Political Correctness Run Amok
Men Begin to Fight for Their Rights
The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses
by Alan Charles Kors and Harvey A. Silverglate (1998)
Harvey A. Silverglate is an attorney in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He holds degrees from Princeton University (’64) and Harvard Law School (’67), and is a practicing attorney, specializing in civil liberties litigation, criminal defense, academic freedom, and students’ rights cases. He was a member of the board of the Massachusetts chapter of the ACLU for three decades and served for two years as board president. He has also taught at Harvard Law School, the University of Massachusetts Boston, and at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. He is the co-founder, with Alan Charles Kors, of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, for which he also serves as the current Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Alan Charles Kors is Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches the intellectual history of the 17th and 18th centuries. Dr. Kors graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1964, and he received his MA (1965) and PhD (1968) from Harvard University, in European History. Kors co-founded and served from 2000 to 2006 as chairman of the board of directors of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. In 1992 President George H. W. Bush named him to the Council of the National Endowment of the Humanities.
Every spring, most of the nation’s high school seniors choose a place for what well might be the most important four years of their lives… We charge these institutions with preparing future citizens for participation in the life of a free and productive society. We offer them special status and protection in that task, indeed, a wall of immunity from excessive scrutiny. We pay them handsomely, and, with breathtaking trust, almost never ask for an accounting of what we receive in return.
It is clear that the curriculum in the humanities and the social sciences has changed, and that this has something to do with gender, race, and sexuality. Those with their eyes on the behavior of academics in these fields know that there is something of a shouting match in a very small sauna – lots of noise, heat, and steam, but very little in the way of audience. There seem to be a lot of -isms bandied about – “racism” and “sexism,” to be sure, but also “postmodernism” and “multiculturalism”.
On the Left there is a hope that universities are dealing with problems of power and injustice more explicitly and progressively, and a fear that the “excesses” of political correctness might bring such a good endeavor into disrepute. On the Right there is a belief that whole disciplines have transformed the classroom into a pulpit from which supposed “oppression” is analyzed in wholly partisan fashion, transforming students into willing consumers of a politics of “victimization”.
Contrary to the expectations of most applicants, colleges and universities are not freer than the society at large. Indeed, they are less free, and that diminution is continuing apace. In a nation whose future depends upon an education in freedom, colleges and universities are teaching the values of censorship, self-censorship, and self-righteous abuse of power. Our institutions of higher education greet freshmen not as individuals on the threshold of adulthood, but as embodiments of group identity, largely defined in terms of blood and history, who are to be infantilized at every turn. In a nation whose soul depends upon the values of individual rights and responsibilities, and upon equal justice under law, our students are being educated in so-called group rights and responsibilities, and in double standards to redress partisan definitions of historical wrongs. Universities have become the enemy of a free society, and it is time for the citizens of that society to recognize this scandal of enormous proportions and to hold these institutions to account.
The ’60s may be long past for most Americans, with various and diverse legacies left behind, but strangely enough, the best aspects of that decade’s idealistic agenda have died on our campuses – free speech, equality of rights, respect for private conscience and individuation, and a sense of undergraduate liberties and adult responsibilities. What remain of the ’60s on our campuses are its worst sides.
The university, in loco parentis, has been given over to the self-appointed progressives to do with what they will. The result has been an emerging tyranny over all aspects of student life – a tyranny that is far more dangerous than the relatively innocuous parietal rules of ages past. It is a tyranny that seeks to assert absolute control over the souls, the consciences, and the individuality of our students – in short, a tyranny over the essence of liberty itself.
The shadow university, with its shadow curriculum, dominates freshman orientation, residential programming, extracurricular student life, the promulgation of codes and regulations, and the administration of what passes, on our campuses, for justice.
The shadow university hands students a moral agenda upon arrival, subjects them to mandatory political reeducation, sends them to sensitivity training, submerges their individuality in official group identity, intrudes upon private conscience, treats them with scandalous inequality, and, when it chooses, suspends or expels them.
Speech codes, prohibiting speech that “offends”, protect ideologically or politically favored groups, and, what is more important, insulate these groups’ self-appointed spokesmen and spokeswomen from criticism and even from the need to participate in debate. Double standards destroy legal equality and all meaningful accountability, teaching the worst imaginable lessons about the appropriate uses of power. Crude justice is administered, in secret, in biased fashion and without that due process that teaches lessons about civilization and the rule of law. Administrators, eager to buy peace and avoid scandal, deny the obvious truth of what is occurring, and, when pressed, invoke false doctrines of being legally bound by absolute confidentiality.
On February 20, 2015, Harvey Silverglate had an opinion piece published in the Boston Globe, titled “The New Panic: Campus Sex Assaults”, in which he compares the current over-reaction to the alleged “epidemic” of campus rape to the Red Scare of McCarthyism and the 1980s panic over the largely fictitious child care pedophilia scandal.
The Rise of Illiberalism in the Liberal Arts
From The Demise of Due Process on Campus by Peter Berkowitz (Peter Berkowitz is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University):
University administrators and faculty increasingly mishandle allegations of sexual assault because of a cluster of illiberal sentiments, habits of mind, and beliefs to which they subscribe and which, over the course of 30 years or so, they have embedded in university education. This is the root cause of the problem. No reform will succeed that does not address the culture of illiberalism that our campuses cultivate.
There can be no justification and no tolerance for coddling criminals on campus or blaming victims. Universities must create an environment in which women can be confident that, in the event of sexual assault, they can meet with well-trained administrators who will listen compassionately and help them obtain necessary medical attention, get suitable psychological counseling, and speak to proper law enforcement officials about filing criminal complaints.
[But] universities are now building arbitrary and capricious authority into official disciplinary procedures. And our most distinguished institutions of higher education are at the forefront in promulgating these mechanisms of injustice.
Under the guise of liberal education, universities have been inculcating an illiberal sensibility extending back to the generation currently controlling the executive branch.
Our universities have eroded liberty of thought and discussion. To control what is said and thought, they have promulgated speech codes. They have created small “free speech zones”, effectively rendering most of campus an unfree speech zone. And they have encouraged students to believe that they have a right to not hear speech they find offensive and that the university has a duty to punish those who commit offensive speech.
Our universities have promoted a narrative that converts all women into victims and all men into villains. This narrative originated among radical feminists but it has been widely internalized in universities. It claims that discriminatory norms and nefarious institutions established by men to serve male power render women unfree and incapable of thinking and fending for themselves. [According to this narrative] those women who think they are free to choose and capable of taking care of themselves without intrusive university or government assistance only demonstrate the power of patriarchy to delude and degrade them. And those men who think they are innocent are blind to the guilt they incur from perpetuating, consciously or unconsciously, male privilege.
Accordingly, our universities have dismantled due process to serve what they regard as a higher conception of social justice. Due process presumes innocence and declares guilt based on the accuracy of specific allegations. In contrast, university justice implies that since all women are victims, all accusations, even the false ones, capture a deeper truth. This peculiar notion of justice also gives rise to the conviction that while a man may not have committed any of the specific infractions of which he is accused, as a perpetuator and beneficiary of male privilege he is party to a vast criminal conspiracy and therefore deserves whatever limited punishment university authorities mete out.
This illiberal fantasy world perpetuated by universities harms women as well as men. Campus disciplinary procedures treat individual women as pawns to be manipulated in a larger struggle. They dispose of individual men in the service of what they suppose to be a lofty cause. And they teach all students to indulge a cavalier contempt for the supposedly simple-minded elements of due process, which for centuries in the West have protected individuals against the abuse of power.
Two measures are key to restoring to our campuses that form of justice rooted in the dignity of the individual to which the Constitution is dedicated and which is crucial to the future of freedom and equality in America. The first is straightforward. We must end university involvement in the investigation, prosecution, adjudication, and punishment of sexual assault. University personnel generally have little or no training for these vitally important tasks, and universities have more than demonstrated their incompetence and untrustworthiness. Instead, we must allow the police and the courts to do their jobs, and hold them accountable when they don’t.
The other measure is the work of generations. It involves restoring the integrity of liberal education, on which depends the integrity of leaders in a free society.
From As the Campus Rape Narrative Unravels, Will Due Process Strike Back in 2015? by Robby Soave (staff editor at Reason.com and formerly managing editor of The Michigan Daily, University of Michigan):
Due to a string of embarrassments, 2014 ended on surprisingly sour note for illiberal activists conspiring to shunt aside due process in their zeal to eradicate an exaggerated and politicized problem.
Still, while the voices of reason – of fairness for accusers and the accused – scored some ideological victories this year, 2015 will likely present even more daunting challenges. Dark clouds loom on the horizon, according to several legal experts who are advocates for campus due process or involved in rape disputes. In particular, a wave of wrongheaded affirmative consent policies – which force students to adopt bizarre and limiting sexual consent customs – could sweep the nation.
