Expert details drunk sex, date rape

BY ERROL CASTENS
Daily Journal Oxford Bureau

OXFORD – The line between “drunk sex” and date rape can be a difficult one to pinpoint.

A nationally recognized attorney and author specializing in high-risk student health and safety illustrated just how unclear the line can be when he related a past case of his to students at the University of Mississippi on Tuesday – and asked them to be the jury.

Attorney and author Bret Sokolow said the case was “not about no' meaning no.' It's about when yes' means yes.'”

Two college students, “Todd” and “Amy,” met at a party, danced, returned to her room, had sex. Todd left a note and his telephone number.

Amy recalled nothing and pressed charges.

Sokolow's tale seemed at times to point to consensual sex, then to sex that fit the definition of second-degree sexual assault: Amy had had five beers on her own, but Todd gave her five additional Jell-O “shooters” – frozen gelatin that he helped make with grain alcohol – the equivalent of 15 more beers.

Amy got sick, Todd walked her home, she got sick again, she got cleaned up, and she initiated passionate kissing that ended in sexual intercourse.

The verdict
Was it drunk sex or date rape?

Ole Miss students were divided.

“I think every time somebody's drunk, they have the capacity to make that decision,” said one woman. “She should have to suffer because she made that bad decision.”

A man said Amy could not have given informed consent.

“Even if he'd asked, Can I rape you?' she might have said Yes,'” he said.

The jury was not divided.

Todd, a brilliant mathematician, served 18 months for second-degree sexual assault. After release, he finally got a job shoveling salt for the highway department. Amy spent years in counseling, won a seven-figure settlement and never cashed the check.

“This one incident ruined their lives,” Sokolow said.

Ole Miss students said the presentation gave them new issues to consider.

“You have to know when you've had enough,” said Ashley Miskimming, an undergraduate from St. Louis, Mo.

“It makes you think twice about what you do,” said Tommy Bigham, an undergraduate from Memphis.

Contact Daily Journal Oxford bureau reporter Errol
Castens at 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.