Jul 222014
 

At Swarthmore, “A Very Low Bar” to Deem Students a Rapist

By KC JOHNSON
JULY 21, 2014

Parents considering sending the child to Swarthmore College no longer can claim they weren’t warned.

The Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer had a lengthy and quite well-done article examining the increasing lawsuits filed by students accused of sexual assault who were victimized by a lack of due process in campus disciplinary proceedings. Most of the cases the article covers (Swartmore, Xavier, St. Joe’s—whose case despite the article’s suggestion still remains alive in federal court) will be familiar to Minding the Campus readers. But reporters Jeremy Roebuck and Susan Snyder obtained a remarkable quote from retired Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice Jane Greenspan, who Swarthmore hired to preside over its sexual assault disciplinary system.

Greenspan wouldn’t tell the Inquirer whether she thought it was appropriate that students be branded rapists based on the preponderance of evidence threshold, but both she and Swarthmore made clear that she would use the standard. But she described it as “a very low bar.” Somehow I doubt Swarthmore will be including this (correct) admission in any of its promotional material.

The Inquirer piece also examined a case I haven’t covered, at Philadelphia University. There, an accused student named Anthony Villar declined to participate in the process, in part because his attorney was excluded. Huffed attorneys for the school, “Villar’s lawsuit suggests that during an internal administrative disciplinary process, he was entitled to the rights of a criminal defendant.”

Consider the impact of the school’s action. Having been deemed a rapist, many schools won’t (understand) accept Villar as a transfer student. Many professions (any, basically, that require a background check) will be foreclosed to him. And, per guidelines of the White House Task Force, if Villar had participated in the process, material the school gathered (if favorable to the accuser) could be shared with law enforcement. But to the school, there’s no problem with keeping his attorney out of the process.

Finally, another follow-up from the Finger Lakes Times, raising more questions about the New York Times exposé of Hobart and Smith. We’ve already learned that (a) while a key witness didn’t testify on behalf of “Anna,” the Times didn’t interview the witness to find out why; (b) for reasons unexplained, the Times appeared not to have tried to interview the accused students its article described as liars; and (c) contrary to the insinuation in the Times article, Anna’s attorney didn’t share key evidence with the police, citing a desire for civil litigation.

The Finger Lakes Times piece features a strong condemnation of the Times article from the local DA, Michael Tantillo, and an unequivocal assertion that there was insufficient evidence to file charges. Of course, it could be argued, he’s now simply covering himself. But the article contains a significant point of context that the Times didn’t mention.

The Times stressed that the students who allegedly attacked “Anna” were football players. The insinuation: Anna was victimized because her rapists played football. But, it turns out, just a few years ago, Tantillo’s office successfully prosecuted, for rape, a former HWS football player. So there’s little reason to accept a perception of a school and town eager to protect football players. Why didn’t the Times tell its readers?

Source: MTC

Jul 212014
 

Prominent Title IX complainant who says her college ignored her sexual assault supports the lawsuit of a male ex-classmate who claims the school denied him due process when it expelled him for sexual assault

July 21, 2014

When it comes to the way colleges handle sexual assault, this is how broken the system is: a woman who brought a highly publicized Title IX complaint against her college for ignoring her sexual assault is supporting the lawsuit of a male student who is suing the same college for depriving him of his due process rights after he was accused of sexual assault in an unrelated incident.

You read that right. At Swarthmore, Mia Ferguson was one of two students who filed a highly publicized Title IX complaint and publicly claimed that the school ignore her alleged sexual assault. In an unrelated incident, less than two weeks after Ferguson’s claim was publicized, Swarthmore administrators reopened an an old complaint it had previously investigated and closed that was filed against a male student in connection with two sexual encounters he had with a classmate in 2011. The young man was expelled.

Let’s look briefly at the young man’s case. According to the young man’s attorney, neither of the alleged sexual encounters that gave rise to the claim against him involved intercourse, and the two students later had sex, which the accuser admitted she initiated. She didn’t report the alleged assaults for 19 months. 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. Then Ferguson’s claim was publicized, and the young man’s attorney said the school was determined to make an example of him. That’s when the case was reopened. He was a “whipping boy” that Swarthmore needed to demonstrate its own zero tolerance standard, his attorney claims.

Sadly, there’s nothing unusual about young men being used as sacrificial lambs to appease the Department of Education. It’s happening at many places. What is unusual is this, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer: “. . . the man’s lawsuit has picked up some unlikely support – from Ferguson, whose Title IX complaint last year made her one of the campus’ most outspoken victim advocates. She said the school’s past policies offered decent grounds’ for the legal action, regardless of whether he is guilty of sexual assault. ‘The school handled it so poorly,’ she said. ‘At the end of the day, it’s on the school for letting this lawsuit happen.’”

The views of Ferguson — a Title IX complainant and a woman who claims she was sexually assaulted — stand in stark contrast to the views espoused, for example, by the angry feminist professor who mocked the young men who’ve sued their colleges alleging due process violations. “These lawsuits are an incredible display of entitlement, the same entitlement that drove them to rape.” It would difficult to concoct a more hateful, dismissive comment — and she actually teaches young men at her college.

This illustrates two indisputable points:

First, when it comes to protecting students from sexual assault and from unfairly being punished for sexual assault, it’s not an either/or proposition or a zero sum game. Everyone benefits when the school protects students by aggressively weeding out rapists — so long as it is done fairly. To ignore the due process rights of the accused undermines both fairness and the perception of fairness. When a school is perceived as being unfair, even when it acts properly in expelling a rapist, it’s decision is suspect and will lack public confidence. That’s not good for anyone. Balance is critical. That’s why we need voices who will maturely and reasonably address the issues, not gender zealots who refuse to entertain even the possibility that schools aren’t treating young men accused of sexual assault fairly.

Second, the system is broken. When will the Department of Education realize that? While we don’t know the specifics of the Title IX complaints, we’ve seen enough to conclude that there is something wrong with the way many colleges handle sexual assault complaints. We do know more about the due process complaints filed by the young men and can attest that many schools are not treating the accused fairly.