Affirmative consent is a baffling way to fight sexual assault. Rape is a crime committed by a minority of determined, serial perpetrators; it’s unclear why activists think that forcing students to jump through new hoops before they have sex will deter these monsters. The policy will produce more mutual confusion and false accusations, however.
“The Department of Education has made clear that it doesn’t really care about due process, which means colleges won’t either – until they start having to pay out large damage awards to wrongly convicted students,” said Justin Dillon, a former Assistant US Attorney who, along with Matt Kaiser, an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University, represents dozens of students accused of sexual assault. “The more that happens, the more likely you are to see the pendulum start swinging back to a sensible middle.”
The Latest Manifestation of Political Correctness Run Amok is the Sudden Increase in Title IX Sexual Assault Claims on Campus And the Rise of Law Suits by Men Accused and Punished by College Tribunals
The number of Title IX complaints received by the Office of Civil Rights of the US Department of Education jumped from 9 in fiscal year 2009 to 96 in 2014. The number of law suits by men against their colleges and universities for reverse discrimination and denial of due process jumped from 5 in 2010 to 25 in 2014.
Brett A. Sokolow, executive director of the Association of Title IX administrators (ATIXA) and president of the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management – a consulting and law firm that advises colleges – said he gets about two new cases a week from men who feel they’ve been wrongly accused of sexual misconduct.
In an ATIXA Tip of the Week, published on April 24th, 2014, Brett A. Sokolow, JD wrote:
In the last two weeks, I’ve worked on five cases all involving drunken hook-ups on college campuses. In each case, the male accused of sexual misconduct was found responsible. In each case, I thought the college got it completely wrong. …Some boards and panels still can’t tell the difference between drunk sex and a policy violation.
Finding each of the accused in violation of sexual misconduct is sex discrimination. We are making Title IX plaintiffs out of them. The customs and practices of the field of higher education have adopted, as a common policy formulation, that sexual actions with a person the respondent knows to be incapacitated, or should know to be incapacitated by alcohol, drugs, sleep, etc., is prohibited. This is the non-discriminatory way to frame policy. But, in a recent case, the campus policy stated that intoxication creates an inability to consent. Thus, in any situation in which a male student and a female student have sex, and both are intoxicated, this college will commit an act of gender discrimination by only charging one of them. If both are intoxicated, they both did the same thing to each other. Why should only the male be charged if both students behave in ways defined as prohibited by the policy? I’m not suggesting we charge both. Surely, every drunken sexual hook-up is not a punishable offense.
A common policy problem comes from failing to distinguish between intoxicated and incapacitated. Otherwise, men are simply being punished for having sex, which is gender discrimination under Title IX, because their partners are having sex too and are not being subject to the code of conduct for doing so.
At least 30 men are striking back against campus rules on sexual assault that deny them due process by assuming their guilt. They say the decisions have damaged their reputation, disrupted their education, and in some cases cost them thousands of dollars in lost tuition, legal expenses, and other costs.
In the past two years, men either disciplined or expelled have filed discrimination cases against:
College men are claiming the investigations are biased in favor of their accusers, who are most often women. Campus sexual-assault investigations represent a parallel criminal-justice system run by school officials without legal training in which evidence and the burden of proof are scant and punishments harsh, said Robert Shibley, senior vice president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).
“I think there has been a significant amount of pressure on universities to treat all of those accused of sexual misconduct with a presumption of guilt.” said Shibley. On campus, he said, accused students effectively are presumed guilty; instead of requiring accusers to prove they were assaulted, the accused students have to prove they had consent.
The sanctions, which can include expulsion from college are “massively life-changing,” Shibley said. The process “makes someone guilty of what in most states is considered a felony. While students found responsible for the assault don’t go to jail, they are ripped from their friends and studies, subject to shame, risk losing tuition and fees and may be barred from other campuses.”
Young men in college face a growing risk of being accused, said Nicole Colby Longton, an attorney who sued Holy Cross on behalf of a student accused of sexually assaulting a woman on campus. “One sexual encounter that involves alcohol, and the next thing you know you’re accused and expelled and branded for life,” Colby said. “Schools are going to push kids to have signed waivers before they have intercourse.”
Andrew Miltenberg, a New York attorney who represents plaintiffs suing Vassar and Drew University and half a dozen other schools, said interest in filing such cases has surged in the last year; he is now receiving three to four calls a week from all over the country. “The common thread is really egregious due process violations,” he said.
Miltenberg said, “I’m not an apologist for sexual misconduct. All I really want is for the process to be transparent and fair.”
“Disciplining, suspending or even expelling male students accused of sexual assault is often the path of least resistance for universities, even if the facts of the case are ambiguous or police decline to pursue charges”, said Sherry Warner Seefeld, president of Families Advocating Campus Equality.
She founded the group in July 2014 after years spent defending her son, Caleb Warner, who was suspended from the University of North Dakota in February 2010 after a classmate accused him of rape. He was never charged with a crime, and police ultimately issued a warrant for the accuser for filing a false complaint. Even so, the university, which used the lower “preponderance of the evidence” standard to find Warner guilty, refused at first to grant him a rehearing. The provost vacated the ruling against him in October 2011, but by that time he had entered another field and was no longer interested in finishing college. Ms. Warner, a high school history teacher in Fargo, North Dakota, said she receives phone calls every week from students and college employees describing a situation that “looks exactly like McCarthyism”.
Joe Cohn, legislative and policy director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), said that accusations of rape should be referred immediately to law enforcement and medical personnel, instead of having “the dean of the physics department, a professor in the English department, and a sophomore studying anthropology try to figure out if a date rape occurred”.
The most severe punishment a campus committee can mete out is expulsion – a solution that, in the worst-case scenario, would merely put a rapist back on the street.
“The Department of Education under the Obama administration has adopted shockingly broad new guidelines under Title IX that not only encompass off-campus behavior – that should be no business of a college or university – but also require the use of a low ‘preponderance of the evidence’ standard for sexual assault claims,” said Elizabeth Price Foley, a Florida International University law professor.
“The individuals who hear these claims are generally predisposed to find in favor of a female accuser, and young men are sometimes severely punished by colleges and universities based on little more than a bare accusation made by someone whose memory of events is questionable,” she added. Price Foley described the problem with the interpretation of Title IX as benefiting women at the expense of men in a “he said/she said” situation.
“The simple fact is that these internal boards were designed to adjudicate charges like plagiarism, not violent felonies,” said the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network in a letter to the White House. “The crime of rape just does not fit the capabilities of such boards. They often offer the worst of both worlds: they lack protections for the accused while often tormenting victims.”
While universities have a duty to address sexual-assault claims under Title IX, there are steps that can be taken short of leading the investigations, such as offering support and steering students to the proper authorities, Cohn of FIRE said.
“As long as campuses continue to adjudicate these cases, we’re going to see tremendous injustices in both directions, places where it seems clearly someone was truly guilty and going unpunished, cases where people are being severely punished without reliable evidence,” Cohn said. “And we’re going to see a lot of those situations until we start rethinking how we’re going to address this issue.”
Two lawsuits say the University of Massachusetts at Amherst is overzealous in its prosecution and punishment of male students in Title IX assault hearings. The two lawsuits filed by male students who were expelled for misconduct – one for sexual, the other physical (domestic violence) – allege that UMass denied accused male students the right to present key testimony or ask essential questions at their disciplinary panels. Both tell stories of male students who were already presumed guilty by university administrators.
On August 7, 2014, a former University of Massachusetts Amherst student who was expelled in the Fall of 2013 over allegations he sexually assaulted a female student sued the school, saying administrators unfairly and mistakenly found him responsible and discriminated against him because he is a man.
The suit claims the university violated Title IX, a federal law banning gender discrimination on college campuses, when the student, known only as John Doe, “was met with overall hostility, dismissal and pre-judgment as ‘guilty’ before the decision was even rendered”.
The suit demands that the student be paid damages “in an amount to be determined at trial” and that the university reverse its decision and expunge his disciplinary record.
“Right from the start, they treated me like I was the scum of the earth,” says one young man, who was a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst this past fall when he was told he was being investigated for sexual misconduct – and had just hours to move out of his dorm.
In his complaint, the male student alleges that the hearing process was inherently biased against men, and violated Title IX by denying his rights to equal protection. The university, he says, withheld information he needed for his defense, and wouldn’t let him have an attorney to speak for him.
He says he was grilled by a hearing board that he says was hostile and poorly trained. The panel ruled against him and he was expelled, which he says was emotionally devastating.
“I had some dark days,” he says. “It’s hard, you know? It hurts down to your bones.”
The recent lawsuit against UMass Amherst contends that the male student, a Connecticut native and a sophomore at the time, met the female student, identified in the suit as Jane Doe, on September 13, 2013 at a party in a friend’s dorm room. During a night of drinking, playing card games, and dancing with friends, the two students became friendly and flirted.
