I am a parent who had a student at UW-Madison until he graduated. Parents send their 18-year-olds to the university hoping they will receive an excellent education to expand their minds and earn a degree in a field of their choosing. While we know there are other important campus experiences in their maturation, our hope is that university becomes a wonderful memory after they enter their careers.
The three young students involved in the highly publicized incident involving Quintez Cephus and two unidentified women will have difficult memories of their university experience. I am sorry for all of them.
Two women accused Wisconsin Badgers receiver Cephus, of Georgia, of sexual assault. He was expelled from UW-Madison after the university's Title IX process determined probable guilt. The subsequent Dane County criminal trial, full of graphic information, found Cephus to be not guilty. Cephus was acquitted of sexual assault charges by a Dane County jury.
UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank, based on new information not available to the university during the earlier investigation, re-admitted Cephus to the university. Now the two women have hired a prominent attorney, along with a team of local lawyers, to question the university's decision to re-admit Cephus.
For a number of years, there have been publicized cases of women and men disputing consensual and non-consensual sexual relationships. Alec Cook, a business major who has since been expelled from UW-Madison, was charged with more than 20 crimes against nearly a dozen women between 2014 and 2016. In a plea deal, most of the charges were dropped. Cook pleaded guilty to three counts of third-degree sexual assault, strangulation and stalking charges. There was no trial because he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison, with eight years of parole. There were also no public outcries for such a light sentence given to this young, wealthy white man who terrorized so many women, most of them students.
Former film producer Harvey Weinstein was fired from his studio in 2017 amid allegations of sexual harassment. His alleged sexual harassment of women resulted in his expulsion from The Weinstein Company and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Numerous women, literally from around the world, filed criminal and civil lawsuits against this wealthy white man. In May, Weinstein's lawyers announced that they had reached a $44 million settlement to resolve civil lawsuits over his alleged sexual misconduct. Meanwhile, three of the charges against Weinstein were dropped and his new trial date has been set for Jan. 6, 2020. Weinstein’s flimsy excuse for his behavior to women actors was that he grew up in a different generation. It has been almost three years and still Weinstein has not been brought to trial.
Former actor Bill Cosby’s first trial for sexual assault in 2017 ended in a mistrial. The second trail in 2018 resulted in him being found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. He was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison, and fined $25,000 plus the cost of the prosecution, $43,611. He has also been stripped of numerous awards and expelled from many prestigious organizations. The Cosby shows, including A Different World, about young African American college students, gave positive views of African American family life, yet they have all been removed from public viewing. Will any of Weinstein’s movies be removed from public viewing?
Quintez Cephus always said he was innocent of the charges and the members of a Dane County jury ultimately agreed. It is clear that the two women still feel victimized and want another day in court. I keep thinking that this not the experience that anyone wanted for these three young people.
Fabu, Madison’s former poet laureate, is a consultant in African-American culture and arts. She writes a monthly column for The Capital Times.
Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to email@example.com. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.