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A Man’s World

Commentary on Tracy McIntosh ’75.

Pending the unlikely reversal of his sentence on appeal, the Tracy McIntosh travesty appears over. On Feb. 13, the former University of Pennsylvania professor and preeminent stroke and brain-trauma researcher was led from a Philadelphia courtroom to begin a 31/2- to 7-year prison sentence for the September 2002 sexual assault of a then-23-year-old Penn graduate student in his office at Penn. In December 2004, McIntosh pleaded no-contest to sexual assault and possession of an illegal substance in connection with the incident. A first-degree felony rape charge was withdrawn as part of the deal.

McIntosh thus joins Kobe Bryant, Bill Cosby, Penn State football player Austin Scott, and other unlucky, if not wholly virginal, males who have run afoul of laws similar to Pennsylvania’s arguably unconstitutionally vague sexual-assault law.

In Pennsylvania, a person commits sexual assault, a second-degree felony, when “that person engages in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with a complainant without the complainant’s consent.” In layman’s terms, sexual assault is penetration without consent. Rape has the added element of force.

The legislature declared sexual assault a crime in Pennsylvania in 1995 following a 1994 state Supreme Court ruling that a person could not be convicted of rape absent proof of physical force beyond a reasonable doubt. Intentionally or unintentionally, the removal of force as an element of the crime put the age-old he said/she said conundrum in a whole new light and opened the door to all sorts of sexual hijinks.

Previous discussion here. See below for the rest.

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Visibly Shaken

Did you have a tough Valentine’s Day? Consider yourself lucky. Tracy McIntosh ’75 and his family had it worse.

Former Neurosurgery professor Tracy McIntosh was sentenced to 3 1/2 to seven years in prison yesterday for the 2002 sexual assault of his college roommate’s niece.

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Pamela Pryor Dembe delivered McIntosh’s court-ordered new punishment, after his original sentence of 11 1/2 to 23 months of house arrest was vacated by the state Superior and Supreme courts.

Dembe admitted to struggling with the decision.

“Mr. McIntosh is not a monster; no one is,” she said. “I have wrestled with this decision.”

But Dembe was ultimately unswayed by McIntosh’s plea for a lenient sentence as a reward for having been a model citizen before the assault and having complied with all court provisions since 2002. McIntosh, 54, pleaded no-contest to the assault in December 2004.

McIntosh’s wife appeared visibly shaken as her husband was led out of the courtroom yesterday.

Whose heart is so hardened that it does not go out to Mrs. McIntosh, mother of two daughters and steadfast wife to a troubled man?

The relevance of McIntosh’s behavior to EphBlog, besides being a sad commentary of the human condition, All Things Eph division, is that it highlights the danger of men in positions of authority seeking sex from women over whom they hold some measure of power. See our previous coverage of this sad case. No one but McIntosh and his victim can know what happened that night. But perhaps we can all agree that a married man should not, when asked by his college roommate to give a women two decades his junior a tour of campus, seek to get her drunk and sleep with her.

How does this lesson apply to Williams? JAs should not date first years, especially not first years in their entries. There is already a norm against this practice. That norm should be strengthened. How? Just ask JA applicants if they would ever, under any circumstances, date a first year. Recognizing the politically correct answer when being interviewed by members of the JA Selection Committee, they will reply “No.”

Consider the (typical) case of male JA and female first year. If a JA does become romantically involved with a first year, remove him. No smirch will be placed in his permanent record. He and his first year friend can continue on with their relationship. But this JA leaves the entry and is replaced by someone on the waiting list. Williams turns down dozens of amazing JA applicants each year. No one is irreplaceable.

The problem is not so much that their relationship will be an unhealthy one. Some will, some won’t. Nor is the problem that such a JA is abusing his position of authority, just as McIntosh abused his. The problem with McIntosh started well before the rape. The problem started when he sought a sexual relationship with someone who had been put in contact with him because of his position of authority. If McIntosh were just cruising the party scene, that would be one thing. There is nothing wrong with juniors seeking/dating first years. But the typical JA/freshman romance would not have happened if the JA were just a regular junior, just as McIntosh would not have been in contact with this women were he not a professor at her future school.

But even if a JA is dating an emotionally mature first year, someone he would have met anyway because they were on the same team or in the same classes, there is still a problem. By dating this woman, he degrades his relationship with the (other) women in his entry. If he dates first years, why doesn’t he date them? Why doesn’t he ask them out? Is he about to ask them out? If I go to him with a personal question, will he use our relationship as an excuse to hit on me?