He says the female student invited him to her room, asked him to bring a condom, texted her roommate to reserve their bedroom, gave no signs of being drunk and repeatedly indicated that she wanted to have sex. So, he says, they did. Jane Doe not only spoke in a “coherent and intelligible manner,” but her texts from the evening “demonstrated correct spelling grammar, and punctuation”.
According to John Doe’s account, the evening is an almost a textbook example of the “yes means yes” consent definition being considered by the University of California. “Every step of the way, he expressly asked her ‘Can I do this? Should I do this?’ She agreed every step of the way,” according to Andrew Miltenberg, one of the attorneys representing the young man
However, Jane Doe told friends the next day she could not remember what occurred the night before. According to Doe, she filed a written complaint on her friends’ urging. It devolved into a ‘he said-she said’ situation.
Doe was expelled and effectively thwarted from transferring to another university, even though, according to the complaint, “no police report was ever filed and Jane Doe’s complaint never classified the evening of September 13 as ‘non-consensual’, ‘rape’, or ‘assault’.”
“Then we kissed and fooled around for a few more hours, and then eventually she told me her roommate was coming back at some point and that I should leave, but that she had a lot of fun,” he says.
In her version of events, according to a university report, she started to “freak out” shortly after he left. She began to feel pain throughout her body, and realized that something had happened, but she didn’t know what. She told the school she had been drinking and had no memory of most of the night – until a day later when she remembered “him having sex with me and holding me down”.
At her roommate’s urging, the female student went to the campus health center for an evaluation. The following day, she filed a complaint with the dean of students’ office.
In her written complaint, she never called what happened harassment, assault, or rape, according to the lawsuit.
Three days after the incident, the university told the male student he was under investigation for threatening behavior, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and violating community living standards, the lawsuit said. He was immediately ordered to move off campus and was barred from the premises except to attend classes. He alleges he was even denied medical care at a campus clinic and had to incur hospital expenses for an STD test.
Two months later, the university held a disciplinary hearing, the lawsuit said. But the male student had not been given copies of case documents beforehand, key pieces of evidence were not presented during the hearing, the male student was repeatedly interrupted, and questions he had were ignored, the suit said.
Two days later, the student was told he had been found “responsible” for three violations: “sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and community living standards,” and he would be expelled. The student’s appeal was denied.
The suit said the student’s academic career is ruined, “his overall economic future is completely compromised”, and he has suffered adverse health effects as a result of stress about the case, the lawsuit said.
“I think in a lot of cases, there are gender stereotypes of who should be responsible for drunk interactions involving students engaging in sex, and it always falls on the male,” said Kimberly Lau, who is also one of the attorneys for John Doe. “It’s persecuting the male students and allowing females to escape scrutiny for voluntarily ingesting alcohol, as well.”
“Invariably, most of these cases involve both parties engaging in voluntary ingestion of alcohol. Inevitably, the male accused is not allowed to use it as defense. However, the female complainant escapes scrutiny for it,” says Lau. “We’ve seen cases where the male gets another charge of underage drinking on top of sexual misconduct. It begs the question why isn’t the female charged with something similar? It’s kind of just ignored.”
Attorney Andrew Miltenberg, who represents about a dozen men suing their schools, says UMass Amherst officials knew that the school was being investigated by the federal government, and they were desperate to prove it was not soft on sexual assault.
James Haidak, a second semester senior student expelled for physical assault in December 2013, filed a civil complaint in the US District Court in March 2014. In his suit, Haidak alleges the school violated Title IX by denying him his “statutory right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex by selectively enforcing CSC [Code of Student Conduct] provisions against him while exhibiting indifference to CSC violations committed by” his accuser.
In spring of 2013, Haidak and his then-girlfriend, Lauren Gibney, were studying abroad in Barcelona under a third party, Academic Programs International (API). According to the complaint, Haidak’s mother received accounts from her son that his girlfriend was physically abusing him, which she says Gibney admitted to her in person.
On April 15, 2013, Gibney, who was allegedly drinking and depressed over a family member’s death according to the complaint, yelled at Haidak and grabbed his laptop. According to the complaint, the argument escalated to the point where Gibney “became physical, hitting and slapping” Haidak’s face, in addition to “strik[ing] him in the eye” and “kick[ing] him in the groin”. Haidak claims he held Gibney’s arms down to protect himself. Haidak says in the complaint he broke up with Gibney the next day, and she proceeded to file a report with API that Haidak had assaulted her, submitting photographs of “marks on her arms and wrists”.
In response to Haidak’s complaint, UMass filed a motion to dismiss the suit, painting a different account of the evening by citing accounts from Gibney on April 16, 2013, the day she spoke with UMass about the alleged incident. That account also does not state that Haidak hit her, though she describes him pushing her onto her bed and putting his hands around her neck. According to the motion to dismiss, Gibney stated “Everything is somewhat a blur to me but from what I can remember he was trying to hurt me in any way possible without actually hitting me.”
Haidak submitted a written account of the events on the night of April 15 along with photos of the eye injury he incurred from Gibney. The suit alleges that Berger had evidence that Gibney had violated the CSC by:
(i) physically assaulting Plaintiff both before and during the night in question; (ii) engaging in behavior which endangered both Plaintiff and his property; and (iii) providing a fundamentally dishonest account of the incident.
Yet, according to the complaint, Berger [Allison Berger, Associate Dean of Students and a separate defendant in Haidak’s suit] was “deliberately indifferent” to these allegations against Gibney.
“One of the reasons we allege gender bias is that he had made the school aware of physical violence he had suffered,” Haidak’s attorney, Luke Ryan, told The Daily Beast. “We believe the administrators engaged in sex discrimination against our client by disregarding allegations that he was a victim of domestic violence. I think their view was colored by rigid gender stereotypes.”
Despite the pending school trial (which was to take place the following fall semester), Gibney and Haidak continued their relationship. Haidak was told to have no contact with Gibney, but they texted and also engaged in consensual sex, according to the suit.
UMass ultimately expelled Haidak.
Both Haidak and Doe have been unable to transfer to accredited four-year universities. They are effectively in a limbo, denied college degrees or opportunities to pursue them, and, thus are barred from many job opportunities and graduate school pursuits.
University of Michigan
Drew Sterrett couldn’t know that when his friend slipped into his bottom bunk late one night in March of his freshman year, she was setting off a series of events that would end his college education. It was 2012, and Sterrett was an engineering student at the University of Michigan. The young woman, CB, lived down the hall. A group of students had been hanging out in the dorm on a Friday evening – there was drinking, but no one was incapacitated – when CB told Sterrett that her roommate had family members staying in their room and she needed a place to spend the night. Sterrett loaned her a shirt to sleep in and assumed she’d crash on the mat he and his roommate kept for visitors. Instead, CB came and lay down next to him on his bed. The two had made out in the past but had no serious romantic interest in each other.
They talked quietly, started kissing, and then things escalated. When it became clear they were going to have intercourse, CB asked Sterrett about a condom, and he retrieved one from a drawer. Their sex became so loud and went on for so long that Sterrett’s roommate, unable to sleep in the upper bunk, sent Sterrett a Facebook message around 3 AM: “Dude, you and [CB] are being abnoxtiously [sic] loud and inconsiderate, so expect to pay back in full tomorrow …”
The two finally finished and went to sleep. The next morning, Sterrett says CB told him that she wanted to keep their interlude private. They saw each other frequently in the dorm until the school year ended.
Sterrett was home in New York for the summer when he was contacted by Heather Cowan, program manager of the Office of Student Conflict Resolution, and told to make himself available for a Skype interview with herself and another administrator. No reason was given.
As the interview got under way, Sterrett realized that CB must have told them something disturbing about their one-time sexual liaison. Becoming concerned about the tenor of the questions, he asked the administrators if he should consult a lawyer. He says they told him that if he ended the interview in order to seek counsel that fact would be reported to the university and the investigation would continue without his input. He kept talking. He told Cowan that he and CB had had a consensual encounter while his roommate was only a few feet away. As the interview was coming to a close, Sterrett says the administrators told him this matter was confidential and that he should not talk to anyone about it, especially not fellow students who might be witnesses on his behalf.
Later, Sterrett would consult a lawyer and file a lawsuit against the university alleging he’d been deprived of his constitutional right to due process. This account is drawn from the legal filings in that ongoing case.
Cowan told Sterrett over Skype that there would be restrictions placed on him when he returned to campus for his sophomore year. Sterrett and CB were part of a special program called the Michigan Research Community, and members lived together in a residence hall. Although Sterrett and CB had continued to live on the same floor until the end of the school year, and she hadn’t complained about his presence, Cowan told Sterrett that he would be removed from the dorm. He was also told that he could not be in the vicinity of CB, which meant he was in effect barred from entering the dorm, cutting him off from most of his friends.
