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Falsely Accused Former Professor Says ‘No’ to Lhamon Nomination

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Falsely Accused Former Professor Says ‘No’ to Lhamon Nomination

By Buddy Ullman, PhD

July 18, 2021

Senator Bill Cassidy:  “So even though the law say that it gives permission to rape and sexually harass with impunity, you would enforce that law.”

Catherine Lhamon: “Yes.”

Say what!?!?!!

This exchange between United States Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Catherine Lhamon, President Biden’s nominee for Assistant Secretary for the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the Department of Education, highlighted the closing stages of her Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee confirmation hearing for the position.  The shocking exchange is neither distorted nor out of context.  In fact, Ms. Lhamon’s preceding sentence expressed the same sentiment.

Lhamon served in the same role during the Obama administration during which she distinguished herself by her ardent application of the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter and her authorship of the 2014 Guidance document, both mercifully rescinded, that stomped all over the constitutional rights of thousands of college students and faculty, triggered >700 lawsuits from aggrieved and innocent students, and has been thoroughly condemned in 133 trial court and 24 appellate court verdicts.  That President Biden appears to aspire to recreate this calamity is inexplicable.

Consistent with her response to Senator Cassidy’s question, Lhamon previously tweeted that the new Rule takes “us back to the bad old days, that predate my birth, when it was permissible to rape and sexually harass students with impunity.”  The tweet is preposterous.

So let’s be clear, Lhamon, if confirmed, will willingly enforce the implementation of the current TIX compliance Rule, which she does not support and which she also believes promulgates rape on college campuses.  The OCR deserves a leader who can implement current policy in good conscience.  One can only imagine how Lhamon’s stance would be received by the 4,000 institutions of higher education that must adhere to TIX regulations.

Throughout the 90-minute HELP Committee hearing, Lhamon’s responses to challenging questions were cagey, disingenuous, and occasionally dishonest.  Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) asked Lhamon a series of questions about due process in campus TIX proceedings for which he requested a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.  He got none.

Senator Burr separately inquired whether students accused of a TIX transgression are entitled to: (1) due process; (2) view all inculpatory evidence; (3) access exculpatory evidence that might clear them; (4) a live hearing; and (5) cross-examination, all provisions in the current Rule.   Lhamon side-stepped each question and provided answers to a different question that was not posed.

If I may be so bold, I can respond to Senator Burr’s questions.  As a former Professor at The Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), I was subjected to Lhamon guidance personally after I was falsely accused of sexual harassment by a student who had failed my course.  I was not allowed to know the name of the complainant or the nature of the charges against me, to have witnesses, to marshal evidence on my behalf, or to defend myself in any way.  Such investigative malfeasance was commonplace under Lhamon’s archived guidance.

After I was erroneously found responsible for sexual harassment, I petitioned Lhamon’s OCR directly for relief.  Not only did Lhamon’s OCR sanction the procedures that OHSU employed in its investigation of me, but the OCR stressed in its written determination letter that it would have implemented a comparable course of action.

The answer to Senator Burr’s five questions is an emphatic ‘NO.’  Lhamon does not believe that constitutional protections such as due process should apply to TIX respondents.  If she did, her responses to Senator Burr’s questions would have been affirmative.

Senator Burr persisted.  “Of the questions that asked relative to current TIX guidelines, of those, how many do you plan to change?”  Lhamon prevaricated stating “I won’t be in control of what change does or does not happen with respect to the TIX regulation.”  The response is disingenuous.  She will absolutely be in control of any alterations to the current TIX Rule if she is confirmed.

Senator Burr also posed twice whether Lhamon supported the presumption of innocence, a requirement of the current Rule.  She again equivocated, but this time untruthfully, by asserting that the Rule lacks a presumption of innocence requisite.  It most certainly does.  Word games aside, Senator Burr returned to Lhamon’s fiction at the end of the hearing, and she still vacillated.

Again, let me answer Senator Burr’s important question.  Lhamon does not believe in the presumption of innocence, a foundation of American jurisprudence since 1895, in a TIX proceeding.  Actually, she probably doesn’t even believe that innocence is a valid defense in a TIX proceeding, something her OCR affirmed in my TIX ordeal.

My own TIX debacle is but one such an example of the presumption of guilt standard being implemented in a TIX proceeding under Lhamon’s prior OCR tenure.  Indeed, my TIX investigator didn’t even bother informing me of the sexual harassment allegations against me, which she substantiated without my input or knowledge and which, as I was to first learn ten months after my case was closed, were complete fabrications.

Lhamon’s performance at the HELP Committee hearing was disqualifying for a second round as Assistant Secretary of the OCR.  She demonstrated that she lacks commitment to key constitutional protections and judicial precedents that are hallmarks of the current TIX enforcement regulations, was equivocal and mendacious in response to Senators’ questions, and confirmed that she will enforce a policy that she believes fosters sexual assault on college campuses.

Lhamon does not merit confirmation.

Updated on August 1, 2021.