Former Va. governor Doug Wilder contests finding of sexual harassment investigation

Former Virginia governor L. Douglas Wilder, outside the capitol in Richmond in 2015. (Timothy C. Wright for The Washington Post)

July 23

Former Virginia governor L. Douglas Wilder has formally contested the finding of an investigator hired by Virginia Commonwealth University who concluded that he kissed a 20-year-old student without her consent.

The 88-year-old Democrat, who is a distinguished professor at the university’s L. Douglas Wilder School of Government, accused the VCU office overseeing the investigation of “underlying bias.”

He said the reasoning of Jody Shipper, an outside attorney and investigator with expertise in federal civil rights law, is “unsound, biased and violates due process.”

He made the accusations in a 15-page document posted on his website and social media accounts Tuesday and submitted to VCU last week in response to Shipper’s findings.

Shipper found Wilder responsible for “non-consensual sexual contact” for kissing Sydney Black in 2017, according to a two-page summary of the investigation’s findings.

Black was a student and worked as an assistant at the Wilder School at the time of the incident. The report cleared Wilder of three other charges that were based on Black’s complaint: sexual exploitation, sex- or gender-based discrimination, and retaliation.

Because Wilder is contesting the finding of the investigator, the VCU Review Panel is expected to hold a hearing to determine whether the probe was conducted properly.

University spokesman Michael Porter declined to comment on the findings of the investigation or release Shipper’s full 262-page report, but he defended the university’s approach to allegations of sexual misconduct.

“VCU takes seriously any allegations of misconduct and all parties’ rights to a fair and impartial process that provides a full opportunity to be heard,” he said in a statement.

Black’s attorney, Jason V. Wolfrey, said he requested an extension to give Black until Aug. 2 to submit her response to Wilder’s document. Black believes Shipper was impartial, he said.

“She just wants it to be over,” he said. “She’s upset, but she’s also fired up a little now.”

The grandson of slaves, Wilder became the nation’s first elected African American governor and served from 1990 to 1994.

Black filed a complaint with VCU in December 2018, alleging that Wilder kissed her and made other overtures, including suggestions that she could live at his country house and join him on trips.

His first extensive public comments about the investigation, the document posted on Wilder’s website said Black’s “allegations are false, lack credibility and reflect glaring inconsistencies.”

It said she may have invented the story “to reap a financial reward from a respected, high-profile faculty member who might be more concerned with the appearance of impropriety [than] with the underlying truth.”

“While disappointed in the External Investigator’s findings and with growing concerns about the impartiality of the overall process, Wilder remains confident that the truth will [come] out,” the document said.

Wolfrey, Black’s attorney, said she never asked Wilder for money or to pay her bills and has no plans to file a lawsuit. She has asked VCU to forgive about $4,000 in tuition debt incurred after she filed the complaint and withdrew from classes, he said.

Much of the dispute stems from events on Feb. 16, 2017, when Wilder and Black dined together at the Boathouse, a riverfront restaurant in Richmond to celebrate her 20th birthday.

Black said Wilder invited her to dinner; Wilder said that dining together was “at best a mutual decision.”

Black has said Wilder bought her vodka martinis, knowing she was underage. Wilder denied that he intended to make her vulnerable to his advances. He also denied inviting her to spend a weekend with him in Atlanta.

Wilder pointed to inconsistencies between Black’s statements to Shipper and records and other interviews that he said were detailed in Shipper’s report.

Black said they went to his condo after dinner, where Wilder kissed her and touched her leg. But Wilder said Shipper’s report indicated Black told her roommate that Wilder merely tried to kiss her without mentioning the leg touch.

The roommate said Black told her about the incident only after the investigation began, Wilder said, quoting the report, but Black said she told the roommate the same night.

Black said she told her mother that Wilder tried to touch her leg but did not mention actual touching or a kiss, he said, citing the report.

Wilder also takes issue with the report’s description of phone calls between him and Black after the dinner.

He said Shipper concluded that he wouldn’t have called Black after the dinner “if there had not been some kind of precipitating event he felt required further discussion.”

Wilder said he would call Black only after she called or texted him asking for a call in return.

Wilder said the “deliberate and calculated” omission of these details about the nature and frequency of the calls is “indicative of bias and constitutes a gross violation of due process.”

Black has said Wilder invited her to his country home in Charles City, Va., to apologize for the kiss, but he said he allowed her to visit only “with the belief that doing so was merely a hospitable gesture.”

Although Black has said she “felt scared” to be alone with Wilder after he kissed her, Wilder said, “notwithstanding these claims,” she drove more than an hour to the home, knowing they would be alone.

“This is hardly the behavior of a young woman who had been previously sexually assaulted by the person she was meeting and of whom she claimed she was ‘scared,’ ” he said.

Wilder said Shipper relied on the “very same inconsistencies and behaviors” to find other allegations unfounded.

“No reasonable unbiased External Investigator, without a pre-existing agenda, armed with this information, would conclude that it was more likely than not that Wilder kissed Complainant and touched her leg,” the posting on his website said.

He asked what steps were taken to make sure VCU employees overseeing the investigation treated him fairly after a previous case in which Wilder accused a prominent VCU dean of harassing Wilder’s assistant, Angelica Bega.

