When is Alcohol a Factor in Sexual Assault?

by jhwygirl

The Missoula Police Department are investigating a sexual assault on campus. A 19-year old woman has apparently reported a rape, and an 18-year old, known to the woman, is being questioned.

The article is brief, I’m sure because so little is known. That’s not to denigrate the Missoulian, and I’m glad for their reporting, however brief.

What struck me was was last sentence:

Welsh wouldn’t identify whose dorm room it was and said he didn’t know if alcohol played a role in the assault.

I don’t know – it seemed out of place Did public information office offer the statement? Was he asked?

No does mean no.

So was that statement in the context of ‘maybe the guy was drunk, which is why it happened’ as if it were some degree of a mitigating factor? An excuse for why this happened?

Or was it more in the sense of ‘the female might of been drinking,’ so anything she says might not be true?

Perhaps alcohol played a factor because xanax or rohypnol was dropped in the drink?

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me – but if there isn’t much known about the case, maybe alcohol shouldn’t be mentioned until it’s known whether – indeed – alcohol did play a factor. And if it did, it should be mentioned in its full contact.

Because, you know, the mere presence of alcohol isn’t an excuse to rape someone.

And without context, mentioning alcohol perpetuates the myth that it is.


  1. This seems like a terrible story about to unfold, tragically tying into much of what’s been discussed in blogs over the past week.

  2. Alcohol ’causes’ sexual assault in at least once sense – even unlaced with anything nefarious, alcohol could have inhibited the victim from giving consent. So, a situation that would have been consensual if both parties were sober would become a sexual assault if the victim were heavily intoxicated. That’s how I understood the comment – was it a sexual assault because it was committed after she withheld consent, or was it a sexual assault because she wasn’t legally able to give consent? Perhaps that’s what Welsh was referring to – not that alcohol caused the act, but that alcohol made the act into an assault. One can hope that’s what he had in mind.




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