The Disorder of (Alabama) Republicans

At the Washington Post Stephanie McCrummen, Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites report that Woman says Roy Moore initiated sexual encounter when she was 14, he was 32:

Leigh Corfman says she was 14 years old when an older man approached her outside a courtroom in Etowah County, Ala. She was sitting on a wooden bench with her mother, they both recall, when the man introduced himself as Roy Moore.

It was early 1979 and Moore — now the Republican nominee in Alabama for a U.S. Senate seat — was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. He struck up a conversation, Corfman and her mother say, and offered to watch the girl while her mother went inside for a child custody hearing.

“He said, ‘Oh, you don’t want her to go in there and hear all that. I’ll stay out here with her,’ ” says Corfman’s mother, Nancy Wells, 71. “I thought, how nice for him to want to take care of my little girl.”

Alone with Corfman, Moore chatted with her and asked for her phone number, she says. Days later, she says, he picked her up around the corner from her house in Gadsden, drove her about 30 minutes to his home in the woods, told her how pretty she was and kissed her. On a second visit, she says, he took off her shirt and pants and removed his clothes. He touched her over her bra and underpants, she says, and guided her hand to touch him over his underwear.

“I wanted it over with — I wanted out,” she remembers thinking. “Please just get this over with. Whatever this is, just get it over.” Corfman says she asked Moore to take her home, and he did….

Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star followed up to see what GOP officials in Alabama thought of these allegations. Here’s one of several, all along similar lines —

There they are: men for whom no crime is greater than their party, no injury more important than their ambitions.

MH17, Three Years On

What exactly do we know about the events of July 17, 2014, when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was blown out of the sky over Ukraine, killing 298 people?

The National Increase in Reported Campus Sexual Assaults

The latest federal study on crime and safety in schools (at all levels), Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2016, is now available from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), “the primary federal entity for collecting, analyzing, and reporting data related to education in the United States and other nations.” A portion of the report concerns sexual assaults on campus (beginning on page 121), and in tables after the narrative. I’ve embedded the full document, below.

The report (pg. 122) makes plain the large national increase in reported campus sexual assaults:

The number of reported forcible sex crimes on campus increased from 2,200 in 2001 to 6,700 in 2014 (a 205 percent increase).

Focusing on more recent data years, the number of reported forcible sex crimes increased by 34 percent between 2013 and 2014 (from 5,000 to 6,700). It should be noted that data on reported forcible sex offenses were collected differently in 2014 than in prior years. In 2014, schools were asked to report the numbers of two different types of forcible sex offenses, rape and fondling, and these were added together to reach the total number of reported forcible sex offenses. In years prior to 2014, schools only reported a total number of reported forcible sex offenses, with no breakouts for specific types of offenses. About 4,400 rapes and 2,300 fondling incidents were reported in 2014.

(Writing about the reported increase in the Daily Beast, Lizzie Crocker (who has reported previously on campus sexual assault) considers a few points: (1) numbers may be higher now because campus assaults are more frequently reported, (2) the federal data do not, necessarily, “confirm the campus rape epidemic narrative perpetuated by high profile cases like that of convicted rapist Brock Turner and Alec Cook, who was recently expelled from the University of Wisconsin after being charged with sexually assaulting multiple women,” but (3) “[b]ecause sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes, some advocates say that these figures likely underestimate the prevalence of sexual assault on campus.” Crocker’s article also mentions recent, relevant studies on the matter and the claims derived from them.)

Download (PDF, 4.47MB)

Captured: Joseph Jakubowski

This community – and many others – will be able to enjoy Easter weekend without concern over Jakubowski as a continuing threat:

“RICHLAND CENTER, Wis. – Joseph Jakubowski was captured early Friday morning in western Richland County, according to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.

The sheriff’s department told WRCO radio in Richland Center they got a tip last night at 8:30 p.m.Thursday about Jakubowski and that 4 different counties sheriff departments participated in the search.

He was apparently found off County Highway U in Richland County.”