Wilder also noted that Black reported the incident to the Richmond Police Department, which he said determined the allegations were unfounded. A police spokesman confirmed no charges were filed.

Restraining Order

Return to Sanity? Nebraska Court of Appeals Reins in Restraining Order Abuse

It’s no secret that restraining orders are often issued with little or no evidence of abuse. The SAVE Special Report, The Use and Abuse of Domestic Restraining Orders, documents numerous examples of such frivolous orders:

• Elaine Epstein, former president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, admitted, “Everyone knows that restraining orders and orders to vacate are granted to virtually all who apply…In many cases, allegations of abuse are now used for
tactical advantage.”

• In Connecticut, attorney Arnold Rutkin charged that many judges view temporary restraining orders as a “rubber-stamping exercise” and that subsequent hearings “are usually a sham.”
• In Missouri, a survey of judges and attorneys yielded many complaints of disregard for due process and noted that allegations of domestic violence were widely used as a “litigation strategy.”
• In Illinois, an article in the state legal journal described legal allegations of abuse as “part of the gamesmanship of divorce.”

Recent cases in Cleveland and elsewhere suggest restraining orders afford little or no protection to true victims of domestic violence. And now, a decision from Nebraska suggests the judiciary is becoming concerned about the lack of due process in such cases.

On July 30, 2019 the Nebraska Court of Appeals issued a decision (Abbie Britton et al v. Christopher Simmons. Filed July 30, 2019. No. A-19-108.) that reversed and dismissed an unlawful domestic abuse protection order.  In retrospect, it’s hard to believe this protection order was granted in the first place.

Biased training provided to our judges may have contributed to the defective trial judge decision.  Numerous complaints have been made, both nationally and in Nebraska, that protection order bench guides and other materials provided to our judges contain material misstatements of fact and law that, if relied upon by judges, would constitute reversible error. Today’s decision is an example of this problem.

Two years ago, a lawsuit against the Nebraska judicial branch forced it to disclose training materials used to train judges. Once disclosed, those materials showed judges were given false information that misrepresented applicable research and failed to disclose dozens of studies that contradicted the presenter’s personal political agenda.  Here are two stories about that case:

Below is the salient portion of the Court of Appeals opinion:

The protection from Domestic Abuse Act (the Act), Neb. Rev. Stat. § 42-901 et seq. (Reissue 2008 & Cum. Supp. 2010), allows any victim of domestic abuse to file a petition and affidavit for a protection order pursuant to § 42-924. “Abuse” is defined by § 42-903(1) as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts “between family or household members”:

(a) Attempting to cause or intentionally and knowingly causing bodily injury with or without a dangerous instrument;

(b) Placing, by means of credible threat, another person in fear of bodily injury; . . . or

(c) Engaging in sexual contact or sexual penetration without consent as defined in section 23-318.

“[F]amily or household members” includes persons who have a child in common whether or not they have been married or have lived together at any time. Simms is the father of one of Britton’s children and Simms and Britton had cohabited. Simms and Britton are “family or household members” for purposes of the protection order application.

The definition of “abuse” also requires causing or attempting to cause bodily injury, or a threat putting another person “in fear of” bodily injury.

A “credible threat” means

a verbal or written threat, including a threat performed through the use of an electronic communication device, or a threat implied by a pattern of conduct or a combination of verbal, written or electronically communicated statements and conduct that is made by a person with the apparent ability to carry out the threat so as to cause the person who is the target of the threat to reasonably fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family.

§ 42-903(1)(b) (emphasis added).

Whether domestic abuse has occurred is the threshold issue in determining if an ex parte protection order should be affirmed. Absent abuse as defined by § 42-903 the ex parte order must be dismissed. Robert M. on behalf of Bella O. v. Danielle O., supra.


The plain meaning of “credible threat” is a declaration or expression of an intention to inflict harm or damage utilizing various or combined methods of communication made by someone with the ability to carry out the threat. Id. There is no evidence Simms ever made contact, verbal or otherwise, with anyone in Britton’s household. And, as a result, there is no evidence of any sort of “credible threat.” Since there is no “threat” toward Britton or any of her children, Britton cannot have reasonably believed they were at risk for bodily injury. Britton testified she is terrified of Simms’ cruising behavior but she does not allege any specific communication or overt acts which could be construed as “threats” sufficient to make her fearful.

Nor is repeatedly driving by Britton’s house a threat “implied by a pattern of conduct.” § 42-903(1)(b). While Britton alleges numerous instances of Simms driving by which might be construed as a “pattern of driving by,” the behavior does not appear to have threatened anyone since there was no communication to Britton or her children that they were at risk for some sort of harm. Additionally, each “drive by” was a single act. Simms did not drive by, get out of his car, engage in acts of physical violence, or make threats and then drive away. A pattern of conduct cannot be demonstrated by a single act. Rather a series of actions at Britton’s house or wherever she may be found is required. See Robert M. on behalf of Bella O. v. Danielle O., 303 Neb. 268, 928 N.W.2d 407 (2019) (pattern of conduct cannot be demonstrated by single act; multiple instances of violent behavior against multiple victims in multiple locations in home sufficient to amount to pattern of conduct). Here, there is no evidence Simms ever got out of his car or approached anyone in the Britton household or communicated anything threatening to anyone.


