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Letter: Context of Sexual Assault

To the Editor:

Don Mahler’s Dec. 4 column, “The Good, Bad and Ugly of College Football,” posed the question of whether to vote for a gifted quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy when the player has been accused of, but not charged with, rape. As it turns out, the Florida prosecutor announced that Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston would not be charged.

Mahler, who wrote the column before the prosecutor announced his decision, said that he was “hoping the Florida courts take the issue out of our hands and make the ruling by the end of this week.” The decision to not prosecute sounds like a big relief for Mahler and others wanting to get on with the Heisman voting. What I hope is that sports writers such as Mahler will give us more context to help us move campuses beyond recurrent sexual assaults, sports-related or not.

I find the research helpful. University of Massachusetts-Boston clinical psychologist David Lisak has published a multi-year study of undetected campus rapists. Thanks to careful planning and the camouflage of other men who reflect their values, these men are seldom caught, rarely prosecuted and almost never convicted. Lisak found that the strongest predictor of rape in college is a history of raping in high school.

Additionally, Dartmouth alum Allan Johnson has gone on to teach and write extensively about “why men rape.” He will make a presentation at the Howe Library on Thursday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m.

On the proactive side is the late Elise Boulding, past chairwoman of Dartmouth’s sociology department. She wrote that the experience of cooperation in team sports is a contribution men and women can make toward a culture of “public nurturance” and a culture of human rights.

This January our Ilead class, Ending Sexual Assault by 2015, will look at Lisak, Boulding and other contributors to help us end the enduring supports and protective “cultural camouflage” for sexual assault. Registration is limited to 10 and can be done online at http://www.dartmouth.edu/ilead.

Robert Spottswood

Norwich

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