Via Jakubowski captured in Richland County: Law enforcement got tip last night @ Channel

Posted 8:10 AM CDT.


He Knew

Raquel Rutledge reports that Eric Haertle knew the medical products he sold were infected:

The former co-owner and chief operating officer of a Hartland pharmaceutical company — once among the nation’s largest manufacturers of alcohol wipes — has pleaded guilty to shipping a product he knew was contaminated with dangerous bacterium.

Eric Haertle, who owned Triad Pharmaceuticals and its sister company, H & P Industries, along with his two siblings, made “false representations to FDA,” allowing hundreds of cases of alcohol pads labeled as “sterile” to be sent out when he knew samples from the lot had tested positive for bacillus cereus, a potentially deadly bacterium, according to the plea agreement filed in federal court….

Triad and H & P were named in at least 10 federal and state lawsuits claiming their products sickened and in some cases killed someone, including a case involving a 2-year-old Houston boy.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation in 2011 found the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had been in the company’s manufacturing plants repeatedly during the previous decade, citing the company for numerous health and safety violations.

At one visit, months before the Houston boy, Harry Kothari, died, FDA inspectors warned the company its product sterilization process was insufficient. But the agency took no formal enforcement action. It wasn’t until April of 2011, several months after Kothari’s death from a bacillus cereus infection, that U.S. Marshals raided the company and seized $6 million worth of product, essentially shutting down its operations.

Via Former owner of Triad, company whose contaminated wipes were tied to deaths, convicted of felony @ JSOnline.

See, also, full coverage of this matter in the Journal Sentinel‘s Shattered Trust series.

There’s an oft-repeated quotation that one should ‘never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.’ (The remark is commonly misattributed to Napoleon; its provenance lies elsewhere, and is more recent.)

In any event, self-professed incompetence is an all-too-easy (and often false) defense among sophisticated wrongdoers.

Eric Haertle wasn’t merely negligent.

He knew.

U.S. indicts Russian spies in breach of 500 million Yahoo accounts

Ellen Nakashima reports on U.S. Justice Department’s charges against agents of the Putin regime – whose leader Trump only recently praised (“I always knew he was very smart!“) – for a vast hacking of American business (Yahoo & realated entities) and consumers:

The Justice Department announced Wednesday the indictments of two Russian spies and two criminal hackers in connection with the heist of 500 million Yahoo user accounts in 2014, marking the first U.S. criminal cyber charges ever against Russian government officials.The indictments target two members of the Russian intelligence agency FSB, and two hackers hired by the Russians.

The charges include hacking, wire fraud, trade secret theft and economic espionage, according to officials. The indictments are part of the largest hacking case brought by the United States.

The Enduring Sadness of Walworth County

“ELKHORN—A woman who son was shot and killed by a Walworth County sheriff’s deputy in 2012 has settled her lawsuit against the county and deputy for $1.1 million.

Nancy Brown, mother of 22-year-old John Brown, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Milwaukee in May 2013 alleging Deputy Wayne Blanchard used excessive force when he shot her son a year earlier at her town of Lyons home, according to court documents.

She had called police because her bipolar son was suicidal and had locked himself in his room with a knife, according to the complaint she filed.

The settlement, signed Jan. 23, brings the case to a close with the county and Blanchard denying any misconduct, according to a copy of the settlement document obtained by The Gazette.

The payment “is being made for the sole purpose of avoiding the substantial expense of further litigation,” the settlement states.

The settlement will be paid by the county’s insurer, Wisconsin Municipal Mutual Insurance, County Administrator Dave Bretl said Monday.

The shooting is among seven fatal shootings by law enforcement in Walworth County since 2010….

Phil Koss, the district attorney at the time of the shooting, said Blanchard’s actions were justified as self-defense.

[Plaintiff’s attorney Antonio] Romanucci said he and Brown were glad the legal matter was resolved.

“We’re very pleased with the conclusion of this matter, and that we were able to avoid trial with a very substantial settlement,” he said.”