There is no evidence of any injury or threat of injury to anyone in Britton’s householdwhich could reasonably cause any family member to be fearful. There is no evidence of a credible threat by Simms to do bodily harm to Britton or her children. While the cruising behavior may surely be annoying, it does not rise to the level of “abuse.” Absent “abuse,” the protection order may not remain in effect. See Maria A. on behalf of Leslie G. v. Oscar G., 301 Neb. 673, 919 N.W.2d 841 (2018). See, also, Linda N. v. William N., 289 Neb. 607, 856 N.W.2d 436 (2014).


At the show cause hearing Britton had the burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence the truth of the facts supporting her request for a protection order, even though show cause hearings may be more informal than trials. Maria A. on behalf of Leslie G. v. Oscar G., supra. Once that burden is met, the burden shifts to Simms to show cause why the protection order should not remain in effect. See id.

The bill of exceptions in this case reflects a very informal proceeding. While protection order proceedings are summary in nature and the court is justified in excluding evidence if its probative value is outweighed by considerations of delay, there needs to be some evidence establishing the allegations made in the application which are then incorporated into the bill of exceptions. See Mahmood v. Mahmud, 279 Neb. 390, 778 N.W.2d 426 (2010) (prima facie case may be established by form petition and affidavit but neither will be considered as evidence until offered and accepted at trial). The only sworn testimony during the show cause hearing was Britton’s preference for a domestic abuse order rather than a harassment order because a domestic abuse order could be renewed. The basis for the request was the cruising behavior. There was no testimony about any threat or bodily injury endured by Britton. The application, affidavits, and prior protection orders were never entered into evidence. Nor was any evidence related to any specific claims applicable to the children offered or received.

The record is without evidence of “abuse” by Simms against Britton because there is no evidence of any injuries or credible threats by Simms which could have put Britton or her children in fear or at risk for physical harm. There was insufficient evidence of “abuse” to warrant affirming the domestic abuse protection order following the show cause hearing on February 4, 2019, and as a consequence the order must be vacated.

False Allegations Start By Believing Wrongful Convictions

Brian Banks Saga Reveals the Flaws of a ‘Start By Believing’ Criminal Justice System

What do you get when you have a false accusation, a start-by-believing investigative process, a broken and corrupt judicial system, and a lost dream to play in the NFL?  You get Brian Banks, The movie and The man.  You also get a story of thousands of others who have experienced similar circumstances due to false accusation.

Banks was an All-American high school football prodigy who was awarded a full-ride scholarship to USC and who had the attention of the NFL.  At the mere accusation of sexual assault and kidnapping, Banks had his dreams stolen by an unjust system.

In the summer of 2002, classmate Wanetta Gibson claimed 16-year old Banks dragged her into a stairwell at Polytechnic High School (Poly) and violently raped her. It was a he-said, she-said scenario; and what she said was believed.  Despite the lack of evidence, Banks was railroaded through a broken justice system. He faced a nearly impossible decision of 41 years-to-life in prison or take a plea deal and spend 5 years in confinement, with probation and lifetime registration as a sex-offender.

At the recommendation of his attorney, Banks chose what he thought would give him life. He took the plea. Banks spent nearly 11 years convicted of a rape and crime he did not commit.

Meanwhile, Wanetta Gibson and her mother filed a lawsuit against the Long Beach school district claiming the high school did not offer a safe environment.  They won a $1.5 million settlement.

Nearly a decade after his conviction, Gibson had the audacity to send Banks a Facebook message saying, “Let’s let bygones be bygones.” Surprised to receive that message, Banks worked with a private investigator to set up a meeting with Gibson. It was there, on hidden camera, that she admitted fabricating the entire story.

Due to the work of the California Innocence project, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office acknowledged Banks was wrongfully convicted. He was fully exonerated on May 24, 2012, free of all charges and labels that accompany sex offenders.

In 2013 The Long Beach School District sued Wanetta Gibson for $2 million and won a $2.6 million judgment against her.  She failed to appear at all court dates and apparently has gone into hiding.

This movie tells a story that is all too familiar to those men who have been falsely accused of sexual assault. It raises awareness about flaws in the judicial system. The movie shows us that unless we have criminal justice reform, anybody can be wrongfully convicted.  It also shows us that unless we move away from “believe the victim” mentality, anyone can be falsely accused.

What is now referred to as the “me-too” movement has led to increased numbers of false-accusations.  After being accused, men likely face start-by-believing investigative techniques, a corrupt criminal justice system, and a system that prefers plea deals rather than due process.

In response to these persistent biases, 11 members of the House of Representatives, in cooperation with the Center for Prosecutor Integrity, recently sent a letter to Attorney General Barr highlighting the erosion of due processes in criminal and administrative proceedings.

The letter urged Barr to stop funding organizations that don’t recognize the presumption of innocence when training military or law enforcement, including prosecutors, and instead instruct law enforcement and prosecutors that defendants are presumptively innocent. The letter further asked that no witness be afforded a presumption of truth, but that all statements are subjected to the crucible of reality and cross-examination.