What’s the solution? Many believe that rape claims ought to be handled by experts in law enforcement. But given the current cultural climate, it’s not remotely possible that the Department of Education would allow schools to turn all claims of sexual assault over to the police and then have nothing more to do with them. One compromise position seems to be gaining traction. Law professor John Banzhaf posits:
. . . one solution well worth trying, suggests Banzhaf, would be to have separate impartial bodies set up jointly by many colleges in a city or geographical area for the sole purpose of investigating and adjudicating date rape complaints. Unlike individual colleges, they would be able to employ full time trained investigators following established investigatory protocols to impartially get to the bottom of such claims.
Moreover, by using retired judges and others trained to evaluate evidence, they could better and more fairly – free from any possible biases – determine the truth much better than professors of computer science or geology who today often make up the disciplinary panels on many campuses.
Swarthmore is one of the schools headed in that direction, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Under pressure for its handling of sexual-assault cases, Swarthmore College turned to an outsider to oversee them: a retired Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice.

The college last fall hired Jane Greenspan, who has decades of experience as a trial and appeals judge and who now works as a professional mediator and arbitrator.

“They wanted a neutral person, not connected to the college or the students,” Greenspan said. “I just listen to them and try to make the correct decision, as I would in any arbitration.”

Swarthmore previously used a panel of faculty, staff, and students to rule on the cases.

The Swarthmore job was Greenspan’s first appointment by a college to preside over sexual-misconduct hearings. Experts say such models are rare but likely to become more common as schools look to satisfy concerns that they mete out justice fairly.

“One way or another, schools are going to professionalize it,” said Brett Sokolow, president of the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management, based in Malvern. “They’ll either do it themselves or more and more, they’ll outsource it to firms like ours or to judges.”

Sokolow said he has recommended for years that colleges exclude students from judicial boards in sexual-misconduct cases. Inclusion of students deters some victims from coming forward, he said.

Nearly two-thirds of area colleges that responded to questions from The Inquirer said students have seats on their boards. But some schools, including Drexel, said they were reconsidering that policy.

At Rowan University, students are not included on boards hearing sexual-misconduct cases.

“That is primarily to protect the confidentiality of the victim and the accused,” said Melissa Wheatcroft, associate general counsel at Rowan.

To Swarthmore, Greenspan brings the in-depth knowledge of what standards, such as “preponderance” of evidence, mean. That’s the standard colleges must apply to find a student guilty. It simply means more than a 50 percent chance the crime occurred.

She declined to say whether she agrees with the standard, but noted, “It’s a very low bar.”

Greenspan presides over the cases and determines guilt or innocence, but she doesn’t impose the sanction – the school decides on that.

She declined to comment on Swarthmore’s system.

“I know Swarthmore has worked very hard to get it right . . . with everyone’s interest in mind, the rights of the accused and the victim,” she said.

She also declined to discuss any of the cases she has handled or even provide a number, except to say there were a few.

Swarthmore hasn’t committed to continuing to use an outside arbitrator. Its process, the college said, is under review.

“We continue to look closely at the array of best practices around the country for the fair, appropriate, and impartial adjudication of sexual assault and harassment cases,” said Alisa Giardinelli, Swarthmore spokeswoman.

Source: COTWA

Jul 212014
 

Domestic abuse shelters emerge from shadows

July 19, 2014

MILWAUKEE — Domestic abuse shelters, often tucked away in the protective privacy of an obscure neighborhood, have begun moving out of the shadows with more public profiles aimed at generating more community support and better access for victims.

Domestic Abuse Intervention Services in Madison is among the latest to make the move, opening a 56-bed shelter on July 30 in a commercial and high-density residential neighborhood on a bus line and close to health and job placement services used by its clients. The shelter has been in a nearly 100-year-old house in a low-profile neighborhood.

DAIS leaders said they consulted with nearly two dozen shelter programs around the country and visited several in Wisconsin before deciding to move. They learned that abusers were more likely to show up at hidden shelters, and workers and clients felt safer and received more community support in visible locations.

“When the community knows where the shelter is, they’re another set of eyes and ears to make sure people are safe,” said Shannon Barry, DAIS executive director.

Many shelters date to the 1970s, when the problem of domestic violence began to gain attention. Advocates sought to create refuges for victims who can face great risk when they separate from their abusers.

“The thinking at the time was really to create a safe space that an abusive partner couldn’t find,” said Patti A. Seger, executive director of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, a Madison-based advocacy organization for victims of domestic abuse. “This is a person who is fleeing danger.”

Many shelters started in houses that blended in with others in residential neighborhoods. They included Wisconsin’s first shelter, Woman and Children’s Horizons, which opened in Kenosha in 1976.

But advocates eventually realized the sense of security provided by a secret location was a bit of an illusion.

“Most shelters wrestle with the reality that over time the community comes to know they are there anyway,” Seger said. “There are many people who transport victims to the shelters — cab drivers, police officers or family members. Over time it often became fairly common knowledge as to the location of the confidential shelter.”

The original shelters were difficult to retrofit to meet accessibility requirements for state and federal funding, and as they aged, operators began looking for newer, larger spaces, advocates said. Greater visibility also seemed to result in more women seeking help and to foster public awareness.

The Harbor House, in Appleton, was one of the first in Wisconsin to make its shelter location known to the public in 1997.

“As we talked to women who were coming to use our service, when we were in a confidential location, they were challenged to find us,” said Beth Schnorr, executive director. With the move, “we got more volunteers, more donations. More people wanted to help,” she said.

The SafeHouse Center, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, made a decision to make its location public 10 years ago, putting up a big sign on its building and posting its address on its website. The shelter has high-level security, which its director declined to describe, and is a block from the local sheriff’s office.

“We believe that we’re a part of the community. The embarrassment lies with the assailant, not with the survivor,” said executive director Barbara A. Niess-May. “Survivors should be lifted up and recognized as part of the community.”

While thinking on shelters and secrecy has changed, laws require safe houses in some states to remain hidden, said Liz Roberts, the chief program officer for Safe Horizon, in New York, one of the largest organizations in the U.S. aiding abuse and crime victims. All of its shelters, which serve 3,000 clients annually, operate in confidential locations, as required by New York State’s Office of Children and Family Services, which issues their licenses.

