Victims Deserve Better Than a Kangaroo Court

Sexual assault is a serious crime, whether it occurs on campus or elsewhere. Throughout the process of the investigation, adjudication, sanctioning, and post-sanctioning, the criminal justice system provides numerous protections and rights to sexual assault victims that are not available on campus. Unfortunately, the 2011 OCR Dear Colleague Letter, now rescinded, served to marginalize the criminal justice system by requiring that all these cases be handled by campus rape tribunals.

These campus committees have been found to be harmful to identified victims:

  1. The dramatic increase in Title IX complaints to OCR following issuance of the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter revealed widespread shortcomings in campus procedures:

2. Numerous anecdotal “horror stories,” which are detailed in SAVE’s Six-Year Experiment in Campus Jurisprudence report, Appendix A.

3. When an accused student files a lawsuit against the university, the identified victim is often forced to relitigate the case, which can be a traumatic experience.

In addition, there is no evidence that these campus committees have succeeded in increasing reporting of assaults to campus officials. According to the American Association of University Women, 89% of colleges received zero reports of campus rapes in 2015.

Victims of sexual assault should encouraged, but not be mandated, to take cases to local criminal justice authorities. SAVE’s Campus Equality, Fairness, and Transparency Act states:

Allegations of sexual violence, as defined in this sub-section should, if possible and with the consent of the complainant, be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency of the jurisdiction in which the postsecondary institution is located. Such law enforcement agency shall then determine whether to investigate and prosecute such alleged sexual violence as an actionable offense in the criminal justice system.

SAVE’s CEFTA bill outlines other changes that will better serve both identified victims and accused students.