No response has been received to date from Attorney General Barr.

Not all movies have a “happily ever after ending”, but Banks does his best to provide that to us.  Although Banks would never realize his dream of going to college and playing professional football, he gives us a hope and his convincing philosophy on the power of choice. “All you can control in life is how you respond to it”.  He responded with extraordinary resiliency and with a passion to change a broken judicial system.  Brian Banks The Movie is out August 9, 2019.

Domestic Violence

PR: Recent Incidents Reveal Growing Problem of Domestic Violence among Females

Contact: Rebecca Stewart

Telephone: 513-479-3335


Recent Incidents Reveal Growing Problem of Domestic Violence among Females

WASHINGTON / July 24, 2019 – Recent incidents highlight the growing problem of domestic violence and sexual assault instigated by females. Two of the incidents, reported last week, involve female professional basketball players.

On July 16, the Washington Post reported that the WNBA had suspended Los Angeles Sparks guard Riquna Williams for 10 games for a domestic violence incident. Williams was arrested in April and charged on felony charges of aggravated assault of an ex-girlfriend. According to a police report, Williams hit her former partner on the head and used a gun to threaten a man who attempted to stop the assault (1).

Three days later, the Seattle Times reported that WNBA Seattle Storm player Natasha Howard was the victim of domestic violence incidents involving her wife, Jacqueline Howard. According to court documents, Jacqueline stabbed Natasha in the back, causing her to be hospitalized for several days (2).

These two incidents spotlight the long-hidden problem of lesbian same-sex violence. According to the Centers for Disease Control, lesbian couples experience high rates of partner violence: 65.7% of women, compared to 40.0% of men, in same-sex relationships have experienced domestic violence during their lifetimes (3).

In June, Pratigya Thakur was charged with raping her female roommate at Susquehanna University. The alleged victim told police she awoke to find Thakur “on top of her straddling her” before placing her hands on her roommate’s breasts. Thakur then started to molest her, the alleged victim told police (4).

SAVE calls on violence reduction programs to address the emerging problem of female-initiated abuse.


  3. . Tables 6 and 7.

Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is working to protect all victims of domestic violence and sexual assault:

#MeToo Violence Against Women Act

How the #MeToo Movement is Trying to Weaponize the Violence Against Women Act

Not too long ago, the Violence Against Women Act enjoyed strong bipartisan support. Every five years, senators Joe Biden of Delaware and Orrin Hatch of Utah collaborated in a fine display of bipartisan unity to urge their fellow lawmakers to reauthorize VAWA. That abruptly changed on February 12, 2013, when 22 Republican senators – including Sen. Hatch – voted a defiant ‘no’ on Sen. Patrick Leahy’s VAWA bill, and his ham-fisted refusal to involve Republicans during the drafting of the bill. Similar Republican ire was evident in the House of Representatives.

Part of VAWA’s not-so-hidden agenda is to progressively expand its scope, balloon its budget, and designate more and more Americans as members of the victim-class. As Joe Biden admitted earlier this year, “VAWA’s power is that it gets stronger with each reauthorization.”

In the 2013 reauthorization, the definition of domestic violence was expanded to include “dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.” College campuses came under VAWA’s purview. Tribal authorities were accorded greater jurisdiction. And immigration provisions were expanded.

So what would be the next step of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, the behind-the-scenes group that had orchestrated the previous VAWA reauthorizations?

The answer appeared like a bolt from heaven in October, 2017 when actress Alyssa Milano popularized the #MeToo hashtag in order to popularize the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment. Despite its broad appeal, many suspected a more nefarious agenda. Julia Hartley-Brewer charged the #MeToo movement was “turning women into perpetual victims.” And one #MeToo group admitted, “We need a complete cultural transformation if we are to eradicate sexual assault in our lifetimes.”

For the so-called VAWA Mafia, the timing couldn’t have been better, since the 2013 VAWA law was set to expire within a few short months. Before long, VAWA proponents began to call out #MeToo as part of their justification for continuing the controversial law.

Dianne Feinstein, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, noted at a VAWA hearing, “In recent months, we’ve all witnessed the bravery of women and men all over the country who have come forward to tell their stories of #MeToo…So it’s within this backdrop that it’s vitally important to discuss the strides that we have made under VAWA to protect all survivors.”

Karen Bass, VAWA’s lead sponsor in the House, likewise argued, “Movements like #MeToo across this country demand Congress’ attention to better deal with the gaping holes left unfilled in current law around the issues of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, harassment, and stalking.”

By “gaping holes,” Bass was alluding to yet another gargantuan expansion of VAWA’s definitions. On March 3, 2019, Bass introduced H.R. 1585, which dramatically increased the definition of “violence” to include emotional abuse, verbal abuse, technological abuse, and financial abuse. Emotional and verbal abuse aren’t defined in the law, but calling your partner a nasty name or giving your spouse the “silent treatment” certainly fall within the scope of these terms.

Only a month later, the bill came up for a vote, and was passed along mostly party lines by a vote of 263-158.

