Sexual Assault in the California Collegiate Setting

  • March 28th, 2014
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Unfortunately, sexual assault is a common offense, and even more so in the college setting. UC Berkley is the most recent campus to fall under the line of fire for mishandling sexual assault charges. According to an article by Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, "thirty-one current and former UC Berkeley students filed two federal complaints against the university Wednesday alleging a decades-long pattern of mishandling sexual assault investigations by campus administrators." There are many statistics proving that many incidences of sexual assault occur in college settings, particularly alcohol related assaults.

Rape Myths and Facts

According to the West Virginia University's WELLWVU - The Student's Center of Health, there are many "generally false beliefs people have about rape and sexual assault" adding "rape myths exist for a number of historical and cultural reasons, including gender role expectations, acceptance of violence and misinformation about sexual assault, and they're one reason why so many rape victims are shamed into remaining silent."

Alcohol-Related Sexual Assault: A Common Problem among College Students

A study entitled Alcohol-Related Sexual Assault: A Common Problem among College Students by Antonia Abbey, Ph.D. of the Department of Medicine, Wayne State University speaks to myth about acts of rape that are performed "under the influence." The article claims, "at least 50% of college students' sexual assaults are associated with alcohol use." Given the amount of alcohol that is consumed by college students, it is more likely that alcohol related rapes will occur in this setting.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH),"each year an estimated 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape," while "each year an estimated 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking." Unfortunately, rape is not always easy to prove, particularly when alcohol is involved. The NIH also shows that "each year an estimated 400,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 have unprotected sex, and more than 100,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report having been too intoxicated to know if they consented to having sex."

The victim's inability to remember whether or not he or she had sexual relations consensually creates an issue for those who claim to have been raped while under the influence. On the hand, the ambiguity of the situation may also pose a threat to those who are accused of rape, when they believed that the activity was consensual.

Options for Offenders with Rape Charges

In California, rape charges will stay on the offender's criminal record until the charges are expunged. To expunge a rape charge from a criminal record, the offender cannot have served a sentence in state prison, cannot have any pending charges, and must have paid all fees and restitution owed to the court. Additionally, only certain rape charges may be eligible for expungement. If an offender is ineligible for expungement, he or she may still have the option to petition the courts for a certificate of rehabilitation which will appear next to the offense on a criminal record, showing that the offender has been rehabilitated since committing the offense.