The co-author of a new book about campus rape says that while the problem of sexual assault and rape on campus is real, the numbers have been inflated.
Stuart Taylor Jr., who wrote “The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America’s Universities” with KC Johnson, told CNN’s Michael Smerconish that although there is a “serious rape problem on campus,” the statistics are “highly misleading.”
According to a large scale study by the Association of American Universities, 23% of female students have experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact while attending college.
Taylor disputes these often-cited numbers. For instance, President Obama’s said, while launching an awareness campaign in 2014, that one in five students will be sexually assaulted. Taylor said the figure was “absolutely false.”
“Frankly I’m surprised that a man as smart as former President Obama, and as careful a politician, would say something so wildly inaccurate, something that had already been totally discredited at the time he said it,” Taylor said.
Asked by Smerconish what he thought the real number was, Taylor suggested a much lower figure, which he had calculated in his book “according to the best Justice Department statistics.”
“Maybe one in 100 women are raped during their college careers. Maybe one in 50, including the rapes, are sexual assaulted, maybe fewer. And those statistics come from the best surveys that have been done,” he said.
“Surveys that get you to one in five or one in four are highly misleading, if not fraudulent,” he added.
The overinflation of statistics has led to misleading press coverage of cases that later were disproved, he argued, specifically calling out the New York Times for “shameful” coverage of members of the Duke lacrosse team, who were accused and later exonerated of sexual assault.
“The people who are hyping this as a huge epidemic are ideologues. Facts don’t matter to them,” he said.
“Let’s say this together. Guys can be pigs,” Smerconish said at point during the interview. “Those that are sexual assaulters, we want them, I will speak for myself, we want them prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
“Yes,” said Taylor, I don’t deny that. Convicting real rapists, sending them to prison is a way to protect victims.”
However, he said, tackling the issue of campus rape should not involve “rounding up people who are accused under dubious circumstances of having sex while drunk and then kicking them out of college, pretending they’re rapists.”