Like a lightning rod, H.R. 1585 drew sharp criticism. The Conservative Action Project charged it was an “act of immense political overreach.” The Eagle Forum charged the bill “encourages obscurity in the law through its loose interpretation of what defines violence against women.”

The Center for Immigration Studies chimed in on the law’s immigration provisions: “It doesn’t take deep reflection to recognize that a scheming alien might very well dupe a citizen into marriage, then claim abuse, file a self-petition, and take the citizen for the emotional and financial roller-coaster ride of his or her life. It happens all the time.”

Columnist Wendy McElroy argued, “every couple has fights in which both sides shout hurtful accusations, bicker about money, give ultimatums, slam doors and speak indiscreetly to friends in a bar or online. But lovers’ quarrels and angry outbursts are not DV.”

McElroy also noted, “the vagueness and elasticity of the DV definition invites frivolous or false allegations, which could raise skepticism about all accusations and prevent victims from coming forward.” Which harkens back to the prophetic warning by #MeToo advocate Emily Linden: “I’m actually not at all concerned about innocent men losing their jobs over false sexual assault/harassment allegations.”

So the ball is now in the Senate’s court. Will it take the politically expedient route, hold its nose, and pass the House’s deeply flawed, unconstitutional version of VAWA? Or will the Senate realize that the Violence Against Women Act is being co-opted by a fulminating, anti-male ideology?


Ex-UMBC baseball players, part of national trend, turning tables on sexual assault accuser in court

Ex-UMBC baseball players, part of national trend, turning tables on sexual assault accuser in court
Three former UMBC baseball players have filed a defamation suit against a woman who accused them of sexual assault. (Jen Rynda / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Three former baseball players from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County are suing a woman who accused them of sexual assault, part of a growing trend of male students facing sexual assault claims taking their female accusers to court.

The defamation, malicious prosecution, abuse of process and invasion of privacy claims were filed recently in response to a civil lawsuit the woman brought against the men in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

Defamation claims are the new legal tool for men to clear their name and get their accuser to drop sexual assault complaints, according to legal experts. The defamation cases usually end in settlements.

“Over the last three and half years, there’s been far more legal action brought by men charged by the institution with a sexual assault violation,” said Saunie Schuster, a lawyer who advises a range of colleges and co-founded the Association of Title IX Administrators. “The trend was for them to file an action against the institution for due process, but along the way, we started seeing them not just going to file action against the institution, but also civil actions against the victims.”

Schuster said her group has seen about a dozen defamation challenges over the last couple of years across the country and several more threats of such cases.

Defamation claims are difficult to track because most are filed in state courts. United Educators, an insurer that covers more than 1,000 schools and universities across the country, found that alleged perpetrators added victims as defendants to lawsuits against schools, or sued them separately, in 15% of claims filed by members between 2011 and 2015, the latest data published by the insurer.

The rise in defamation suits follows a surge in reports of student-on-student sexual harassment under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded schools.

Before, 2011, Title IX was rarely enforced and largely ignored because of a strict standard of proof, according to K.C. Johnson, a professor at Brooklyn College and expert on due process in college sexual assault cases.

But changes triggered during the Obama Administration swung the pendulum to the other side, Johnson said.

The guidance switched to a “preponderance of the evidence” standard, meaning the incident was more likely than not to have occurred. It also made it more difficult for the defendants to access all evidence against them and to cross-examine the accusers.

Sexual assaults on and off campus reported to college authorities across the country more than doubled at Maryland schools, according to U.S. Department of Education data, mirroring a national trend.

Critics of the Obama Title IX guidance said it favored accusers and made it more difficult to defend oneself.

Eric Rosenberg, an Ohio defense attorney, has filed 20 lawsuits against universities in Maryland and across the country on behalf of men accused in campus sexual assault cases. He said he has also filed a defamation suit against the accused woman along with almost every due process case.

“Without defamation, the accused can’t put it behind them,” Rosenberg said. “It’s only through defamation cases that people stop spreading the rumors and students can move on academically and professionally.”

He said even if students win their due process cases against the universities and get their discipline records expunged, the cases can follow them. For example, many licensing boards and graduate schools still require disclosure of all school disciplinary cases. The women may continue to post on social media or elsewhere about the case.

And many men found themselves accused and then expelled from schools — their academic and professional careers over, Rosenberg said.

Due process lawsuits filed against schools have shot up from about once a year between 1994 and 2011 on average to about once a week over the last two years, Brooklyn College’s Johnson said.

The vast majority of those cases were male students accused of sexual assault seeking recourse in the courts because of what they deem an unfair process in the schools, said Johnson, who tracks the federal cases in a database.

Michelle Daugherty Siri, a lawyer with the Towson-based Women’s Law Center, and other advocates are concerned defamation suits could have a “chilling effect” on women who have been assaulted pursuing justice.

Fewer than half of rapes or sexual assaults are reported to police, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Fear of reprisal and getting the offender in trouble are two of the top reasons victims give for not reporting.

In the Baltimore County case, the woman, then a Towson University student, accused the three men of raping her in 2017. The woman, another female Towson student and the men were drinking before going to an apartment. There, everyone engaged in sexual acts, according to police records and court documents.