A JA who does not date first years is much more likely to be a constructive and healthy force in the lives of his first years than a JA who does date them. So, let’s get rid of the latter.

For background, see the debate we had three years ago on this topic. Thinks that this isn’t a problem? Consider this discussion. Two participants (David R and Loweeel) are discussing a JA who dated two first years, both from his own entry. We all assumed that they were talking about the same person. How many miscreants could there be in the JA ranks? Turns out they weren’t.

Isn’t there something wrong with a system with allows/encourages a JA to date multiple first years?

More McIntosh news coverage below.

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The Case That Would Not Die

Must-read Mark Bowden column on the vicious back-stabbing of Tracy McIntosh ’75.

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McIntosh ’75 Sentencing

Latest update on on Tracy McIntosh ’75, most famous convicted Eph sexual assaultist. Previous Ephblog coverage here.

Former University of Pennsylvania professor Tracy McIntosh said today that he would proceed with resentencing on his 2004 no-contest plea to sexually assaulting a graduate student.

McIntosh and defense attorney Joel P. Trigiani announced the decision not to contest his original plea during a brief hearing this morning before Common Pleas Judge Pamela Pryor Dembe.

Dembe set sentencing for Dec. 21.

Dembe became the new sentencing judge Feb. 7 when the original judge, Rayford A. Means, disqualified himself rather than go through the appeals-court ordered resentencing.

Means said his controversial 11-1/2- to 23-month sentence of house arrest for McIntosh, 54, of Media, an internationally known researcher into treating brain injuries, had made him the issue rather than justice for McIntosh or his victim.

I don’t have much new to add except that, if you are a JA romantically involved with a first year, then you are, morally, little better than McIntosh. Don’t see why? Read this.

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McIntosh ’75 Resentencing

Bad news for Tracy McIntosh ’75.

An appeals court ordered the resentencing of a University of Pennsylvania professor convicted of sexually assaulting a young graduate student, saying the lower court judge treated him more like a “school boy” than a criminal.

Tracy McIntosh, 53, pleaded no contest to a sexual-assault charge and served six months of home confinement last year, a stark departure from the standard sentence for the crime.

Really? And what is that standard sentence? Can an Eph lawyer can tell us what the standard punishment is for first time offenders who plead guilty to sexual assault?

A three-judge Superior Court panel ruled Monday that Common Pleas Judge Rayford A. Means, who sentenced McIntosh, abused his discretion by departing without a suitable reason from the minimum 24- to 36-month prison term recommended under state sentencing guidelines.

In the majority opinion, Superior Court Judge Debra Todd wrote that Means treated McIntosh “less as a criminal than as a school boy requiring direction and supervision.”

The court also ordered that a different lower court judge resentence McIntosh, because the panel was not certain that Means could “preside objectively and fairly.”

Means also had permitted McIntosh to leave the country for a job with a hospital in Milan, Italy, but McIntosh returned two weeks later after an outcry from prosecutors.

McIntosh, a former Fulbright scholar and tenured professor, oversaw about 25 researchers, graduate students and others as director of Penn’s Head Injury Center.

In September 2002, he agreed to take the 23-year-old victim — the niece of his close friend — on a tour of the Penn campus, where she was starting graduate school.

She became violently ill over drinks before he took her back to his office and raped her, prosecutors said. They alleged that McIntosh drugged the woman with an animal sedative from his lab, a charge McIntosh has denied.

McIntosh, who prosecutors said offered the woman marijuana to calm her stomach after she vomited, also pleaded no contest to a drug possession charge.

Defense lawyer Thomas Bergstrom said Tuesday that he and McIntosh would decide over the next month whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Previous EphBlog commentary here.

By the way, what are the odds that McIntosh is innocent, that the young women and he engaged in consensual intercourse and that, only several days after the fact, did she convince herself that a “rape” had occurred? I think that the odds are low, that if the EphBlog community had access to a videotape we would vote to convict, if a trial were held.

But the odds are not zero. There is some possibility that McIntosh is innocent, at least of this crime. (By all accounts, he was a man who, like former President Clinton, sought intimate female companionship outside of his marriage, occasionally among women who worked for/with him. That is not a crime, however.)

