Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual assault allegations set a precedent for future leaders

Kiera Kunstman

Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual misconduct allegation highlights a very serious problem in our criminal justice system. According to Berkeley, sexual offenders are being acquitted from jail time, and cases are often being dropped before they even reach the court.
At the age of 15, I reported several of my offenders for statutory rape. All six of the cases were dropped before they even reached the court. I was told there was nothing they could do because it was not their job. Instead, I had to continuously deal with these people in my life. Seeing them form new relationships with people left me wondering if they were harming those girls too. If my brutal experiences would not lock these people up, then what would?
When I was younger, I thought being a rape victim was something I would never identify with because I was always very careful. Who you choose to be and who choose to surround yourself with does not always mean you are safe.
Sexual assault is more common than we think. A sexual assault awareness group, called RAINN, conducted research about how common sexual assault is on a college campus, “Among undergraduate students, 23.1 percent of females and 5.4 percent of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.” With 2,546 students attending Augustana College, statistically, 726 of us will be sexually assaulted. Augustana is such a small college that if this statistic was true, the majority of us will be affected by a sexual assault from either knowing someone or being a victim.
In the Brett Kavanaugh case, The New York Times states that Deborah Ramirez’s allegations are not being taken seriously due to the public’s lack of knowledge on what defines sexual assault. A shameful precedent, of what sexual assault should be, is being set despite the clear definition from the Department of Justice released in 2012. An officer from a police department stated how criminals can only be convicted if the jury believes beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime happened. The combination of an under-educated jury and a lack of evidence creates a harmful storm for our community.
From an outside perspective, reporting a sexual assault does not seem as hard as it sounds, but Berkeley states that more often than not, women are not reporting sexual crimes because laws are meant to protect the offenders instead of the victims.
RAINN claims, “Only 20 percent of female student victims, age 18-24, report to law enforcement,” and, “Only 32 percent of non student females the same age do make a report.” This means that unregistered offenders are walking around free, leaving victims and future victims unprotected. Unregistered offenders are walking around free here at Augustana, working towards their degree to move on with their life while the victims are stuck.
Unpalatable men like Brett Kavanaugh are being brought into power, leaving victims like Ramirez and me vulnerable to more agonizing situations. Sexual assault experiences are something victims have to live with every day. Not focusing on the issue at hand condones the behavior while giving off the wrong message to our youth about how people should treat others. Instead of choosing politicians who create problems, we should choose ones who solve them; starting with solving sexual assault cases.