Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) came to the defense of the alleged victim in the University of Virginia sexual assault case, saying that despite evidence that she made false accusations of rape against a campus fraternity, it would be wrong to criticize her.
On Monday, a five-month investigation revealed that criminal allegations made against the fraternity were unsubstantiated. The victim had several inconsistencies with her story during multiple interviews. Those inconsistencies include an inability for police to ever actually find proof that the man who initially raped the woman ever existed, that a party had actually occurred on the night she claimed it did, or that other stories the woman told ever truly happened.
Still, Gillibrand says the woman should not face criticism or criminal charges.
“Victim blaming or shining the spotlight on her for coming forward is not the right approach,” Gillibrand said on “The Capitol Pressroom,” a public radio show in Albany. “In fact, what we have to focus on is how do we keep these campuses safe? How do we have better trained personnel on campuses so they can tell a survivor what her options are and so they can have all the facts?”
Gillibrand said it would be wrong for some to call on the female student in the UVA scandal to face criminal charges.
“I think it’s inappropriate,” she said. “One of the challenges with survivors of sexual trauma and rape is that they often don’t want to actually participate with law enforcement because they don’t think justice is possible. They don’t think they will be believed; they think they’ll be blamed.”
Political consultant John Brodigan tweeted the following in response to Gillibrand’s comments:
Avoid holding someone accountable for false accusations about serious crimes? http://t.co/7V6BnqyCds
— Brodigan (@brodigan) March 24, 2015
If indeed false accusations were made against members of the UVA fraternity, then they, much like the men in the Duke Lacrosse case, are the actual victims.
Also, focusing on the woman who fabricated her story would only dissuade others from fabricating stories as well – it would not discourage them from coming forward with truthful accusations.
False accusations can lead to criminal charges in some cases, but also irreparably harm the careers and lives of those who were accused.
To that end, the fraternity is “exploring its legal options” in light of the lack of police evidence.