Suit Seeks to Protect Students Accused of Sexual Assault
In a groundbreaking move, the first-ever prospective class-action lawsuit that would benefit students accused of sexual assault has been filed against a university, potentially reversing the outcomes of dozens of sexual violence cases.
Experts say the suit against Michigan State University is a clever legal maneuver that takes advantage of a significant ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Judges determined in September 2018 that students accused of sexual assault, or their representatives, had a right to directly question their accuser, which legal experts said would reshape the notion of due process in these cases.
Andrew Miltenberg, the lawyer representing the accused student, amended the complaint this month and requested class-action status. The court would need to be persuaded that enough current or former students accused of sexual misconduct may have been denied due process to justify them as a class. Michigan State could also request that the case not be classified as a class action. A spokeswoman for the university declined to comment.
Miltenberg, a managing partner at Nesenoff & Miltenberg, said his client is not asking for monetary damages, but rather that sanctions imposed on these students be reversed.
Several Michigan State students have approached his firm about flaws they perceived in their Title IX cases and problems with the university’s processes, he said. After researching the number of potential accused students and after the Sixth Circuit decision in September, Miltenberg said he believed the class action was possible.
The lawsuit’s success hinges on whether the right to cross-examination was a key factor in every Title IX case at Michigan, said David A. Russcol, a lawyer specializing in Title IX at Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein in Boston. Russcol reiterated that the Sixth Circuit has been strong on issues related to due process.
“It certainly does make it plausible that with the dozens of cases at Michigan State over several years, it could raise these issues,” Russcol said.
Her Roommates Gave Differing Accounts Of Her Claims. He Was Found Responsible After Administrators Withheld Evidence
The student, referred to as John Doe in a lawsuit filed over the accusation, was accused by a fellow Westmont student, referred to in court documents as Jane Roe. Jane gave varying accounts of the night in question to her friends and roommates, and Westmont chose to use only the testimony that corroborated her account and made John look like a rapist.
Associate Justice Martin Tangeman wrote the ruling, with which all three appellate judges agreed, that claimed Westmont failed to follow its own policies when adjudicating Jane’s claims.
Despite her roommates referring to her as a “compulsive liar,” Westmont found John responsible. Cleek didn’t even interview MH, MW, or others Doe requested. Westmont also “withheld its notes concerning panel questions and witness responses,” a trial court earlier ruled. This kept John from being able to question witness testimony.
Students who didn’t testify before the panel were given more credibility than those who did, which confused the appeals court. Tangeman accused Westmont of using a “seemingly arbitrary method” to determine who was credible in this case.
Jane Roe accused John Doe of sexual assault while the two were students at Westmont College. John Doe says he never had sex with Jane Roe, and was never alone with her that night. Westmont’s Student Conduct Panel determined that the evidence supported Jane’s accusation. It suspended John for two years.
John challenged the Panel’s decision in a petition for writ of administrative mandate. The trial court determined that Westmont did not provide John a fair hearing, and granted his petition. This appeal stems from Westmont College appealing the lower court’s judgement.
In the Court of Appeal’s decision, they contended that much of the legal landscape has and is in the process of shifting, due to “Recent cases [which] describe the contours of what a fair hearing requires where, as here, the case turns on witness credibility.” Due to these cases, “At a minimum, the college must comply with its own policies and procedures,” which must, “provide the accuses student with a hearing before a neutral adjudicatory body.” Additionally, the, “accused must be permitted to respond to the evidence against them,” and that the, “alleged victim and other critical witnesses must appear before the adjudicatory body in some form—in person, by video conference, or by some other means—so the body can observe their demeanor.” The Court recognized the risk that, “an accusing witness may suffer trauma if personally confronted by an alleged assailant at a hearing,” and contended that, “It is not necessary to place the alleged victim and the accused in the same room.”
Former Southern California kicker sues school over expulsion based on domestic abuse claim
Former University of Southern California kicker Matthew Boermeester alleged in a federal lawsuit that school administrators “committed an egregious miscarriage of justice” in proceedings that led to his expulsion in 2017.
Boermeester was expelled after Southern Cal determined he had committed domestic abuse against his girlfriend, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday.
The school issued an interim suspension of Boermeester in January 2017, days after his lawyers claim Boermeester was the victim of “what can only be described as a game of telephone gone awry.” Boermeester’s athletic scholarship was pulled and he ultimately was expelled in May 2017, despite his girlfriend Zoe Katz's repeated claims that she had never been abused by Boermeester.
Boermeester and Katz are still a couple.
“I want to be very clear that I have never been abused, assaulted or otherwise mistreated by Matt,” Katz said in the statement. “He is an incredible person, and I am and have been 100% behind him. Nothing happened that warranted an investigation, much less the unfair, biased and drawn out process that we have been forced to endure quietly."
She Accused Him Of Stalking After A One-Day Facebook Chat. The Campus Process Led Him To Overdose, Lawsuit Claims.
Two Occidental students had an extended Facebook chat for one day. The exchange was initiated by the female student and ended after she said she no longer wished to participate in the conversation. Later, she would tell school administrators that the male student stalked her, according to a lawsuit filed in California superior court. He was found responsible for stalking by Occidental and believed he would be barred from law school or medical school based on the finding.
Occidental, which has been sued previously for unfair sexual misconduct hearings, dismissed many of Malter’s main claims against Xu. The investigative report stated that her “messages did not clearly indicate that she wanted to stop communication with Respondent [XU] until her last message,” and "Based on the preponderance of the evidence, we find that Respondent did not continue to contact Complainant after she clearly told him to stop communicating with her, aside from one Facebook message in which he stated that he and Complainant should unfriend each other on Facebook.”