In an affidavit sworn on Sterrett’s behalf by LC, a friend of CB’s and her sophomore year roommate. LC stated that in July she received a call from an “emotionally upset” CB who explained that her mother had found her diary, which “contained descriptions of romantic and sexual experiences, drug use, and drinking”. (CB confirmed the contents of the diary in her own deposition.) During the phone call, CB asked LC if she remembered the night CB had sex with Sterrett. LC didn’t, because CB had never mentioned it. Now CB told her, “I said no, no, and then I gave in.” Eventually, as described in CB’s deposition, CB’s mother called the university to report that CB would be making a complaint against Sterrett. CB’s mother drove her to campus to meet with Heather Cowan.
At the beginning of his sophomore year, Drew Sterrett was in limbo. He did not know whether he would face further disciplinary action as a result of the accusation against him, and no formal written charge was ever issued. The single, cryptic Skype interrogation was to be his sole hearing with campus administrators. He never met them in person. Sterrett’s suit against the university accuses it of violating his constitutional right to due process. But as he waited out the fall, often there didn’t seem to be any process.
Through September and October, he heard nothing further about the charge. Unbeknownst to him, CB was having second thoughts, because she wasn’t sure she wanted Sterrett to be able to read her statement against him. The only word he received from school administrators during this period was an October email from Cowan about an appearance of “retaliatory contact” after CB saw him near her residence (Sterrett was walking with a friend who was putting his bike away at Sterrett’s old dorm) and contacted Cowan.
On Nov. 9, 2012, Sterrett was given a one-page document titled “Summary of Witness Testimony and Review of Other Evidence”, consisting primarily of summaries of statements from anonymous witnesses who claimed details that were not in CB’s initial complaint.
The document made clear to Sterrett that CB was claiming that she had said “no” during their encounter. He put together a lengthy rebuttal, writing “I cannot state it more clearly that this is untrue. I asked her if she wanted to have sex; she said ‘yes’.” This was corroborated by Starrett’s bunkmate who complained about their noisy sex-making and said he would have heard a ‘no’.
Sterrett’s rebuttal also noted that Cowan’s document failed to mention the role CB’s mother played in bringing the accusation against him after she found her daughter’s diary. CB’s roommate, LC, said in an affidavit that over the summer CB’s mother had called her repeatedly warning her not to talk to Sterrett and to take CB’s side in all proceedings. LC stated that she never saw any change in CB’s behavior from the time of the alleged assault until the end of freshman year. But, she said, CB’s personality changed dramatically after her mother found her diary and the fall semester began. In her affidavit, LC said it pained her to speak against her friend, but she stated: “It is my belief, based on my personal observations and conversations with CB, that it is possible CB manufactured a story about a sexual assault in response to the conflict CB described occurring between her and her mother in the summer of 2012.”
[The most cited research on false rape allegations, Kanin 1994, lists “alibi” as the most common (56%) reason for false narratives.]
On Nov. 30, Sterrett received Cowan’s final “Sexual Misconduct Investigation Report”, which failed to take note of anything he had written in his rebuttal and included allegations that either CB herself did not corroborate or was unsupported or contradicted by the evidence.
The final report came to this conclusion: “[I]t is determined that the Respondent engaged in sexual intercourse with the Complainant without her consent and that that activity is so severe as to create a hostile environment.” His punishment was that he was suspended from college until July 2016 – after CB graduated. In order for the university to consider reinstating him, he would have to agree that he had engaged in sexual misconduct. Whether or not he returned, the finding would stay on his permanent record. Sterrett’s lawsuit says a university official acknowledged to him that these sanctions would “limit his educational, employment and career opportunities”.
With the help of a lawyer, Sterrett filed an appeal to the Office of Student Conflict Resolution. He included affidavits from classmates who said their words had been misconstrued and even falsified. The university’s response was to stand by its finding that Sterrett was responsible for sexual misconduct but to change the reason. Now Cowan issued an addendum stating that Sterrett had committed sexual misconduct because CB was too drunk to consent (in her deposition, CB acknowledged that while she had been drinking, she was not incapacitated).
This finding required Sterrett to leave the university, but he had already decided not to return to school after winter break of his sophomore year. Sterrett felt the restrictions put on his movements in order to avoid running into CB – he could be expelled if she saw him and felt his presence was “retaliatory” – made it impossible for him to be at school.
Sterrett filed another appeal, this one to Michigan’s university Appeals Board. In July 2013, it upheld the sexual misconduct finding, though it agreed to place Sterrett on disciplinary probation instead of suspension, but with onerous conditions. He would be barred from any university housing and was prohibited from enrolling in any class in which CB was enrolled (and thus prohibited from registering and enrolling in classes until CB had finalized her schedule). He declined to return.
In April of 2014, Sterrett filed suit against the university. The suit states that the public university violated his 14th Amendment rights of due process and that Michigan violated its own procedures for disciplinary hearings, which call for written notice of allegations against a student, sufficient time to prepare for an arbitration or other meeting (there was no arbitration or meeting), knowledge of the names of witnesses, the opportunity to pose questions to the complainant or other witnesses, and more. As a result of these violations, his suit says, he was subjected to a process that was “capricious, reckless, incomplete, [and] lacked fundamental fairness”.
In its motion to dismiss, the university outlines its version of events. Michigan asserts Sterrett was given fair notice of the charges against him, citing the fact that Sterrett’s own suit stated that he “gleaned” that he was being accused of sexual assault from his Skype interrogation. The motion states that Sterrett was given several opportunities to file his rebuttals and appeals, concluding, “That’s not lack of due process. It’s abundant process.” It also noted that Sterrett decided to file a lawsuit rather than return to the university under the sanctions and restrictions it offered.
Sterrett’s lawyer, Deborah L. Gordon, said that like many similarly accused young men, Sterrett believed that once a responsible investigation was undertaken, everything would be straightened out. “He had no idea he was on his way out no matter what he said or what the facts were,” she said. She hopes to get the case to a jury, but she says the university is making every legal effort to delay. Sterrett should be graduating from college next spring, but the sexual misconduct charge against him has made it virtually impossible for him to be accepted as a transfer student elsewhere. He was accepted to one well-regarded university, but the offer was rescinded when the school heard of his disciplinary finding at Michigan. Now 22, he’s hoping that if his suit is successful, he will be able to finish his education – some day.
Kevin Parisi is 5 feet, 5 inches tall and barely weighs 120 pounds. He’s hunched over and walking with a cane after back surgery earlier this year. He suffers from severe anxiety and digestive disorders, along with extreme allergies and panic attacks.
But in his junior year at Drew University in Madison, NJ, Parisi was accused of forcing a fellow student – one who is now a professional athlete – to have sex with him.
He was kicked off campus and placed under investigation. Three months went by before he was found “not responsible” in a campus disciplinary proceeding. Local police never filed charges against him.
Being accused, however, was enough to cause his world to collapse. Now he is suing Drew for assuming he was guilty from the outset and treating him as such until it was determined he was innocent.
He is also suing his accuser and her boyfriend at the time, claiming they concocted the false allegation to preserve their relationship.
“The whole world seems hopeless and like, your heart pounds and the world – the walls – kind of close in on you.” Parisi, 21, spoke of his frequent panic attacks, which he says were made worse by the allegations. “It’s just, it’s … If you haven’t experienced one, I don’t know how you could understand. It’s just really – dread. A sense of dread. Nothing’s ever going to be better,” he said.
Parisi considers himself lucky because he was found not guilty, which is not the norm in these cases.
His lawyers, Solomon Rubin, Andrew Miltenberg and Kimberly Lau – who are representing at least three of the 30 men who have filed lawsuits – say they get multiple phone calls every week from college students whose due process rights were violated after being accused of sexual assault on campus. Unlike Parisi, however, most are found guilty by their universities.
Parisi’s lawsuit accuses the university of sex discrimination and violating its own guidelines on conducting investigations. He also claims the university failed to investigate whether his accusers deliberately filed a false report.
Parisi said he was placed on academic probation after his grades slipped – something he attributed to the stress of the rape accusation.
In her response to Parisi’s lawsuit, the accuser denies all allegations against her but does not tell her version of events.
Her then-boyfriend claimed in a motion to dismiss Parisi’s lawsuit that he was never told the sex was consensual, and that “as far as [he] was aware, his girlfriend was sexually assaulted by Parisi”. The motion claims he reported the allegations “in good faith and without knowledge of their alleged falsity”.
The U.S. District Court in Newark, NJ, has not ruled on the former boyfriend’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, and he has since been dropped by his attorney for lack of payment, according to court documents.
At issue is what happened one morning in September 2013 – even the date is disputed, with Parisi saying it was Sept. 24 and the university saying it was Sept. 10.
Parisi said in his lawsuit that he awoke at about 10 AM to find the woman, an acquaintance with whom he occasionally smoked cigarettes, sitting on his dorm-room desk.
She told him she had just broken up with her boyfriend. “She was completely calm,” Parisi said. He then asked if she wanted to join him in his bed and she said “yes”.
“There was no more talk of the boyfriend or the breakup after that,” Parisi said. She answered “yes” when he asked her multiple times if she wanted to have sex.
