Campus Due Process Sexual Assault

Law Professors, Lawmakers, and Others Strengthen Calls for Due Process in Campus Sex Cases

Contact:          Gina Lauterio

Telephone:     301-801-0608

Law Professors, Lawmakers, and Others Strengthen Calls for Due Process in Campus Sex Cases

WASHINGTON / January 25, 2016 – In recent weeks, numerous law professors, lawmakers, and others have issued statements calling for colleges to restore due process in the adjudication of sexual assault cases. These statements reveal a dramatic shift in the focus of the ongoing debate on campus sexual assault.

During a January 8 panel on “Grappling with Campus Rape” held at the American Association of Law Schools annual conference, several panelists were sharply critical of the current state of affairs. “’Rights’ is a generous description of what these schools gave the accused,” charged University of Miami law professor Tamara Rice Lave.

Two weeks later, over 80 members of the American Law Institute signed a letter deploring a proposed model penal code because the draft law would engender “expansive criminalization” of sexual assault.

Presidential candidates have expressed reservations about the proper handling of campus sex cases, as well.

On January 11, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders called for the referral of campus sexual assault cases to the criminal justice system, which embodies an array of due process protections.

Republican candidate Marco Rubio recently issued a statement noting that false allegations of sexual assault “can destroy lives….Certainly, we should make additional efforts to protect due process on campus.”

State lawmakers are calling for a renewed focus on due process, as well.

In California, governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill last fall that would have established a mandatory minimum punishment for students found responsible of rape or sexual assault. “College campuses must deal with sexual assault fairly and with clear standards of process,” Brown announced.

Referring to a series of alleged due process abuses at Georgia Tech, Rep. Earl Ehrhart recently declared, “I cannot in good conscience continue to fund Georgia Tech at the level that it requests without some assurance to parents that there will be due process for their children.” collapses/

Last week a federal court in Kentucky ruled that a campus sexual assault hearing should be regarded as a “proceeding…akin to a criminal prosecution,” and held that states should ensure that adjudicatory procedures are fair.

The Independent Women’s Forum just released a policy paper, Title IX and Freedom of Speech on College Campuses, which deplores the fact that colleges that adhere to “basic concepts of due process and innocence until proven guilty” could be found to be in violation of the federal Title lX sex discrimination law.

In January, over 60 editorials were published that enumerated broad concerns over the lack of due process on campus: On January 17, for example, the Editorial Board of the Oklahoman noted that the processes used to handle sex allegations on college campuses “increasingly resemble kangaroo courts.”

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PR: Georgia Tech Reinstatement is Evidence of Growing Public Alarm over Due Process and Free Speech on Campus

Contact: Gina Lauterio
Telephone: 301-801-0608

Georgia Tech Reinstatement is Evidence of Growing Public Alarm over Due Process and Free Speech on Campus

WASHINGTON / January 6, 2016 – The recent decision to reinstate a Georgia Tech student expelled for an alleged sexual offense marks a growing wave of popular concern over the erosion of due process protections and free speech rights on college campuses.

Earlier this week the Georgia Tech Board of Regents overrode the decision by a school administrator who had recommended the expulsion of a student accused of sexual assault. The Board reinstated the student when it learned that the investigator failed to interview witnesses provided by the defendant and gave him only one hour to review a 13-page, single spaced summary of the investigation (1).

Numerous other judicial decisions or legal settlements in recent months have overturned the findings of campus sex tribunals for due process violations. The decisions involved the University of California-San Diego, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Washington and Lee University, University of Southern California, and Middlebury College (2).

Concerns over the loss of free speech rights are being voiced, as well. President Obama has twice called for the restoration of open debate on campuses, first at a town hall meeting on September 15 and more recently during a November 15 interview with George Stephanopoulos (3).

Legislators have also taken up the cause of restoring free speech. On June 2, 2015 the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Constitution held a hearing on the state of free speech on college campuses (4).

In Missouri more than 100 members of the state Legislature signed a letter to the University of Missouri’s board of curators demanding the “immediate firing” of a professor who attempted to have a reporter forcibly removed during a student protest (5).

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri likewise urged the University of Missouri to not compromise the right to free expression in its efforts to fight racism, saying, “Mistakenly addressing symptoms — instead of causes — and doing it in a way that runs counter to the First Amendment is not the wise or appropriate response.” (6)

“Due process and free speech are part of the American DNA,” notes SAVE spokesperson Sheryle Hutter. “Lawmakers should not shrink from the challenge of restoring constitutionally-rooted rights and protections to college campuses.”