Mark Hathaway, attorney for Xu’s family, gave The Daily Wire a brief statement on the situation. “The family is devastated and had hoped to avoid litigation,” Hathaway said.
As attorneys who have assisted over 150 accused students and faculty, we support the proposed regulations. We have been honored to play a part in dozens of court rulings against the University of California, the California State University, and private colleges and universities, that have set aside campus decisions because of the lack of a fair hearing and lack of Due Process. As Justice Arthur Gilbert noted recently, "When the accused does not receive a fair hearing, neither does the accuser. Fairness and due process are not difficult concepts to articulate. Students should expect a clear statement of the alleged misconduct and the campus policies or codes that were violated; a fair and prompt investigation by an unbiased investigator; an opportunity to respond to the evidence; and, present a defense to the charges, and an impartial, neutral person or panel to make the decision. The proposed regulation , 106.6 confirms that familiar and long-recognized rights under U.S. Constitution, including the First Amendment and Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, cannot be diminished when attending college or university.
The proposed regulations are consistent with California law, which requires live hearings with the opportunity for cross-examination and has eliminated use of the single investigator model, whereby a single individual investigates, prosecutes, and sentences the accused. (Doe v. Kegan Allee, et al (Jan. 4, 2019, B283406) __ Cal.App.5th __ .) From our perspective of working daily with students and families to protect access to higher education and the benefits it brings, the proposed regulations will have immediate and practical application.
UC Davis student files petition to UC Board of Regents regarding Title IX case
A UC Davis student filed a petition Thursday in the Alameda County Superior Court to the UC Board of Regents after he was issued a two-year suspension from the UC system for allegedly violating the UC Davis Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment, or SVSH, Policy and the UC Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline. The student, who is identified by the pseudonym “John Doe,” aims to “redress the improper administrative findings and decisions made by a single investigator,” according to the petition filed by Doe and his legal team.
The petition challenges the legality of the SVSH policy under which Doe was investigated. Doe and his legal team argue that the policy “violates the requirements of a fair process.” The petition also says the policies and procedures “fail to afford accused students due process and fail to comply with OCR (Office for Civil Rights) guidance and Title IX.” One of the listed allegations in the petition is that the SVSH policy does not provide “an adequate, reliable, and impartial investigation” because of its use of a single-investigator model in Title IX cases at UC Davis. In a single-investigator model, one individual is responsible for investigating and making findings about the case. The petition argues that this decision should not be left to a single person acting as an “investigator, prosecutor, and fact-finder.”
Ruling affirming the rights of students accused of sexual misconduct roils California colleges
Colleges and universities across California are scrambling to revise the way they handle sexual misconduct cases after a state appellate court ruled that “fundamental fairness” requires that accused students have a right to a hearing and to cross-examine their accusers.
The decision last month came in a USC case but applies to all California public and private colleges, and prompted many to immediately halt Title IX investigations while they reshape their procedures. California State University, the University of California and USC, Claremont McKenna and Occidental colleges confirmed that they have made or soon will be making changes.
They already had been bracing to do so. In November, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos proposed controversial new federalrules that would strengthen the rights of the accused in sexual misconduct cases. The rules would apply to Title IX, which bans discrimination based on sex in educational programs and activities at schools that receive federal funding.
“It will protect millions of college students in California from losing their education in a process that’s arbitrary,” said Mark Hathaway, a Los Angeles attorney who has pioneered much of the litigation on behalf of accused students.
Appellate court overturns Title IX finding against former USC tight end Bryce Dixon
Almost four years after USC expelled tight end Bryce Dixon because a Title IX investigation found he engaged in nonconsensual sex with a student athletic trainer, the decision was overturned by an appellate court that found the school’s process to be “fundamentally flawed.”
The three-justice panel in California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal wrote in an opinion published last week that USC “failed to provide a fair hearing” to Dixon.
“In [Dixon’s] case, he was accused of sexual misconduct for which he faced serious disciplinary sanctions, and the credibility of witnesses was central to the adjudication of the allegations against him,” the 52-page opinion said.
“Bryce is paying a necessary, but heavy price for the things he did,” Mark Hathaway, Dixon’s attorney, said Monday. “But it’s apparent USC didn’t take care of Bryce in any way. If it had, it’s unlikely he would’ve been in the situation he’s been in.”
John Doe v. Trustees of the State of California, et al.
On Tuesday, February 5, 2019, the Superior Court of Los Angeles Judge Mary Strobel ordered the Trustees of the State of California to set aside the administrative decision and sanction of expulsion in a faulty Title IX adjudication at California State University, Fresno. The Court argued that CSU Fresno, “failed to provide notice of the allegation” and that there was no evidence that Title IX personnel at CSU Fresno, “informed Petitioner of the charges regarding Roe 1 prior to or during his interview.” The Court goes on to say that the Trustees cite an amended report after the remand which was not included in their original report or investigative notes, and that, “the amended report, prepared after remand, does not cure the failure to give notice of the allegations with respect to Roe 1.”
Two Women Accused Him Of Sexual Assault And He Was Expelled. A Judge Determined The School Was Wrong.
A male student at California State University-Fresno was expelled after his school investigated the claims of two women who said he sexually assaulted them. Based on available evidence, a judge has called for the school to overturn its decision.
Superior Court Judge Mary H. Strobel found several deficiencies in CSUF’s investigation of John. The student had originally been told he was accused of sexually assaulting Jane 1 because she was too drunk to consent. That claim apparently failed, so he was punished for sexually assaulting her because she was 17 at the time of the sexual intercourse. Boele even amended the investigation complaint, without new evidence, to claim that John told her he knew Jane 1 was 17 at the time of their encounter. John says he said no such thing. Judge Strobel declared Boele’s addition of this claim, which did not exist in the original report or in any of her investigative notes, “deserves little credence.”