The woman is at least two inches taller than him and outweighs him by 20 pounds, Parisi said, claiming that he couldn’t have forced her to do anything she didn’t want to do.
Fearing for her relationship with her boyfriend, she told him not to tell anyone about their encounter, Parisi’s lawsuit claimed. He agreed. But she told someone else, a female friend who was a fellow Drew student, according to court documents.
Parisi said the woman visited him later the same day and again told Parisi not to tell anyone what had happened. Parisi again agreed. But sometime later that day, she told her boyfriend, according to Parisi’s lawsuit. He then accompanied her to file a sexual assault complaint against Parisi with campus police.
Parisi’s lawsuit alleges the woman called him after she filed the complaint and told him not to worry because she would tell investigators that the sex was consensual, adding that her boyfriend had forced her to file the complaint. She never followed through, Parisi said.
A day later, Parisi was summoned to meet with his resident adviser, who informed him that he would be barred from campus, except for his classes and the cafeteria, starting immediately. He was also informed that the university had put in place a “no-contact order” between Parisi, his accuser and her boyfriend.
Parisi, who said he was too scared to tell his parents what was going on, moved in with a friend who had an off-campus apartment. Forced to sleep on a dirty kitchen floor, Parisi said his medical conditions became worse.
Parisi’s lawsuit alleges that the woman also asked her friend to lie about their conversation the previous day. At some point after this conversation, the woman’s mother allegedly called the friend to scold her for not lying, the complaint says.
Even though Parisi was immediately kicked off campus, Parisi said that it wasn’t until a week later that he spoke to two university investigators. He did not immediately seek counsel because he was scared.
A week after the sexual encounter, according to Parisi, his accuser called him from a blocked phone number to apologize for “ruining” his life. “She sounded like she was crying when she said it,” Parisi said.
Parisi informed university police that she broke the no-contact order, as it was his understanding the order worked both ways, and that her complaint was false. Drew University’s response to Parisi’s lawsuit, however, only states that it placed the order on Parisi. Drew officials claimed they “did not impose sanctions” on the woman for violating the no-contact order. The university also didn’t impose sanctions on her for allegedly filing a false claim of sexual misconduct.
A few days after filing the university complaint against Parisi, the woman’s boyfriend called Madison police to report that Parisi had raped her, according to Parisi’s complaint. Even though the university’s policy is to conclude investigations into sexual assault claims “within 15 working days of the date of the complaint,” because the police had been called, the university suspended its investigation.
Parisi said he found out about the matter being in police hands when his father called campus security several weeks after the initial encounter. During this time, Parisi said his anxiety and digestive disorders got worse due to the stress of the situation, and he was taken to the emergency room for exhaustion and dehydration.
It was at this point that his parents finally learned what was happening. Parisi then moved back in with his family – 45 minutes away from campus. After the move, he sought legal counsel, who discovered that his accuser and her boyfriend didn’t cooperate with Madison police following the initial rape accusation.
Finally, in late November, Drew University reopened its investigation of the matter under pressure from Parisi’s father and after Parisi’s lawyer discovered that the two complainants were not cooperating with police.
Around Nov. 30, 2013, the woman again asked her friend to lie about the sexual encounter with Parisi – this time to the university’s Human Rights Committee, according to Parisi’s complaint. Drew, according to Parisi’s lawsuit, never interviewed the accuser’s friend during its investigation. The university, a private school of about 2,400 students, denied Parisi’s assertion, saying the friend rejected repeated requests for a statement about the alleged assault.
On Dec. 17, 2013 – nearly three months after the incident – Drew University informed Parisi he had been found “not responsible” for violating the university’s sexual misconduct policy.
A month later, the Madison Police Department sent an email to Drew saying it found no wrongdoing on Parisi’s part, which was not disputed by the university.
As for what happens next, Parisi said he wants to become a pharmacologist but doesn’t know where he will complete his education. “What happened at that school could happen at another school,” Parisi said, his voice shaking. “I don’t see any way that this – I don’t see how these – the laws at hand don’t protect me from this happening again.”
He definitely won’t go back to Drew. “Even driving past the campus can give me a panic attack.”
In the Occidental case, college officials expelled an 18-year-old freshman for sexual assault last year after ruling that his classmate, then 17, was too drunk to consent to sex.
The young man is now suing Occidental in Los Angeles civil court to reverse its decision, arguing that the college failed to give him a fair hearing, follow its own sexual misconduct policy and provide sufficient evidence for the finding.
He has identified himself as John Doe in the lawsuit, claiming that using his real name would invade his privacy.
He said he had learned in campus presentations on sexual misconduct that those who are too drunk cannot give consent for sex. But he said he believed his classmate was lucid enough to consent.
The college’s investigative report, performed by an outside firm, said both parties agreed on the following facts: Both had been drinking, she went to his room, took off her shirt while dancing, made out with him and returned to his room later for sex, asking if he had a condom. When friends stopped by the room to ask if she was OK, she told them yes.
The crux of the case was whether she was too drunk to understand what she was doing – and whether he knew or should have known of her impaired condition.
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office concluded that witnesses agreed that both parties were drunk but “willing participants exercising bad judgment”, according to a report by its investigating deputy. The office declined to file rape charges, citing insufficient evidence. The college hired an outside attorney to examine the investigative report and offer a conclusion.
The attorney, Marilou F. Mirkovich, found that the young man did not know that his classmate was too drunk to consent because he, too, was inebriated. But, citing the college’s policy that does not allow alcohol or drug consumption to excuse sexual misconduct, Mirkovich found that he should have known and was responsible for the assault.
A sober person would have seen that the classmate had been swigging vodka, slurring her words, vomiting and walking unsteadily, causing her worried friends to remove her from his room, she concluded.
Occidental officials affirmed the conclusion and rejected the young man’s appeal. In his lawsuit he argued that the college denied him the right to an attorney, failed to allow all of his questions to witnesses, refused his request for a three-person hearing panel and ignored critical evidence, among other things.
“Occidental is turning drunken sex into rape,” he said. “In an effort to curb the epidemic of sexual assault on campus, the pendulum is swinging too far the other way.”
In a court filing, Occidental called the young man’s assertions “meritless” and said its sexual misconduct policy was neutral and fair. The case is expected to advance to a court hearing later this year.
The woman’s Pasadena attorney, Lauren Teukolsky, said the evidence was overwhelming that her client was incapacitated. Teukolsky decried the young man’s implications that the woman was lying as “offensive and outrageous”.
The one-night encounter and its aftermath have devastated the lives of both parties.
The female student has dropped out of school for now, is in therapy and is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, her attorney said.
The male student said he had been physically attacked and called a rapist and is still struggling to restart his college career. One out-of-state school that accepted him earlier this year abruptly rescinded its acceptance on the day he arrived after receiving an anonymous phone call about his case, he said.
“It’s been a soul-crushing experience,” he said.
He called it consensual. She called it rape. He was expelled.
The young man at its center – an honors student, an aspiring law student and former high school class president identified in court filings only as John Doe – says he was wrongfully accused and found guilty of sexual misconduct by a school eager to quash criticism that it did not take assault allegations from female students seriously.
“To correct one wrong – its past unresponsiveness to female complaints – [Swarthmore] committed another wrong against John based on his gender,” his lawyer, Patricia M. Hamill, wrote in court filings. “He was a male accused of sexual misconduct at the wrong time and in the wrong place.”
It centered on two sexual encounters he had with a classmate in 2011. While neither involved intercourse, the two later had sex, which the woman said she had initiated.
When she reported him to Swarthmore’s administrators 19 months later, she said that the two earlier sexual encounters had been coerced.
The first time around, the school investigated for two months – interviewing both the accuser and the accused multiple times – before closing the case in January 2013 without filing disciplinary charges.
When the school reopened the case that May – six months after the woman came forward and two years after the alleged assaults occurred – administrators seemed determined to make an example of him, Hamill contends in the suit.
At his disciplinary hearing, members of the board were overcome with emotion as the woman testified, Hamill said. When it was her client’s turn to address them, one member interrupted his presentation to ask about the alleged victim’s welfare, according to the suit.
Hamill contends that in handling the case, Swarthmore departed from its stated disciplinary policies.
“The clear inference to be drawn from the panel’s extraordinary conduct . . . is that the panel had predetermined that [she] was the victim and John was the victimizer,” Hamill wrote. “John was the whipping boy that Swarthmore needed to demonstrate its own zero tolerance standard.”
Swarthmore College has vacated the findings of a campus judicial process that led to a lawsuit that charged the college with gender-based discrimination against male students accused of sexual misconduct. The federal judge in the case then agreed to a joint motion from the college and the student (identified only as John Doe) to dismiss the lawsuit
The joint motion for dismissal said that after the student was expelled and the college president denied his appeal, “additional information became available which both parties believe raises questions about the impartiality of the college judiciary committee panel that heard John’s case. On the basis of this new information, John has requested that the college vacate the panel’s findings and sanction. The college agrees that the new information raises sufficient questions about the fairness of the hearing to warrant vacating the panel’s findings and sanction.”
