Truthful assault reporting crucialBy Jackson Poe | 09/24/2014 11:34pm
With the recent sexual and domestic assault cases in the news, as well as on the UA campus, it is important to examine this issue closer. When an assault is committed, someone should be held accountable, even if the report is false.
The most common person that is going to be held accountable is the perpetrator. This hinges on two very important things. First, they need to know if the assault actually took place. Second, they must make sure the perpetrator can be identified and prosecuted. There are serious issues in proving this criteria. Lately, there has been a lot of confusion on the first part: did the assault take place. In the Jameis Winston case, the victim identified Winston, although the bigger question was did the incident actually take place at all, and was there enough evidence to prosecute?
Accusers of false assault claims should be punished. This is not nearly as common, but false assault claims do happen. When an individual reports a false claim that ties up police resources, they should be prosecuted; especially if the accuser goes as far as to identify a specific individual.
The other alternative – which could very well be the most common case and the case for the recent UA campus assaults – an alleged offender is identified with an abundance of evidence, but is still difficult to prosecute. An unknown offender is even more difficult to identify and prosecute.
The gravity of the crime affects how the police prioritize assaults and whether they are solved. This makes sense, as police should spend more time on more violent crimes, as well as crimes that have a higher possibility of being solved. Assaults that result in less external injuries and vague descriptions will not be prioritized, but this does not imply they should be dropped completely.
This is a known scenario. Pressure from police for the victims to provide more details, which they did not have. The police and the victim realize it would be difficult to find the offender and the accuser only suffered minor injuries, if any. The victim then retracts his or her statement and the police relay this to the public stating that the alleged event did not take place. In the UA cases, it makes it seem as if the victims completely fabricated events without any motivation to do so, causing confusion and irritation.
Police exist to solve cases. If people do not feel police can solve crimes, people lose confidence in the police and crime increases. In this way, the police must be held accountable.
There is a gray area where there might not be enough information to prosecute an alleged offender, but not enough evidence to prosecute an accuser for false claims. This should not happen often. With the amount of resources available and what was at stake in the Winston case, someone should have been punished. For sexual assault and domestic assault that causes serious injury, police will definitely attempt to solve the case because more is at stake. But with minor assaults with vague descriptions less of an attempt will be made. Truthful reporting of crime is crucial for police to reduce it.
Jackson Poe is a senior studying accounting. His column runs biweekly.