The men told the police the women engaged in consensual sex with them, according to detectives’ notes. The women told police the next morning they had blacked or passed out and were sexually assaulted.

The Baltimore Sun generally does not name victims of alleged sexual assault.

After the Baltimore County state’s attorney’s office declined to charge the men, the Towson woman applied for criminal charges directly with a commissioner of a Maryland district court.

The charges were ultimately dismissed, and are now on appeal, but the charges put the men’s names in Maryland’s public judiciary database as defendants in rape cases.

The lawyer who represents the men, Ronald L. Schwartz, did not make the plaintiffs available for interviews.

The men allege in their complaint that the woman and her lawyer, Rig Baldwin, made “misstatements of fact” in her court application for criminal charges against the men, including that the men had spiked the woman’s drink and forced sex without her consent.

“It’s only through defamation cases that people stop spreading the rumors and students can move on academically and professionally.”

The men claim they have suffered “emotional distress, death threats, public approbation, special and consequential damages” as a result of the accusations.

Schwartz told The Baltimore Sun that there is “absolutely no evidence” that the men spiked the women’s drinks, as the woman’s lawsuit alleges, or that the women were incapacitated.

Baldwin told The Sun the allegations of defamation and malicious prosecution against him and his client are “ridiculous.”

Last fall, the Department of Education proposed new Title IX rules governing schools’ reaction to sexual assault and harassment.

The rules would improve defendants’ access to evidence and the right to cross-examination.

The proposed rules include estimates of millions in potential cost savings forschools because schools would no longer have to investigate informal complaints, those that occurred off campus, and those outside campus-sanctioned events or activities.

The rules have gone through a public comment process, drawing more than 120,000 comments through February of this year, and are not expected to be finalized for several more months.

Baltimore Sun data reporter Christine Zhang contributed to this story.

Discrimination Title IX Title IX Equity Project

PR: Federal Office for Civil Rights Launches Investigations of Title IX Discrimination Complaints by Male Students

Contact: Rebecca Stewart

Telephone: 513-479-3335


Federal Office for Civil Rights Launches Investigations of Title IX Discrimination Complaints by Male Students

WASHINGTON / July 9, 2019 – Following hundreds of lawsuits by male students alleging disparate and unfair treatment by institutions of higher education (1), the federal Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has begun to open investigations into some of these cases. The OCR is known to be conducting 24 investigations at universities in the following states: CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IL, IN, MA, MI, NC, NJ, RI, SC, TN TX, and WI. The cases have been opened by the OCR Regional Offices located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, District of Columbia, New York, and San Francisco (2).

The most common complaint involves allegations of denial of benefits. One of these investigations is targeting the University of Michigan, which sponsors 11 scholarships, support groups, and medical treatment programs that exclude male students, in direct violation of Title IX sex-discrimination mandates (3).

A smaller number of complaints involves due process infractions. Two weeks ago, for example, it was announced that the OCR opened an investigation against Northwestern University for failing to provide due process protections for two men accused of sexual misconduct. One student accused the university of engaging in the sex-biased practice of “believe the victim.” (4)

The OCR already has closed investigations that found in favor of male students at Wesley College, Delaware, and Tulane University. In August 2018, OCR opened an investigation of Tulane’s six scholarships reserved for women. Four months later, Tulane entered into a resolution agreement with the OCR, agreeing to ensure that financial assistance is fairly distributed to both male and female students (5).

A recent analysis of scholarships at 115 of the nation’s largest universities revealed widespread discriminatory policies. Among 1,161 sex-specific scholarships, 91.6% were reserved for female students, with only 8.4% designated for male students (6).

Title IX is the federal law designed to prevent sex-based discrimination in educational institutions that received federal financial assistance. Information on how to file an OCR complaint is available on the SAVE website (7).



The SAVE Title IX Equity Project is working to assure that the Title IX law is fairly and consistently applied and enforced:


Appeals court rebukes Purdue for hiding evidence from accused student, likely anti-male bias

‘Alcohol isn’t the cause of campus sexual assault. Men are’


Purdue University didn’t bother reviewing an investigative report before judging an accused student responsible for sexually assaulting another student. It didn’t show him the report, either.

The public university didn’t even require his accuser to submit written testimony for a hearing she skipped.

Adjudicators judged “Jane Roe” more credible without “John Doe” being able to question her motivations for accusing him, including possible retaliation for reporting her attempted suicide.

This was too much for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but not because John has a “protected property interest” in his education that requires Purdue to provide minimal due process protections.

Rather, the “fundamentally unfair” proceeding by Purdue led the U.S. Navy to oust the accused student from its ROTC program, meaning he couldn’t pursue a career in his chosen field. And John has a “protected liberty interest” in his career, the 7th Circuit ruled Friday. It remanded John’s lawsuit to the trial court that had dismissed it.

The opinion by Judge Amy Coney Barrett is the second by a short-list candidate for the U.S. Supreme Court to mandate a certain level of due process in campus sexual assault proceedings.

Judge Amul Thapar wrote the 6th Circuit decision last fall that required public universities to let accused students or their “agents” cross-examine their accusers in live hearings.

