Sexual assault: Innocent until proven guilty

Timothy Kandow, Contributor

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On July 9, 2018, President Donald Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve in the open seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Having a supposedly flawless reputation as a judge in the circuit courts, the Republicans in the Senate, as well as the president, saw this appointment as a home run. That all changed when Dr. Christine Ford, a fellow schoolmate of Kavanaugh in high school, came forward and accused Kavanagh of sexual assault at a party back when he was a senior in high school.

Allegations such as these come at a time in America where more and more women are beginning to step forward against sexual assault. With the increasing amount of allegations and from what was witnessed in the Kavanaugh situation, simple yet critical premises must be understood when approaching and analyzing situations of the like.

If one is sexually assaulted in any way, shape, or form the assaulter must be brought to justice regardless of his position or title in whatever fashion appropriate. This article’s purpose is not to ignore or disregard those who have been or may be assaulted in this manner, but rather to simply shed light on the whole picture.

The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution was the first of its kind. It states that anyone in the U.S. has equal protection under the laws of this country and one of those protections is the presumption of innocence; innocent till proven guilty. In other words, an individual who is accused of the unlawful activity is completely innocent until sufficient evidence point to him/her being guilty.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center in their article “False Reporting” claimed that as of 2010, an average of 2-10 percent of assault allegations were found to be false. Over 45 percent of allegation cases were labeled as “Case did not proceed” due to “insufficient evidence.” This is simply to show that not everyone that comes forward claiming to have been sexually assaulted actually has been and that there exists a margin of error. If women were to come forward and claim that a man sexually assaulted them, they would need some form of evidence or backing in support of that claim. One is innocent until proven guilty. Speaking falsehood(s) is not only on one side of the coin.

Imagine a society and culture where people could come forward and claim someone did something illegal with little to no support of that accusation. As a result, the reputation, credibility and character of the accused – even if innocent – is left completely destroyed. This nation was founded on the rule of law. People are innocent until they are proven “beyond a reasonable doubt” that they committed the crime. It is not guilty until you prove your innocence, rather innocent until you’re proven guilty.