Because John was not told what he was actually being investigated for, he had no way to defend himself. That, plus his inability to cross-examine his accusers, the witnesses, or the evidence against him led Strobel to conclude he had not been given a fair investigation.
USC ignored likelihood that female student invented rape to not get fired, appeals court rules
The era of serious punishments based on a single official’s investigation is over at the University of Southern California.
For the second time in less than a month, a California appeals court ruled that the private university denied a student accused of rape a fair hearing, and that the same Title IX official conducted a shoddy investigation.
The three-judge panel ordered a lower court to remove USC’s findings against “John Doe” from his record, and awarded him his costs on appeal. The university will also have to create procedures to allow accused students to cross-examine both their accusers and witnesses in some form.
“The decision against USC appears to be consistent with the new Title IX guidelines” proposed by the Department of Education last fall, which are open to public comment through January, Doe’s lawyer Mark Hathaway wrote in an email.
Court Finds Flaws With 'Overlapping and Conflicting' Role of Title IX Investigator at USC
A California appellate court has set aside the expulsion of a former football player at the University of Southern California finding that a Title IX investigator had ”overlapping and conflicting” roles when looking into allegations that the player had raped a student trainer.
In an opinion published Friday(January 4, 2019), the Second District Court of Appeal found that, given the potential consequences of USC’s disciplinary proceedings, the football player, referred to in the proceedings simply as John Doe, had the right to cross-examine his accuser, Jane Roe, either directly or indirectly. USC’s procedures, the court held, left the school’s Title IX investigator to act as “investigator, prosecutor, factfinder and sentencer” in such cases and therefore deprived Doe of his right to cross-examine his accuser.
USC slammed for expelling student over alleged rape without questioning witnesses
The University of Southern California will have to overturn the expulsion of a student accused of rape because the school investigators did not question central witnesses and couldn’t locate “physical evidence” to determine the validity of the allegations, a California appeals court ruled on Tuesday. The court said the accused student was denied a fair Title IX proceeding, because in addition to investigators apparently not being interested in interviewing the witnesses, their testimonies about the alleged nonconsensual anal rape were riddled with “inconsistencies” and raised questions whether the perceived blood they saw in the accuser’s apartment was actually paint.
Appeals court blasts USC for indifference to evidence that could exonerate accused student
A California appeals court ordered a trial judge to set aside the expulsion of “John Doe” because the accused student was denied a fair Title IX proceeding by the private university.
In its ruling Tuesday, the appeals court said USC’s Title IX investigator should have interviewed “three central witnesses” whose testimony was marked by “inconsistencies” and disputes over whether they saw blood or paint in the accuser’s apartment.
USC violated its own rules by failing to request clothing and medical records from “Jane Roe,” said the opinion, written by Associate Justice Gail Ruderman Feuer and joined by Presiding Justice Dennis Perluss and Associate Justice John Segal.
University Will No Longer Discriminate Against Male Students In Need Of Financial Aid After Federal Complaint
In a rare federal win for male students, Tulane University has made an agreement with the federal government to stop discriminating against men by offering female-only scholarships and financial aid.
The policies were found to be in violation of Title IX, the anti-sex discrimination statute from 1972.
In a statement to PJ Media, Tulane spokesman Michael Strecker said the resolution was not an admission of guilt on the part of the university and that it may still provide “sex-restrictive scholarships.”
"This resolution agreement contains no admission of liability, non-compliance or wrongdoing by Tulane," Strecker said. "This resolution agreement does not impact sex-restrictive institutional scholarships. Title IX allows for sex-restrictive scholarships as long as the total pool of scholarship money is fairly distributed between men and women.”
Valois is the mother of two sons, and her efforts to end institutional discrimination against men at Tulane via scholarships is similar to an effort launched by Kursat Christoff Pekgoz, a doctoral student at the University of Southern California.
Pekgoz is also targeting specific schools, including Yale University, for providing female-only scholarships and professional assistance even though women outnumber men on college campuses and among graduates.
UC Regents Found in Contempt Of Court, Expelled Student Allowed to Return to UCSB
The Santa Barbara Superior Court found the University of California Regents in contempt of court on Friday, stating that a student accused of stalking and sexual violence had been denied due process on two separate occasions and thus would be allowed to return to UC Santa Barbara.
Judge Donna D. Geck ruled the UC Regents failed to provide a fair hearing for the accused student, known in court documents as John Doe, in a Title IX investigation. UCSB expelled Doe in November 2016 after a student filed a Title IX complaint against him that June.
USC ordered to pay attorney fees after Title IX investigation was deemed unfair
A California judge ordered USC to pay $111,965 in attorney fees late last month to a student accused of rape in 2016, after deeming its Title IX investigation unfair.
The request came from the student’s lawyer, Mark Hathaway. Though the University pointed out the request was filed past the deadline, the court allowed an extension, citing “reasonable mistake of law.”
The June 28 ruling followed one from December in which Hathaway accused USC of not providing defendant John Doe with a fair trial due to underlying bias by the University’s Title IX office as well as failure by the University to adhere to its own procedures, which require a “fair, thorough, reliable, neutral and impartial investigation.” Hathaway also accused USC of not allowing Doe to access all relevant information.
California colleges vow to press on against sexual assault despite any federal rollback in protections
Mark Hathaway, a Los Angeles-area attorney who has represented accused college students in about 60 cases, said he was gratified by DeVos' move to review federal guidelines. He said he particularly hoped that accused students would have access to evidence and the ability to challenge statements by the accusers and witnesses before a finding was made.
Hathaway also said that allowing one person to act as both investigator and judge, a model used by UC and many other universities, was unfair to the accused.
