The Pence Principle is no Prophylactic Part I

Much has been made of the “Pence Principle”, a strategy based on the tactical behavior of Vice President Pence vis a vis members of the opposite sex.  Namely he refuses to ever meet or be alone with any woman other than his wife.  While Pence has not said so explicitly, many men have assumed Pence does this to protect himself from allegations of misconduct.  My own thoughts on this are somewhat divergent; I believe Pence is a genuinely religious man who is working to prevent placing himself in the way of temptation, and if this protects him from spurious allegations so much the better.

While Pence’s penchant for protecting his honor and marriage are laudable, we should be cautious in recommending this behavior as a prophylactic against being accused, subjected to legal actions, disemployed, having your name dragged through the mud, and all the other assorted horrors that come with being named as a man guilty of sexual misconduct.  The first case I would like to examine is that of Nebraska football coach Mike Riley.

Riley’s name appeared in the national news in 2015 when he was named as a defendant by a woman suing over an alleged rape.  If we examine the details of this suit, we find that there is no amount of principled action which could have protected Riley from this attack.

First of all, the accuser never claimed that Riley assaulted her, or took part in assaulting her, or knew about someone assaulting her, or had any relation to her alleged assailant.  Instead, she accused Riley of creating a campus culture which allowed her alleged assailant to rape her.  I’m going to break this down piece by piece, it’s all out there on the web for anyone who cared to look it up.

  1.  The woman claims her attack took place in 1999.  There is no police record or report of any such event, and the allegation 16 years after the fact was the first Riley could have heard of it.
  2. Riley was not employed by Oregon State University, the school the woman was attending, at the time of her alleged attack.  He had left the school after the previous football season and was coaching in the NFL at the time of the alleged attack.
  3.  According to the alleged victim, the alleged assault did not take place on campus.  Her report was that it took place in an off campus apartment complex not under the control of the school.
  4.  According to the alleged victim, her alleged assailant was not a student at Oregon State; rather he was the cousin of a student.
  5.  The alleged victim admits she had been drinking; she claims, with no evidence, that her drink was spiked.
  6.  The alleged victim was a legal adult, but not of legal drinking age, at the time of her alleged assault.

Now at this point one begins to wonder what the school could have done, or even should have done, according to the complaint at hand.  Can the school refuse to allow students who are legal adults to leave campus?  Can the school refuse to allow students who are legal adults to party with non-students?  The list of questions goes on and on.  Short of Sharia law, or perhaps implementing the social policies of The Handmaid’s Tale, there appears to be little the school could have done to prevent the alleged assault.

Now, if Riley was no longer even employed at the school, why was he named in the complaint?  Well, first of all he has deep pockets.  As an NFL and top tier division I football coach of many years it’s safe to assume Riley is a multi millionaire several times over, and if you’re going to sue, you may as well sue the rich guy as the poor guy.

The specific legal theory the plaintiff pursued, however, is that Riley created a “rape culture” at Oregon State University.  How, one wonders, could Riley have done such a thing?  He didn’t rape anyone, he doesn’t condone rape, he’s never silenced a victim…. so what was his crime?

In 1998 a separate woman, Brenda Tracey, alleged she was gang raped by four men, including two players on Riley’s team.  The players were arrested, and Riley suspended them from the team.  The police investigated, and the prosecutor found insufficient evidence to charge anyone with anything, upon which all charges were dropped.  Learning that all charges against his players had been dropped, Riley re-instated his players after having given them a good tongue lashing for irresponsible behavior.

The woman who sued Riley in 2015 did so under the theory that since he had given his players due process, and since he re-instated them to the football team after the D.A. exonerated them, he had established a de facto rape society on that campus.

Which brings us to where we are today… Even if a man is exonerated, unless y0u act as a woman’s white knight and destroy the man she accused, then you are equally culpable and must be punished in a court of law.  What protection is the Pence Principle to this?