Via Walworth County settles fatal shooting lawsuit for $1.1 million @ Janesville Gazette.

See, also Thursday shooting is eighth by Walworth County law enforcement since 2010 (“The incident [on 2.2.17 in which twenty-six year old Kris Kristl was shot to death] was the eighth shooting–seven of them fatal–by law enforcement in Walworth County since 2010 and the third in 13 months”).

Someone the President-Elect Admires

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, overseer of a contentious and bloody crackdown on drug dealers and users, boasted on Monday about having personally killed criminal suspects when he was mayor of Davao City.

“In Davao, I used to do it personally — just to show to the guys that if I can do it, why can’t you?” Mr. Duterte told business leaders at a meeting in Manila, explaining how he goaded police officers to gun down suspects.

“And I’d go around in Davao with a motorcycle, with a big bike around, and I would just patrol the streets, looking for trouble also,” he said, according to The Manila Times. “I was really looking for a confrontation, so I could kill.”

Via Rodrigo Duterte on Killing Criminal Suspects: ‘I Used to Do It Personally.’

See also Philippine President Duterte unveils his Trump impression, complete with profanities. (“Oh, President Duterte,” Duterte’s Trump impersonation begins. “We should fix our bad relations. It needs a lot of, y’know, you just said something good here. And you’re doing great. I know what’s your worry about these Americans criticizing you. You are doing good. Go ahead.”)

Attorney General Schimel’s Support for Senate Bill 656

Late last month, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel joined law enforcement officials at a press conference to announce his support for a bill that would offer amnesty for underage drinkers who report incidents of sexual assault (whether reporting as claimants or bystanders).   The bill (Senate Bill 656) would assure that someone could report an assault without worry of being cited for drinking, a possibility that might deter a claimant or bystander from contacting the police.

He was not alone in his support – SB 656 has support from both sides of the aisle, with both Republican and Democratic co-sponsors.

Once again, as with his meeting with sexual assault survivors (despite a refusal of UW-System officials to do likewise), one sees that A.G. Schimel understands that respect for individuals requires that their claims be heard.  Whether their claims are meritorious is a matter to be determined after they’ve had a chance to offer a claim –  failure to hear them out is deciding a matter a priori, a failure that would be inimical to the principles of a society based on individual rights.

(Those who are accused deserve and must have due process – that due process requires taking and processing a claim, not rejecting or pretending that claims have not been made.)

One alternative to hearing claims and offering due process to all individuals is a crude act utilitarianism in which university officials – in the name of protecting an organization’s reputation but truly to protect their own reputations – bury claims, ignore claimants, and ruin the careers of those who report incidents.

The UW System – and UW-Whitewater officials in particular – are accused by multiple claimants of burying claims (1 and 2), contending falsely that publicly-paid bureaucrats cannot speak to claimants, and insisting self-servingly that claims can only be presented one way.

A.G. Schimel’s support for SB 656 is support for the view that being heard can and should legitimately trump the circumstances surrounding when and how one makes oneself heard.  His support further undermines the unpersuasive, risible contention that the Telfer Administration at UW-Whitewater acted on principle in these several matters.

There’s no serious choice in this:  one can embrace the reasoned view of a well-educated, experienced prosecutor who has (sadly) seen many cases of assault in his career, or one can side with the flimsy, self-protective claims of lightweight administrators and their press flacks.

Larry Wilmore of The Nightly Show on Bill Cosby’s Arraignment


At the conclusion of his remarks, Wilmore observes that

“Even if he doesn’t get convicted, this is still a good thing, because for too long, the women who have accused him of this crime were not being listened to, because they were being silenced by a powerful man and a complicit culture. And, now, finally, regardless of what happens next, they’re being heard. And that’s a start.”

Yes, it is.

