Wisconsin university launches campaign against on-campus sexual assaults

The American Association of University Women has some shocking statistics about on-campus sex crimes: one out of every four college-age women reports being involved in an unwanted sexual encounter, and one in 12 college-age men admit to actions with sexual partners that meet the legal definition of rape. The numbers don't lie, and there is no doubt that sex crimes are among the most prevalent on college and university campuses across the country.

That is why the University of Wisconsin-Madison has implemented a new sexual assault education campaign on all its campuses across the state. The program, "Tonight," is an interactive, web-based way for university health services to teach students about risky behaviors (excessive alcohol consumption and drug abuse, for example), remind them that "no" means "no," and bust myths about sex crimes (like the widely held misconception that the majority of rapes and other sexual assaults are committed by strangers, when in fact more than 90 percent involve acquaintances, friends or family members).

Sexual assault is never okay, and neither the university nor anyone else would think otherwise. What is important, though, is that regardless of whether you are a victim or stand accused of a crime, that the truth comes out. While a tragically high number of female college students in Wisconsin - a 2010 survey of UW-M students indicated that more than 7 percent of them had been sexually assaulted in the previous year - undergo some form of unwanted, sexually aggressive behavior, the consequences for someone falsely accused can also be dire.

Sex crimes, more than most other types of offenses, come with a stigma that never seems to go away, regardless of the outcome of a criminal trial or if charges are never filed. Someone facing sexual assault or rape charges must not only fight against the prosecution, he or she has to fight a battle in the court of public opinion as well.

Even though the Constitution clearly states that defendants are innocent until proven guilty, the opposite seems to hold true for many sex crimes. With long jail sentences, public stigma, sex offender registration and the loss of housing, educational and career opportunities on the line, an aggressive defense against sex-related charges is crucial. If you or a loved one is facing allegations of any form of Wisconsin sex crime, seek the advice of a skilled criminal defense attorney in your area as soon as possible to learn more about protecting your legal rights.