes policies head-on. Judge Carol McCoy addressed two of the biggest concerns shared by opponents of yes-means-yes — the burden of proof being shifted onto the accused, and the nearly impossible task of proving such consent was obtained.
McCoy overturned a University of Tennessee-Chattanooga ruling that a student accused of sexual assault failed to prove he did obtain consent. Of course, such proof could not be obtained, as there are very few ways — and even fewer legal ways — to provide such proof.
When these laws are challenged in open court they have been falling like dominoes for precisely the reason cited in the California case. First of all, there shouldn’t be anyone in this country accused of rape or any other serious crime being “put on trial” before some panel of students and professors at a school. They should be evaluated by a district attorney and, if merited, brought before a judge and a jury of their peers. And when someone is accused of a crime, the burden of proof falls upon the state. You simply can’t shift the burden of proof onto the accused and ask them to document how, when and where their date said “yes” to a proposed sexual encounter.
Another aspect of the New York law bars universities from punishing female students if they were intoxicated or under the influence of drugs when the activity took place. That’s clearly important because you wouldn’t want someone to fail to report a serious crime for fear of being punished themselves over something so trivial. But by the same token, the drinking age is 21 in New York. (Another stupid idea, but that’s a subject for another day.) How about just having a rule that says we don’t approve of students breaking the law?
Everything involved with this law smacks of political correctness running amok while accomplishing nothing of meaning beyond providing for unequal enforcement of and protection under the law. It’s already falling to pieces in California, but that’s apparently not going to deter Andrew Cuomo from rushing headlong into the same ditch.