Chancellor Kopper’s Belated Statement on Another Federal Complaint

Today, only after publication of an account of a second Title IX complaint against UW-Whitewater from a second sexual assault survivor, Chancellor Kopper finally chose to issue a statement in her own words (assuming that she wrote it). I have published that statement in full, at the bottom of this post. (For the story on this second complaint, see, Sex assault survivor claims discrimination by university @ Channel 3000, WISC-TV.)

There is no reasonable person who contends that being “committed” is a statement. It’s an action.

And yet, and yet, even the statement finally issued under Chancellor Kopper’s own name reveals the indifference of her prior efforts – she now feels it necessary to begin her second paragraph with the tired phrase, “let me be clear…”

If Kopper had been clear, even in prior words alone, she would not need to remind readers of her self-professed clarity of views.

To those in the university’s Media Relations group – either your chancellor cannot issue a statement without revealing her past indifference, or you cannot draft one for her.

There should be – and so there will be – no end of effort until the institutional misconduct that has failed two women (and perhaps more men and women) ends.

One sees, also, that Kopper falsely professes to avoid speaking about this pending complaint, but simultaneously declares that “[a]ll complaints are reviewed with respect and compassion for all involved.”

No, and no again: that’s the very question at issue here. By asserting that all complaints have been reviewed with “respect and compassion” Kopper most certainly does address the allegations in this pending investigation, by categorically denying their possibility of being true.

A future assault survivor will read Kopper’s words and recognize that past survivors’ claims have been categorically denied.  This is an assurance of a chilling effect against future reporting.

Why can she not see this?  Honest to goodness, is there no one in her office who can think matters through?

Thus she hides behind a pending investigation selectively, contending that she cannot speak only when it suits her.

In any event, a statement will not suffice. A change of institutional conduct – and removal of those culpable of misconduct – is needed here.

See, please, the It’s On Us Campaign and Not Alone, a site for those who have experienced sexual assault with resources of support.

Chancellor Kopper’s statement immediately follows —

Message regarding recent Title IX complaint

Dear Campus Community,

You may be aware through media reports that a second complaint has been filed with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights alleging that UW-Whitewater may have violated Title IX. Because of the ongoing investigation, I am not in a position to discuss specifics. Our campus will cooperate fully with the Office for Civil Rights as it investigates.

Let me be clear, UW-Whitewater has been and remains committed to raising awareness about the impact of sexual violence and taking steps toward preventing any occurrence of sexual violence on our campus. All complaints are reviewed with respect and compassion for all involved.

I know that all across campus there are faculty, staff and students who are engaged in efforts to help promote a campus climate that is free from violence and discrimination, and I applaud those efforts. As a community, we pride ourselves on being a safe and welcoming place for all.

Please understand that if you have been the victim of a sexual assault, you are not alone. There are people within the UW-Whitewater community here to support you. Retaliation for reporting is strictly prohibited. We encourage you to report sexual assault to UW-Whitewater Police at 262-472-4660 or the Dean of Students office at 262-472-1533.

The campus website offers many resources to help keep you safe:

Beverly Kopper

A Second Sex-Assault Survivor Files Federal Complaint Against UW-Whitewater

Raechel Liska, aged 22.  Photo from Channel 3000.

Link to Ms. Liska’s video interview, available online

Raechel Liska, aged 22, an honors student and Army ROTC candidate at UW-Whitewater, has filed a sexual discrimination action with the U.S. Department of Education, Civil Rights Division, against our local university.

This is the second federal action that a sexual assault survivor has filed against the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the last eighteen months.

At WISC-TV, investigative journalist Adam Schrager reports on Ms. Liska’s complaint, one that contends that the university’s conduct in her case is “reflective of a systemic gender-based (response) that favored [her] male assailant.” See, Sex assault survivor claims discrimination by university @ Channel 3000, WISC-TV.

Assaulted twice

Ms. Liska was violently assaulted, but when she sought recourse – as federal law (and mere humanity) – requires, she met with a further tragedy:

“I got assaulted twice,” Liska said. “Once by my attacker, which was the traumatic, horrific part, but again by the school, which was the betrayal.”

