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The Issues with Sexual Assault Allegations in The Media

  • Subject: Social Issues
  • Essay Topic: Assault
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 1275
  • Published: 10 November 2021
  • Downloads: 57
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The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reported in 2015 that one in five women and one in seventy-one men will be sexually assaulted in the United States at least once in their life. They further break it down by sexual orientation, race, and nationality to further prove that the issue of sexual assault is not limited by any of the preforementioned characterstics. Sexual assault is defined as any unwanted sexual advance that can range from cat-calling to groping and rape and currently, the name of the accused is published to the public while the name of the accuser is kept private in order to protect their privacy. This begs the question: is that fair? Many have argued that in order to truly protect victims of sexual assault the name of the accused should be published in order to bring attention to the case and topic, bring more victims forward and ensure a sense of justice, and to guarantee that the topic of sexual assualt is brought up and fixed in anyway possible. However, I believe that the name of the accused should remain private until the conviction or lack of one, thus protecting not only the sanctity of the judicial system, the accused against false accusations that could be detrimental to not only their career but also their mental health, and increase the amount of sensitivity and respect for the victims and the topic in general due to the immediate decrease of evidence that could be used to keep victims from finding resources and clinics in order to seek help.

Specifically in the United States, the judicial system is often tainted by societal pressures that are shaped by contemporary media, popular culture, and hidden political agendas. This has led to many people advocating for journalists to take the reins and publish articles to bring attention to the persisting issue of sexual assault and its victims. Usually, the media is trying to bring attention to the specific person that is accused and the background of their lives and not entirely to the topic of sexual assault and its repercussions. While in some cases one may argue that it is important to look at the past of an individual in order to understand their motives, in cases of sexual assault in the media, the press isn’t doing so in order to prove motive or intention, but instead to garner attention from any outlet possible. This in turn means that, especially in cases with celebrities, the jury doesn’t have the opportunity to be unbiased, thus leading to a biased decision in court. The amount of attention that athletes, influencers, and other celebrities get both in person and online mean that people have preconceived notions of their lifestyles and their morals in regards to sexual assault or other innately violent crimes. Therefore, when the press publicises the name of the accused sexual offender, the opinions will immediately be given even without all of the facts, as can be seen daily on social media platforms. The court’s decision should be entirely based on the facts associated with the case, and justice should be sought after in ways that ensure, not only that the accused has actually done the crime and has not been falsely accused, but that if convicted, they serve the proper amount of time or have consequences that coincide with the severity of the crime. Thus, the best and the only way to ensure that the case is efficiently and effectively processed is by ensuring that any societal pressures or preconceptions are kept as far away as possible from the court.

What is the best way to garner attention? Using a clickbait title and misleading picture, as many if not all popular publications do. For this exact reason, the argument for publication of the name of the accused, continues to fall through. False accusations, though not an everyday, regular occurrence often lead to the end of the accused’s life, not only with the loss of a job, but also with irreversible damage to the family ties, and a ruined reputation. The opposing view could argue that this irreversible damage is actually a good thing, because if the court system is unable to prove the misconduct and the accused walks free, the victim is still negatively impacted by the press, if they chose to go to magazines and talk shows, or by the psychological impact that comes from being sexually assaulted. However, they rarely want to talk about the often racial or classist motives behind false accusations, and how the impacts can vary based on race, religion, and perceived morals, as seen within this case at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. A female student, Yovino, was attending Sacred Heart University in Fairfield when she reported being raped by two school football players at an off-campus party. She later admitted to making up the allegations so she could pursue a relationship with another student. “I went from being a college student to sitting at home being expelled with no way to clear my name,” St. Hilaire, one of the accused, said . “I just hope she knows what she has done to me, my life will never be the same. I did nothing wrong, but everything has been altered because of this.” There are many more examples of how false accusations can ruin someones life, but the story of these football players, as well as the Central Park Five, most clearly illustrates the racial aspect that influences decisions about sexual assault and how it is handled by the media. The demonization of people of color when accused of sexual assault is instantaneous and false accusations often take a much bigger toll on the accused in regards to their reputation and career. So, though the percentage of false accusations is low, the impact on people of color is immense and therefore the name of the accused should stay private until proven guilty.

Finally, the publication of the accused name and the sensationalization of a specific incident could easily take legitimacy away from the victims and the people who are trying to help them. Sexual assault is already seen as a taboo issue, especially within the Republican Party, in the United States. The legislation they put forward specifically targets sexual assault victims in a negative way, whether it’s by shortening the amount of time women can have safe abortions, or limiting access to sexual health resources in their state completely. Most of the time, their argument for doing so, is that there is a high rate of false accusations and that the victims are just being dramatic and blowing it out of proportion. Therefore, if the name of the accused is kept away from publication, proven to be true with undeniable evidence, and then charged respectively, they will have less of a chance to use that argument to marginalize the victims. It is unfortunate that people are so quick to assume that people who come forward as sexual assault victims are lying, especially those in power to change the policies that directly affect this group of people.

Sexual assault does not just happen to women, and it has no correlation to what someone is wearing, what they believe in, or their gender or sexual preferences. Sexual assault is an ongoing epidemic, and for this specificity of the topic, the accused’s name should be kept out of the press to ensure justice can be served. Though there are more than one side to the discussion of sexual assault and its ramifications, one that doesn’t account for the racial and classist views that often influence the media’s perceptions of the event, regardless of the facts, it inherently wrong.  

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The Issues With Sexual Assault Allegations In The Media. (2021, November 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from
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