As a retired investigator of the Major Crime Division of the Stamford Police Department, I applaud state Rep. Kim Fiorello for identifying the catalyst for the majority of sexual assaults on campus — drug and alcohol abuse, especially by underage students.
Rape and sexual assault are two of the most heinous crimes to be committed. We are all born with the natural right to our liberty and our lives. The rapist violently steals those rights from his victim, stripping her of her dignity and security. He also violates the social compact of our nation that demands we protect and respect the rights of fellow citizens. These criminals must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Rape and sexual assaults are on the rise on our college campuses. As the article pointed out, alcohol and drugs are involved in 50 percent of these attacks. From my own experience, I’d contend the percentage is much higher. Not reported in the story was that in nearly 70 percent of those assaults, the attacker had consumed some level of alcohol, and in 43 percent of the assaults the attacker was drunk or otherwise intoxicated.
Nothing in Rep. Fiorello’s comments suggested she “blamed the victim.” In fact, she clearly encourages victims, who may themselves have been intoxicated at the time of the attack, to report the abuse because the violence is far worse than admitting to having had one too many drinks. Too many assaults go unreported because victims fear being accused of contributing to the attack. I wish more people would speak up as Rep. Fiorello has and persuade victims to come forth. A lapse in judgment is not a crime; rape is.
In the past decade, a number of high-profile rape cases involving college athletes have been prosecuted. Baylor. Stanford. Vanderbilt. In every case, alcohol and drugs were involved. Parents don’t send their teen-aged daughters to college to be assaulted or their teen-aged sons to be drunken criminals. As Rep. Fiorello pointed out, these kids go to college to “learn and brighten (their) future.”
Rep. Fiorello’s message to everyone from parents to college administrators to students is clear: To curb the assaults, we’ve got to curb the consumption.
Eva A. Maldonado is a retired member of the Stamford Police Department.