And, if McIntosh is innocent, his plight is tragic. His life has been ruined, his career shattered, his finances exhausted. Given the vagaries of a jury, given the pressure that he may have felt to spare his family the trauma of a trial, pleading guilty to sexual assault, rather than run the risk of a rape conviction, might have seemed the sensible course. Perhaps his lawyer so advised him. Perhaps his lawyer predicted in 2004 that, whatever the punishment, his ordeal would be over by 2007.

But the justice system is not done with McIntosh yet. When will it ever be?

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McIntosh ’75 Commentary

Here is some more commentary on Tracy McIntosh ’75.

We’ll call it the case of Tracy McIntosh. At 52, he was a husband and father of two teenage daughters residing in the affluent suburb of Media. The renowned professor was generating huge research grants at Penn for his important studies of the use of stem cells in repairing damage to brain and nerve tissues. His work held promise for stroke victims worldwide.

Beneath the starchy white lab coat, however, Dr. McIntosh had established another reputation as a womanizer who increasingly came close to crossing the line of sexual harasser. The university quietly investigated allegations and, in the interest of keeping the boatloads of grant money afloat, was even quieter in rebuking the professor.

There isn’t much here that we haven’t already covered in previous posts. I haven’t been able to find any updates on the criminal case. Here is information on the civil suit.

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Consent and Predatory Conduct

Followers of the Tracy McIntosh ’75 case will want to read this update.

Two months earlier, McIntosh, married and the father of two teenage daughters, had welcomed the 23-year-old niece of an old college buddy to the Penn campus with an evening-long pub crawl that ended in her rape in his office.

This is more than a little sloppy. McIntosh and his defenders would insist that he is not guilty of “rape”. I am no expert on Pennsylvania law, but it seems clear that McIntosh pled guilty to sexual assualt, not rape. So, strictly speaking, he is an admitted sexual assaultist, not a rapist. There is a difference. He pled quilty to:

Except as provided in section 3121 (relating to rape) or 3123 (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse), a person commits a felony of the second degree when that person engages in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with a complainant without the complainant’s consent.

You don’t have to be a lawyer to pause a moment over the use of the word “consent” in this statute. Many Eph men can claim to never have had sex without the women’s consent, never with a women who had had too much to drink (and was therefore in no position to give consent), never with a women who had expressed reluctance at any point in the evening.

But some (many?) Eph men can not make that claim. It all comes down to how seriously one takes the notion of “consent”. If consent can not be given under the influence of alcohol, then many (most?) Eph men would be guilty of sexual assault, at least in Pennsylvania.

Does that mean that all men are rapists? No! If you are looking for crack-pot feminist quackery, you have come to the wrong blog, or at least the wrong author on EphBlog. But it is perhaps too easy to put Tracy McIntosh into the nasty little box labelled “rapist” and pretend that he is a different creature from his fellow Ephs.

And this still ignores the question of what really happened. It is easy to conjure up visions of McIntosh as some sort of monster out of a Law & Order episode, drugging unsuspecting women with animal sedatives. But it doesn’t take much imagination to see a different picture, one in which McIntosh and the unnamed woman engaged in consensual sex that seemed, the next day, much less consensual to the woman.

So, she goes to the cops and McIntosh, who is innocent (by assumption) in this rendition of events, faces some unappealing choices, especially if he has made some bad choices in his non-marital relationships in the past. Copping a plea bargain might have made much more sense even if McIntosh knew that he was innocent.

I don’t really believe that, but it is certainly within the realm of the possible.

Back to the article:

The account of the uneasy intervention is contained in a memo outlining an internal investigation by a Penn official in July 2003, two months after McIntosh was charged with rape by the district attorney.

The interviews in the memo would appear to run counter to an earlier Penn investigation concluding that there was no proof of a sexual assault or that McIntosh “has a history of predatory conduct.”

JA acceptance/rejection letters will be mailed out soon.[What the heck does this have to do with McIntosh? — ed.]

You don’t think that McIntosh (or Mark Foster, for that matter) has anything to do with JAs? Silly you.

Recall our previous discussion of JA/first year romantic relationships.

(My favorite part of that thread was when two participants were talking about a male — Surpise! — JA who dated two of the female first years in his entry. They assumed that they were talking about the same JA. How many miscreants could there be? Turns out that they each knew a different miscreant.)