“One of the realities is that you can’t ever predict with confidence how the situation will develop. Even a case that looks relative low risk … can escalate very quickly,” she said.

Milwaukee’s Sojourner Truth House, which serves about 550 women and children annually at a house in an undisclosed neighborhood, plans to break ground in September on a new shelter at a major intersection near downtown Milwaukee. Executive Director Carmen Pitre said the new shelter will include space for partnering organizations, such as Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, child welfare workers and Milwaukee police, and “stand as a beacon to other people to get involved in solving the issue” of domestic violence.

Source: wsj.com

Jul 212014
 

College backlash and a difficult balancing act on sex assault

By Jeremy Roebuck and Susan Snyder

He called it consensual. She called it rape.

Their college, Swarthmore, acted decisively.

He was expelled.

Those spare facts make up the little that the parties can agree upon in a lawsuit working its way through federal court in Philadelphia.

The young man at its center – an honors 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.”

With universities across the country under pressure from victim advocates, government regulators and even the White House to respond more aggressively to sexual assaults on their campuses, several, including Swarthmore, are also facing lawsuits from male students who say the pendulum has now swung too far in the opposite direction.

And in a new wrinkle, many of those suing – including former students at St. Joseph’s and Philadelphia Universities – are pursuing sex-discrimination claims under Title IX, the federal law better known for its role in protecting women’s rights on college campuses.

Experts say the legal tactic is too new for them to determine whether it will stand up in court.

A federal judge in Philadelphia recently dismissed one male student’s Title IX claims against St. Joseph’s University, saying the plaintiff had failed to show that gender bias drove his expulsion for sexual misconduct.

A judge in Ohio, however, allowed a similar claim to proceed, saying the student might be able to demonstrate that the process set up to hear misconduct cases at Xavier University was unfairly stacked against men.

But the proliferation of these legal fights has sparked further debate on what part academia should play in policing a crime shrouded in conflicting accounts, often with no witnesses.

“We’re constantly in a balancing act,” said Melissa Wheatcroft, associate general counsel at Rowan University, “making sure victims are taken seriously and protected, and at the same time, protecting the rights of those who are accused.”

Brett Sokolow, director of the Association of Title IX Administrators, bluntly warned in a newsletter this spring that some male students may have been improperly penalized.

“Some boards and panels still can’t tell the difference between drunk sex and a policy violation,” he wrote. “We are making Title IX plaintiffs out of these men.”

45 minutes

Consider the case of Anthony Villar, who 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.

“The accused can’t really participate meaningfully at a hearing like that if he’s under police investigation,” Spade said.

But if Villar’s suit seeks to make a stand on behalf of men accused of sexual assault on college campuses, his accuser’s lawyers have responded with equal breadth and force.

“Anthony Villar wants to set a precedent that any woman who comes forward and claims she is sexually assaulted can now be sued in federal court,” they said in court filings.

Lawyers for Philadelphia University contend Villar fundamentally misunderstands the issues.

“Villar’s lawsuit suggests that during an internal administrative disciplinary process, he was entitled to the rights of a criminal defendant,” wrote school lawyers James A. Keller and Joshua W.B. Richards.

The university’s very quarrel with that, Spade says, is exactly the problem.

Lack of access

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 contrast, the criminal justice system requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction.

But underlying the complaints common to each of the lawsuits, one question lingers: Given the potentially life-altering ramifications of a sexual-assault accusation, why have colleges taken on the responsibility of investigating in the first place?

“If universities are going to hear these cases and make conclusions about whether or not felony crimes occurred, they need to provide as much due process as possible,” said Robert Shibley of the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

Obama task force

Assault victims can – and often do – report campus rapes to police. But for many, notifying college administrators of their assaults offers an alternative to the laborious and not always successful process of the criminal justice system.

Schools are not required to report rape accusations to police against a victim’s wishes. But they must include any reports they receive to the federal government in annual crime statistics.

Department of Education guidelines and a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions over the last 30 years cemented colleges’ responsibility to investigate all reports they receive by casting failure to do so as a form of sex discrimination.

Within that framework, school administrators say they are doing their best in what has recently become an increasingly pressured environment.

In recent months, Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, and Dartmouth Universities have all faced student protests and federal complaints that they failed to adequately investigate or assist sexual-assault victims.

Earlier this year, President Obama commissioned a task force to investigate the problem and last month proposed new rules to “ensure that disciplinary proceedings . . . are prompt, fair, and impartial.”

In April, the Department of Education announced it was investigating 55 colleges including Swarthmore, Temple, and Pennsylvania State University.

Few colleges have grappled as publicly with the issue as Swarthmore.

A highly selective college of 1,500-plus students in Delaware County, it became a flash point last year for anxiety surrounding the handling of sexual assaults on its campus.

The college’s student newspaper published a series of articles featuring women who said they felt revictimized by the college’s failure to take their complaints seriously.

Students scrawled complaints about sexual assault in chalk around campus. And when those protests disappeared, activists accused administrators of attempting to hide the problem from prospective students and their families.

A formal Title IX complaint filed that spring by Hope Brinn and Mia Ferguson, two students who said they had been sexually assaulted and then ignored, only stoked the outrage. They alleged that the college’s inaction amounted to a form of discrimination against women.

It was in that environment that the student known in court filings as John Doe says he became a scapegoat.

Though his identity is known to the court, the man filed his suit against Swarthmore in January under a pseudonym.

His lawyer, Hamill, declined to identify her client or make him available for an interview, saying he hoped to avoid any further damage to his reputation. Hamill also declined to comment on the case.

Court filings, however, make clear the man’s belief that Swarthmore’s concern over its reputation ultimately led to his expulsion.

‘Clear inference’

Less than two weeks after Brinn and Ferguson’s highly publicized Title IX complaint went public, Swarthmore administrators informed the man, an aspiring law student from Durham, N.C., that they had reopened a complaint filed against him nearly a year earlier.

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.

Doe’s accuser declined, through an intermediary, to comment for this story.

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 has denied those allegations and maintains that its disciplinary process complies with federal guidelines.

The college continues to examine its policies to ensure fairness to all involved, said Nancy Nicely, Swarthmore’s vice president for communications.