Liska said UWW Dean of Students Mary Beth Mackin violated her civil rights by refusing to interview two witnesses and by not accepting either the police report or her medical records stemming from the incident. She also asserts Mackin did not issue a no-contact order against her alleged attacker, even as he retaliated and intimidated her after she spoke to authorities. Further, it was the Army that stepped in and removed her assailant from her classes three months after the incident in question, even after she’d asked the university to do the same multiple times, only to be rebuffed.

“The reason I filed my complaint is because something here needs to change,” she said. “I thought the dean of students would be protecting the students, protecting me. She’s the dean of students. I thought I’d be her priority, but I walked out feeling like protecting the school was her top priority.”

Dean of Students Mary Beth Mackin’s gross misconduct

Ms. Liska accomplished much, and loved the university, but that university treated her injuriously and shamefully:

She also asserts that Mackin never informed her of her Title IX rights after she made her initial report and did not provide her with a sexual assault advocate on campus. Liska remains on campus now studying to become a high school history teacher. She said she’s coming forward now because she doesn’t want any other UWW students to experience what she’s gone through.

“It doesn’t matter to me specifically what their opinions are of the assault itself. What matters to me is how people feel I was treated by the institution I trusted most,” she said. “I want my face and my name attached to this story. I want it to be personal. I want people to take it personally and I want there to be change out of it.”

After Raechel Liska was assaulted, and after her mistreatment from one of the university’s leading administrators, the university still used Ms. Liska’s picture to promote UW-Whitewater as a safe and welcoming place:

The university is currently distributing a pamphlet to new and prospective students that prominently features Liska in uniform on a page titled, “Leaders and Mentors.”

“I am really bothered that the university still uses me as an exemplary image but is so resistant to helping me at my most vulnerable time,” she said.

Raped, ignored and mistreated by her university, and yet used as a public-relations pawn by that same university.

What would be worse: that this university media-relations team is so obtuse that they cannot see the injury use of Ms. Liska’s promotional picture represents, that they are so indifferent they simply do not care, that they are so parsimonious that they will use the picture rather than publish a new one, or that they manipulatively think use of the picture would somehow impress Ms. Liska?

So let us hope, Dieu aidant, that we should never become so contemptible as officials of this ilk.

Chancellor Beverly Kopper hides behind her spokeswoman

Astonishingly, Chancellor Beverly Kopper cannot be troubled to respond to these allegations in her own voice. Instead, she hides behind a spokeswoman’s dull, stale statement:

“UW-Whitewater Chancellor Beverly Kopper believes that providing a safe environment for students, faculty and staff is her first priority,” wrote Sara Kuhl, UWW’s director of marketing and media relations, in a statement to News 3. “UW-Whitewater has been and remains committed to raising awareness about the existence and impact of sexual violence and taking active steps toward preventing the occurrence of sexual violence on campus. UW-Whitewater takes all complaints very seriously and every complaint is handled with care and compassion for all parties involved.”

Scripture records that God spoke thorough Moses, and Moses spoke through Aaron, but I am quite convinced that Beverly Kopper is neither Creator nor Prophet – it is a measure of either profound ignorance or arrogance that Kopper would not speak in her own words.

This is the second accusation that directly and specifically names Mary Beth Mackin:

The first Title IX complaint against the school was filed in January 2014. The survivor in that case alleged that UWW administrators, specifically Mackin, missed appointments, hurried conversations and failed to interview key witnesses to her claims. Federal investigators have been on campus interviewing students and administrators about those allegations.

I would invite readers to read Mr. Schrager’s full account.  See, Sex assault survivor claims discrimination by university @ Channel 3000, WISC-TV.  The WISC-TV broadcast story is scheduled to air @ 10 PM Thursday evening, 11.5.15.

Previously, see How UW-Whitewater Treated a Sexual Assault Victim (referring to a story, also from Adam Schrager at WISC-TV, on another assault survivor’s gross mistreatment while at UW-Whitewater).

