Allegations of sexual assault are serious

Accusers who lie must too pay a price

Opinion

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By Arlene Jones

Columnist

When I was in my early 20s, I worked from five until midnight. I lived on the near North Side in an apartment complex that is two city blocks long. I can still remember the soft rustle of somebody running in the grass in an attempt to surprise attack me from behind. I turned just in time to face a young man holding a knife out towards me.

"Don't scream!" He said. I promptly did. A neighbor heard my scream and shouted out his window. My potential attacker got scared and ran away.

The second time I had gone out with a girlfriend to a nightclub on the South Side. My friend wanted to hook up with a guy from the club so she convinced me that the guy's friend would drive me to my sister's house. Instead, the young man took me to the lakefront where he attempted to assault me in the car. I wasn't having it. I managed to escape to a friend's building and buzz his apartment. Thankfully he was home and let me in.

I have been fortunate in that I have only been the victim of attempted sexual assaults. But I take seriously the trauma that such an event can leave in a woman's memory. So when I hear of a woman who professes that she has been sexually assaulted, my empathy and sympathy are with her. Her attacker is manure and deserving of every penalty that this society can place on him.

Lately though, we are hearing stories of rapes and attacks that turn out to be complete lies. Like the one about the school girl in Rockville, Maryland who claimed two boys raped her. The boys are in this country illegally and back in March of this year the story made headline news. After an investigation, it was just announced that the girl lied. The sex, based on the evidence they found, was an agreed-upon encounter.

Several weeks ago, an Uber driver had enough sense to use his phone to record a young female passenger who was upset when he didn't have a phone charger she could borrow. As the female ranted and raved, she also decided to add in that she would scream rape and have the driver arrested. That video went viral, but nothing was said about finding and arresting the young woman for making the threat. In Chicago, we did have such a case. Maxime Fohounhedo, an Uber driver, was arrested and charged with raping his female passenger, based on her accusations. He spent four months in Cook County Jail (his bail was a half million dollars) before the police and prosecutors let him go because he had an audio recording. The recording disputed the woman's version of the events that took place in his car prior to their liaison.

Who can forget Mohammad Hossain, the UIC student who was charged with what was termed the "Fifty Shades of Grey" rape? His "friends with benefits" classmate allowed herself to be bound and blindfolded like the character in the movie. Hossain took pictures of her naked and partially dressed and sent them to his friends in private messages. He was arrested and charged twice. In each case, the charges were dismissed.

I don't know if situations like what I described are occurring more often. I do know that some colleges are promoting the notion that "sexual regret" is "sexual assault." That kind of notion is allowing some women to change their minds after the fact and claim the latter. For college men, there is a landmark lawsuit titled, "Doe v. Washington & Lee Univ., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102426 (W.D. Va. 2015)." In it, the judge ruled, "When a college promotes the idea that a woman's post-intercourse regret is tantamount to rape, it manufactures a climate of gender discrimination against male students that can "railroad" [the court's word] the innocent who are wrongly accused of sex offenses."

It's good that college campuses are offering wrongly accused men some protection, but we also need the same for the average man. I believe it should be a felony to lie about a sexual assault or harassment. We should also have a nationwide database of women's names just like we have one for sexual predators who make such false accusations. A false rape/harassment charge can ruin a man's life and those willing to make such false charges should know that they too have a price to pay.

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