In the last 15 months, the school has done away with the setup that led to Doe’s expulsion.

Instead, a retired state Supreme Court justice hired by the school now hears all sexual-misconduct cases, rather than a disciplinary board. The college determines punishments for those found guilty.

“Swarthmore has worked tirelessly to . . . turn this college into a model of proactivity in preventing, addressing, responding to, and adjudicating sexual assault and harassment,” Nicely said.

Still, the man’s lawsuit has picked up some unlikely support – from Ferguson, whose Title IX complaint last year made her one of the campus’ most outspoken victim advocates.

She said the school’s past policies offered “decent grounds” for the legal action, regardless of whether he is guilty of sexual assault.

“The school handled it so poorly,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s on the school for letting this lawsuit happen.”

Who should judge campus cases?

Under pressure for its handling of sexual-assault cases, Swarthmore College turned to an outsider to oversee them: a retired Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice.

The college last fall hired Jane Greenspan, who has decades of experience as a trial and appeals judge and who now works as a professional mediator and arbitrator.

“They wanted a neutral person, not connected to the college or the students,” Greenspan said. “I just listen to them and try to make the correct decision, as I would in any arbitration.”

Swarthmore previously used a panel of faculty, staff, and students to rule on the cases.

The Swarthmore job was Greenspan’s first appointment by a college to preside over sexual-misconduct hearings. Experts say such models are rare but likely to become more common as schools look to satisfy concerns that they mete out justice fairly.

“One way or another, schools are going to professionalize it,” said Brett Sokolow, president of the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management, based in Malvern. “They’ll either do it themselves or more and more, they’ll outsource it to firms like ours or to judges.”

Sokolow said he has recommended for years that colleges exclude students from judicial boards in sexual-misconduct cases. Inclusion of students deters some victims from coming forward, he said.

Nearly two-thirds of area colleges that responded to questions from The Inquirer said students have seats on their boards. But some schools, including Drexel, said they were reconsidering that policy.

At Rowan University, students are not included on boards hearing sexual-misconduct cases.

“That is primarily to protect the confidentiality of the victim and the accused,” said Melissa Wheatcroft, associate general counsel at Rowan.

To Swarthmore, Greenspan brings the in-depth knowledge of what standards, such as “preponderance” of evidence, mean. That’s the standard colleges must apply to find a student guilty. It simply means more than a 50 percent chance the crime occurred.

She declined to say whether she agrees with the standard, but noted, “It’s a very low bar.”

Greenspan presides over the cases and determines guilt or innocence, but she doesn’t impose the sanction – the school decides on that.

She declined to comment on Swarthmore’s system.

“I know Swarthmore has worked very hard to get it right . . . with everyone’s interest in mind, the rights of the accused and the victim,” she said.

She also declined to discuss any of the cases she has handled or even provide a number, except to say there were a few.

Swarthmore hasn’t committed to continuing to use an outside arbitrator. Its process, the college said, is under review.

“We continue to look closely at the array of best practices around the country for the fair, appropriate, and impartial adjudication of sexual assault and harassment cases,” said Alisa Giardinelli, Swarthmore spokeswoman.

Source: philly.com

Jul 192014
 

The “Affirmative Consent” Trap

California lawmakers take on “rape culture” at the expense of rights

18 July 2014
By Ben Boychuk

An epidemic of sexual assault is supposedly raging on college campuses. Surveys and studies repeat the same frightening statistics: either one-in-four or one-in-five college women have been the victims of a sexual assault. Yet at a June hearing of the California State Assembly Higher Education and Joint Legislative Audit committees, chairman Das Williams couldn’t understand why the number of students disciplined for sexual misconduct was so low. A University of California at Berkeley administrator, for example, reported just 10 suspensions or expulsions out of 43 cases involving non-consensual sex over the last six years. How could that possibly be?

Williams, a Santa Barbara Democrat, concluded that the number of suspensions and expulsions of these alleged perpetrators of sexual violence had to increase. The consequences for student assailants are “not significant enough to act as a deterrent,” he warned—failing to consider that perhaps the problem of campus sexual violence isn’t as widespread as he’d been led to believe. In any event, Williams’s point was unmistakable: California’s universities had better start punishing more alleged offenders, or there will be consequences for the universities. And if administrators need a lower standard of proof to boost punishments, he and his colleagues would be more than happy to give it to them.

Williams is promising a slate of bills early next year that would mandate training for all university employees to respond to, and intervene to prevent, sexual assault, and, more significantly, to beef up punishments for alleged assailants. “Rape is a very difficult thing to prosecute,” he told the Sacramento Bee. Because most college disciplinary boards already use the lower “preponderance of evidence” standard—as opposed to the more rigorous “reasonable doubt” standard that criminal courts apply—“there is a real role that schools can play that law enforcement can’t.”

The reigning assumption in Sacramento—and Washington, D.C., for that matter—is that universities aren’t taking the problem of campus sexual assault seriously enough. A state audit released in June drew precisely that conclusion, and recommended that California’s state universities “do more to appropriately educate students on sexual harassment and sexual violence.” Every campus has a rape crisis center of some kind, with counselors on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Every campus police department offers rape defense programs. “Take Back the Night” programs are ubiquitous. Is more training and “education”—meaning more bureaucracy—really the answer?

Neither the legislature nor the state auditor seems to challenge the claim, unchanged and virtually unquestioned for nearly 30 years, that either one-in-four or one-in-five college students is a victim of sexual assault. As Heather Mac Donald has pointed out, if that figure is correct, “campus rape represents a crime wave of unprecedented proportions.” But it’s almost certainly not accurate. “No crime, much less one as serious as rape, has a victimization rate remotely approaching 20 or 25 percent, even over many years,” Mac Donald observes. Consider the one-in-four or one-in-five figure in light of the number of sexual assaults reported in the nation’s most crime-ridden cities. Mac Donald notes, for example, that the rape rate in New Orleans was .0234 percent in 2012.

