Back from the dead and in new form, campus rape bill lives another day. Anyone got a wooden stake?

In the final days of the Legislature, dead bills can spring to life, as has the campus rape bill. (AJC file)

The Legislature produces its own version of  “The Walking Dead,” legislation that appears lifeless yet manages to climb out of its coffin amid horrifying screams, “It’s alive! It’s alive!”

The resurrected bill doesn’t always look so good. But limping and ragged, it’s still on the field. That’s what happened in the House late Tuesday with the campus rape bill that a Senate committee appeared to have killed last week.

House Bill 51 mandates more due process rights to the accused while also drastically limiting the ability of the state’s public colleges to investigate and punish allegations of rape. Sponsored by the former House Rules chair but still influential state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, the bill was criticized as an over correction by those who work with sexual assault victims, only a small percentage of whom ever report what happened to them.

Unlike the House, which belittled the concern of sexual assault survivors that the bill would cause even fewer victims to come forward, the Senate Judiciary Committee decided the issue was too complex and the implications too unclear to act. The committee unanimously voted to table the bill, and Ehrhart promised to work with them to improve the bill.

Instead, the House Rules Committee seized on Senate Bill 71 — legislation dealing with bankruptcies and health savings accounts — and gutted it Tuesday. Then, House members swapped in the language of the moribund HB 51.

And, by the way, the sponsor of the stripped-down Senate Bill 71 is Sen. Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that tabled Ehrhart’s bill.

The hijacked Senate bill arrived on the House floor Tuesday night where two Democratic representatives spoke out against it and the blatant political machinations.

Pleading with his House colleagues to repudiate the “raw power play,” state Rep. David Dreyer, D-Atlanta, said, “Are we going to push this through? I would humbly ask you to please today let’s follow the lead from the Senate across the hall. Listen to the pleas of sexual assault survivors and vote this bill down.”

The House didn’t oblige, voting for the revived bill 102 to 56, along party lines.

Senate Bill 71 must go back to the Senate for another vote, which will be a crunch given the session ends Thursday.

Reader Comments 0

25 comments
RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

The opponents refuse to understand that there is a legitimate disagreement and proponents of the bill believe that victim's rights have NOT been diminished; but the right to due process by the accused are guaranteed where they have often been denied in the past.

When a rape or assault accusation is made, one of two horrific events has occurred:

Either a victim has had her or his life forever damaged by an unspeakable crime; or

a falsely accused person has had her or his life forever and irreparably damaged.

Either should be avoided at whatever cost is necessary. That is what this bill is intended to do.


Starik
Starik

A true story: a black teenager is waiting for a bus. A pretty white girl pulls up in a convertible, and asks him whether he'd like to have sex. The says"sure" and hops in her car, and they drive to her house in an upscale white neighborhood. During sex, the girl jumps out of bed and screams "It's my parents!" The boy hides under the bed where he is caught, the police are called, and he's charged with rape. In a majority white county will a jury believe him? Unlikely. After the black defendant sat in jail without bond for a week or so the girl has an attack of conscience and calls the police to confess that the boy's story is true. The case is dropped. This really happened.

Astropig
Astropig

@Starik


A LOT of these cases are dropped because they involve jealousy,misunderstanding and embarrassment. Sometimes adding alcohol or drugs into the mix means that a case is unwinnable for the ADA that has it added to their workload.Many accusers don't answer calls or official inquiries,they change their mind,they change their stories...Hell's bell's, one of my bondees married his accuser before the case could go to trial! 


I don't want any rapist to get off scot-free if we have the power as a society to incarcerate them.But the argument against giving the accused the right to defend themselves in a fair,unbiased forum should scare the bejabbers out of everyone with any sense of decency.

Starik
Starik

Rape is not just a felony, it's one of the "seven deadly" felonies.  A child of 13 years is automatically charged as an adult under Georgia law, and the State has the call to transfer to Juvenile Court or not.  So, if the rape is at college, it's handled by a campus committee? This opposition is not just political correctness run amok, it's political correctness encouraging rape.

BeOfService
BeOfService

@Starik Obviously you have not listened to a single one of the rape victims who testified against the bill.  They are not clamoring for stiffer penalties and more police involvement at all.  They want the schools to be the ones to investigate.  But you (a male I'm sure) who have never been sexually assaulted (I assume) know better than they do?  What is wrong with you that you think you know better than they do?  

