Are we blurring the lines of ‘sexual assault?’
Over the weekend, a college-age man entered the open dorm room of a female student at Rutgers, then kissed and groped her, according to campus police. She quickly pulled away from the guy and asked him to leave, police said. She then reportedly called the police.
One is a violent act where someone is hurt and conjures up images of a heinous crime. The other involves a rude, obnoxious jerk who thinks he can get away with touching a stranger and who deserves a kick in the balls at the very least — and a major ass-kicking if he ever did it to the wrong person, like me.
And that's not just me saying so — New Jersey law defines sexual assault as "the penetration, no matter how slight, in which physical force or coercion is used or in which the victim is physically or mentally incapacitated." It can also apply in some situations where the victim is underage or the perpetrator has some authority over the younger person.
What happened here, under New Jersey law, sounds a lot more like criminal sexual contact — still a big deal, but not the same thing. And in fact, that's the term police themselves used. Criminal sexual contact can be a third- or fourth-degree crime — with lesser penalties than sexual assault.
So I'm not saying it wasn't against the law and inexcusable, but it insults the victims of horrible sexual violence to call it sexual assault. We live in an era where every offense is magnified in the media to generate clicks or draw more eyeballs to a page or screen. Even discussing this, I run the risk of haters chiming in to ask, "what if this was your daughter" and trying to shame me for even broaching the subject.
But the truth matters, both to the victims of a groping or a sexual assault and certainly to the public, which rarely gets a taste of it these days. To answer the hypothetical question, they'd find the creep pretty quickly. He would be the guy bleeding and limping around campus.
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