The 7th Circuit’s precedents forced it to take a different route to find fault with Purdue’s procedures. Unlike some other appellate courts, it does not recognize a protected property interest in education.

“Do the alleged facts, if true, raise a plausible inference that the university discriminated against John ‘on the basis of sex’?” Barrett wrote for the unanimous court, dismissing other appeals courts that have used “formal doctrinal tests to identify general bias in the context of university discipline.”

The three judges agreed that John had met his threshold to sue under both the 14th Amendment and Title IX. In particular, they faulted Purdue office that shared an article on Facebook that blamed men as a group for sexual assault.

Purdue provided a statement Monday to The College Fix that said it “understand[s] and respect[s] the appellate court’s decision, recognizing that it was bound by legal procedure to accept each of John Doe’s allegations as true.”

Spokesperson Tim Doty said the university “stands ready to now answer those allegations and looks forward to the opportunity to present its evidence.”

MORE6th Circuit says Title IX trials should be more like ‘My Cousin Vinny’

No factual basis for credibility finding

Jane is John’s ex-girlfriend and a fellow ROTC cadet. They had consensual sex 15-20 times starting in the fall of 2015, according to Barrett’s summary of John’s suit.

But she displayed mental health problems during their courtship, and attempted suicide in front of him that December. They stopped having sex after that, and Doe reported the suicide attempt to a university advisor.

Jane expressed animosity toward John for reporting her, and soon after started dating someone else.

When Sexual Assault Awareness Month came in April, Purdue’s Center for Advocacy, Response and Education sponsored events on the issue and shared articles on the subject. One of them came from The Washington Post: “Alcohol isn’t the cause of campus sexual assault. Men are.”

That same month, Jane reported John to the university for allegedly groping her without consent that November. He also went through her dresser without permission, visited her dorm unannounced and “lost his temper in front of her,” she claimed.

Similarly to an expelled student’s allegations against Yale University, which settled his lawsuit on the eve of a jury trial, John claimed that Purdue opened an investigation even though Jane didn’t file a formal complaint.

Katherine Sermersheim, dean of students and Title IX coordinator, informed him of Jane’s allegations in a letter. Soon after he was suspended by his ROTC program and “barred from eating in his usual dining hall because Jane used it.”

John wrote a letter denying all of Jane’s allegations from the jump. The only possibly nonconsensual behavior he admitted to was touching Jane’s knee while she slept after witnessing her suicide attempt.

After she found him responsible and John appealed the decision, Sermersheim was ordered to provide the “factual basis” for the finding. She claimed that he placed his hand “above her knee … and moved it up to her ‘crotch’ areas” and also digitally penetrated her.

The only evidence the dean proffered was that she found Jane but not John “a credible witness” by a preponderance of evidence.

Purdue violated student’s due process by withholding evidence, 7th Circuit rules by The College Fix on Scribd

Withheld report falsely claimed he had confessed

John provided an abundance of evidence that he considered “inconsistent” with Jane’s accusations, including her texts to him over the holidays. She also sent his family “homemade Christmas cookies” and invited him to her room when school started in January.

“He also provided details suggesting that Jane was troubled and emotionally unstable, which he thought might explain her false accusations,” according to Barrett’s summary. He turned over some “friendly” texts and provided a list of more than 30 “integrity” witnesses.

Sermersheim refused to give John a copy of the investigative report ahead of the Advisory Committee on Equity hearing, which would make a recommendation to her. This was in keeping with Purdue’s procedures at the time.

It was only because a Navy ROTC representative showed him a redacted copy of the report, “moments before” the hearing, that John saw it was factually incorrect and one-sided. It falsely claimed he had confessed to Jane’s claims and omitted his “description of Jane’s suicide attempt.”

John claimed that two members of the hearing panel admitted they didn’t read the investigative report, while another asked “accusatory questions that assumed his guilt.” They refused to let him provide witnesses including his roommate, who claimed he was in the room when John allegedly groped Jane.

Because Purdue suspended John for a year and made his return contingent on “bystander intervention training,” he “involuntarily resigned” from the ROTC program under its “zero tolerance” practice.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

Barrett’s opinion distinguished John’s claims from other cases where plaintiffs “spill[ed] the beans” about their punishment and then blamed defendants for ruining their reputations.

“Purdue, not John, revealed to the Navy that it had found him guilty of sexual violence, and John had a legal obligation to authorize the disclosure,” she wrote. The university also changed his status after finding him “guilty of a sexual offense,” meaning he has “adequately alleged that Purdue deprived him of a liberty interest.”

The procedures that Purdue provided are not even good enough in a high-school context, the Supreme Court shortlister continued. Because he was suspended for “sexual violence rather than academic failure … for an academic year rather than a few days,” he was entitled to not only notice but evidence.

This failure was “itself sufficient to render the process fundamentally unfair,” Barrett said.

The hearing also appeared to be a “sham” because two of the three panelists judged him guilty without reading the investigative report, the judge said. It was also “unclear, to say the least, how Sermersheim and the committee could have evaluated Jane’s credibility” without speaking to her or even receiving a statement she wrote herself, “much less a sworn statement.”