He added that there was a "wide variance" in policies across California campuses. He praised UCLA, for instance, for fair handling of cases — including providing support for the accused. But he said other campuses allow "secret witnesses" and deny meaningful access to evidence before a decision is made.
UNL's Title IX office to investigate statements made to marchers
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has opened a Title IX investigation into allegations that students verbally harassed protesters Saturday during the Women's March on Lincoln.
Hundreds of posts to social media following Saturday's march said members of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity shouted sexually harassing statements at the protesters, including "No means yes" and a euphemism used by President Donald Trump in 2005 to describe grabbing a woman's genitals.
It would be difficult to imagine a better documented example of consensual sex than this case, where Jane Roe initiated the sexual activity, asked John Doe for a condom in a text message, texted another friend that she was going to have sex, told witnesses she was “fine” while the sex was occurring, admitted performing consensual oral sex on John Doe, sent text messages with smiley faces to friends immediately after the sex, but later said she could not specifically recall the sexual intercourse. Her roommate pushed Jane Roe to realize that she had been sexually assaulted and Jane Doe met with Occidental’s Sexual Assault Coalition, including co-founder Danielle Dirks. Professor Dirks told Jane Roe that John Doe “fits the profile of other rapists on campus in that he had a high GPA in high school, was his class valedictorian, was on the [sports] team, and was ‘from a good family.’” Both John Doe and Jane Roe were drunk and having sex, but only John Doe was punished and expelled.
John Doe’s initial court appeal was denied by Superior Court Judge Mary H. Strobel and the case is now pending the California Court of Appeal as Doe v. Occidental College, case no. B284707.
SUICIDAL Tendencies Of Falsely Accused College Males
Parents of innocent accused sons are often crying inside for years as they try to help their young sons heal after they are treated cruelly and unjustly by Title IX. Title IX hearings are not about seeking truth when a sex accusation is made. Title IX is about cruelty towards the minority gender on campuses. Males.
New lawsuits appear weekly from accused males who have been bullied, abused and denied due process by Title IX.
DOCUMENTARY: Males Talk Sex and Being Falsely Accused
This is the one year anniversary of the Fox documentary that focused on three college males who were falsely accused. First, Occidental’s John Doe speaks about meeting Jane Doe, their night of sex and his TIX hearing when he was denied all rights. Second, Paul Nungesser’s lawyer speaks about his case. Paul was found innocent by Columbia and Law enforcement, but Paul was slandered viciously by celebrity seeking Mattress Girl. Third, University of Tennessee’s Corey Mock speaks about his TIX injustices. Eventually a court of law overturned UTC’s injustice. Here is the 41 min. documentary.
President-elect Trump has offered few details on how his administration might deal with campus sexual assault, but his surrogates and other Republicans say they would scale back enforcement of Title IX.
College expels student for sex misconduct without bothering to interview him, draws sharp government rebuke
Lawsuits are accumulating across the nation brought by students who say they were unfairly disciplined for sexual misconduct by colleges and universities. And increasing numbers of judges are finding their complaints sufficiently valid to move forward.
But few, if any, of the alleged violations of a student’s rights compare in egregiousness to what happened at Wesley College in Delaware, as described in findings by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) made public Wednesday.
PERKS For Title IX Girls Who Falsely Accuse College Guys
Below are words from a Male Student:
“Today I received an email from my school saying that I only had two weeks to complete a mandatory Title IX training, or else I would be dropped from all of my classes. Now this would not normally bother me, its just another one of those things that need to be done,
However, last year there was a girl, who would always go to parties, get drunk and end up hooking up with random party goers, So at one of those parties same thing as always happened, however the next day she claimed that she had been assaulted, She made a big deal out of it, however After an investigation was conducted it was found that she had no case, and that she had been at fault.
However That did not stop our professors, (we were taking the same classes) to extend all her deadlines, allow her to re-take her exams and even went as far as giving her honors. Meanwhile there were a couple of us who had actual medical issues, and yet our professors did not give us leniency. She has now graduated, and the gentleman who she accused has as well, she tried tarnishing his reputation, which did not help yet she was still able to milk the situation enough to get her to graduate with honors, and even free housing.”
MOTHER turns sex-assault case against son into national campaign
Sherry Warner Seefeld’s son was found to be innocent after being accused of sexual assault. The woman who accused her son was charged with lying to police. It took more than a year before before his school, the University of North Dakota, agreed to let him back on campus…Now she’s on a mission to help other families in that same “horrific” spot, as the co-founder and president of Families Advocating for Campus Equality (FACE), a support group for the accused.
LAWSUIT: Male says University of Chicago’s sex policies created hostile environment
John Doe accused the university of creating a gender biased, hostile environment against males- based in part on UC’s pattern and practice of investigating and disciplining male students who accept physical contact initiated by female students, retaliating against male students, and providing female students preferential treatment under its Title IX policies.”
A key component of the situation is a 2011 letter from the OCR regarding Title IX compliance while dealing with sexual misconduct complaints. The letter, Doe asserted, spells out how schools are “to provide females preferential treatment” and “imposed numerous mandates to make it more difficult for males accused of sexual misconduct to defend themselves.”
BROWN student judged rapist under ex post facto rule ‘likely’ to win lawsuit, judge says
The first trial against a college for its implementation of five-year-old federal “guidance” on sexual-assault investigations looks quite favorable to the accused student suing Brown University. U.S. District Judge William Smith in Rhode Island issued a preliminary injunction against the university, ordering it to readmit “John Doe” to his classes while the trial proceeds.
Victims Of Education Department's Unfair Sexual Assault Rules Counterattack With Lawsuits
We have reached the point where federal bureaucrats are the true overlords of higher education and officials in OCR have pushed their ideas so far past the written law that we are now getting a strong legal counterattack.
