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UO Rape Investigation: The witness debate

UO radio station KWVA and Portland television station KATU have aired interviews with an alleged witness to the events in the the UO rape investigation. The UO's SWAT (Sexual Wellness Awareness Team) questions the paper's coverage of the alleged witness's story writing that it just serves to discredit and get people to question the victim's story in a viewpoint in the Oregon Daily Emerald.

The Daily Emerald followed the KWVA airing of the witness interview with a report headlined "Self-proclaimed witness talks to KWVA about alleged forcible rape involving Dotson, Artis and Austin."

The Emerald writes: 

UO student Kelsy Alston explained during the interview what she witnessed in connection with the March 8 incident.

“Throughout the party, she was migrating, leaning towards these men,” Alston said during the Quack Smack segment on KWVA. “I had spoken to her friends about that interaction. They gave their opinions on how she interacts with men typically and it mirrored what she was doing at this time.”

Alston — who made it clear that she did not know the alleged survivor prior to the party — suggests the night were different than that described in the police report.

The UO's SWAT responded to this and other concerns about the Emerald's coverage with a viewpoint that reads, in part:

Additionally, we would like to express our anger over the publication of your and KWVA’s article interviewing the “self-proclaimed witness” at the party. Whether or not this person was at the party, this article seems to exist for no reason other than to discredit and cause people to question the survivor’s story. You quote this “witness” as saying, “I had spoken to her friends about that interaction. They gave their opinions on how she interacts with men typically and it mirrored what she was doing at the time.” The survivor’s behavior around men previous to the assault or even the next day does not “disrupt the evidence” given in the police report; it is completely irrelevant. In fact, using a person’s previous sexual attitudes or desires to determine the validity of their experience is the definition of slut-shaming.

The criticisms of the interview are also relevant to the KATU story. KATU's story might call for harsher criticism as it makes claims such as that that the interview "calls into question" the victim's story.

 

Duly noted: Writing about rape and rape allegations is not easy and the Emerald has sought to use its terminology very carefully, refering to the woman in the case as a "survivor." Also, Oregonian reporter Andrew Greif,who was the sports reporter is I believe who broke the story by noticing something was amiss with basketball practices, is an Emerald alum.