The Seriousness of Sexual Attacks and dangers from the minority

Janet Kuypers

    So I have been listening to HLN News a few afternoons ago, and I heard a woman discussing the resent story of a woman at Hofstra University who was gang raped. I didn’t catch the beginning of the story, but Jane Velez-Mitchell (of HLN) wanted to focus on this story, because it seems that over the initial reports of acquaintance rape from years ago, women’s issues have been swept under the rug, And although I had yet to hear details of this story, and I don’t like hearing that stories like this still exist, I felt relieved that this topic may get the attention it deserves once again.
    I worked as an acquaintance rape workshop facilitator for years, and even designed flyers and newspaper magazine advertisements to heighten people’s awareness on the subject in the 1990s. I listened to women tell stories of how they were recently raped and needed assistance. And as I informed friends of my work, I would hear more stories from people I knew about their own previous survival after an acquaintance rape attack.
    I say survival, because calling someone who has been raped a “victim” seems too trying. And you have to emotionally be a survivor to withstand the aftereffects of an acquaintance rap, especially when society on many levels makes the “victim” feel like it was their behavior that led to this act.
    So although it has been years since I have done direct work with acquaintance rape survivors, I know too well the trauma women go through. I know the statistics, in that one in three women are raped (by someone they knew or a stranger) before they are 21. So yes, I would hope that is this is still a problem, something is being done to shed some light on this issue.
    And I listened to this talk group with Jane Velez-Mitchell on HLN, and Jane received letters commending her for bringing this topic into the spotlight (she even read one email from a female cop who mentioned that she even became a cop to help protect women who couldn’t protect themselves). Even though hearing a story like this gang rap (of five men on one woman and for men were already in custody) is discomforting, I suppose for someone like me, it is comforting to hear that crimes like this may be brought to people’s attention again.
    I told my husband about this story’s existence that evening, and I looked for more news on this story in the newspapers the next day. I saw nothing about it in the USA Today or the Wall Street Journal.
    No luck.
    So I went to the Internet, and found only one brand new story from AP, and found the headline “NY college student investigated for gang rape hoax” (
    Oh, no, I thought, and read the article, where I found out earlier missed details on this story. Apparently this woman told police that after her phone was stolen by a man she met at a dance party, and after following the man (to get her phone) to a men’s dorm, then was confronted by another man, where her hands were bound by rope and she was sexually assaulted in the men’s restroom by five men. Four men were arrested, and the fifth man was not caught. An initial AP article in the New York Times ( reported that “one of the five, Rondell Bedward, 21, of the Bronx, is a Hofstra student. The police say he signed in the other four men as his guests in the dormitory.”
    And I remember hearing Jane Velez-Mitchell explaining on HLN that the fifth man would have to be easily caught, because all of the people had to sign in and use their ID to get into the dorm – so the police would have to at least know who the fifth man was.
    But Kevin Taveras, one of the men arrested with this crime, released through his lawyer that one of the five men even videotaped the consentual sexual acts with his video camera. “Victor Daly-Rivera, the lawyer for 20-year-old Kevin Taveras, said Thursday that the video resembled a pornographic movie” (quoted from AP article number two,
    Final result? The allegations were false, the rape was a hoax, the four men in custody were released from jail, and the woman who made the charges was suspended from Hofstra University.
    No, I think a better a better internal response is “hmmph.” I don’t know now what to make out of this. Was I wrong for thinking that this is a problem for women still? Is our society now so peaceful in their cohabitation among the sexes that allegations like this no longer exist?
    Or should I try to remember that historically, “false rape” charges are actually as low as other crimes (2 to 3%), even though fewer women are even willing to report rapes in the first place (and the vast majority of women still feel uncomfortable with letting the world know they were raped).
    I look at police statistics that say the number of reported rapes reduced slightly from one year to the next recently, but the rate of reported incidence is still increased over a 10-year period. I also saw the stat I remember from years ago, that somewhere in America, a woman is raped every 2 minutes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
    So I don’t know what to make out of this false claim. Will people think that rapes and acquaintance rapes are less of a problem than they actually still are because of this well-publicized (but rare, even though people aren’t aware of that) false rape claim? Will people feel that women are safe and this was an isolated incident? Will rare incidents, like this expelled college student from Hofstra University, push women’s rights – and women’s safety – in this country even further back?
    I don’t know if I was making much of a difference when I was trying to make both men and women aware of this problem when I ran seminars and released flyers and advertisements. And I don’t know if I could make a difference now, other than letting people know that incidents of making false claims of rape are insanely rare. It’s just a shame that this one claim, which may have initially been good to heighten people’s awareness of this serious issue, had to receive so much attention before turning out to be the insanely rare, but false claim.



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