It ignored “specific impeachment evidence” from John, including Jane’s texts and “continued romantic relationship” with him and the testimony of both parties’ roommates. This was “fundamentally unfair” to John, the opinion concludes.

It’s here that Barrett parts ways with the 6th Circuit, refusing to determine whether due process requires cross-examination of the accuser. “[W]e need not address this issue” because John has already met his pleading burden on “procedural deficiencies,” she wrote in a footnote.

MORE6th Circuit requires cross-examination in campus rape cases

‘Pressure on the university’ by Obama admin ‘was far from abstract’

Also parting ways with other circuits, Barrett said she didn’t need to use a particular theory of “general bias” to analyze John’s Title IX claim. She specifically noted two recent additions from 6th Circuit sexual misconduct cases: “deliberate indifference” and “archaic assumptions.”

John blamed Purdue’s action on the Department of Education’s 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter that threatened the federal funding of colleges that didn’t lower their standards for finding sexual misconduct.

This showed that “Purdue had a financial motive for discriminating against males in sexual assault investigations,” Barrett summarized. She noted Purdue was under two investigations by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights when Jane accused John.

This showed that “the pressure on the university to demonstrate compliance was far from abstract,” and “may have been particularly acute for Sermersheim,” the Title IX coordinator who also chaired the hearing.

But the Dear Colleague letter was not enough for Barrett. What pushed John’s claims over the line was the decision to credit Jane “without directly hearing from her” in a purely “he said/she said” situation:

Sermersheim’s explanation for her decision (offered only after her supervisor required her to give a reason) was a cursory statement that she found Jane credible and John not credible. Her basis for believing Jane is perplexing, given that she never talked to Jane.

MOREAnti-male Title IX case against Columbia will proceed

Barrett notes that another Title IX coordinator, CARE Director Monica Soto Bloom, provided the only account of Jane’s claims in a letter that Bloom herself wrote. Sermersheim “apparently gave significant weight” to Bloom’s letter.

The three hearing panelists were “biased in favor of Jane and against John” as made clear by his allegations, the judge continued. They showed hostility to him “despite their lack of familiarity with the details of the case,” further suggesting that “Jane’s allegation was all they needed to hear to make their decision. “

The Facebook post by CARE during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, when John was disciplined, adds further evidence that “Sermersheim and her advisors chose to believe Jane because she is a woman and disbelieve John because he is a man,” the opinion reads:

To be sure, John may face problems of proof, and the factfinder might not buy the inferences that he’s selling. But his claim should have made it past the pleading stage …

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
See KC Johnson’s other Tweets

Administrators shielded for ‘all but the most egregious constitutional violations’

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education gave qualified praise to the decision in a legal analysis Monday, noting its limitations.

Samantha Harris, vice president for procedural advocacy, pointed out that the 7th Circuit does not recognize a “stand-alone property interest in an education at a state university,” making the ruling less applicable to situations unlike John’s.

The ruling shows how difficult it is for students to find justice in the courts, she said, citing Barrett’s rejection of personal liability for several administrators.

In order for John to get monetary damages from them, he must show he had a “clearly established” right to procedural due process in the proceeding, according to Barrett.

MOREPurdue incident shows why comedians should skip colleges

The 7th Circuit has “never applied” the rule in John’s case – his liberty interest – to a university, the judge wrote, so the officials couldn’t have known that their actions violated the 14th Amendment. John also lacks standing to demand injunctive relief, since he hasn’t said he wants to return to Purdue:

What John really seeks to do is champion the rights of other men at Purdue who might be investigated for sexual misconduct using the flawed procedures that he describes in his complaint. That is a no-go …

The 7th Circuit both provided a “narrow view of the circumstances under which public universities owe due process to their students” and shielded administrators from liability for “all but the most egregious constitutional violations,” Harris wrote in FIRE’s analysis.

“The decision is both a victory for the accused student and a reminder that the courts are an imperfect vehicle for students seeking redress after being subjected to unfair campus disciplinary procedures,” she said.

Trauma Informed

Why is Google Blocking Articles on Judicial Bias and Trauma-Informed Training?

There’s no question Google is manipulating search results, but it’s a much broader problem than just the presidential election.  Google is also altering search results on a broader front.  Consider the following:

An op-ed was recently published in a Nebraska newspaper that discusses the problem of politicized training for judges, police, and prosecutors under the title: “Biased Training for Judges Still a Problem.”  Among other things, the op-ed discusses the problem of “trauma-informed” training.

The article was originally published on May 24, 2019. One month later, an Internet search was conducted on the four major search engines. If you search on the term, “biased training judges,” you receive the following results:

  1. Duck, Duck Go – Three of the first four  “hits” picked up this article.  The first was from the SAVE website, the second was from the MassCentral website, and the fourth was from the Grand Island Independent website (the newspaper that originally published the article).
  2. Yahoo – The first three results picked up this article in the following order:  SAVE, MassCentral, and Grand Island Independent
  3. Bing — Three of the first four results picked up this article in the following order:  SAVE (2), MassCentral (3), Grand Island Independent (4)
  4. Google – The article does not appear at all…zero results!

The only way for Google to get zero results on a search that is in the top four for each of the other major search engines is for Google to be manipulating its algorithm.