For Penn State President Eric Barron (Barron: Handling abuse claims a balancing act, CDT Sunday) to keep from making the mistakes his predecessors did vis-à-vis complying with the law regarding reporting suspected crimes, he need do just this: Call the police.
The outcome of the current system where the accused is presumed guilty in ersatz campus courts and can do nothing to change that goes one of two ways:
1. Accused isn’t an actual rapist/sexual assailant even if the accuser says she believes she was raped/assaulted: Punishment via anything from loss of scholarship to expulsion, and he didn’t deserve it. For the accuser: Knowing the accused had no recourse even if provably innocent, many doubt her story. She may not feel like she can stay at that school and have a typical undergraduate life, and so transfers, leaving friendships and opportunities behind. Final result: injustice with neither party happy.
2. Accused is an actual rapist/sexual assailant: Instead of trial and conviction, he is merely suspended, etc. Someone who is a danger to the community is not identified fully and may get a lot of sympathy because he had no opportunity to exonerate himself. The victim doesn’t see justice done and the rapist walks, albeit with a scarlet letter. Final result: Injustice is done and the victim isn’t happy with the outcome, since the rapist got away with it.
Universities aren’t fit replacements for criminal justice systems. They need to re-acquaint themselves with the digits 911.