The problem with JAs — 90% of whom are surely male, whatever Emily Thorson might wish to believe — who date first years is that they are using their position as JA to score with EphBabes who would not, in all likelihood, be dating them if they were not JAs. (I recently heard a female JA compare the effect on first year females of the purple t-shirts that JAs wear to that of military uniforms.)

There is nothing wrong with dating. There is nothing wrong with juniors dating first years. There is a great deal wrong with JAs taking advantage of dating opportunities that they would not have if they were not JAs.

If those JAs were real gentlemen, they would politely but firmly tell the aspiring first year groupie that, if this is meant to be, it can easily start next year.

And that is the connection to McIntosh. Even in the best case scenario, he had sex with a young women who was highly unlikely to have had sex with him were it not for his position at the school to which she was applying.

To the male JAs for the class of 2009: If you become romantically involved with a first year, especially a first year in your entry, then you are abusing the trust that Williams College has placed in you.

It may be true that the first year — all of 18 years old and far away from home, perhaps struggling for the first time in her life, perhaps unsure of herself in a new world full of challenges and disruptions — wants to date you. Perhaps she honestly is attracted to you. You are certainly attracted to her.

You may have handled the matter sensitively — you have checked with your entry and sought the “permission” of your co-JA. You may think of yourself as basically a good guy, not someone who would ever cause a woman harm.

Don’t kid yourself. You are a predator. You are Tracy McIntosh ’75.

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Wasn’t Criminal

The case of Tracy McIntosh ’75, sentenced to house arrest after pleading no contest to sexual assault, is making minor waves in the blogosphere. More background here and here. In any case, McIntosh does not seem to have been much of a gentleman.

Prosecutor Smith said that McIntosh used his position to control women, offering positions to unqualified people in return for favors.

“Become a professor, run a lab and do what you want,” Smith said during the sentencing hearing.

She read from an internal review conducted by the university that detailed complaints and concerns about McIntosh’s behavior from co-workers and former students.

“His conduct was out of control,” Smith argued.

Smith said that at least nine other women had come forward saying that McIntosh, a married father of two daughters, had pursued them.

“Much of that stuff was hearsay and rumor,” Bergstrom [McIntosh’s attorney] said yesterday. “But even if it was true, it wasn’t criminal.”

“Wasn’t criminal”?! Perhaps lawyers need to say such things. Fortunately, most Eph men are aiming higher than this as epitaphs for their tombstones.

I think that this connects to two other EphBlog stories, one old and one new. The old one is the tale of Mark Foster, acquited of raping a fellow Eph. The new one involves comments on a recent sexual scandal at Milton Academy.

The connection is that Williams seeks to “shape the hearts and minds” of its students — to use Professor Peter Murphy’s phrase — and instructing Eph men in how to approach their relationships with women is, or should be, one aspect of that shaping.

I have no easy answers on this score, although I do take severe exception to some of the comments in the Milton thread. But, once the debate over anchor housing has passed, I hope to return to this topic. Williams should try and change the attitude of men like Tracy McIntosh. How to do so is a topic for another day.

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McIntosh ’75 Sentenced for Sexual Assault

Stories like this one are unlikely to appear here or here anytime soon. (Nor, of course, should they.)

The 25-year-old victim stood before Judge Rayford Means and begged that former University of Pennsylvania professor Tracy McIntosh, a Fulbright scholar, renowned researcher and best friend of her uncle, be sent to jail.

“By raping me, he took something from me that I will never get back,” sobbed the woman, whose name is being withheld by the Daily News. “It will affect me for the rest of my life, and I don’t want this to happen to other women.”

McIntosh, 52, of Media, could have received a maximum of 11 years in prison. But Means said he factored in McIntosh’s important work with stroke victims and brain injuries, and sentenced McIntosh to a year of house arrest and 12 years’ probation.

McIntosh had pleaded no contest in December to sexual assault and possession of a controlled substance.

A sad, sordid tale. McIntosh lived in Williams E and has served as vice president of his class post graduation. Presumably his sentence of house detention(!?) will prevent him from attending his 30th reunion this June.

The victim was referred to McIntosh by her uncle, McIntosh’s roommate at Williams College. Both men graduated in 1975 and considered each other best friends.

“We now know he is a sexual predator who cannot be cured,” the uncle said.

After the hearing, the father of the victim said, “This is a dangerous man… who really needs to be taken out of society and kept a close watch on.”

Call me a cynic but I would wager that McIntosh had demonstrated untoward behavior back in the day as well.

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