How a Woman's Jealousy Lead to Assault Charges at Harvard
What happens when rape doesn't happen?
I first time I heard a story about sexual assault at Harvard four years ago I was totally disgusted. As a father who has sent three girls off to university rape was one of my biggest concerns. Over the years I had been privy to reading articles of young women becoming victims of sexual assaults on the college campus. You see I have a certain bias against sexual predators on the college campus, in the navy or anywhere for the matter.
So, imagine my surprised when I found out the young man accused of rape at Harvard was one I've known all his life. His name is Brandon Winston and he happened to be my very own nephew. Immediately, my discrimination against sexual predators revealed it's ugly head. Even my own nephew could not escape its charge. No one is innocent of accusatory rape I reasoned. After hearing his story of innocence I still concluded: He must have been so drunk he can't remember what he had done on the night in question. After all, why would any woman say she had been rape if it had not happened.
I had known Brandon all his life. A good kid by any measure, he is both humble and courteous, respectful and kind are words that come to mind. I had never witness an ounce of aggression in him. An outstanding young man by any merit. He had overcome the adversity of growing up in an urban community, attended the prestigious boarding school of"Phillips Academy," college and jumped at the opportunity to attend Harvard Law. He now stood accused of rape at the very school of his dreams.
Last year, Harvard University students criticized law professors who say the Cambridge, Massachusetts, institution's sexual assault policy is biased against accused rapists. The sexual assault then became national news traveling all the way to Washingtion, D.C. Several lawmakers such as Sen. Christian Gillibrand (D-NY) got involved. Gilibrand without waiting for the trial's conclusion began writing an amendment that would make Colleges and Universities immediately dismiss anyone accused of sexual assault. Not convicted mine you!
I was to discover that even my very own prejudice against men accused of sexual assault could not stand against the facts. This time I asked my nephew to declare his innocence face-to-face, the last time had been over the phone. Looking into his eyes and hearing his side of the story I began to question the validity of his accuser's claim. I still feel the taste shame in my mouth for not believing him the first time. Not to mention that Harvard had exonerated him after a nearly two-year investigation. Now the county prosecutors office had taken up the mantle and charged him with sexual assault absent any tangible evidence. Just the word of the victim. Which is what troubles me because for so many victims of rape their word is all they have. And then we meet scorned women and find out what they're capable of, frankly it's scary. This could have been your son.
The case went to trial in February of this year. And the jury upon hearing the evidence acquitted him of every felonious charge. Yet, there were some disturbing facts indeed, one found the police had hid evidence of a condom found in the so-called victim's trash the next day. The condom was tested for DNA and revealed findings of an unknown male and the alleged victim but, non DNA matching Brandon's. The prosecutor had to tried to omit this evidence from the trial. The judge allowed it into evidence. There is justice after all.
The jury had agreed with Brandon's defense that the charges were born out of extreme jealousy. Brandon had been dating the accuser and after a night out drinking had quickly began liking her best friend and in-fact made out with her. His accuser, a young woman use to getting her way, would go to any extreme to destroy a man who'd rejected her. Even so far as accusing one of rape. Emily Yoffe's "The Hunting Ground" article explains the case in detail on Slate.com.
Needless to say, our family is overtly happy with the outcome of the trial. But, what lingers is how one can be so consumed with jealousy that they would go to the extreme of destroying another's life. She left our justice system tarnished and stained. Are we to now question in detail every sexual assault case. Although, we can't have sexual predators getting away with rape neither can we afford to send innocent men to prison out of sheer spitefulness.