One suit is: Doe v. Lhamon. The other case involves Yale University and Montague’s complaint is available here. “OCR has acted as though decreasing due process rights will increase justice. In fact, the opposite is true. Real people’s lives are being irreparably harmed.” States Robert Shibley executive director of FIRE.
Preserve Due Process Allow Student Defenders For Accused
Due process helps to ensure the accused has a fair and unbiased hearing. Take for example the case of Doe v. University of Southern California (2016).
In Doe, a California appeals court held that the plaintiff was denied a fair disciplinary hearing for lack of basic due process and reversed the university’s decision.
One way to help students receive the due process they deserve is by allowing them to have advisors present and active throughout the entire disciplinary process. For example, Students Defending Students can help students prepare statements and cross-examine witnesses.
Expelled Unfairly, Georgia Tech Settles Two Lawsuits
The University System of Georgia has settled two lawsuits. The settlements follow complaints about Georgia Tech, particularly Rep. Earl Ehrhart, who criticized school leaders for their treatment of students accused of wrongdoing in sexual assault cases.
Georgia Tech had been one of the most aggressive schools in its handling of accused students. Tech had expelled or suspended nearly every student it investigated for sexual misconduct allegations in the past five years, and also handed down stiff penalties to fraternities.
Lawsuit against Yale in rape case may revive due process of law
Everybody at Yale University in New Haven seems to have an opinion on the culpability of the former captain of the men's basketball team, Jack Montague, whom the university expelled in February upon its conclusion that he sexually assaulted a student with whom he was having a relationship.
Women at Yale applaud Montague's expulsion. His former teammates deplore it and charge that he was sacrificed to pressure on the university to get tougher on complaints of sexual misconduct, which are hard to verify in their most common context on campus, which is not ambush in the woods but dating, often complicated by alcohol or drugs.
Why Women Should Support Due Process for Male College Students
The crusade against due process already has produced many victims. There have been at least 140 lawsuits brought against colleges by men who suffered an unfair trial. Amherst College, Swarthmore College, and St. Joseph's University have all settled such suits. No doubt, a costly process for both parties.
Administrators will never be able to never fairly investigate rape and sexual assault allegations. No number of Title IX lawsuits will change that. Colleges have capricious rules of evidence, no subpoenas. No neutral judge, either.
As ‘The Koala’ Files Lawsuit Against University of California, San Diego, Public Records Reveal Administration’s Censorship
Last November, a student-run satirical newspaper at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), The Koala, was one of thirteen student publications whose funding was cut by the UCSD student government—just days after The Koala published an article satirizing “safe spaces.” At the time, Dominick Suvonnasupa, president of the UCSD student government, claimed that “the vote was not about The Koala, but was only about addressing the most efficient use of student funds.”
Due Process Legal Update: Complaints Keep Rolling In
On 16th July in a lawsuit sponsored by FIRE, a former University of Virginia School of Law student challenged the Department of Education’s unlawful “preponderance of the evidence” mandate.
While that suit has made big news for its direct challenge to the federal government, it is far from the only lawsuit that has been filed recently in response to the due process crisis on college campuses. In fact, more than ten new complaints have been filed in the past two months alone.
State Legislator Sues to Stop Colleges From 'Micromanaging Sex Lives'
State Rep. Earl Ehrhart and his wife have sued the U.S. Department of Education to block the continued implementation of its five-year-old recommendations as to how the nation’s colleges and universities should handle allegations of sexual violence by and against students.
The Ehrharts said in their complaint that the department has pressured schools that accept federal funds to adopt the standards, forcing them “to essentially micromanage the sex lives of students.”
The complaint also contends that the regulatory climate created by the standards have left the Ehrharts “justifiably concerned” for their son, a student at Atlanta’s Georgia Institute of Technology. The Ehrharts claim their son “could, like any other male college student, be wrongly accused and found responsible for sexual misconduct” under the directives outlined in the department’s 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter. If that occurred, the couple said, funds they saved for their son’s college and tuition could be lost and their son’s “reputation and career prospects irreparably damaged.” Their son is not identified or named as a plaintiff in the complaint.
Baylor’s Failure Exposes Flaws in Campus Sexual Assault Adjudication
A recent report detailing Baylor University’s mishandling of campus sexual assault allegations against its football players has rocked the institution to its core.
The report, issued 2 weeks ago, led the institution’s Board of Regents to fire head football coach Art Briles and to demote President Ken Starr, who subsequently resigned as the university’s chancellor yesterday.
BYU is violating the spirit of Title IX, harming sexual assault survivors, and making rape more likely with its honor code enforcement
Brigham Young University made national headlines in April when it was revealed that female students who reported being raped could be suspended or expelled for violating the school’s onerous honor code. BYU, a private university in Provo, Utah, is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The BYU honor code is far more restrictive than most other university codes. Created by BYU students in 1949, it forbids students from drinking, using drugs, wearing tight clothing, gambling, drinking coffee, homosexual conduct, engaging in premarital sex, or being in the bedroom of anyone of the opposite sex. Code violations may lead to expulsion.
The problem? This code is on a collision course with Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination at any schools that receive funds from the U.S. government. Title IX requires that sexual assaults be counted and investigated; it certainly does not contemplate that any young woman fighting to protect her civil rights will be tossed out of her school for violating an honor code, a threat that is clearly antithetical to the promise and goals of Title IX.
Professors Decry ‘Pervasive and Severe Infringement’ of Student Rights
A group of law professors are accusing the civil rights office of the U.S. Education Department of taking “unlawful actions” that have led to “pervasive and severe infringements” of speech rights and due-process protections on college campuses.
