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Press Quotes Professor David Cohen on Campus Rape Issues

David S. Cohen

December 12, 2014

The Associated Press quoted Professor David S. Cohen on rape victims' reluctance to report crimes in the wake of an explosive Rolling Stone article about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia.

"Rape is an incredibly serious crime that college administrators aren't equipped to handle," Cohen told the AP in an article that appeared Dec. 12 in the Washington Post and other media outlets.  "If people don't feel like they can get justice in the system, then they are going to keep it to themselves."

Cohen spoke amid fallout from a Rolling Stone article about an alleged gang rape at UVa that was based chiefly on an unidentified victim's account. Rolling Stone editors took the unusual step Dec. 5 of apologizing for failing to contact the alleged perpetrators before publishing an article that described the alleged crime in detail and took the university to task for its handling of rape on campus. 

In a Dec. 7 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Cohen had said fallout from the article could set back the rights of victims on college campuses.

The Nov. 19 magazine article had gained widespread attention and sparked soul-searching at the elite university where – victims’ advocates contend – there has been little effort to prosecute perpetrators of sexual violence.

A Washington Post article noting discrepancies in the Rolling Stone coverage raises the specter that sexual-assault victims will be reluctant to speak up, Cohen told The Chronicle.

“The article read like they were cross-examining a criminal defendant as opposed to listening to someone who clearly experienced a traumatic event in her life,” Cohen said.  “I’m very concerned that women on college campuses are going to be afraid that if they come forward, they won’t be believed—and that they’ll be interrogated by college administrators, the police and any news outlets that pick it up.”