Sexual misconduct on college campuses can ruin lives, regardless of whether the incident really happened or is just an empty allegation. With Title IX shifting towards protecting victims, more and more innocent people who have been accused of serious sexual infractions are facing the crippling repercussions that come with the perception that they did something wrong.
A recent post on the well-known Facebook page Humans of New York brings the situation to the forefront. While the story is a sad one, the reaction to it inspires hope.
Humans of New York Man Accused of Raping Someone on Campus
Humans of New York is a popular photoblog on Facebook, where it has nearly 18 million followers, and Instagram, where it has nearly 9 million followers. The photographer, Brandon Stanton, takes candid portraits of subjects – most often in New York City – and interviews them. Particularly inspiring, deep, or insightful posts then caption a picture of the subject, which is posted on social media where thousands of people comment on it.
Unlike nearly all other commenting systems on the internet, many of the top-voted responses to the portraits are uplifting or insightful.
Tackling complex and difficult subjects is one of the hallmarks of the Humans of New York series, so it was really only a matter of time before one of the subjects talked about being wrongfully accused of raping a woman on campus. The person in the picture – whose face is not included in the image – talked about how his roommate's girlfriend had flirted with him, then cuddled with him, and then put a condom on him before they had intercourse.
Later, he discovered that he was being referred to as a rapist.
“When I confronted the girl about it,” he goes on to say, “she claimed the sex hadn't been consensual, and her willingness had just been a defense mechanism.”
“That's When the Bottom Fell Out of My Life”
The rest of the quote is about the fallout from the incident.
“That's when the bottom fell out of my life,” he says. He got depressed and went to therapy, as it seemed like everyone suddenly knew her side of the story, and believed her without a doubt. Because of her actions, he claims, “certain pathways in my life seemed completely closed off.” He obsesses over what would happen if anyone “went public” with the story and agonizes over the fallout from that, as well.
Responses are a Sign of Hope
The responses to the post, however, show that there are people who question whether an allegation is the same as a conviction in the sexual misconduct context. Many of the most-liked comments are from women, and most of them express sympathy for the person in the picture:
- One woman who claimed to be a rape survivor said, “I'm really grateful that [Humans of New York] chose to show this side of an all too common tragedy and is willing to challenge the current trend of thought.”
- Another comment: “I'm a supporter of the #metoo movement. But I also think this side of the story CANNOT be ignored if we're really serious about getting to the bottom of this issue.”
- Still another, with a truly invaluable piece of insight: “All it does is make it harder for the real victims.”
Joseph D. Lento Defends Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Allegations
Joseph D. Lento is a defense lawyer who represents those who have been accused of sexual misconduct on campus and is a national Title IX advisor. Contact him online or call his law office at (888) 535-3686