KU protesters doing more to ‘eliminate rapists’ than Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ever will

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Recently, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott assured us that women won’t be forced to bear children conceived as the result of rape under his state’s new abortion law. Because — why didn’t anyone else think of this? — Texas is going to “work tirelessly” to “eliminate rapists.” Great, so will you start with the leader of your party, Governor? No? Where will you start, then? What’s the actual plan? Oh.

There isn’t one, of course, because if Abbott were even semi-serious about “eliminating rapists” there wouldn’t be 5,000 untested rape kits in his state. So much DNA, so little interest in knowing what it would tell us.

The hundreds of University of Kansas students who turned out this week to protest last Saturday’s alleged roofie rape in a fraternity house in Lawrence are not kidding around, though. Those young people shouting “We believe her” and “Ban Phi Psi” are doing more to “eliminate rapists” than law enforcement typically has. And that the presidential aspirant Abbott ever will.

Chants of “No means no” and “Kick him out” show that students are less willing than police and prosecutors have been to assume that nothing can be done to curb a crime that’s almost never witnessed except by the victim.

Three years ago this month, local police arrested and handcuffed a KU law student who’d reported being raped by a classmate. Douglas County prosecutors charged her with filing a false report.

Police later testified in court that they never did investigate her allegations, though a rape exam showed extensive bruising on her neck, arms and legs, and vaginal tears. Instead, investigators almost immediately decided she was lying, because in texts to a friend, she’d tried to laugh off the situation while she was still in it, and still “blackout drunk.”

They ignored texts from the student she’d accused — texts that joked about how drunk she was and said he intended to have sex with her. The charges against her were only dropped after extensive coverage in The Star.

Let’s hope things have changed since then, but hoping isn’t enough. University officials said they are investigating Saturday’s alleged attack. And good for the victim’s fellow students for making sure of that.

Yes, due process is always important, and that’s what the crowd should be pressing for. But the shame of having a crowd shouting outside your fraternity house has to be more of a deterrent than the reality that even now, fewer than 1% of all rapes lead to a felony conviction.

By Tuesday evening, a power washer had been used to try and remove the word “rapists” spray-painted in red on the brick stairway of the fraternity house. And no, we’re not endorsing vandalism. But that students are no longer willing to let anyone power wash away inconvenient allegations is an important and positive change.

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