Courts don't define truth

Based on the Hook's prior interest and attention to Annie Hylton's story, I was appalled at the exploitative nature and disrespectful tone in your recent coverage of Matt Hamilton's trial [September 8: "Hylton prevails: But jury says "no rape"].

Due to the courage and perseverance of Hylton, this highly publicized case has focused attention on the very real and pervasive problem of rape on college campuses. As a popular media source in our community, the Hook had the opportunity to challenge us all to confront the issues in our culture– and, yes, our community– that lead us to blame victims for the violations inflicted on them and to justify and excuse the behavior of perpetrators.

Instead of highlighting the strength and resiliency that enabled Annie Hylton to shatter the silence surrounding sexual violence, you focused attention on the actions or inactions of the woman while minimizing references to the man's responsibility for his behavior. As is common, the presence of alcohol during the events of the night was used to hold Hytlon more accountable for her "negligence" and to excuse Hamilton's actions.

Until we as a society are as concerned about protecting the lives and rights of women as we are about protecting the reputation and future of the men accused of rape and abuse, we will fail at creating communities free of sexual violence. If we continue to respond with disbelief when a woman reports a sexual assault, we will perpetuate the silence and tolerance that enable these violent acts to continue.

Let's recognize that our criminal and civil courts are not the definers of truth. A jury finding "no rape" does not mean Hylton was not raped.

Kristine Hall