The legislature wouldn’t be so keen to do something—anything—about the so-called campus “rape culture” if the federal government wasn’t demanding action and threatening to withhold precious education funding if states don’t show results. At the June hearing, Williams cited the Clery Act, which requires any college or university that participates in federal student financial aid programs to disclose crimes on and around campus, and makes specific provisions for victims of sexual assault. More worrisome, however, are the threats from the U.S. Department of Education to crack down on campus sexual assaults using Title IX of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

At a conference on campus sexual assault at Dartmouth College earlier this week, Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights Catharine Lhamon said she wouldn’t hesitate to deny a school’s federal funding if administrators didn’t toe the line. “Do not think it’s an empty threat,” Lhamon said Monday. “It’s one I’ve made four times in the 10 months I’ve been in office. So it’s one that’s very much in use.” Two weeks ago, the department’s Office of Civil Rights announced it was adding a dozen schools to the list of 55 colleges and universities already under investigation for violating Title IX. A handful of California campuses, including UC Berkeley, are now under federal scrutiny. Thirty-one Berkeley students filed two federal complaints against the university in February. They claim university officials violated federal law by failing to protect them against sexual assault.

And Congress appears prepared to go even further. Last week, Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, released a study alleging widespread failure among U.S. colleges and universities to arrest this widely reported epidemic of sexual assaults. Among her report’s harrowing details: More than 40 percent of 300 schools surveyed had not investigated a sexual violence claim on campus in the past five years. “Which means,” the senator said, “they’re saying that there have been zero incidents of sexual assault on their campuses in the last five years. That is hard to believe.”

Legislation is almost always a blunt instrument. State Senator Kevin de Leon’s SB 967 seems blunter than most. If passed, the Los Angeles Democrat’s law would require state college and university students to obtain “ongoing” “affirmative consent” throughout “a sexual activity.” Just imagine the complications. De Leon’s bill says: “Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent.” Fine, but it’s hard to see how such a law could possibly work. As written, SB 967 offers an unsettlingly vague definition of “affirmative consent.” Such consent, the bill’s language states, “means affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.” De Leon insisted when he introduced the bill in February, “there’s nothing that’s vague, there’s nothing that’s ambiguous to this equation right here.” But cut to its essentials, his bill relies on a tautology: “Affirmative consent means . . . affirmative . . . agreement.”

Even feminist supporters of affirmative consent laws perceive the trouble. “On a societal level, we have a lot of work to do on how we view sexuality and gender before we make a dent in our rape problem,” wrote Martha Kempner, a consultant and “sexual health expert” who blogs at RH (Reproductive Health) Reality Check. “I also recognize that these laws may be impossible to enforce and may not, in the end, make it any easier to punish rapists; there will no doubt still be he said-she said battles over who said ‘yes’ and when.” Still, despite these misgivings, Kempner finds herself “hopeful at the thought of this law passing in California.” At Slate, meanwhile, Amanda Hess waxes enthusiastic about de Leon’s legislation, as long as the bill is “broad enough to include nonverbal cues.” It isn’t.

In our postmodern age, sexual assault has come to mean practically any unwanted, unexpected, or regretted sexual encounter—to the point that the term encompasses everything and nothing. But faced with the possibility of federal lawsuits or worse, it’s no surprise that nervous lawmakers respond with a bill like SB 967, which would employ vague terminology to empower university administrators to indict, prosecute, and convict students for what are by definition criminal offenses. If a student has committed rape, it should be a law enforcement matter first, and disciplinary issue second. Instead, the legislature would risk further running roughshod over due process and dismantling the constitutional right of the accused to confront his accusers. Victims of sexual assault, Williams said at the June hearing, “don’t just want support, they want justice.” But legislators and bureaucrats don’t want justice—they want punishment. And they’ll mete it out anyway they can.

Source: city-journal.org

Jul 182014
 

Wells v. Xavier University: Investigating Campus Sexual Assaults and The Perils of Predetermination Under Title IX

By Michael McKeon
7/15/2014

The recent wave of Title IX complaints filed with the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights [“OCR”], claiming that colleges and universities were either ignoring or mishandling reports of sexual assaults has underscored the importance of implementing effective student sexual harassment policies and procedures. At the same time, the recent case of Wells v. Xavier University serves as a cautionary note that in responding to claims of sexual assault, educational institutions must ensure that their procedures are applied equitably and that predetermination does not supplant proper investigation.

In Wells, the plaintiff was accused of rape in July 2012, following what he alleged was consensual sexual relations with his dormitory’s resident advisor. Multiple witnesses who saw the resident advisor shortly after the sexual encounter indicated that her demeanor was completely normal, and a subsequent medical examination showed no trauma. Based upon his investigation, the county prosecutor developed reservations about the female student’s veracity, but despite the prosecutor’s recommendation to Xavier’s president that the school drop the matter, Xavier’s University Conduct Board [“UCB”] convened a hearing and found that Mr. Wells had committed a “serious violation” of the school’s code of conduct, which resulted in his expulsion.

Mr. Wells ascribed Xavier’s actions to the fact that a few months earlier — in both January and February 2012 — OCR had initiated investigations into the school’s handling of student sexual assaults, including one in which a male student accused of assaulting two women had allegedly been permitted to remain on campus. Xavier ultimately entered into a resolution agreement with OCR, and Mr. Wells claimed that the university and its president were intent on making him “a scapegoat so as to demonstrate [to OCR] a better response to sexual assault.” In his federal court complaint, Mr. Wells alleged two violations of Title IX as well as a number of common law claims, including libel, infliction of emotional distress, negligence and breach of contract.

On March 12, 2014, a federal judge in the Southern District of Ohio denied Xavier’s Motion to Dismiss Mr. Wells’ Title IX and common law claims. It is important to note that a dismissal motion such as Xavier’s is designed to test the legal sufficiency of the particular cause of action to which it is directed, and in adjudicating the motion, the court cannot consider extrinsic evidence but is instead limited to the allegations in the complaint, which must be construed in favor of the party opposing the motion. Consequently, in denying Xavier’s Motion to Dismiss, the court was not saying that the plaintiff had proven his case but simply that he had adequately alleged one. In fact, despite denying Xavier’s motion as it pertained to one of Mr. Well’s Title IX claims, the court noted: “Whether Plaintiff can unearth adequate evidence to support such claim against further challenge remains to be seen.” Nonetheless, approximately one month following the court’s decision, Xavier settled the lawsuit, a development which at the very least invites further consideration of Mr. Well’s claims, particularly as to Title IX.

