By: Mark Fitzgerald
It’s been a longtime policy of the Ames, Iowa, Daily Tribune,
but Iowa State University director of public safety wonders
whether it is inhibiting students from reporting such assaults sp.
FOR A LONG time now and with no fanfare, the Daily Tribune in Ames, Iowa, has published the names and addresses of alleged rape victims.
And while other newspapers debate whether publishing victim names might finally erase any lingering stigma attached to being raped, Michael Gartner, the Daily Tribune’s editor and co-owner, says that is not the reason for the paper’s policy.
“That’s not my job,” he said.
Instead, the names are published routinely because they are part of the police record.
Daily Tribune readers, too, seem to be taking it in stride.
There was no reader reaction at all, Gartner says, when the paper, on Nov. 27, published the name and address of a woman who says she was raped by an Iowa State University wrestler and another man.
“Her name was just mentioned, well into the story,” Gartner said. “It was not some big, huge deal.”
But the paper’s policy still rankles some in Ames, including Iowa State University’s director of public safety, Loras Jaeger.
Jaeger, the top cop on the campus, says he understands the rationale that it is only fair to publish the name of an alleged victim along with an alleged perpetrator. “And in most situations, I think that is a good idea,” Jaeger said. “But I’ve been in law enforcement for about 28 years, and I spent a fair amount of time as a detective, and I will tell you that a victim of sexual assault, whether it’s a woman or a man, the first question they will ask you is, ‘Are my parents going to find out?’ If they are of age, the answer to that is: no.
“The second question they ask is if their name is going to go in the paper. And the answer to that is: in Iowa it is possible. If the news [organization] demands it, we must release the name. The state attorney general has ruled that,” Jaeger said.
“And with the Ames Tribune printing the names, it causes [alleged victims] to be reluctant to go through the law-enforcement process.”
In a typical year at Iowa State, Jaeger said, 10 people will approach his department with complaints that they were sexually assaulted. In part because of the Tribune’s policy, he said, 75% will decide not to pursue their complaint through law-enforcement authorities.
“Victims, in my experience, are not opposed to [being identified at trial]. The reluctance is at the initial stage,” he said.
At Ames’ local rape crisis center, director Lynette Ward is vehemently opposed to the Daily Tribune’s policy.
“I think it’s a horrible idea,” she said. “It effectively shuts down the ability of law enforcement to do its job.”
Victims who have been identified have been subjected to harassment on campus, said Ward, director of the center known as Access (Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support). “And when you [accuse] an athlete, it’s like you’re taking on a famous person,” she said.
“The victim didn’t do anything wrong,” Ward said, “so why is this news, anyway?”
? (“…not some big, huge deal.”) [Caption]
?(-Michael Gartner, editor and co-owner, Ames Daily Tribune) [Photo & Caption]