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PLCB pulls date rape ads

The fictional scumbag in a state-sponsored alcohol awareness ad shouldn't have raped "Anne," period.

The fictional scumbag in a state-sponsored alcohol awareness ad shouldn't have raped "Anne," period.

It doesn't matter if she was drunk, wearing a low-cut shirt, or just being friendly with the perp when he sat next to her at the bar. But Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board ads that went up on Halloween appeared to blame heavy-drinking women for date rape, though, and their friends for not watching out for them.

The PLCB ad never mentions the fictional rapist but scores of real assault victims were traumatized by the images and words the agency used. The ads, funded by state liquor sales, featured a pair of naked legs on a tiled floor with underwear down at the ankles.

"Date Rape: See what happens when your friends drink too much," one ad read, while another had "Sexual Assault: That's what Anne's attorney will call it a month from now. She said no, but he kept going. And now, your friend is on his bathroom floor, bruised and victimized."

The online ads were part of the PLCB's website, which promotes responsible drinking. Almost immediately, the PLCB started fielding complaints from rape victims and removed the ads on Wednesday.

"They felt like they were reliving it," spokesman Stacey Witalec said of the victims who contacted the agency. "I've spoken to them personally and my staff has spoken to them. They were making an impression."

Joyce Lukima, of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, said alcohol is a major factor in many rapes and that the PLCB was well intentioned in their efforts. They put no focus on the fictional scumbag who raped "Anne," however.

"Putting all that onus on the victim is just not appropriate," Lukima said.

Witalec said about 97,000 people aged 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-fueled sexual assaults annually nationwide, and the PLCB was trying to find a way to discuss the link.

"We needed a way to grab people's attention with issues people are not comfortable discussing," she said. "That's how we came to this."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.