An open letter signed by Harvard University professor Alan Dershowitz and 20 other legal scholars blasts a series of directives issued by the federal office to schools on dealing with sexual misconduct and harassment complaints from students.
From Discrimination to Sexual Violence, a Flood of Complaints From Classrooms, Campuses
The number of civil rights complaints stemming from colleges, universities and K-12 schools has ballooned, with a majority related to the alleged mistreatment of students with disabilities.
A new report from the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights, titled "Delivering Justice," says the office in fiscal 2015 processed a record 10,392 complaints, opened more than 3,000 investigations and reached more than 1,000 resolutions that resulted in remedies or changes to policies.
Roanoke College student acquitted of rape re-enrolls, sues accuser
A Roanoke College student who was accused of rape and found not guilty at trial and in a sexual misconduct hearing is back on campus this semester and is suing his accuser for $500,000 in damages.
Ezra Zigarwi, who was found not guilty on charges of rape and aggravated assault, has re-enrolled at Roanoke College this semester after he was found not guilty in a jury trial in November and at an on-campus sexual misconduct hearing in December.
The 19-year-old student from Zimbabwe, Africa, also has filed a civil lawsuit against the female student who accused him of rape. The lawsuit alleges the woman made false claims to campus and Salem police, and asks for $500,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.
Unknown to everyone but a handful of jurists and journalists, a meeting held in Washington, D.C., earlier this week considered a measure that could have turned nearly every sexually active person — especially if male — into a sex offender awaiting detection.
For now, the proposal has been rejected. But the idea behind it — so-called “affirmative consent” — will almost certainly be back and is making inroads elsewhere in public policy.
Utah to consider allowing accused students right to an attorney
Legislators in Utah are considering a bill that would allow students involved in campus sexual assault hearings the right to an attorney.
Both accusers and the accused would be allowed legal representation, if the bill's sponsor, State Rep. Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan, gets her way.
"It's not the intent of this legislation to make this look like a law enforcement and criminal justice court proceeding," Coleman said. "We just want to ensure that the student's right to have counsel is recognized by the institution."
The bill would only allow legal representation to those students involved in non-academic disciplinary matters. Students who were accused of plagiarism or cheating would not be allowed an attorney.
There's an old legal adage that good facts make good law, and bad facts make bad law. In the case of campus sexual assault, it may be that absurd facts will — eventually — make good law too.
About five years ago, the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights issued a letter that would change the face of campus sexual misconduct proceedings at colleges across the country.
To avoid the government's ire — and bad press — colleges set up hard-line, zero tolerance policies. They began suspending or even expelling students on the basis of allegations that, even if true, fell short of what most people understand as “assault.” In recent months, however, some disputes have migrated from campuses to the real-world court system, and real-world judges are pushing back on absurd situations with common sense.
Law professors issue joint letter saying Education Department guidance to colleges goes too far and poses risks to the rights of accused and of institutions.
Citing an erosion of free speech and due process on college campuses, a group of 21 law professors on Monday released an open letteralleging that the U.S. Department of Education has unlawfully expanded how colleges must define and respond to allegations of sexual assault and harassment.
Connecticut senate passes affirmative consent bill
Connecticut is one step closer to ensuring college students are easily accused of sexual assault for not following a government-mandated list of rules for the bedroom.
The state senate, late Wednesday evening, passed an affirmative consent bill — or "yes means yes" legislation — designed to force students engaging in sexual activity to follow a question-and-answer formula. From the moment the students are about to touch, they would have to ask: "May I kiss you?" "May I touch you here?" etc.
Proponents of the policy insist this isn't true, that the bill merely defines consent as an "active, clear and voluntary agreement by a person." But that is not the only language in the bill. Similar bills have passed in California, Hawaii and New York, and while they allow nonverbal communication to count as consent, but there can be too much ambiguity in a nod or a moan.
TITLE IX NIGHTMARE: African student expelled and deported for one minute of kissing
Around Thanksgiving, Bongani Radebe was nearing the end of his first term at Edmonds Community College north of Seattle when school officials came to his apartment and ended his American college career.
The international student from South Africa, recipient of a U.S. government scholarship, found out a white female student had filed a sexual-assault complaint against him. He had never heard of Title IX.
Only a week later, Radebe was on a flight to Johannesburg, his student visa revoked, his family’s dreams of him receiving an American education left behind.
Ad in Harvard Crimson warns prospective female students they ‘will’ be raped
The Harvard Crimson has set aside space in its daily print edition for a controversial advertisement that warns incoming freshmen about the likelihood of being raped in college.
The ad, produced by an organization known as “Don’t Accept Rape” and later obtained by Campus Reform, puts a dark spin on the familiar college acceptance letter by citing rape as one of the many experiences offered to students at the company’s made-up institution.
“We know that you will make lifelong friends and memories here on campus,” the letter begins before taking an unexpected turn.
“Prepare for a challenging year ahead as you’ll be raped in your first semester and as a result attempt to end your own life in the next.”
Are 1 in 5 Women Raped At College? Not Even Close.
I have to hand it to Prager University. They’re work in explaining subjects so that anyone can understand them is both educational and entertaining. If they were left leaning, they’d be shown to students in classrooms across the globe.
PragerU has been one of the hardest hitting YouTube channels when it comes to debunking various claims feminists, and social justice advocates like throw up into the mainstream. They’ve debunked thegender wage gap, exposed thewar on boys, and the dangers of belief in social justice.
This week, however, they decided to tackle the much repeated myth of the 1 in 5 campus rape claim that has been circulating within editorials, and quoted often as a statistic by everyone from Tumblr users, to the Vice President of the United States.
Attorney general: Tennessee bathroom bill threatens Title IX funds
The controversial bathroom bill that would require Tennessee students to use a restroom that matches their sex at birth would put the state in jeopardy of losing federal education funding, the attorney general concluded in an opinion released Monday.