Mr. Wells alleged two violations of Title IX, first claiming that both the process and the substance of the disciplinary proceedings were skewed against him due to his gender. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that Xavier had “rushed to judgment,” had failed to train the UCB members, had ignored the county prosecutor, had denied the plaintiff legal representation, the right to cross-examine, and the right to character witnesses although the female student was afforded that right. He asserted that Xavier subjected him to this disparate treatment simply because he was male — a violation of Title IX — and because the university wanted to show OCR that it was taking sexual assault accusations seriously. Referencing these same actions, as well as the university president’s awareness of them, Mr. Wells alleged in his second Title IX claim that the president – and, by extension, Xavier – had been deliberately indifferent to this discriminatory treatment.

Significance of the Wells case

Even in its truncated form, the court’s decision in Wells serves to remind educational institutions that when sexual assault or harassment is alleged, guilt should not be a foregone conclusion, for as is true with denials, accusations are not, in and of themselves, dispositive. To the contrary, while schools must respond to such accusations in a prompt and meaningful manner, they are also obligated to ensure that investigations are approached — and subsequent disciplinary proceedings conducted — in a fair, balanced and open-minded manner, regardless of the genders of the respective parties. Thus, those individuals and bodies vested with the responsibility for investigating claims and issuing disciplinary consequences must, as OCR itself requires, have adequate training on both the substance of Title IX and the hearing procedures that the school has adopted in accordance with Title IX.

Source: jdsupra.com

Jul 182014
 

The Trouble with Campus Rape Tribunals

Sexual assault should be adjudicated in courts, not in campus tribunals.

By Robert Carle
July 14th, 2014

The scourge of sexual assaults on college campuses rightly fills us with rage and indignation. But crimes that produce such visceral emotions need to be adjudicated in an impartial and dispassionate manner. A student found responsible for sexual assault is almost always expelled from school and barred from campus. His permanent record will often note that he was found guilty of sexual assault, thereby limiting his educational, employment, and housing opportunities. Such a life-shattering event warrants high standards of due process protections for the accused. Our courts provide such protections. Campus tribunals, which are conducted by amateurs in emotionally charged atmospheres, do not. Unfortunately, President Obama is using his authority under Title IX to vastly expand the role of campus tribunals in adjudicating cases of sexual assault.

In April 2011, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights sent out a “Dear Colleague Letter” that outlined steps that colleges must take to respond to sexual assault on campus. This letter called for sensible reforms such as increased training for victims’ advocates, more partnerships with rape-crisis centers, and bystander awareness to teach men to intervene if they see a woman who is about to be victimized. But the letter also ordered colleges and universities to investigate and adjudicate students’ reports of sexual assault, even if the alleged victim decides not to have a medical exam or report the incident to the police. Colleges that do not take the steps recommended by the Office for Civil Rights will lose federal funding and be referred to the U.S. Department of Justice for litigation.

In a follow-up communication, the Department of Justice’s May 9, 2013 letter to the President of the University of Montana, the Obama administration admonishes colleges and universities to dramatically expand their definitions of what constitutes sexual harassment and assault and to lower standards of evidence needed to find students responsible for sexual assault. Not Alone, a White House report released on April 29, 2014, criticizes our “adversarial, evidence-gathering criminal justice model” and commends schools that appoint a single investigator to “interview the complainant and alleged perpetrator, gather any physical evidence, interview available witnesses—and then . . . render a finding.”

A single-investigator model spares complainants from cross-examination, but it also places students at grave risk of not being able to defend themselves against false accusations. For example, Robert Shibley, Senior Vice President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, estimates that he gets two calls a week from students who claim that they were falsely accused of sexual assault in campus disciplinary proceedings.

Redefining Sexual Assault

Not Alone begins with the statement, “One in five women is sexually assaulted in college.” This one-in-five statistic came from a single web-based survey of two universities that was conducted in 2006 and posted on the Justice Department’s website in 2007. The survey was anonymous and took 15 minutes to complete. A total of 5,446 undergraduate women between the ages of 18 and 25 filled out the survey, a response rate that researchers admitted is quite low.

The researchers did not get their one-in-five statistic by asking women directly if they had been victims of rape or sexual assault. Instead, researchers asked women about their experiences and then decided if these women had been victims of rape or sexual assault. Two-thirds of the women whom the researchers cite as victims of drug- or alcohol-induced rape and 37 percent of those counted as forcibly raped do not consider themselves to have been victims of crimes. The website advises readers that the survey is not a publication of the Department of Justice and warns readers that reported sexual assault varies widely depending upon survey instruments.

Concerned that there is an unreported sexual assault epidemic on college campuses, the Office for Civil Rights is pressuring schools to inflate their numbers of reported and adjudicated sexual assaults. This is creating an Orwellian world in which a low number of assaults on campus is an occasion not for praise but for censure. In response, colleges are devising hearing procedures to elicit as many assault charges as possible.

In 2011, Yale University reported thirteen allegations of sexual assault. All thirteen were filed under an informal complaint process in which the accused student does not have the right to cross-examine his accuser or present evidence of his innocence. None of the complainants ever went to the police or ever received any sort of medical exam. Under this procedure, a student can press charges against another student for behaving in a way that causes her to worry. Yale’s guidelines make the extraordinary claim that the goal of the disciplinary process is “to achieve a resolution that is desired by the complainant.” If you accept Yale University’s data, you are ten times more likely to be sexually assaulted on the Yale University campus than in the city of New Haven, one of America’s most violent cities.

This is not to say that our campuses are free from the scourge of criminal sexual assault. Every year, there are horrific crimes against female students, often perpetrated by a small number of men who prey upon first-year women who are under the influence of alcohol. United Educators, an insurance company owned by 1,160 member colleges and universities, reported that between 2005 and 2010, 63 percent of complainants filing claims of sexual assault are first-year students, and their assaults typically occur in September. In 92 percent of these claims, the complainant was under the influence of alcohol. More than 60 percent of these claims involved women who were so drunk that they had no memory of the assault. Eighty-one percent of these assaults occurred in student dormitories. Research by forensic consultant David Lisak indicates that three percent of college men account for over 90 percent of college rapes.