Starik
Starik

@BeOfService @Starik Over 30 years in criminal justice? I've met many men and boys accused of rape, many of them guilty, and many acquitted at trial. Why rely on a staged performance testifying before a Gold Dome committee?

GatorDad
GatorDad

Having read through the text of the bill it is hard to understand why anyone would object to any of its provisions. The bill:


(1) Requires that college officials inform the police or a DA if they have information that a felony has been committed and to turn over all evidence;


(2) Prohibits the college from conducting an investigation, unless the investigation is conducted by a trained, certified law enforcement officer (presumably this would include campus police);


(3) Prohibits the college from imposing discipline unless the accused has been found guilty by a court of law or agreed to enter a plea, but the college may in the interim suspend the accused student from campus if it determines, following a due process hearing, that the student poses an imminent threat.


Unfortunately, rather than addressing the merits of the bill, its opponents only seem to respond by making appeals to emotion and hyperbolic comments. The bill seems to strike the balance between providing a safe campus environment while protecting the rights of the accused.


Please explain to me why this bill is a bad idea.

BeOfService
BeOfService

@GatorDad Same response to you as the last guy: Obviously you have not listened to a single one of the rape victims who testified against the bill.  They are not clamoring for stiffer penalties and more police involvement at all.  They want the schools to be the ones to investigate.  But you (a male I'm sure) who have never been sexually assaulted (I assume) know better than they do?  What is wrong with you that you think you know better than they do?

Alt AJC
Alt AJC

College campuses are rapidly becoming politically-correct gulags where rules continually change at the whim of leftist extremists. 

Using their definition of sexual assault, former president Bill Clinton should be behind bars for what he did to a 22-year-old White House intern named Monica Lewinsky.

And his partisan apologists excoriated.

Astropig
Astropig

@Alt AJC


"Using their definition of sexual assault, former president Bill Clinton should be behind bars for what he did to a 22-year-old White House intern named Monica Lewinsky."


True. A lot of lines of hypocrisy intersect at the Clintons.She called young black men "superpredators" when it was convenient to do so,back in the '90's. Then we saw our jails fill up with legions of young black men that peddled a dime bag on a street corner.Is there any reason to believe that this "legal lynching" won't be applied unfairly to young men of color on campus? You betcha it will,and soon.


The most encouraging thing that I read the other day from this activist that is pushing against this is her intention to get her law degree and (presumably) practice law and put real rapists away. 


Hurray! That means that she'll be bound by real rules of justice and will have no other choice than respect the rights of the accused.Hallelujah! When she starts throwing her verbal tantrums in a real court of law,I'm pretty sure that a few judges will order that she take her histrionics outside.They can also issue gag orders that bar her from unfairly influencing potential juries with unproven charges and allegations,innuendo and hearsay.In short, she will have to do what she is not required to do now-respect other people's rights.

BeOfService
BeOfService

@Alt AJC Your comment: "College campuses are rapidly becoming politically-correct gulags where rules continually change at the whim of leftist extremists. "


That's a hoax Bud.  When was the last time you were on a college campus?  Have you ever been on one?  Watching Fox has fried your brain.

Kristen Daddow-Rodriguez
Kristen Daddow-Rodriguez

This is a criminal issue, the university should be turning over all evidence to the police and assisting with the investigation. Why is there any other discussion? Who was the rapist and if it happened on campus doesn't dictate if it is a crime

Deborah McIntyre
Deborah McIntyre

I don't care what college you are, or who you are, or how much money daddy has, rape is rape anyway you look at it. And it should be investigated from all sides, and the rapes dealt with by the law. And this crap of oh, he's a big football star don't get it. Rape is rape and he needs to go to jail, bottom line. No school should be able to just take this under the rug, not in the past, not now, not in the future!

Tom Bond
Tom Bond

Schools don't stop victims from reporting rapes to police today and this bill could actually help that "big football star" by prohibiting the school from taking any action itself.

Deborah McIntyre
Deborah McIntyre

How is that helping him if the school can't do anything about it. He don't need help, the victim does.

Carleigh Nichols
Carleigh Nichols

The bill requires the school to report allegations of sexual assault to authorities. One of the reasons sexual assaults go unreported is because victims don't want to go through trials and investigations because this can be extremely traumatic. So essentially the bill takes away a victims right to have the school address the issue without the victim having to go through a trial so this will lead to even lower reporting by victims.