The former student would be required to have the case heard under the campus judicial system before being eligible to return. But the joint statement says that he has since enrolled at another college and has “no intention” of seeking to return to Swarthmore.
The former student’s lawsuit charged that there were numerous flaws in Swarthmore’s handling of the case, including that an investigation first concluded that he had done nothing wrong, but that the finding was reopened after the college was accused by students of failing to properly investigate sexual assault allegations – and the Education Department launched an inquiry into those charges. The student’s expulsion, the suit said, was a result of all the outside attention, and not the merits of the case.
Peter Yu was headed toward a bright future when he got involved in a one-night sexual encounter.
A female student filed a charge of sexual assault against Yu a year after the encounter occurred. In court filings, Yu claims the encounter was consensual and that Vassar ignored evidence, such as the female student’s friendly Facebook messages saying she had “a wonderful time” and was “really sorry” she led him on.
In addition, Yu contends in the court filing that the university refused his request to have a student on the hearing panel, which was made up of three colleagues of the victim’s father, a Vassar professor.
“Vassar has deprived Peter Yu, on the basis of his sex, of his rights to due process and equal protection through the improper administration of and/or the existence, in its current state, of Defendant Vassar’s guidelines and regulations,” Yu’s complaint against Vassar reads, noting the university’s alleged acceptance of the accuser’s statements “at face-value” and failure to record his own statements, lack of a health examination or rape kit, and refusal to accept the Facebook messages in which the accuser said Yu “did nothing wrong” and that she would ” ‘stand up for [Yu]’ if any charges were brought.”
The complaint continues, “Vassar’s guidelines and regulations are set up to disproportionately affect the male student population of the Vassar College community as a result of the higher incidence of female complainants of sexual misconduct against male complainants of sexual misconduct.”
Yu’s complaint also seeks damages for negligence, breach of contract and several other charges. Yu also says he was treated unfairly because the accuser’s father is a colleague of the professors who adjudicated his case.
Peter Yu, a Vassar student accused of sexually assaulting a female student last year, wasn’t allowed legal representation during the college’s investigation of his case, according to his lawyer, Andrew Miltenberg, an attorney with Nesenoff & Miltenberg in New York. As a non-native English speaker from China, Yu wasn’t able to tell his story, according to a suit citing Title IX violations filed against the college.
“If you were a senior in college and had paid $200,000 for your education and were hoping to go to medical school, would you want to put all that on the line without a lawyer?” Miltenberg, who maintains his client’s innocence, said in a telephone interview.
Yu was expelled in March. Vassar officials declined to comment.
University of Colorado, Boulder
A lawsuit filed in November 2014 says that John Doe, a junior, met a female student at a campus party in September 2013 and they went to his room to have what he described as consensual sex. She texted him the next night asking him to join her at another party, but he declined, saying he was out of town. She later described the encounter to her resident adviser, who called police.
Although the Boulder Police Department found no evidence of sexual assault, CU charged the man with four policy violations: non-consensual sexual intercourse, non-consensual sexual contact, violating the discrimination and harassment policy and procedures, and possessing or using alcohol.
The man’s appeal was denied, and he was handed down a three-semester suspension that his lawyers described as unprecedented and disproportionate.
“CU-Boulder has created an environment where an accused male student is fundamentally denied due process by being prosecuted through the conduct process under a presumption of guilt,” according to the complaint. “Such a one-sided process deprived John Doe, as a male student, of educational opportunities at CU-Boulder on the basis of his sex.”
His lawyers write in the complaint that CU’s “investigation was slanted in favor of Jane Doe and took her statements at face-value, while mischaracterizing John Doe’s statements.”
“When questioning John Doe throughout the process, their line of questioning was hostile in nature, more akin to cross-examination in tenor, and desired to (elicit) a confession, rather than an objective attempt to factually reconstruct an event,” according to the complaint.
His lawyers argue that CU administrators did not advise him of support services on campus, were inflexible with meeting dates and times, did not investigate important evidence and did not interview several eyewitnesses.
They also claim that the woman made a false complaint because she was angry when she “realized he’s just another douchy frat dude” and she reported the assault because she wanted to scare him, according to the complaint.
“John Doe” is seeking an undetermined amount of money and that CU reverse its findings against the student, expunge his disciplinary record and destroy any record of the sexual misconduct investigation.
Anthony Villar was finishing his junior year at Philadelphia University when he was expelled.
He sued the school in May, three months after a disciplinary board composed of one faculty member, one student, and one administrator concluded he had assaulted his ex-girlfriend sexually.
By all accounts, Villar and his accuser had dated for two years before the night of the alleged assault. Hours after they had sex, the couple dined at her parents’ house and stayed to watch a movie. She invited him back the next day.
Only after Villar admitted to his girlfriend that he had cheated on her with another woman did she tell school authorities she had been raped, said his lawyer, William Spade.
The disciplinary board took less than 45 minutes to find Villar guilty of sexual misconduct and expel him.
Under school policy, Spade was barred from aiding Villar at the hearing. Acting on his lawyer’s advice, Villar chose not to participate.
Villar’s complaints against the university’s disciplinary process echo those voiced in several of the Title IX suits filed against schools such as Vassar, Duke, Columbia, and Delaware State.
All cite a lack of access to lawyers and, in some cases, the chance to cross-examine their accusers.
Others question the makeup of disciplinary boards, which are frequently composed of some combination of administrators, faculty, and students, who rarely have backgrounds in sexual assault, investigative technique, or the law.
Many of the suits take issue with a 2011 mandate from the U.S. Department of Education that campuses lower the standard of proof needed in sexual-misconduct hearings.
Colleges now use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard in sexual-misconduct cases, meaning that an assault was more likely to have occurred than not.
In his case against Duke University, Lewis McLeod recently won a court ruling blocking his expulsion while his lawsuit proceeds. A North Carolina judge found that McLeod had demonstrated a “likelihood of success” in his claims that Duke violated his rights in the disciplinary hearing process. McLeod asserted in the lawsuit that the sex was consensual and that he immediately stopped when she began to cry.
University of the South
In September 2011, a US District Court awarded a student $26,500 after he sued the University of the South over violation of its sexual misconduct policies and procedures. The student had been accused of rape and ultimately withdrew from the university. However, those damages were awarded for negligence; an additional charge of sex discrimination was dismissed.
An unnamed male Wesleyan student sued the college under Title IX. According to the lawsuit:
…due to the actions, omissions, errors, and the flawed procedures, and/or negligence and overall failure to provide Plaintiff with an expected standard of due process, concerning the wrongful allegations of sexual misconduct made against John Doe, a male, graduating senior student at Defendant Wesleyan in good standing, and a respected member of the Wesleyan Student Assembly and a fraternity brother, with an otherwise unblemished record.
In July, 2012, Dezmine Wells, a former star basketball player at Xavier, was accused of sexual assault by a female student. A campus investigation quickly determined that Wells was responsible for the assault, and the college moved to expel him, according to a complaint filed by Wells’s lawyer.
At the same time, the woman who accused Wells had undergone a medical exam, according to the complaint. A lack of trauma indicated the sex was consensual and, based on that and other evidence, a county prosecutor decided not to charge Wells with rape. Wells sued Xavier for expelling him, citing violations of his rights under Title IX.
Wells asserted in the lawsuit that he had consensual sex with a woman after she took off most of her clothes, kissed him and gave him a lap dance during a game of “Truth or Dare”. She later recanted her charges, he claimed in the lawsuit.
Wells sued for sex discrimination and negligence, among other things. He asserted that Xavier used inadequately trained investigators and advisors and improperly placed the burden of proof on him to demonstrate his innocence.
In April, Wells settled his lawsuit against Xavier University. Wells now plays basketball at the University of Maryland.
University of Tennessee Chatagooga
C.D. Mock, the wrestling coach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill started a blog to share his frustration with the handling of sexual assault cases on college campuses. Guilt or innocence is left up to the university, not the criminal justice system, he complains.
His son, Corey Mock, is a nationally ranked wrestler. A former UNC-Chapel Hill student, he was a star athlete at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga until the senior was accused of rape in March 2014 and was expelled in December of that year.
“Our case is a classic ‘he said, she said’ case,” C.D. Mock said. “You don’t kick someone out of school or punish somebody because ‘he said, she said’.”
Assault on young men on college campuses: a father’s perspective
My son, Corey Mock was accused of sexual assault by a young lady named Molly Morris [she had published her name previously] while at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga in the Spring of 2014. I am not writing this to defend my son; the truth is, no one really cares – that’s life. I am writing this because I don’t want to ever read about this happening to another wrestler again.
