A recent not guilty verdict in the rape trial of a Yale college student is a real-world example of how affirmative consent, or “yes means yes,” (such as is being debated in the Nebraska Legislature) does not make determining whether a sexual assault has occurred any simpler. A New York Times article helps explain the confusion over differing standards.
Had the case gone before Yale’s own internal panel, the outcome might have been different. The panel, the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct, uses a “preponderance of the evidence” standard in determining responsibility, and its members are trained in a notion of consent where only “yes means yes.”
But the jurors seemed to have come to the case with a different understanding of what it means to show consent, highlighting the divide between the standards of sexual behavior espoused in freshman orientation programs and campus brochures, and those that operate in courts of law.
Read more of the New York Times article here.