This sexual abuse hysteria can't last much longer

In Pennsylvania, a person commits sexual assault, a second-degree felony, when "that person engages in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with a complainant without the complainant's consent."  In laymen's terms, sexual assault is penetration without consent.  Rape requires the element of force.

Pennsylvania lawmakers declared sexual assault a crime in Pennsylvania in 1995 in the wake of a 1994 state Supreme Court ruling that a person could not be convicted of rape absent proof of physical force beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Consistent with the law of unintended consequences, the removal of force as an element of the crime put the age-old he said, she said conundrum in a whole new light.  It opened the door to the #MeToo movement and the sexual hijinks that continue today.

Tracy McIntosh, a former University of Pennsylvania professor and pre-eminent stroke and brain trauma researcher, was among the first in a long line of unlucky if not wholly virginal males to run afoul of laws like Pennsylvania's arguably unconstitutionally vague sexual assault statute.

In February 2008, McIntosh began a three-and-a-half- to seven-year prison sentence for the 2002 sexual assault of a then-23-year-old Penn graduate student in his office at Penn.

In December 2004, McIntosh pleaded no contest to sexual assault and possession of an illegal substance in connection with the incident.  Of critical importance, a first-degree felony rape charge was withdrawn as part of the deal.

An evening of bar-hopping on the Penn campus and the sharing of a joint at McIntosh's office preceded the boozy sexual encounter, which the woman alleges was non-consensual and criminal and which McIntosh alleges was knowing and voluntary, albeit wrong.  With no proof of force or threat of force coupled with a classic "he said, she said" scenario, it's hard to know precisely what McIntosh was guilty of. 

At a March 2005 sentencing, which the D.A. appealed and which was later overturned by the state superior court as too lenient, McIntosh's former defense counsel said McIntosh displayed conduct "that may very well be adulterous, may be immoral, may be inappropriate – but may not be illegal."  He was right.   

At the 2008 re-sentencing, the victim inadvertently admitted as much.  She described herself as "a drunk, incapacitated 23-year-old girl" on the night of the incident.  She implored the judge "to set this right for myself and for my family and for all women out there ... to know that rape is a freaking crime" – ignoring the inconvenient fact that the rape charge was withdrawn three years earlier.   

Then, in damning evidence of consciousness, she testified that she remembered McIntosh on top of her and "absolutely" remembers him penetrating her, apparently without force or threat of force on his part or resistance on hers.

So where's the crime? McIntosh's failure in the heat of the moment to obtain her written consent?  His failure to administer a breathalyzer? 

The fact is that today, men are being held to a higher standard of conduct in sexual affairs than women 23 (McIntosh), 19 (Kobe Bryant), and 30 (Bill Cosby) years old.  Hillary Clinton recently took heat for pointing out that Monica Lewinsky was a 22-year-old adult (daresay groupie) at the time of her trysts with President Clinton.

Accusations of sexual assault enable angry, vengeful women to extract their pound of flesh (and often a few bucks) from guys who dumped them or who simply didn't return their phone calls.  It soothes the conscience of women suffering the pangs of guilt from a hormones-driven lapse of reason.  It enables them to avoid responsibility for their actions, ensure their victim status, and punish recalcitrant lovers simply by convincing themselves and others that they have been forced to have sex, oddly without the use of force.

Cowed judges and zealous prosecutors who substitute crocodile tears and melodrama for common sense, credible evidence, and justice in the courtroom have contributed to the charade.  In fact, eerily like the Cosby and Kavanaugh scenarios, the case against McIntosh consisted as much of emotion as credible evidence.  The problem is that the evidence does not add up to a crime.

At the earlier 2005 sentencing, the father of McIntosh's accuser said, "This is a man's world.  And this is a step in the direction against man's oppression of women."

Well and good, except too often in sexual assault cases, it's impossible to distinguish the oppressor from the oppressed.