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9 responses to “The Pence Principle is no Prophylactic Part I

  1. Speaking of prophylactic

  2. One might suggest “Never have anything to do with women at work” as a more comprehensive solution

  3. Liz

    What was the verdict with the lawsuit? I tried to look it up but couldn’t find anything.
    The Pence rule is mitigation, not panacea. There are steps that can lower risk but it is very difficult to eliminate risk all together (like many other types of criminal misconduct, the larger the target the more the target is at risk).

  4. I think there is a possible category error being committed here.

    What Pence is doing can definitely be effective at what it’s designed to do. No woman can say he raped or assaulted her when they were alone, if he is never alone with any woman not his wife.

    Riley’s case is completely different and has to do with the fact that the legal system is completely effed-up. In a non-effed-up legal system there is no way that Riley could ever have been named as a plaintiff based on the items you listed in your post. Scum-bag lawyers went after him for money. Those lawyers should be dis-barred and made to pay him the sum total of their own net worths for troubling him. Same for any judge who let that B.S. go to trial.

    As we’ve learned in recent years, no man is safe from completely fraudulent claims, as long as the MSM and courts are willing to support such actions, but you can still take reasonable precautions to protect yourself.

  5. Liz

    There was a case a while back in Aviano (USAF), about eight years ago. I knew several of the people involved (not the defendant though…we did know the Convening authority who was removed by act of Congress for exonerating the defendant (General Franklin). Which also started the bunny trail to amnesty involved in sexual assault accusations (so if a female military person has committed a crime she can claim she was assaulted and the crime she committed magically disappears).
    Factual background:
    -The woman, as most of these stories go, was extremely inebriated. She was with a couple of other females and they came to the defendant’s home as a social after-party (following a concert with a couple of other male pilots).
    -Eventually the accuser (after rejecting offers to drive her home…I will henceforth refer to her as the inebriant) was the only person left from the party. Wilkerson’s wife told her she could use the guest room.
    -During the night, the inebriated woman stomped around the home, loudly talking on the phone. She kicked her shoes off in a room with sleeping children. The wife (who testified her husband, Wilkerson, slept the entire time) got up to make the inebriant tea after midnight. This was verified by another person who was on the phone with the inebriant at the time. She stated, “(wife’s name) is making me tea now”. The inebriant has no recollection of this conversation or event.
    -About an hour after the inebriant drank the tea and talked to Wilkerson’s wife for a while, she went to bed. Then started stomping around talking loudly on the phone again. She demanded her shoes which she could not find (they were in the kids room). Wilkerson’s wife, fed up, threw her out.

    Later she pressed charges against Wilkerson for rape. She said she woke up in bed and “could feel pressure” and “he was on top of her”.
    So we have a case where the wife was actually present in the home, testified her husband was sleeping, and the courts martial board wanted to convict (probably not unanimously but all that is needed at a courts martial is majority vote). Franklin was privy to more information than the board, and as convening authority overturned the recommendation (courts martial boards don’t actually convict, they recommend…a distinction not understood by Congress or any of the media it would seem). Information he was privy to included the fact that she had been a frequent accuser of false sexual assault claims in the past (indeed she has since claimed more assaults against her person). She was also taking psych medications and mixing them with a great deal of alcohol, making her testimony suspect.

    What followed was a very public outcry (the inebriant was on 60 minutes). And Congress tried to take away the Convening authority oversight for sexual assault crimes.

    • Liz

      For those interested, the events of the Lt Colonel Wilkerson case (who had been selected for Colonel and was demoted to Major in spite of exoneration) can be found in this book:

      At the time it was written, court documents were available due to FOIA request.

  6. Hey Okrahead. Good to see you are writing.

    Your post reminded me of another incident at a Roman Catholic college about which I had written a brief bit. But I knew I had written about the Pence (Billy Graham) Rule so I searched my archives for “Pence”. Lo, I had titled the Christendom College post as I’m for the Opposite of the Pence Rule.

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