My son asked Molly Morris if she wanted to go into the bedroom; she said “yes”. They both lay in the bed and began kissing. He removed her pants and performed oral sex. At some point, he stopped to remove his clothes and she removed her bra. He climbed on top of her and after having some trouble entering her, she reached down and guided him inside her. At NO TIME during this encounter did Ms. Morris communicate in any way that she did not wish to engage in sexual activity, verbal or otherwise. She does not dispute that any of these details happened, she merely says she does “not remember” (a toxicology exam a day later was negative confirming there was no drug in her system). Two days later, after a series of very pleasant text message exchanges between the two of them which are in evidence, she suddenly informs him that she “never gave consent to sex”.
At the initial hearing conducted by the school, my son was found innocent of all charges. One week later, with absolutely NO additional evidence or explanation, the judge simply reversed her decision.
There has been a fundamental change on college campuses all over this country. In this current culture of “hookups” in lieu of dating, with women every bit as sexually aggressive as men on campuses, parents, wrestling coaches, and wrestlers heading to college need to understand the extent of this new danger. I am not just the father of a wrestler, I am a Division 1 wrestling coach as well and I am very familiar with the college culture.
If a woman accuses you of sexual assault at UTC, you will immediately be removed from the wrestling team prior to any investigation or determination of guilt. YOU HAVE NO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS IN COLLEGE. The colleges have taken the position that you relinquish your rights when you sign the application and the courts have upheld this. This is not just at UTC, this is everywhere. The University or College will do everything in its power to prosecute you and kick you out of school regardless of the evidence and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, and they know it. You can sue the school and the alleged victim as we are doing, but the minimum cost to sue is $50,000 and the NCAA isn’t going to give you your year back if you win.
This sounds nuts right? This can’t be true! Thanks to our liberal politicians who cater to the very well funded and well organized feminist groups, the Dept. of Education through Title IX (sound familiar) has put every college in the country on notice that if they find a college has not been “responsive” to sexual assault accusations they could lose their federal funding. Colleges are scared to death and their reaction is to crucify young men who are accused. Why are we not hearing more about this? Because most people can’t afford (or choose not to afford) to sue the schools and therefore, the schools are not being held accountable. The Duke Lacrosse case and currently the UVA fiasco are two exceptions that are in the media.
Morally and ethically I want to say, don’t have sex until you get married. We all know that would be naive. Ignoring this problem because it’s edgy would be irresponsible. Having said that, my strong and now experienced advice to you is if you choose to have sexual relations with a girl, get her on video on your phone consenting verbally. Make sure it is clear on the film that she is of sound mind. There is little else that will help you if she suddenly decides she made a mistake and accuses you of assault.
Relaying the specific explicit details of this event bring myself, my son, and our family no pleasure. This has been a very difficult and heart breaking experience. Corey will lose the opportunity to compete his last year and he emphatically denies doing anything wrong; we intend to prove that in a court of law. But, we agreed not to be silent; and to do everything we can to help prevent this from happening to others.
[1/11/2015 – We are finally out of “school court” and in a REAL court system with a REAL judge where they require REAL evidence and are not subject to REAL politics. A place where unlike the colleges, the feminists and activists pushing the man-hating agendas have no power or influence. A real judge reviewed the case and SHE ordered him back in school.]
In other blog posts, C.D. Mock wrote:
When you sign an application to go to college, you waive your constitutional rights. The courts have upheld this stating that it’s considered a contract. Almost all schools have established behavioral policies related to drugs, alcohol, fighting, theft, sexual assault, and many other issues. Those policies often deem your child to be guilty until proven innocent. And, within the college system, the determination of your final judgement and consequences occur often at the sole discretion of one single official. And, you have no recourse.
Universities are educational institutions; we pay them to provide an education to our children. That is their expertise and is contained in every college mission statement. Officials at colleges have no formal law enforcement training or education. They are not lawyers, police, or judges. They are administrators, teachers, and counselors. Why has our government, specifically the Dept. of Education utilizing Title IX, put educational institutions in charge of law enforcement issues with our children? How did they do this? By clearly communicating that if the schools do not play police, jury, and judge to sexual assault accusations and deal with them harshly, they could lose their federal funding. This leaves college officials with very little choice.
The solution is common sense. Women are going to be sexually assaulted. And, men are going to be falsely accused of sexual assault. We have allowed our entire society to be so sexually open that these young people are bombarded constantly via TV, movies, magazines, internet, etc. with SEX every hour of every day. The feminist activist groups take the position that the answer to this problem is to lock up every male accused of sexual assault. They react this way because for years it was extremely difficult for a rape victim to get a fair shake in the legal system let alone at schools that brushed them under the carpet.
How about this? Let’s all acknowledge this “yes means yes” idea sucks. The idea that college kids are going to whip out cell phones and record their partner saying “yes” just before sex is just stupid.
Let’s take the positive things from “yes means yes” and throw out the crap. Few would argue that if a female is fully conscious, kissing and making sexual advances to a male, that this does not constitute “consent”. Now, consent to what? Only the female knows this. Once actions that clearly constitute some form of sexual activity exist, the female needs to say “no” to set the lines of behavior for it not to go further. So, the male knows either by a verbal “yes” or by her clear actions that he has a green light. That green light exists until she puts out the red light, which she can do at anytime with either a verbal “no” or any reasonable form of resistance.
The idea that a woman who is intoxicated has no control is ridiculous. Hate to break it to you feminists out there but the whole idea on college campus’ today is to drink alcohol in social environments to reduce inhibitions. I agree that at some point, given enough alcohol, one becomes unconscious and incapable of control; no one would disagree that person needs to be protected. But, to suggest that a girl who has had two drinks is incapable of saying “no” is ludicrous.
If the colleges have to play court to some extent then let them up to a point where there exists a minimum standard that determines the issue needs to be dealt with by the experts. In all college policy statements there should be a clear time in any case where it gets booted to the courts if the college can’t provide a fair resolution. If someone is clearly going to lose his education by being kicked out of school, only a real court should be permitted to do this. That means real evidence and proof must exist.
William Paterson University
January 29, 2015
Sexual assault charges against five low-income minority William Paterson University students have been dismissed, but the students’ status at the school remained unclear as defense attorneys criticized the school’s internal investigation and statements made by its president.
A grand jury declined to indict the students, all of whom are 18 years old. The five men have not been allowed back to the school since shortly after the alleged incident. The woman’s identity has never been made public and her role in the investigation is unknown.
University President Kathleen Waldron said shortly after the incident that she was “angry and dismayed that this crime was committed on our campus and allegedly by students”. She went on to refer to the incident as a “criminal act”.
It was not clear whether the five men will be allowed to return to William Paterson. Waldron issued a statement saying that school officials “respect the decision reached through this legal process” but adding that the university “has its own student conduct process that is independent of the state’s legal proceedings”.
Defense attorney Ron Ricci asserted that his client and the other men had been “expelled” without a hearing.
Laura Sutnick, another of the defense attorneys, said the men received letters notifying them they were barred from campus and would have a university hearing on the matter. She said she believed the hearing would be held after the grand jury made its determination. Her client, she said, has not decided whether he would return to William Paterson. “He may be cautious about going back to that school; that school didn’t support them,” she said. “The damage that was done to them can never be repaired.”
Sutnick said her client was relieved after the decision, adding that he had been unable to find work while he’s been out of school, at least partly because of publicity over the charges against him. She said those charges and the events that followed would affect the defendants “for life”.
“I’m pretty sure he was too drunk to make a good lie out of shit”, according to the accuser.
A May 2015 lawsuit “arises out of a miscarriage of justice: the expulsion of the plaintiff from Amherst College in December 2013. The plaintiff is a first generation Asian-American, admitted to Amherst in reliance on substantial financial aid. In the Fall of his senior year, he was accused of having committed rape when, as a sophomore, he had engaged in consensual sex with a female student who now claimed to have withdrawn her consent during the course of the sexual conduct.”
“The disciplinary action was undertaken during a period of relentless and well-publicized accusations against Amherst for failing to protect female students from sexual assault, and while the College was under intense pressure to demonstrate that it was now willing and capable of prosecuting sexual assailants.”
“In the just six weeks from the date the complaint was filed against him, the plaintiff found himself held guilty of assault, expelled from the College, ejected from the campus and branded a sex offender, with his entire future in ruins. The actions taken by the defendants resulted from a deeply flawed investigatory and disciplinary process during which the plaintiff was denied the most rudimentary elements of fairness.”
“Worse, after the disciplinary process had run its short course, the plaintiff discovered, and submitted to the College, irrefutable documentary evidence – text messages previously concealed by the complainant – which disclosed that the very night the sexual encounter occurred, the complainant had admitted that not only had she consented to the sex, but that she was its moving force. Nevertheless, Amherst has refused to take any action to correct or remediate the wrong committed against plaintiff. By this action, the plaintiff seeks to right these grievous wrongs, complete his education, salvage his reputation and restore his emotional and psychological well-being.”
