Earlier this week reports surfaced of a gang rape at Hofstra University on Long Island.
The victim, an 18-year-old student, attended a party with her friends when her cell phone was stolen as part of a ploy to lure her into another school dorm where 5 men tied her up in a men’s bathroom and took turns raping her.
Four of the suspects – Rondell Bedward, 21, Stalin Felipe, 19, Jesus L. Ortiz, 19, and Kevin R. Taveras, 20, – were soon arrested while an investigation continued for the fifth suspect.
On Wednesday evening, however, the search was called off and the suspects were released with their charges dropped after the alleged rape victim recanted her claims.
According to Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice, “the alleged victim of the sexual assault admitted that the encounter that took place early Sunday morning was consensual.” An immediate criminal investigation into the statements and reports given by the woman in connection with the incident has now begun.
This horrific story leaves me with many unanswered questions.
How were the suspects falsely accused so easily? What kind of evidence lead to their arrest? Did the woman undergo a rape kit?
Is there a reason we are unaware of behind this young woman’s retraction? Why would she fabricate such an elaborate story and then claim it wasn’t true days later? Why lie?
Lying about rape is incredibly insensitive, especially to the thousands of women who are raped every year – women who struggle to report their crimes to police. In fact, sexual assault is one of the most under reported crimes with 60% of incidents going unreported.
Rape is also one of the hardest crimes to prove in court. If an arrest is made and the suspect is prosecuted there is only a 58% chance of a conviction. That means that only about 6% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail.(Statistics provided by rainn.org)
When a woman lies about being rape her lie impacts all women (and men) and trivializes a problem that spans the entire globe. It gives authorities a reason not to believe those victims who do come forward with a truthful story and the public a reason to believe that rape isn’t as widespread of a problem as it really is. It also wrongly accuses innocent people (most often men) who have done no wrong and creates a negative perception of future victims (most of whom are women) who are already vulnerable and fearful of reporting their rapists.
The story of the Hofstra gang rape is terrible whether or not the alleged victim made it up. To be honest I’m still questioning what really did or did not happen that night but hopefully as the story develops the air will be cleared once and for all.
At this moment further details surrounding the retraction and new investigation are unclear. According to the evening news on CBS, a press conference is set to take place tomorrow.
Stay tuned for updates as the story continues to unfold.
Photo from CBS News - http://wcbstv.com/breakingnewsalerts/hofstra.rape.case.2.1189029.html