<< Front page Commentary March 19, 2004

Former J-board member discusses Bosko’s past

Note: what follows is Jim Kennerly’s views based on his experience on Judicial Board. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Review or its staff.

I would like to respond to Jesse Carr’s letter last issue, “ Tomasevic’s ‘unusual’ past is not a tale of heroism.” As a past member of Judicial Board (which requires training in Sexual Offense Policy matters), I feel moved to say my piece.

First, I would like to qualify this letter by saying that I have had no experience with Bosko Tomasevic’s case, and I do not know him personally. Perhaps a more careful examination of the record and of his character would suggest a different judgment, but I feel as if Carr’s letter points to a lack of understanding of any suspect’s rights in general.

While I am familiar with the allegations leveled at Tomasevic in general, it should be clear that the legal establishment of the United States, which has been honed for clarity for over 200 years, says that a suspect is to be presumed innocent before being proven guilty.

In this light, I am astonished that Carr has chosen to make explicit affirmative charges of gang rape against him.

While the College has a standard that inverts the United States’ standard (guilty before innocent) Tomasevic appears to have passed a threshold of innocence in the eyes of the relevant authorities.

I point to an article titled “Oberlin reinstates basketball players,” in which the Dayton Daily News reported that both the College and the Oberlin Municipal Court dismissed charges against him and another student based upon a lack of evidence to send to a grand jury or, in the College’s case, to prosecute him beyond a simple suspension to gather evidence.

Furthermore, as Tomasevic is not a public figure as defined by the Supreme Court, it is very reasonable to determine that Tomasevic has substantive private interests protected by the First Amendment.

The standard for proving slander is that which is false to the point that it casts aspersions on an individual in a community.

Therefore, it is evident that Carr has slandered Tomasevic by asserting something in a public forum such as the Review that is not demonstrably true and has been found by the relevant authorities to not be worth prosecuting.

Beyond this, I find it ridiculous to assert that the administration erred in not holding anyone accountable, because there is no specific third-party evidence that any crime was actually committed beyond the testimony of one party against the other, which does not provide the College or the legal authorities a cause of criminal action.

For them to hold someone accountable with no objective evidence would be irresponsible. To make an allegation of rape with no irrefutable evidence is a dangerous act, as an accused individual has no recourse to clear his/her name after a public accusation is made.

In a strictly political sense, this question arises from the controlled and careful bounds of a fair trial, as the accuser permanently defines the debate for everyone.

As such, an accuser is then free to manipulate the facts without having to overcome a standard of objective evidence.

For example, an accuser may change the time, date and intent of a sexual interaction.

Thus, since the accuser tends to be female, this debate can quickly become about male violence and female victimhood.

Setting aside the fact that this narrative is similar to the dominant and violent male weak protesting woman construct of gender roles, such an action belies a significant effect of sex discrimination against men.

Considering the high emotion on both sides of this issue, perhaps Carr should make such allegations with extreme care for those directly involved.


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