The reports coming out of the Obama administration contain some sensible advice to remedy this situation, but there are also stunning omissions. The reports barely mention alcohol and make no mention at all of how dormitory living arrangements might contribute to the problem. Instead, these reports encourage colleges and universities to develop definitions of sexual harassment and sexual assault so broad that they turn social gaffes into violent offenses.

In a May 9, 2013 letter to the president of the University of Montana, the Office for Civil Rights defined “sexual harassment” as “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,” and it jettisoned the requirement that actions or speech had to be “offensive” according to reasonable standards and objective evidence in order to be considered harassment. According to Vassar College, “sexual violence may include, but is not limited to, treating the victim and other people as objects via actions and remarks, using sexual names, insisting on dressing or not dressing in a certain ways, touching in ways that make a person uncomfortable.”

Columbia University defines assault as “any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any object, without a person’s consent.” The sexual assault policies at both Columbia and Yale define consent as a prior “unambiguous agreement” to each “specific touching” whether or not consented to in the past. At Columbia, Duke, and Stanford, sex after any alcohol use can be considered rape.

By defining “assault” so broadly that it includes activities like brushing up against someone in an unwelcome way, attempting to kiss someone, or behaving in a way that worries a classmate, colleges and universities, under pressure from the Obama administration, are trivializing the horrific crimes that some women on college campuses face. They are turning nearly every male student on every college campus into an offender, and they are turning failed romances into “assaults.” Peter Wood, the president of the National Association of Scholars, writes, “A rule that potentially turns every word and every gesture into grist for a . . . complaint is really a writ of arbitrary power for campus administrators” who will get to selectively prosecute disfavored groups.

Criminal defense lawyer Matthew Kaiser says, “When my daughter leaves for college, I want her to be protected from sexual assault.” But Kaiser also worries about his son’s being accused, for frivolous reasons, of sexual assault. “Based on the cases I’ve seen,” he said, “I am more concerned about my son than my daughter.”

Presumed Guilty

Under this new regime of sexual policing, college students are being stigmatized as rapists and expelled from college even in cases where there is compelling exculpatory evidence. Vassar College student Xialou “Peter” Yu, a Chinese national with a 3.8 GPA, was expelled from Vassar in February 2013 for having sex with Mary Claire Walker, a female student who is one year Peter’s senior and whose father is a professor at Vassar. On February 18, 2012, Yu and Walker, who were on the crew team together, had some drinks at a party, started making out at a campus dance venue, and then went to Yu’s dorm room.

According to Yu’s legal complaint, upon entering the dorm room, Yu informed Walker that he was a virgin, and she responded, “It’s okay, I know what to do.” Walker then began to undress herself and started undressing Yu. The next day, Walker sent Yu an email assuring him that she had had a “wonderful time” and that he had done “nothing wrong.” She wrote that she was sorry that she had “led him on” when she wasn’t ready for a relationship. A month later, Walker contacted Yu again to apologize for the incident and express hope that it would not affect their friendship. There were several more friendly exchanges over the next seven months. At one point, Walker invited Yu to dinner at her place. Vassar College has acknowledged that these email exchanges took place.

In February 2013, on the last day that she could press charges against Yu, Walker filed a complaint of non-consensual sex against Yu. By filing on the deadline, Walker ensured that Yu could not file a counter-claim. Sixteen days later, a panel of three Vassar faculty members (Walker’s father’s colleagues) found Yu culpable and immediately expelled him from Vassar. Vassar denied Yu’s request to call his roommate and Walker’s roommates as witnesses. Walker’s friendly messages to Yu were barred from the hearing as irrelevant. Yu was not allowed an attorney. After his expulsion, Yu was rejected by ten colleges.

Peter Yu’s ordeal at the hands of Vassar’s “Interpersonal Violence Panel” has become routine on college campuses. In 2010, Caleb Warner was expelled from the University of North Dakota on the basis of a rape charge even though the police had issued a warrant for his accuser’s arrest for filing a false report about Caleb. In 2012, Ohio’s Xavier University expelled basketball player Dez Wells from college based on a rape charge that the county prosecutor Joseph Deters publicly denounced as false. “There were students on that conduct board, looking at rape kits,” Deter said. “They’d say, ‘I don’t know what I am doing.’”

College rape tribunals not only run the risk of wrongly stigmatizing innocent students as sex offenders, but they also betray victims of sexual assault by not locking up dangerous predators. When a college correctly identifies a violent offender, the maximum sentence it can deliver is expulsion, leaving the predator free to strike again in a different venue. College disciplinary boards have an abysmal record of handling sexual assault cases because they do not have the expertise to investigate and adjudicate violent felonies. The Obama administration should abandon its plans to construct a shadow justice system on college campuses. Instead, the administration should insist that victims seek justice through courts and law enforcement agencies. These institutions have the skills to make determinations of guilt and innocence in a way that respects the civil liberties of both the accused and the accuser, and they alone have the power to incarcerate dangerous criminals.

Source: thepublicdiscourse.com

Jul 172014
 

LOGO-Banners-14th-Intl-Conf

More than 26 million boys and men in the United States have been, or will be, sexually abused at some point in their lives. Globally, more than 850 million males are estimated to be victims. Healing is possible, but for many survivors hope and support can be hard to find. Without greater awareness of the existence and needs of male survivors, the personal evolution from hurting to healing is made immensely harder.

MaleSurvivor‘s 14th International Conference will convene this fall, once again within the New York City metropolitan area. We are expecting hundreds of attendees from a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds to join together to share their knowledge and support for the work of healing. We encourage survivors, mental health professionals, researchers, academicians and others to join us for more than 40 workshops, presentations, and discussions on the sexual victimization of boys and men.

  • Lara Stemple, JD – Director of Graduate Studies at UCLA Law School and Director of the Health and Human Rights Law Project, will present her work concerning global issues in human rights and sexual abuse of boys and men and discuss her latest research The Sexual Victimization of Boys and Men: New Data Challenge Old Assumptions
  • Dr. Bryana French – Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Professional Psychology at the University of St. Thomas, who will discuss her landmark research: Sexual Coercion: Acknowledging Men as Victims
  • Dr. Christopher Skidmore, Clinical Education and Resources Coordinator, VA Mental Health Services Military Sexual Trauma Support Team who will be speaking on Military Sexual Trauma and Recovery in Male Veterans.