And in a potentially explosive claim, the suit alleges the university has “targeted male students of color” like Doe since changing its sexual misconduct policy. The accuser’s allegations were the first to be investigated under a new get-tough sexual misconduct policy, instituted after a story of an alleged campus rape and subsequent alleged mistreatment of the accuser by Amherst College went viral in October 2012.
The new Amherst College policies were a response to the nationwide controversy over its handling of another belated sexual assault allegation by former student Angie Epifano, and John Doe became the first student expelled from Amherst College for sexual misconduct in 20 years. In fact, just days after John Doe was informed of charges against him
According to the lawsuit, “John Doe” and “Sandra Jones” engaged in oral sex one night in February 2012. Jones was the roommate of Doe’s girlfriend. The hearing board found it “credible” that Doe was intoxicated to the point of being “blacked out” during the encounter, which should have made Jones guilty of sexual misconduct, according to the Amherst College student handbook.
Twenty-one months after her encounter with Doe, Jones filed a complaint with the university, after a member of the university’s Special Oversight Committee on Sexual Misconduct encouraged her to do so. A residential staff member, identified as DR, also encouraged Jones to “blame” the sex on Doe, according to the suit, following an email exchange in which Jones admitted to having initiated the sex, texting, “it’s pretty obvi I wasn’t an innocent bystander”.
Jones’ story changed during the hearing process and she lied about having texted both another male friend, identified as ML, to come over later that night for a second sexual liaison and about texting dorm advisor DR, “Ohmygod I jus did something fuckig stupid… Fucked [John Doe]…Fuck… Oh and apparently [ML] is coming over so nothing happened everything’s fine…”
According to an affidavit by “EK”, Jones’ roommate and Doe’s girlfriend (who was out of town), it was common for Jones to talk about her “regular weekend practice meeting men and having brief sexual encounters with them”. EK also told the outside investigator that she had heard that Jones had exchanged text messages after the incident with the residential counselor identified as DR.
The investigator never interviewed DR and no text messages were collected as part of the investigation. She also did not ask Jones to identify people she saw or communicated with immediately after the incident.
Jones told the hearing board that she was feeling “alone and confused” after the incident, so she texted friend ML to come over and talk and spend the night. She did not disclose, however, that she had been trying to get ML to her room since 5 PM the day before. ML, in an affidavit, stated that Jones appeared “friendly, flirtatious and spirited” that night, and did not appear “anxious, stressed, depressed or otherwise in distress”.
According to the suit, Amherst College sexual assault victims’ advocate, identified by initials LR, (who was also on the committee which wrote the new sexual assault policies) told the investigator that John Doe admitted to her that he sexually assaulted Jones in February 2012. That statement was later found by the disciplinary board to lack credibility, but according to the suit it was earlier offered to Jones as an enticement for her to report the alleged rape many months after the fact.
According to the suit, “Doe was never advised by any agent of the College that he could, or should, investigate the facts himself. He was never told he could, much less that he should, interview potential witnesses. On the contrary, he was led to believe that the policy of confidentiality prohibited him from doing so.”
Doe was also advised that he could not bring up Jones’ second sexual encounter of the night with another student, which could have helped him establish that Jones consented to the initial act with Doe, when the Student Handbook only prohibits bringing up past sexual encounters on the part of the accuser.
The initial charges were brought against John Doe on Nov. 1, 2013. In December, only one day after the hearing, the panel decided Doe was guilty, expelled him from school and banned him from campus, effective immediately. Although Doe had seven days to appeal, he had to seek shelter in an off-campus fraternity house in order to do that, and this was in the midst of final exams.
In April 2014, John Doe submitted exonerating evidence, including the text messages, but the college refused his appeal.
John Doe’s lawyers are asking a judge to order the college to immediately overturn his expulsion and remove a note on his transcript that states he was expelled for disciplinary reasons. They are also seeking unspecified monetary damages.
Meanwhile, John Doe is in academic and professional limbo.
This follows another federal lawsuit against Amherst College over its handling of a five-year-old rape case that his lawyer said was unproven. In thats case, the student’s diploma was withheld two weeks before graduation. Officials for the college made the argument in court that – despite welcoming the accused back into its midst after a year’s probation and promoting him to an ambassador – it was justified in thwarting his graduation and rescinding a paid fellowship just before commencement. That John Doe was identified as a South African native, and demanded that the college grant him his diploma so that he not be left without permanent housing or face possible deportation. His accuser told college officials that John Doe raped him after several drunken, sexually aggressive attempts on campus in 2009. The facts of the sexual encounter are contested and John Doe argues it was consensual. That suit was settled out of court.
Timeline of John Doe Affair:
February 5, 2012: Alleged incident occurred between 1:00 and 2:00 AM.
October 17, 2012: Angie Epifano had her story of an alleged May 2011 rape and alleged mistreatment by Amherst College published in the Amherst College student newspaper.
October 31, 2012: Amherst College formed a Special Oversight Committee on Sexual Misconduct, in response to the national media attention and uproar over Epifano’s story.
January 2013: The Committee published its report, recommending that Amherst focus on “empowering victims”, just days after College President Martin flew to Alabama to meet with Epifano to advise her of its contents.
May 2013: New sexual misconduct policies and procedures went into effect.
October 28, 2013: Sandra Jones’ complaint for rape is filed, 21 months after the incident.
November 1, 2013: The Amherst Title IX coordinator tells John Doe that he is the subject of a complaint and that he has less than a week to provide a response as well as find an adviser.
November 11, 2013: Witness interviews are conducted.
November 14, 2013: Angie Epifano and another Amherst student file Title IX complaints against Amherst College with the US Department of Education.
December 12, 2013: The disciplinary hearing is held, chaired by then-Dean of Students James Larimore.
December 13, 2013: The hearing board delivers its decision that the board had found it “credible” that John Doe was “blacked out” and that Sandra Jones’ account of withdrawing consent during the sexual act was “credible and supported by a preponderance of the evidence”.
In January 2014, the AC Voice – run by LR and others – published a piece which expressed outrage that the plaintiff was permitted to remain in close proximity to campus, and excoriated the “people willing to protect them”.
January 16, 2014: After John Doe’s appeal is denied, Amherst College sends a campus-wide notification with the subject line, “Sexual Misconduct Hearing Outcome (Content Warning)”, stating that the hearing board had found “by a preponderance of evidence that an Amherst College student violated Amherst College’s Sexual Misconduct Policy by committing sexual assault”, and that the student had been expelled and was not allowed on campus. Although it did not identify John Doe by name, it was widely known on campus who he was because Amherst College Sexual Victim Advocate LR violated her confidentiality obligation and openly discussed the hearing with numerous people. The announcement reporting John Doe’s offense and sanction was not authorized by any written policy and was unprecedented in Amherst history.
April 16, 2014: John Doe submits exonerating affidavits and text messages to college officials, and requests that he be reinstated or that the investigation into the incident be reopened. He is denied.
by Robert Riversong: may be reproduced only with attribution for non-commercial purposes and a link to this page
Misandric Feminism vs. Progressive Gender Equality (excerpt of above)
Male Victims of Sexual Violence (also an excerpt of the first essay)
Yellow Journalism and the Meme of “Rape Culture” – Rolling Stone and U-VA Gang Rape
Dear President Sullivan – letter from 17 attorneys involved with campus sexual assault claims throughout America, detailing specific reasons why they “are concerned that the University’s Proposed Student Sexual Misconduct Policy is both vastly over inclusive in attempting to define prohibited conduct and ill equipped to guarantee a procedure for resolving allegations that is fair and impartial”.
It’s Time for a U-VA Apology – Op-Ed from a 25-year U-VA professor and his U-VA junior son
Journalistic Fabulism and Ideological Agendas – the Sabrina Rubin Erdely Story
New Puritanism – New Paternalism – The “Rape Culture” Narrative Demeans Women, Demonizes Men, and Turns Universities into Witch Hunt Tribunals
Dear Senators – letter from 20 attorneys critical of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (S. 2692)
Sexual Assault and Justice: Can we reconcile the belated attention to rape on campus with due process? by Nancy Gertner, feminist lawyer, retired federal judge and Harvard Law professor
HELP for DOE Regulatory Excess – A Senate Task Force Report Recommends Scaling Back the Mountain of Regulations Strangling Higher Education Institutions
Men are Twice-Raped – Domestically and Globally, Men and Boys are Victims of Sexual Violence at rates Equal to those of Women, and are Assumed to be Villains whenever a Woman Accuses
All Sex is Rape – All Men are Rapists : Patriarchy = Rape Culture
A Model of Campus Gender-Based Harassment – The Columbia University “Mattress” Story
A Case Study in “Politically-Correct” Reactionary Response – The Duke Lacrosse Team Stripper Rape Hoax
When the Megaphone becomes the Gavel – Two legal experts on sex discrimination law and procedure argue that the current Title IX mandates for America’s colleges and universities are legally unsupportable and both practically and ethically indefensible.
Two Over-Privileged Millennials Engage in Sex and Get F-cked – The Stanford “Model” Student and her Silicon Valley Mentor