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Rapists are being let off too easily

Published: Thursday, September 26, 2013

Updated: Thursday, September 26, 2013 00:09

According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, a person is sexually assaulted somewhere in the U.S. every two minutes. 

This statistic became real to students when two rapes were reported within a span of two days on campus. 

On Sunday night, a sexual battery  was reported that occurred earlier at 1:30 a.m. in the Juniper-Poplar residence hall, and another one was reported Monday that occured a month earlier in Casto Hall, according to University Police (UP) Public Information Officer Lt. Chris Daniel. 

Hearing about two rapes reported on campus is frightening for many students. 

But what’s even more frightening is that the rapists are frequently not arrested. 

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), 54 percent of sexual assaults go unreported and typically, only 3 percent of rapists serve their time for the assault. 

While an increased report of rapes over the last year makes it sound like they are increasing on campus, it could actually be the result of victims’ willingness to come forward to report them. 

Unfortunately, despite the increase in reports, the arrests are lacking. Out of the seven rapes reported on campus last year, only two resulted in arrests, according to the Tampa Bay Times. 

Rape is considered sexual battery and these cases are typically difficult to make an arrest because of the fuzzy legalities of providing the burden of proof of consent in the Florida law. The Florida state statute on sexual
battery states the prosecutor must show evidence of penetration or union with a sexual organ or another object. There must also be proof the victim did not
consent voluntarily, but proof of resistance or protest does not have to be shown. 

The problem with this law is the need to show a lack of consent beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Too frequently, the testimony of the victim is not enough to put the rapist in jail, especially if the victim and suspect are acquainted. Due to the traumatic nature of giving a testimony and the unlikely probability of prosecution, victims often decide not to pursue the case, such as the result of the rape case reported on campus last April. 

The idea that most rapists get out of jail time and resume their regular lives is horrific. Until the law can provide a new way to present evidence of rape, such as give more credibility to the testimony of the victim, perpetrators of sexual battery will continue to scar the lives of victims who have not received justice. 

Ali Leist is a junior majoring in mass communications.  

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