In the opinion, Attorney General Herbert Slatery said if transgender students are required to use a restroom consistent with their gender at birth — and not the one based on their gender expression or gender identity — it could result in a loss of federal Title IX money. He said that's based on the U.S. Department of Education's interpretation of the law that prohibits discrimination based on sex.
BYU student says honor code creates fear, shame in victims of rape
A BYU Student says that after she was raped and called police to report the crime, she was shocked when an investigator from BYU's Title IX office emailed her, then told her she might have violated the school's honor code.
"I felt re-victimized," she said. Madi Barney said she was troubled that the school's Title IX investigator didn't offer her any support when she called. "She only said we need to talk about the honor code. It looks like you violated it," she said.
Concerns about how BYU'S honor code and Title IX offices treat victims surfaced last week at a campus sexual assault awareness event.
Read the full article by BY Cristina Flores at KUTV.com
Students call on Senate not to increase DOE Office for Civil Rights Budget
Jake Goldberg, a student at Tufts has drafted an open letter opposing OCR's recent 30% funding increase, he has about 250 signers, and is looking for more.
Quoted from the letter: The more support the letter receives, the more powerful each name below it becomes. Our generation can no longer tolerate bureaucratic overreach blatantly violating our protected rights. This letter allows us to voice our disapproval of OCR’s directives, and you adding your name in support goes a long way toward making that voice louder.
Please add your name to protect due process and free speech on campus HERE
I’ve-Been-Violated app helps sexual assault victims
The month of April is known as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The ‘I’ve-Been-Violated’ app is a newly created free app that helps victims of recent sexual assault record video and audio for evidence.
The app is a part of the ‘We-Consent’ apps suite created by the Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence (ISCE). Michael Lissack, Executive Director of ISCE, says it was the feedback from their other two apps that gave ISCE the idea to create the ‘I’ve-Been-Violated’ app.
“So first we did the yes app and the no app,” Lissack said. “That’s the ‘We-Consent’ app and ‘The-No’ app. As we did the pilot and beta testing for those, we got feedback and one of the feedbacks was coercion, which is why there is a safety valve in the ‘We-Consent’ app. And the other feedback was about we’re not doing anything for victims. So it was in response to that feedback that we did the ‘I’ve-Been-Violated’ app.”
In the past few weeks, these four women have gone public with their Title IX filings, a step that not long ago was too big a risk for many. But a change in attitudes toward sexual assault victims and alleged victims, both from the public at large and from the victims themselves, is creating a culture in which speaking out is increasingly common.
“More people are coming forward now because they realize they’re not alone,” says Anna Voremberg, managing director of End Rape on Campus, a non-profit that works to end campus sexual violence. “They see how pervasive sexual assault is — and that they have rights.”
The growing public awareness was aided in February by Lady Gaga. At the Oscars, she sang her Oscar-nominated song from The Hunting Ground — a documentary about rape on campuses that helped throw the issue into the public eye — as dozens of sexual assault survivors came on stage with messages written on their arms, including “Not Your Fault” and “It Happened To Me.”
'Jackie' must testify in lawsuit over Rolling Stone rape story
A Virginia judge has ruled that the woman at the center of Rolling Stone's discredited story about an alleged frat house gang rape must testify as part of a lawsuit against the magazine.
The woman identified only as "Jackie" will be deposed on Thursday by attorneys representing Rolling Stone and Nicole Eramo, the University of Virginia administrator who is suing the magazine and the author of the now-retracted article, Sabrina Rubin Erdely.
Erdely's 2014 piece, "A Rape On Campus," featured Jackie's graphic claim to have been raped by a group of fraternity members during her freshman year at UVA.
Eramo, an associate dean of students at UVA, is suing Rolling Stone and Erdely for defamation over what she says was an unfair portrayal of her as an insensitive campus bureaucrat in the story. She is seeking $7.85 million in damages.
The story unraveled after doubts about Jackie's allegation surfaced. Police eventually said they found no evidence that the rape occurred, and an independent review conducted by Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism found sweeping editorial failures on the part of Rolling Stone.
The app allows a victim of sexual assault to make an immediate post-event cell phone record, which is then encrypted and stored out of reach, for later retrieval by law enforcement or other authorities.
This may or may not be a good idea—use it too often and the app will report you to the authorities.
But it's a sign of the times, and a reminder of something the AAUP authors are wary of. The report details what the group sees as the follies of current sexual discrimination investigations on campus. And in pointing out problems with Title IX interpretations, they're swimming against the zeitgeist.
Photo Credit: PAUL MORIGI/INVISION FOR ESPNW/AP IMAGES
AU student files federal Title IX complaint against AU, accusing them of mishandling her sexual assault case
On March 7, AU junior Faith Ferber filed a Title IX complaint with the U.S. Department of Education accusing American University of improperly handling her sexual assault case.
Ferber, an executive board member of Students Against Sexual Violence, said she was required to sign a confidentiality agreement to proceed with a student conduct hearing through the University after the assault. In December, Ferber said she spoke with the Department of Justice and was told that the confidentiality agreement violated Title IX.
“Being forced to sign a confidentiality agreement silences survivors and allows the university to continue mishandling sexual assault cases by threatening students with conduct charges if they don’t comply,” Ferber said in an email to The Eagle. “There’s no reason that a survivor should ever have to choose between attempting to get justice and being able to speak out.”
Harvard Forced Sexual Assault Victim To Live By Abuser, Lawsuit Claims
Harvard University forced a victim of dating violence to live in the same dorm as her abuser for several months and did not act on multiple reports of ongoing harassment by him, a new lawsuit claims.
