On Oct. 2, the Star Tribune published a letter of mine regarding alleged sexual assaults on campus. It began: “The approach colleges are taking is something short of justice. The premise put forth by schools that they do nothing wrong by branding young men as rapists and expelling them without a legal process is laughable. It is a rape of the accused’s name, and a paean to political righteousness.”
And now, 10 young men are suspended from the University of Minnesota’s football program because of an allegation of sexual assault (“10 U football players out,” Dec. 14). The alleged assault was evaluated by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, which decided it did not merit bringing charges. And significant questions of credibility and consistency are being uncovered by various media.
Ten young men now have their athletic, academic, employment and relationship futures seriously imperiled. Many throughout the country will associate the University of Minnesota and its athletic programs with what, with minimal reading between the lines, is a gang rape involving somewhere between four or five direct participants and another five bystanders/observers. Serious negative financial and other long-term consequences to the university and state are inevitable as this is showcased by the Holiday Bowl.
Yet all this will remain without explanation or clarification by the university because they are invoking “privacy” concerns, but the names and photos of the accused are splattered everywhere.
I do not know what happened at the party in Dinkytown at which untoward events were alleged to have taken place. But I do know what it means for allegations of a highly criminal and sexual nature to be evaluated outside of an open judicial process. I know it means we are badly failing any semblance of justice and fairness. I know it will not just be the accused men who will suffer, although they will suffer immensely; the University of Minnesota and many associated people will also experience jaundiced consequences. I know what I wrote previously — this ugly process is a paean to political righteousness.
And I know such an adulterated, insular process doesn’t treat men or women fairly; it has no place in an open and just society. It just doesn’t.
Paul Bearmon lives in Edina.