100 Decisions and Counting: Disregard of Due Process in Sex Cases is Costing Colleges Millions

Contact: Chris Perry

Telephone: 301-801-0608


100 Decisions and Counting: Disregard of Due Process in Sex Cases is Costing Colleges Millions

WASHINGTON / June 12, 2018 – Last Friday the First Circuit Court of Appeals issued a unanimous due process ruling against Boston College. The judges upheld a student’s claim that the school failed in its “obligation to provide a fundamentally fair disciplinary process to Doe,” who had been accused of sexually assaulting another student (1).

The lawsuit demanded expungement of the proceedings from the accused student’s record and over $3 million in compensatory damages (2). The milestone decision marks the 100th judicial decision in favor of students accused of sexual assault who later sued their college (3).

In 2011 the Office for Civil Rights issued a new policy on campus sexual assault that removed numerous due process protections for accused students (4). At many colleges, so-called “victim-centered” investigative procedures were instituted and poorly trained investigators began to play a lead role in the adjudication process, creating new liability risks for colleges (5).

Accused students who had been suspended or expelled began to sue. By 2015, the number of lawsuits by accused students surged more than five-fold over the 2011 level (6).

These lawsuits have proven to be costly in terms of legal defense fees and damages. Over a five-year period, total losses approached $9 million at the approximately 1,000 universities insured by  the United Educators insurance company. The average loss per claim was $187,000, of which $132,000 was for defense costs, according to a 2017 report (7).

These expenses are likely to increase in the future. On March 9, 2018 a former student filed a $25 million claim against Vanderbilt University, alleging he was denied a meaningful standard of due process and equal protection (8).

The current system was recently described by New York Times columnist Michael Powell as a “broken process” that “flipped fundamental concepts of fairness.” (9) SAVE has developed a model bill titled the Campus Equality, Fairness, and Transparency Act (10).



SAVE — Stop Abusive and Violent Environments — is working for effective and fair solutions to sexual assault and domestic violence: