Press Release Sexual Assault

PR: How ‘Victim-Centered’ Investigations Undermine the Presumption of Innocence and Victimize the Innocent

Contact: Gina Lauterio

How ‘Victim-Centered’ Investigations Undermine the Presumption of Innocence and Victimize the Innocent: Upcoming Teleconference

WASHINGTON / September 19, 2016 – A national teleconference will be held on the topic, “How ‘Victim-Centered’ Investigations Undermine the Presumption of Innocence and Victimize the Innocent.” The event will address how “victim-centered” investigations remove the presumption of innocence and greatly increase the risk of a wrongful finding of guilt. The teleconference will be held on October 4 at 1:00 to 4:00 pm, Eastern time.

The Department of Education has repeatedly issued directives calling for equitable campus investigations. In 2001 the Office for Civil Rights issued its Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance mandating that universities undertake “adequate, reliable, and impartial investigation of complaints.” Likewise, the OCR’s 2011 Dear Colleague Letter on campus violence explained, “a school’s investigation and hearing processes cannot be equitable unless they are impartial.”

In contrast, victim-centered investigations are based on the assumptions of “start by believing” and “always believe the victim.”

The teleconference will address victim-centered investigations on both college campuses and in the criminal justice setting. The Forum will consist of presentations by leading investigators, attorneys, and other experts:

  • Cynthia Garrett: Welcome and Introduction
  • Christopher Perry: What is the Problem with Victim-Centered Investigations?
  • Jerry Rogoff: The Psychological Effects on Persons Wrongfully Found Guilty of Sexual Misconduct
  • Carolyn Martin: My Lawsuit to End Investigative Bias at the Department of the Navy
  • Claudia Whitman: How to Botch a Criminal Investigation in Ten Easy Steps
  • Michael Conzachi: University of Texas Blueprint for Injustice

Harvard Law School professor Jeannie Suk describes the always-believe-the-victim approach as a “near-religious teaching” that is likely to harm rape victims: “When the core belief is that accusers never lie, if any one accuser has lied, it brings into question the stability of the entire thought system, rendering uncertain all allegations of sexual assault.”

The teleconference, sponsored by the non-profit Center for Prosecutor Integrity, will be available free of charge. Registration information will be made available here:

CEFTA Sexual Assault

Most College Rapists Never Spend a Day in Jail

Contact: Chris Perry

Telephone: 301-801-0608


Most College Rapists Never Spend a Day in Jail:  SAVE Calls on Lawmakers to End Campus ‘Kangaroo Courts’

WASHINGTON / September 13, 2016 – Two weeks after former Stanford University student Brock Turner was released from jail after serving a 3-month sentence for raping an unconscious woman, members of the public continue to express outrage and concern that campus rape is not being taken as a serious problem.

SAVE urges lawmakers to consider the lessons of the Turner case:

  1. Rape is a heinous offense, and needs to be treated that way.
  2. Local criminal justice authorities – not the Stanford University disciplinary committee – were the appropriate persons to handle the case.
  3. Alcohol abuse is a major contributor to sexual assault, and binge drinking needs to be addressed.

Unfortunately, few of the bills debated in state legislatures in 2016 addressed any of these factors. Instead, most bills espoused unproven approaches such as affirmative consent, evoking concerns about the erosion of the presumption of innocence (1).

To rectify this shortcoming, SAVE is today announcing a new model bill titled the Campus Equality, Fairness, and Transparency Act (2). CEFTA encourages the involvement of local criminal justice authorities and supports the rights and interests of both the complainant and accused student.

CEFTA requires universities to implement policies to reduce alcohol and drug abuse, calls on universities to use justice-centered investigative procedures, and delineates a series of due process protections for the accused student.

CEFTA also contains a section that provides clear-cut definitions of a series of graded sexual offenses. This addresses the trend of universities to create definitions of sexual misconduct that are increasingly broad. Such definitions encourage universities to regard allegations of “micro-aggressions” on par with allegations of rape, thus trivializing the rape problem. Vague definitions also make it more difficult for accused students to defend themselves from false allegations.

In 2011 the federal Department of Education issued a Dear Colleague Letter directing that all campus sexual assault cases be handled by campus sex tribunals. Five years later, these committees are often derided as “Kangaroo Courts” that at most, can only expel sexual offenders. As a result, a majority of campus rapists are never sentenced to time in prison.

Three national polls show a strong majority of Americans believe college rapes should be handled by the criminal justice system, not campus sex tribunals (3).

Lawmakers who are potentially interested in becoming sponsors of the Campus Equality, Fairness, and Transparency Act in the 2017 legislative session should contact Gina Lauterio, Program Director, at


Campus Due Process False Allegations Sexual Assault

PR: Federal Directive Triggered Spurt of Lawsuits Against Universities For Alleged Mishandling of Sexual Assault Cases, Report Says

Contact: Gina Lauterio


Federal Directive Triggered Spurt of Lawsuits Against Universities For Alleged Mishandling of Sexual Assault Cases, Report Says

WASHINGTON / September 7, 2016 – A report released today reveals a 2011 U.S. Department of Education sexual harassment directive led to a dramatic increase in the number of lawsuits alleging mishandling of allegations of sexual assault on campuses. Titled “Lawsuits Against Universities for Alleged Mishandling of Sexual Misconduct Cases,” the report found that the number of lawsuits by students tripled over an eight-year period.

During the period 2006-2010, a leading insurance company received an average of 52 claims per year from alleged victims of sexual assault and from students who asserted they were wrongfully expelled for sexual assault. By 2013, the number increased  to 154 claims. Claims by students alleging lack of due process increased at an even higher rate, increasing from 10 lawsuits in 2013 to 53 in 2015.

These claims represent a growing liability risk for colleges and universities. During the period 2006 to 2010, payments to accused students represented 72% of all expenses for legal fees and payments to persons alleging mishandling of sexual assault cases by campus disciplinary committees, according to a leading insurance company. In July, Georgia Tech officials agreed to pay a male student $125,000 to settle a case in which he had been accused of sexual assault(1). Earlier this year, a former University of Montana quarterback received a $245,000 settlement for the university’s “unfair and biased” rape investigation (2).

The report provides a detailed analysis of 30 lawsuits in which a state or federal court ruled at least partly in favor of the accused student. For each of the 30 cases, the report identifies the causes of action. Among the most common causes of action, an allegation of lack of due process was successful in eight out of 11 cases (73%), followed by breach of contract (62%), Title IX violation (54%), and negligence (33%).

The report also details the relief requested for each lawsuit. Among the 30 lawsuits, a total of 198 types of relief were requested. The three

most commonly requested types of relief requested were reversal of the expulsion/ finding of guilt, just and proper, and reimbursement of attorneys’ fees.

The report highlights the most significant procedural and policy deficiencies identified in the judicial decisions. The deficiencies pertained to weak qualifications of university adjudicators, inappropriate use the word “victim,” selective enforcement of Title IX, investigational biases, weak cross-examination provisions, unfair appeal procedures, and affirmative consent policies.

The report notes that alleged victims of sexual assault have prevailed in numerous lawsuits, as well. The report concludes by noting the fundamental incompatibility between the requirements of the federal Department of Education 2011 Dear Colleague Letter and the mission and capabilities of colleges and universities.

Lawsuits Against Universities for Alleged Mishandling of Sexual Misconduct Cases represents the first detailed, quantitative analysis of sexual assault lawsuits filed by accused students. The report can be viewed here:



SAVE is working for balanced, evidence-based, constitutionally sound solutions to campus sexual assault: