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Volume 71, Issue 48, Thursday, November 3, 2005

News

Forum helps students recognize date rape

By Ashley Anthony
The Daily Cougar

Brett Sokolow, an attorney who specializes in sexual harassment cases, intended to get students "to stop and think" during "Drunk Sex or Date Rape?" an interactive forum held Wednesday. 

"I--m not here to tell you not to drink or have sex. Those are moral decisions," Sokolow said. "I want you to see what happens in a consensual situation when alcohol is involved."

Sokolow, who visits college campuses and high schools to advocate date rape awareness, said he does not focus on the concept, "no means no." 

He told a story based on one of his actual cases in which two college students, who, after a night of drinking, had sex. He described many details about the situation including the amount of drinks each person had, what they drank, and the chemistry between the pair.

He then asked the audience -- members of the jury -- to decide if the male in the situation was guilty of date rape.

Before they could vote, he encouraged students to ask questions. Some asked how old the students involved were, where the female's friends were after she was too drunk to think responsibly and why the accuser wasn't charged with pre-meditation.

"In a sex crime, we don't need intent," Sokolow said. "All we require is that you have an intent to have sex, not an intent to (commit) a crime."

The vote "was pretty even," Sokolow said, asking students to explain their decisions.

One student, who voted not guilty, said the male "made a rational decision" but another student who voted guilty thought the male "aspired to get someone drunk."

Sokolow told students to make their community better by helping peers who do not use their best judgment after drinking too much, possibly at a party. 

He encouraged students to use the buddy system when attending parties and have one friend remain sober.

"It works, and it's smart," Sokolow said.

He told students to not wait until the last minute to decide who this person is after everyone has already drank.

"That doesn't work. Nominate someone who--s really going to stay sober (beforehand)," Sokolow said. 

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