Being in college can be an exciting transition for any young person. But it can be a difficult period to navigate, as students are often legally adults but they are still making some unwise decisions because they may be too immature to fully appreciate the consequences.
One could certainly point to this environment as a factor in cases involving college sexual assault allegations and the confusion that often surrounds them. Young people are experimenting with drinking, drugs and sexual behaviors without the fears of parental interference. In the event that a social situation goes too far, college students can find themselves in one of two scenarios.
- Targeted by false allegations of assault Students make false allegations of rape out of fear, embarrassment, self-preservation or anger. Some who make these allegations may not appreciate just how devastating their actions are. Others make false allegations hoping to destroy the accused's life.
- Engaging in unlawful sexual conduct There are also people who do engage in behaviors that are considered assault, whether they realize they are committing a crime or not. Intoxication, ignorance of the law, mixing signals and simply making a bad choice may not be defenses to assault, but they can certainly play roles in unlawful sexual encounters in college.
Sadly, these two scenarios can be very difficult to distinguish, and this can be incredibly painful for the people involved. A recent article from The Daily Beast highlights some of the traumatic consequences suffered by the wrongfully accused. It also notes that statistics regarding sexual assault on college campuses could be perpetuating an environment of panic, confusion and the need for swift -- if sometimes unjustified -- penalties for the accused.
Whether you are falsely accused of assault or not, you have the right to defend yourself and to be presumed innocent until and unless you are proven guilty. This can be difficult to remember when you are penalized by your school and demonized by peers before you even get to a trial. However, you must still take seriously your rights to consult an attorney to defend yourself, your reputation and your future.