In response to a pro-life campus demonstration held by Students For Life; Purdue University Professor, Jamie Newman threatened to rape the female family members of a pro-life advocate in an online conversation on a Live Action News message board yesterday. In a screenshot obtained by CampusReform.org you can see the cavalier manner in which Mr. Newman makes his threats, even taunting the pro-life advocate to “notify the police because he could strike at any minute”
As utterly appalling as this behavior is, even more appalling is the fact that Purdue University has taken NO steps to dismiss Mr.Newman or place him on administrative leave while an investigation is conducted. According to the Purdue University Faculty HandBook, Purdue University requires all staff to abide by the “Statement of Integrity” that is quoted here:
“At Purdue, integrity is indispensable to our mission. We act with honesty and adhere to the highest standards of moral and ethical values and principles through our personal and professional behavior. We demonstrate our understanding of these values and principles and uphold them in every action and decision. Trust and trustworthiness go hand in hand with how we conduct ourselves, as we sustain a culture that is based upon ethical conduct. We expect our actions to be consistent with our words, and our words to be consistent with our intentions. We accept our responsibilities, share leadership in a democratic spirit, and subject ourselves to the highest standards of public trust. We hold ourselves accountable for our words and our actions.”
The handbook goes on to state that:
“We embrace human and intellectual diversity and inclusiveness. We uphold the highest standards of fairness, act as responsible citizens, respect equality and the rights of others, and treat all individuals with dignity.”
Clearly someone forgot to give Mr. Newman a copy of this policy upon his arrival at Purdue. In a time in our society when campus sexual assault is at an all time high, and in many cases victims are the ones who are penalized while schools work to bury reports of sexual assault on campus, it is vital that until proven otherwise, Mr.Newman’s threats be taken seriously and steps are taken to ensure the safety of the students at Purdue. Along with violating the Ethics Code of Purdue University, Mr. Newman also has committed a crime, making a criminal threat.
While many believe that “free speech” is protected by the Constitution, that right to “free speech” ends when a person makes a threat of physical violence in an effort to place someone in fear of injury or death. A court can impose several possible penalties on someone who is convicted of making criminal threats. Depending on the state, a criminal threat can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony offense. While felony offenses are more serious than misdemeanors, either of them can result in incarceration, fines, and other penalties. Those penalties include; Prison Sentence: Anyone convicted of making a criminal threat faces a substantial time in jail or prison. A misdemeanor conviction can result in up to a year in county jail, while felony convictions can impose sentences of five years or more. In some instances, a terrorist threat can result in a sentence that lasts decades. Fines: The fine for making criminal threats also varies depending on the state and the circumstances of the case. A misdemeanor conviction might bring a fine of up to $1,000, though more is possible in some situations. Felony convictions can have fines that exceed $10,000.
More importantly is the impact that even “empty threats” can have in the culture of sexual assault on college campuses. In 2014 President Obama asked for a first time ever, Task Force to address the rampant sexual assault on America’s college campuses. The first report was shocking, one in every five college students will experience sexual assault during their college career. On top of these numbers the ACLU estimates that nearly 95% of campus assaults go UNREPORTED. It is believed that a lack of administrative involvement, failure by the school to report the crimes to law enforcement and a common practice of “victim blaming” is partly to blame for why these acts of sexual assault go unreported.
In a time in our society when sexual assault on our Nation’s college campuses is ripe with fear and a continuing perpetuation of rape culture exists; it is vital that Purdue University takes a stand against ANY form of sexual threats made by a student and particularly by a member of their Faculty.
This is far from being a “pro-life vs. pro-choice” issue, this is about the clear violation of human rights made by Mr. Newman. It is one thing to disagree with a students viewpoint on a subject or their personal, religious or political beliefs and debate as such. It is quite another to make statements of ANY degree of violence, especially sexual violence towards students. Imagine if a pro-life professor at a conservative college had made similar threats or statements to a pro-choice student? They would be vilified in the mainstream media and women’s rights groups would be protesting not only the University but their half-hearted response to such violence.
It is time that BOTH the pro-life and the pro-choice community come together and take a stand against these blatant attacks on women in a culture that routinely shames and blames victims of violent sexual assault. Regardless of a person’s personal or political beliefs ALL citizens should be free to express their opinions without fear of attack or violation of their basic human rights.
I urge all of you to send a clear message to Purdue University and Mr. Newman that empty threats of sexual violence made in jest or anger will not be tolerated. You can contact Right to Life Central California for more information on how you can speak out against this horrific attack, not only on pro-life advocacy but on women and our right to be protected from predators like Mr. Newman.
*At time of publication, Purdue University representatives failed to respond to a request for official statement, along with the University Police Department*