The confidential sexual assault investigation system has failed.
By Dahlia Lithwick
Last Wednesday, Rolling Stone magazine published a graphic and horrifying story on a gang rape that allegedly occurred at a University of Virginia fraternity house in the fall of 2012. The student, named Jackie, did not report her assault to the police but did share her story with a UVA dean responsible for dealing with sexual assault. Jackie later tried to find statistics about sexual assaults at UVA but couldn’t find any—in part because, as she contends, a university dean later told her, “nobody wants to send their daughter to the rape school.” Even after further complaints about gang rapes at the same fraternity, the school apparently did not open an investigation until this year.
The piece exploded the national media and the Internet, and the UVA community has exploded right along with it. The pretty little college town that was shattered this fall by the abduction and murder of Hannah Graham, and has yet to recover from the murder of Yeardley Love in her apartment in 2010, is eating itself alive over what has become a national scandal: Parents send their daughters to colleges where they may be raped and violated by young men who will never be held to account.* The gist of the piece is that survivors of rape and sexual assault are shuffled into a system that all but encourages them to stay silent and avoid the criminal justice system. The even more devastating accusation: Everyone at UVA knew this was a rape school and nobody did anything to stop it. The unspoken revelation: Your kids’ school? Probably a rape school, too.