The MaleSurvivor International Conference has developed a world-renowned reputation as one of largest professional conferences with a singular focus on male victimization issues. Once again we will create a safe place for people to speak openly about the pain of abuse and the hope for healing. We hope you will join us and all of our conference supporters this fall for a weekend of hope, healing, and support like no other.

Learn more or register.

Source: Constant Contact

Jul 172014
 

Suing Your False Rape Accuser ‘Contributes to the Culture of Silence Surrounding Rape’

COTWA

July 17, 2014

In December 2013, singer Conor Oberst was falsely accused of rape in comments made on a website of an online magazine by a fan named Joan Elizabeth Harris. Oberst filed a defamation action against Harris, and Harris has now recanted her accusations and issued an official public apology. “I publicly retract my statements about Conor Oberst, and sincerely apologize to him, his family, and his fans for writing such awful things about him,” she wrote.

A bewildering, yet all too predictable footnote to the story is that, even before Harris’ public apology, an advocacy group publicly called for Oberst to drop his civil action because it “will hurt victims” and that “it is offensive to imply that filing such a lawsuit is a respectable way to procure money . . . .” (You may need to reread that again just so you believe what you’re reading.) Moreover, “even if Ms. [Harris] was not truthful, vilifying discussion of sexual assault by filing such a lawsuit only adds to the problem of under-reporting that enables sexual assault to proliferate at alarming rates.” You see, this “lawsuit contributes to the culture of silence surrounding rape.”

Another feminist extremist declared that rape is so prevalent, “it hardly matters if [Joan Elizabeth] Harris was telling the truth” (I am certain Mr. Oberst would disagree. Anyway, try telling that to wrongly accused men like Brian Banks and the young men in the Hofstra case.) “Harris . . . deserves to be left alone, despite the hurt she has caused for Oberst and actual survivors.” The writer reminds us that “all men are capable of rape—even the awkward and sensitive ones.”

If you are finished banging your head against the wall, let’s explore these misguided sentiments. The suggestion that it is ethically imperative for Mr. Oberst to drop his suit is proof of how political correctness run amok can cause presumably intelligent people to say stupid things. What other class of citizens, aside from men falsely accused of rape, is expected to forego redress for harm done to them because, hypothetically, their lawsuits could put off women with no relation to their case from reporting they’ve been raped?

The suggestion is an affront to the community of the wrongly accused. Beyond that, it does no favors for women who’ve been raped. Is this how anti-rape advocates think we empower women — by scaring them into believing that rape victims are in danger of being sued for defamation and tossed into jail for truthfully reporting their victimization? The facts don’t support the scare tactic. Our civil courts are not being overrun with defamation suits against rape accusers. In fact, those cases are practically non-existent. Once cleared, the vast majority of even men who were falsely accused of rape are happy to put the incident behind them and move on with their lives. Some write to this blog to ask that their stories be removed so that the Internet can furnish no traces of their ordeals. It’s not unusual for falsely accused men to publicly state they hold no malice toward their false accusers. Even those men tempted to sue drop the idea when (1) they realize that a defamation action will only publicize the rape accusation anew, and (2) they can’t find a contingent fee attorney to take their case because few false accusers have deep pockets.

In addition, it is extremely rare for rape victims to be criminally prosecuted for making a false claim. We search for those cases to include in this blog (and we advocate for wrongly accused women with the same zeal we advocate for wrongly accused men), but those cases are hard to find because they hardly ever occur. Much more common are cases where prosecutors refuse to prosecute even demonstrably false rape accusers where there is compelling evidence of their falsehood. Typically, the few false rape cases that are prosecuted are the ones supported by ironclad evidence, such as a video, proving the rape claim was false. But even when there is ironclad evidence and a recantation, prosecutors typically just let it drop. (Can you say Hofstra?)

The suggestion that a man who seeks redress for a grievous harm against him is somehow silencing rape victims is the worst kind of straw man. Scott Berkowitz, President & Founder of the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN) testified about the causes of underreporting in a 2010 Senate hearing in 2010 hearing. Berkowitz’s testimony was summarized by Amanda Hess:

More victims may not be reporting their rapes, but the reasoning has changed over the past few decades. “A generation ago,” the reasons were things like, “fear of not being believed; fear of being interrogated about and blamed for their own behavior, and what they were wearing. In short, they feared that they would be the one on trial.”

Today, “the perception of many victims has evolved.” Now they don’t report for these reasons: “they don’t want their loved ones to know what happened; they’re ashamed themselves; they just want to put it all behind them.” Today, “fear and shame of how the police wil [sic] treat them” has moved down on the list of reasons victims provide for not officially reporting the crime.

Despite the absence of any support for this bogeyman, don’t expect it to collapse under the weight of its own falsehood. When the legend becomes fact, old cowboys and feminists alike insist on printing the legend. Sadly, we are stranded in an era where victims who seek redress are villains, and villains who cause grievous harm “deserve to be left alone.” Where gender warriors not only want to strip presumptively innocent men of rights (“Why could we not expel a student based on an allegation?”), they are happy to strip innocent men who’ve been wronged of their rights, too. The world won’t right itself until enough people of good will take the moral high ground from these woefully misguided zealots.

Source: http://www.cotwa.info/2014/07/suing-your-false-rape-accuser.html

Jul 172014
 

Dear Friends,

gretavansurterenCommentator and television personality Greta Van Susteren is running a survey on Campus Sexual Assault:

Should colleges handle rape allegations or immediately turn over the allegations to the police / prosecutors to investigate?

The choices are:

  • send all allegations to police / prosecutors
  • colleges should first review the allegation

Not sure how to vote?

Hint: Over 200 editorials have criticized campus sex panels: www.accusingu.org

Please visit Greta’s website HERE and vote today!

On behalf of all victims, and all who have been falsely accused, thank you.

teri

Teri Stoddard, Program Director
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments
www.saveservices.org

Can you help us grow? And, please share this e-lert.