Rape Scandal Turns Sympathy Into Skepticism
by Wendy McElroy, ifeminists.com
22 April 2004
A former peer educator has come forward to shed light on the University of Colorado's ongoing sex scandal.
The University of
Colorado at Boulder's ongoing sex scandal revolves around football players
who are accused of "getting away" with raping up to 10 women over the past
several years. Women are suing. Dozens of athletes and their families are
devastated. The National Organization for Women is demanding the head coach
Legislators wonder if they should conduct their own investigation. The truth
of the specific accusations has yet to be determined. But, through the cacophony
of voices, Richard Grego wishes to express a differing opinion: Namely, that
the CU campus promotes false awareness.
Grego, who told me his story via e-mail, claims he knows CU promotes false
awareness because, he says, he used to sell the "lie."
From 1997 to 2000, while an undergraduate, Grego served as "a peer educator"
in the Colorado University Rape And Gender Educators (COURAGE), which is
funded by CU, and so, sanctioned by it. The group's stated mission: "to raise
awareness about sexual assault, stalking, intimate partner violence and gender
as it relates to those topics." In January, 1999, Grego's work was even singled
out and featured for praise by the Colorado Daily in its weekend edition.
Grego now calls his work a "lie" that encouraged unfounded accusations of
assault. He writes, "We created at CU a culture of false awareness. ... [S]ince
I left the group I have suspected that many women have been making false
allegations to obtain the attention, sympathy, kid-glove treatment, and power
that comes with being a victim of sex assault."
Why does Grego say the awareness was false? For one thing, COURAGE and its
"educators" aggressively promote "facts" such as "1 in 4 women ... will be
sexually assaulted in their lifetime." COURAGE claimed that the statistic
came from the FBI. Thus, Grego explains, "with the credibility of both a
large respected university and the police department, we told college kids,
many of whom were 18-year[-old] freshmen, that women are being raped left
and right." As a COURAGE educator, Grego "went to classes, dorms, fraternities,
other groups, and many sororities."
Then Grego took a sociology class that used the much-cited "Mary Koss study"
as a cautionary example of how not to do research. The Mary Koss study was
a 1985 report published in Ms. Magazine that claimed 1 in 4 women
had been raped, and based the claim on interviews Mary Koss conducted with
some 7,000 female college students. The women were asked 10 questions; they
were deemed to have been raped if any question elicited a "yes" response.
One question was, "Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn't want to
because a man gave you alcohol or drugs?"
The 1-in-4 figure ranked as the Number One Myth
in "The Ten Most Common Feminist Myths" flyer from the Independent Women's
Forum, which was circulated amid controversy on campuses in 2001. IWF commented,
"The researcher, Mary Koss, hand-picked by hard-line feminist Gloria Steinem,
acknowledges that 73 percent of the young women she counted as rape victims
were not aware they had been raped. Forty-three percent of them were dating
their 'attacker' again."
Grego recognized the discredited "facts" as the ones he was "feeding" the
student body. They had not come from the FBI but from a feminist study that
was being ridiculed by those who taught statistics. He asked, "Can you imagine
how I felt? I had been in essence lying to the students. I was stunned."
Grego claims that when he confronted the professional coordinator of COURAGE
about the statistic, she told him that the cause of "raising awareness" about
rape was more important than the questions surrounding Koss' study.
Grego decided to leave the group.
Rebecca Brown, the professional coordinator of COURAGE during Grego's tenure
with the group, told Foxnews.com that she has no recollection of such a conversation
with Grego or anyone else. She acknowledges that the Koss study has been
challenged, but cites other research that has upheld Koss' findings.
"Statistics are only one aspect of what the COURAGE program does," Brown said.
But Grego says that now, instead of extending automatic compassion, he now questions every report of rape he hears.
"I do not automatically presume the accusers are telling the truth, instead
I realize that I did not witness the events and I wait until more evidence
comes out," he says. Contrast this with a younger Grego: "Back in high school,
this older girl I was friends with told me she was raped, I was shocked and
gave her my sympathy."
Grego's reaction is both natural and disturbing. I view this shift in his
views as "disturbing" because I was raped years ago. As a teenager, I ran
away from home and lived on the streets, which placed me in a high-risk category
for violence. Were I to go to Richard Grego right now, would he listen with
sympathy or skepticism? If the answer is "skepticism," should I blame Grego
or the university/tax-funded program of false awareness that pushed a compassionate
person toward disbelief?
Although Grego graduated from CU in 2003, he is speaking out now, he says,
because he "can't help but feel slightly responsible" for the current sex
scandal that he likens to "a witchhunt."
Is it a witchhunt? A Boulder newspaper reports,
"The CU football sex scandal has victimized everyone from women suing the
school over their alleged rapes to dozens of athletes and their families
to far-removed researchers on campus who say their work is going unappreciated
It is time to get tax-funded advocates out of the equation and deal with
crime on the basis of the evidence presented by each individual case.
Wendy McElroy is the editor of ifeminists.com
and a research fellow for The Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif. Her
new book is Liberty for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century.
Reprinted with permission of ifeminists.com.
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