There will be more to publish on this matter, and updates as developments warrant.

One assault survivor abused was too many; two similarly abused are a grave offense against individual dignity, common morality, and American standards of justice and fairness.

See, also, the It’s On Us Campaign and Not Alone, a site for those who have experienced sexual assault with resources of support.

The BB Gun Shootings in Whitewater

There’s an account from WISC of injuries an adult BB gun shooter inflicted on others in Whitewater on July 4th.  I’ve embedded it below.  It’s a thorough recounting, and the report offers some of those who suffered personal injury or property damage the opportunity to speak directly. 

Personal injury, in particular, can be a hard thing, but there’s nothing hard about forming an opinion on a crime like this: there’s no justification worthy of the term for any part of the alleged accused’s conduct. It’s wholly wrong.

That residents and emergency workers responded quickly is all to the good, and deserves commendation.

How UW-Whitewater Treated a Sexual Assault Victim

I’ve written before about the handling of sexual assault complaints nationwide and at UW-Whitewater. The more one reads on the matter, the more concerned one becomes, both generally and locally.

There’s a new and troubling story about how UW-Whitewater handled an assault victim’s Title IX assault complaint at WISC-TV. In the report, entitled, Graduate speaks about filing Title IX complaint against UW-Whitewater, one learns that a sexual assault victim felt that her experience filing a complaint – in her own words, was

worse than the assault. Worse. A lot worse. I regret with every… coming forward and saying anything.

In response to these specific injuries, as you’ll see in the video, Chancellor Telfer can bring himself to do no more than issue a general, bland statement that all is well on campus. It is impossible to overstate how unworthy is his response, so far beneath the standard of a man or woman in respect of another’s injuries.

There’s much more to write about this administration’s conduct – and one may be assured that I am committed to that long and thorough effort – as to remain indifferent or silent would be inconceivable. Simply inconceivable.

Above one finds the video and a link to the online story. Below one finds a transcript from WISC-TV of the report.

Transcript: Transcript from WISC-TV.

See, also, the It’s On Us Campaign and Not Alone, a site for those who have experienced sexual assault with resources of support.

What the Victim’s Mother Told Walworth County Judge Carlson

It’s both a pity and a disgrace that a fourteen-year-old victim’s mother had to plead with the Hon. James Carlson to sentence to jail the men who assaulted her daughter:

ELKHORN—The mother of a 14-year-old girl sexually assaulted by three men in an Elkhorn basement in 2013 pleaded with judges Tuesday to send two of the men to prison and require sex offender registration.

At the final man’s sentencing Tuesday, the mother’s frustration boiled over when the judge ordered no prison and no sex offender registration.

“This has got to stop,” the mother told Walworth County Judge James Carlson. “We’re not setting a good example for other children in our community. They think this is OK, that all you’re going to get is a slap on the hand.”

About two hours after the mother’s pleas, Carlson sentenced Braden D. Mann, 19, of W5244 County ES, to nine months in jail and five years probation….

See, Elkhorn men get jail, probation for sexually assaulting same 14-year-old girl @ (subscription req’d).

It is – and should be – deeply unsettling that a layperson displays a better sense of justice than those who ostentatiously wear the black robes. 

Justin K. Laxton Stole Money from the Wrong People

Still Time to
Learn the Craft

One reads that Justin K. Laxton, an employee of a public relations firm, has pled “guilty to theft in a business setting, forgery and fraudulent writings for thefts at Klaetsch Public Affairs Strategies, where he worked.”

(The Dane County District Attorney’s Office is recommending probation with conditional jail time for Laxton, for taking at least seventy-thousand from his private employer.)

Poor Mr. Laxton: he was simply too ignorant, or too impulsive, to see how to get away with taking large sums. 

Laxton foolishly chose a particular victim, when he might have found many victims. 

Taking tens of thousands from his white-collar PR firm rightly made him a criminal; taking many times as much from blue-collar taxpayers would likely have earned him praise, headlines, and a seat at the table to take still more.

