Rape Culture: Why Are White, Male College Students Getting Away With Rape?

Diana Price

With all the furor from the notorious Stanford rape case and Brock Turner's light sentencing, as well as the plea deal that dropped rape charges against Indiana University student John Enochs, you would think the public outrage and backlash would make judges stop and think about these light sentences. But apparently, that is not the case, as now yet another white college student has basically been given a free pass in raping an unconscious woman. This time, it was a University of Colorado college student who has essentially gotten away with rape, and believe it or not, this is even worse than the Brock Turner case.

Not only are the light rape sentences continuing but getting even lighter. This time, the perpetrator didn't get a single day of prison time for raping a woman. Austin James Wilkerson admitted the sexual assault and initially said he assaulted her after she refused his advances earlier in the evening, which made him angry. So he told her friends he would take care of her when she became very intoxicated during St. Patrick's Day celebrations, then sexually assaulted her.

"This defendant raped a helpless young woman... tried to cover up his crime, and then repeatedly lied about what he did – including under oath."
"I've struggled, to be quite frank, with the idea of, 'Do I put him in prison?' I don't know that there is any great result for anybody. Mr Wilkerson deserves to be punished, but I think we all need to find out whether he truly can or cannot be rehabilitated."

We think the stories are unbelievable but are we not heading in the same direction when we allow privileged white males in college to get away with rape? Is there not an element of victim blaming because the women were intoxicated? It seems these judges are sending a message to women to punish them for behavior they disapprove of by allowing their attackers to go free, or only serve minimal sentences.

This was not the act of a man who was intoxicated and got carried away in a moment of opportunity — not that that is an excuse — but the premeditated, malicious act of a predator. What recourse do women have when the judicial system refuses to punish men who attack them and cause lifelong trauma? But oh well, boys will be boys, right?

[Image via Boulder County Sheriff's Office]