Starik
Starik

Rape is a crime, a serious crime.  Who objects to sending these cases to the police and District Attorney for investigation?  Why?

Astropig
Astropig

@Starik


"  Who objects to sending these cases to the police and District Attorney for investigation?  Why? "


People that want to politicize what should be handled by the criminal justice system,that's who.This bill would NOT:


1) Bar colleges from ultimately imposing discipline on offenders,including expulsion,suspension or lesser punishments.


2) Bar colleges from conducting educational programs to instruct and forewarn incoming and transfer students about the dangers of sexual assault on campus.


3) Prevent universities from actively pursuing accessory crimes committed on their campus.


4) Raise the bar or put any legal impediment in place for victims to seek civil damages against offenders,if they choose to do so.(assaults committed by athletes could then be pursued as civil jury trials if those athletes fall into a big payday,like Jameis Winston at FSU a couple of years back)


The activist crazies that are sniping at this from the weeds obviously have never met or interacted with a district attorney.I have.Believe me when I tell you that they are zealous in their prosecution of rape suspects.There is no "boys will be boys" nonsense at the DA's office.When they take a case to trial,they're playing for keeps.The immature activists would have you believe that there is some giant conspiracy to let these perps skate.That's absurd.


I've met more than a few no-account criminals in my day,including people accused of rape.Nobody hates the guilty ones any more than me,but...


Throwing away due process for the passion of the moment is a mistake that we would come to regret really fast.If this bill is some kind of error,then I'd rather err on the side of protecting suspects rights than to give in to noisy pressure groups that would become a lynch mob all too often.

bu22
bu22

@Astropig @Starik Well there is some "boys will be boys" among the police.  Its a problem.  All you have to do is read about the sexual assault cases involving football players-FSU, Notre Dame, Montana, Missouri, Baylor....  That doesn't mean you take away people's rights.  You work on the police to take these cases seriously.  And since nearly all universities have their own police department, that really shouldn't be that hard.  But then, its university police departments that have had some of the big failures.

bu22
bu22

@Astropig @Starik The worst case I heard of was where a friend's daughter and her friend were dragged (not on a university campus) into a field at gunpoint, raped, shot and left for dead.  The friend moaned and so they shot her again.  Both survived.  The police told her father, "Well they've probably already blown town."  They apparently made no serious effort to pursue the case.

jefgee
jefgee

@Astropig @Starik  "There is no "boys will be boys" nonsense at the DA's office.When they take a case to trial,they're playing for keeps" 


Yes...WHEN they take a case to trial.  This doesn't negate the possibility (or even probability) that a "boys will be boys" attitude leads to some, perhaps many, cases NOT being taken to trial in the first place. Or that other  questionable motivations may be involved in making the decision to prosecute some cases and drop others.  Just because you claim to be familiar with these types of cases and prosecutors doesn't make your dubious (or deliberately misleading?) logic any more sound. 

Astropig
Astropig

@jefgee @Astropig @Starik


"This doesn't negate the possibility (or even probability) that a "boys will be boys" attitude leads to some, perhaps many, cases NOT being taken to trial in the first place. Or that other  questionable motivations may be involved in making the decision to prosecute some cases and drop others."


You cite me some specifics,other than your broad brush theatrics and I'll join you in trying to get a rapist put away for good.I'll want to throw away the key.


But there is a reason that a lot of cases are never brought to trial.That's been finessed in all of these articles about this bill,because it's inconvenient to state the obvious:A lot of these cases are simply unwinnable by the prosecution because they are based on such flimsy evidence that may be ripped to shreds under the harsh light of courtroom proceedings. That's the very reason that we need real due process for the accused and the accuser.


Another thing that everyone is ignoring here in their rush to lynch someone is that holding these kangaroo courts before the police and the DA have done their jobs properly could result in some guilty suspects getting off the hook.A sharp defense attorney would put every word said during one of these things under a microscope and look for contradictions and inconsistencies that would raise reasonable doubt in a real court.That's their job,and the real rainmakers do it well.Another "solution" driven by emotion that would just create a bigger problem.


Nobody's defending these people that commit violent sexual crimes.They're scum.But before we turn our back on real justice in favor of mob justice,I want to slow things down a bit and use a little common sense.