In a private setting it’s called stealing.  In a public one it’s called grant-seeking, project-funding, and investing in the future

Ah, well, he’s young.  There’s time enough for Mr. Laxton to hone his skills, redirect his efforts, make a long-term career of profiting on others’ earnings. 

See, Former PR firm employee pleads guilty to thefts @ State Journal.

If Universities Want Federal Money…

If universities want federal money (and they want as much as they can get), then it’s wrong for them to shirk federal legal standards for reporting assault and for proper treatment of those alleging assault. 

(Make no mistake: I’d contend that universities have a duty to manage campuses well and fairly even if there were no federal laws.  Ethical obligations of this kind are prior to law, and exist independently of it.)

Here, though, there’s a despicable hypocrisy: university officials gulp as much federal money as they can get, but of federal procedural standards for victims there may be not even a drop of support.

This libertarian has argued against any number of federal, state, or local governmental intrusions; I’ve argued against as many federal, state, and local expenditures. 

It’s impossible to respect university administrators who seek federal money while simultaneously concealing & mishandling assault claims, or trivializing federal or state standards about assault reporting.   

Administrators of that ilk want to promote themselves at taxpayers’ expense, and then hide their own misconduct from any and all. 

No, and no again: no one’s entitled to that. 

UW-Madison Now Joins UW-Whitewater Under Federal Title IX Investigation

In the Wisconsin State Journal this morning, one reads that a second Wisconsin school is under investigation for its handling of sexual assault complaints.  Dan Simmons writes that

UW-Madison is now the second university in the state to be included in a growing probe of possible violations of federal law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The investigation now targets 101 schools, including UW-Madison and UW-Whitewater. The initial investigation was launched last May and included 55 schools, Whitewater among them.

See, in full, UW-Madison under federal investigation for handling of sexual violence complaints @ State Journal.

Investigations of this sort can involve either how a university reports incidents of sexual assault, or how it treats those who are trying to report allegations of sexual assault. 

One should be clear: federal law does not mandate – needless to say – that there will be no crimes on campus.  Federal law simply requires that, following allegations of sexual assault, universities that receive federal money will process complaints thoroughly and treat those involved in complaints fairly.

One would hope for campuses without violence; these present laws simply require that institutions taking federal public money should address allegations of assault to the high standards of which America is capable. 

There are thousands of four-year colleges in America; each one should be able to meet existing reporting and procedural requirements. 

That’s not asking too much; it’s asking only for the fundamental fairness and thoroughness our society deserves. 

What a Headline Says

When someone alleges a sexual assault, or other violent crime, the immediate significance of that claim affects the alleging victim, and one or more alleged assailants.   Fundamentally, violent acts are about actual people, not headlines, policies, politics, etc. 

Even if there were no criminal law, if there were no statutes criminalizing any kind of conduct, still there would be violent, immoral acts.  Even if there were no publications, to report any news, still there would be wrongs and injuries.

There are, however, both criminal laws and reports about legal proceedings. 

Not everyone will see these laws and reports, even the same laws and reports, in the same way.

Consider these headlines:

DA Will Not Prosecute in Alleged Sexual Assault Case

No charges filed against recruit in sexual assault case

For some, these headlines will suggest that there was no actual assault between a complainant and her alleged assailant.  For others, the same headlines will suggest that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute an alleged assailant.  For yet others, there will be concern that a prosecution might have been made, but wasn’t.

For it all, however, there will be others who will rush to another view: that because there was no prosecution over particular and specific allegations, there is no problem of assault at all.  From one development (decided such as it was), these few will declare the absence of any problem.

Those few who seek to deny any problem, to absolve institutions, organizations, and officials of any wrongdoing – even any possible wrongdoing – will see these headlines differently from others.  They’ll see them – and hope others see them – as a general exoneration. 

It’s not, of course. 

It’s just that they’ll hope others see it that way.