Alyssa Leader, a 2015 graduate of Harvard College, the university’s undergraduate school, filed her suit against the school on Wednesday in federal court in Massachusetts. When Leader formally complained of abuse and sexual assault by a “John Doe 1,” he harassed her in retaliation, the suit states, claiming Harvard showed “deliberate indifference” towards her reports of Doe’s “retaliatory conduct.”
The suit is the latest in a string of allegations in recent years that Harvard has mishandled sexual violence cases by using outdated policies and lopsided procedures that favor alleged assailants and making insensitive comments to students who report assaults.
Several Democratic senators are requesting additional funds for the Education Department to continue policing the sex lives of college students.
Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Tim Kaine, Claire McCaskill and Mark Warner have written a letter calling for increased funding for the Department's Office for Civil Rights, which has been investigating schools for alleged violations of the anti-sex discrimination law known as Title IX.
The senators are requesting a budget of $137.7 million for OCR. Last year, the office's budget was $107 million, which means the senators are asking for a nearly 30 percent increase in funding for this one department.
University of Texas tells its police to hide evidence that favors students accused of rape
Advocates for due process in campus rape adjudications have long sought to remove college officials from investigations because their various conflicts of interest render them unable to provide basic fairness to either party.
That’s why it’s troubling those advocates to see how the University of Texas-Austin is attempting to turn a neutral institution – its campus police – into an advocate for one party.
Its new “blueprint,” flagged by Inside Higher Ed, tells campus police to conduct worse investigations. UT-Austin’s Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault developed the manual, which tells police to ignore contradictions and inconsistencies in rape accusers’ allegations because they must be the result of “trauma”:
Colleges Spending Millions to Deal With Sexual Misconduct Complaints
The expansion of Title IX bureaucracies — often at great expense — is driven in part by pressure from the federal government, which recently put out a series of policy directives on sexual misconduct on campus. More than 200 colleges and universities are under federal investigation for the way they have handled complaints of sexual misconduct, up from 55 two years ago.
At the University of California, Berkeley, officials said, Title IX spending has risen by at least $2 million since 2013, though they declined to give the total.
“Certainly, colleges are spending more related to Title IX than ever in history, both preventatively and responsively,” Mr. Sokolow said. He estimated that dealing with an inquiry could cost “six figures,” and that responding to a lawsuit “can run into the high six or even seven figures, not counting a settlement or verdict.”
Baylor sexual assault victim files Title IX suit against school
A former Baylor University student who reported to campus officials that she had been raped by former Bears football player Tevin Elliott filed a Title IX lawsuit against the university, claiming the school knew Elliott had a history of assaults, failed to protect her and other women, and ignored her when she sought help after her assault.
Elliott was convicted in January 2014 on two counts of sexual assault and sentenced to 20 years in prison for attacking the student, Jasmin Hernandez, on April 15, 2012.
ESPN typically does not name victims of sexual assaults, but Hernandez planned to file the lawsuit using her name and is no longer requesting anonymity about her case, according to her attorneys.
PSU withdraws suspensions in sexual misconduct case, revises disciplinary process
Two Penn State fraternity brothers no longer are facing two-semester suspensions in a sexual misconduct case.
The university Monday informed U.S. Middle District Judge Matthew W. Brann it was withdrawing the suspensions for the two identified only as John Doe I and II and expunging their records.
Penn State said it will be using a revised procedure in sexual misconduct cases and it will be applied to the entire student body.
Penn State says the new process will address many of the concerns presented in the litigation, including the accused having the opportunity to appear before the Title IX decision panel to suggest questions to be asked of other parties.
The accused also would have the ability to observe potential interaction between the complainant and the panel and supplement the investigative packet with new, relevant information.
Tennessee sued by victims under Title IX regarding sexual assault cases involving football players
Six women have sued the University of Tennessee under Title IX following a series of sexual assault cases involving football players and other athletes.
According to the report, the suit accuses the school of creating "a student culture that enables sexual assaults by student-athletes, especially football players, and then uses an unusual, legalistic adjudication process that is biased against victims who step forward."
In making its case that the university enabled an environment of bad behavior and used a disciplinary system that favored the players, the lawsuit cited more than a dozen incidents involving football players that included underage drinking, sexual harassment, assault, armed robbery and sexual assaults that did not involve the Jane Doe plaintiffs. Some of the incidents cited have previously never been reported.
UC Berkeley Announces Another Sexual Assault Task Force, And A Review Board For Sanctions
After multiple federal complaints and lawsuits, some students are skeptical of another task force on sexual assault.
The university is currently under a Title IX investigation by the Department of Education and faces a related lawsuit that claims it mishandled sexual assault cases involving students.
In the 2015-16 academic year, Cal was rocked by sexual harassment allegations against faculty, and came under criticism for lax sanctions handed down by school administrators.
Sujit Choudhry stepped down as the law school dean after a lawsuit stated the university found him in violation of its sexual harassment policy. His punishment was a 10 percent pay cut for one year, and Provost Claude Steele ordered him to get counseling.
Colleges frustrated by lack of clarification on Title IX guidance
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education issued a Dear Colleague letter that urged institutions to better investigate and adjudicate cases of campus sexual assault. The letter clarified how the department interprets Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and for the past five years it has been the guiding document for colleges hoping to avoid a federal civil rights investigation into how they handle complaints of sexual violence.
In February, the department clarified in a letter to a Republican senator that the Dear Colleague letter acts only as guidance for colleges and does not "carry the force of law." But many college presidents and lawyers argue that the department’s Office for Civil Rights treats the guidance as far more than a series of recommendations. Instead, they say, OCR uses the letter to determine which colleges are in violation of Title IX and to threaten the federal funding of those that don't follow every suggestion.