Christian College Wants to Know Alleged Rape Victim’s Sexual History to Assess Her Credibility August 10, 2015

Christian College Wants to Know Alleged Rape Victim’s Sexual History to Assess Her Credibility

In 2012, just three days into her freshman year at Virginia Wesleyan College — a private school affiliated with the United Methodist Church — a student was allegedly raped on campus. To make matters worse, that student says, the school didn’t do enough to help her, but they helped her assailant, later changing what it said on his transcript from “expelled” to “voluntarily withdrawn” so that he could enroll somewhere else. She filed a lawsuit against them last October that is still being fought in courts today.

While rape allegations must be taken seriously and an allegation is not equivalent to legal proof, the school’s attorneys are now making a request that many say goes too far: They want the student to divulge every romantic relationship she’s had before and after the alleged rape:

“This is a drug facilitated rape of a freshman woman on her third day of orientation by a stranger,” [the student’s attorney Jonathan] Halperin told The Huffington Post Saturday. “To ask the victim in discovery to name every sexual partner and romantic interest she has ever had is irrelevant and outrageous and totally inappropriate. It is intended to harass and intimidate the victim.”

The school’s argument, which sounds cruel on an emotional level but may have legal precedence, is that it’s all part of the extensive investigation into her claims:

“As noted in the motion, Miss Doe is seeking money damages based in part on the following claims: she is unable to have sex, does not have any interest in sex, and has experienced difficulties in romantic relationships due to her inability to have sex and lack of interest in sex,” Mark C. Nanavati, an attorney hired by Virginia Wesleyan, told HuffPost on Sunday. “Given the significance of these claims in a case where $10 million is at issue, Virginia Wesleyan has to investigate these claims like any other claims Miss Doe is making in order to properly investigate and defend this suit.

That seems like a complete non-sequitur. It’s entirely possible for a rape victim to be intimate with someone she fully trusted even if her mind and body were telling her something was off about the experience. Having sex while not having interest in sex (or not feeling complete pleasure during the act) are not mutually exclusive actions.

The school is trying to discredit what’s happening in her mind on the basis of what she did with her body. To subject a rape victim to that sort of invasive questioning crosses an unnecessary line.

And all of that involves what she did after her alleged rape. Because the student claimed she was a virgin at the time of the assault, lawyers for the school also want to speak with her romantic interests prior to the attack to see if she’s telling the truth, saying this all just goes to her credibility.

Incidentally, there are “rape shield laws” that say rape victims’ sexual history can’t be used against them, but they only apply in criminal investigations. This civil suit isn’t subject to those laws.

(via Christian Nightmares)


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