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OUTRAGEOUS JURY VERDICT ON RAPE

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A Florida jury sparked national outrage last week when it acquitted a man charged with rape. Jurors said the victim "asked for it" because of the way she was dressed.

Obviously, a jury has both the right and the duty to find a person guilty or not guilty. But in this case, the jury never decided whether the 26-year-old Georgia drifter actually committed a rape.Instead, it decided that the crime was irrelevant. If it happened, the panel said, the 22-year-old woman was responsible. That decision is offensive to both women and men.

There is never justification for one person to force unwanted physical attention on another.

Unhappily, the jury verdict is another instance of putting the rape victim on trial instead of the attacker. It is this kind of attitude that makes victims hesitant to report the most personal of crimes.

Men everywhere, as well as women, should be outraged with this ruling that says, in effect, men cannot be held responsible for their actions. It says they are not strong enough or smart enough to walk away from a woman who wears a short skirt and a tube top.

Women's groups across the country are crying, "Foul!" The decision, they say, means that women everywhere will have to worry that they will be victimized and possibly injured should they fail to meet someone's standard of decency. A woman may be guilty of poor judgment or immodesty, but that does not somehow justify rape.

The man who was acquitted by the Florida jury is still being held in connection with several rape charges in other states.

Perhaps one of those states will decide the case based on whether an act of violence was committed, instead of a dress code.