Monday, June 30, 2014

Man wrongly imprisoned for sexual assault amid "terrible climate" for presumptively innocent men. Anti-sexual assault advocate says there is nothing wrong with "silence, secrecy and shame finally being challenged" and "if that is making some people uncomfortable then tough luck."

According to a news report, a man wrongly imprisoned for almost a year on false claims of sexual assault was released only after police dismissed another case where his accuser said she was gang-raped by a car-load of men. The man is suing the police, claiming they knew the sexual assault report was probably untrue. His accuser had told police that the man was circumcised when, in fact, he wasn't. Nevertheless, they persisted in strip-searching and humiliating him, and then they locked him up for months for something he didn't do.

The news report of the suit quotes a veteran attorney about the "terrible climate" for men accused of sexual assault, the worst he's ever seen. "The way in which sexual assault cases are being prosecuted, there is a real risk of miscarriage of justice. In this case, but for the false complaints that were made about other people, [the accused man] might be languishing in prison for crimes he didn't commit."

But then, the news report veers off into dark territory in the interest of generating heat. It quotes anti-pedophilia activist Hetty Johnston, who "said there was nothing wrong with 'silence, secrecy and shame finally being challenged'." She continued: "If that is making some people uncomfortable then tough luck."

I would like to see the actual question posed to Hetty Johnston that elicited this declaration. Did the reporter tell her that her quote would be used in connection with the case of a man wrongly imprisoned for almost a year? Regardless, Hetty Johnston's comments are jarringly insensitive in the context of this story. "Tough luck" that a man could be wrongly imprisoned for almost a year? This attitude is emblematic of a hostility to due process that not only imperils presumptively innocent men and boys but does no favors for rape victims. The public loathes rapists but does not tolerate callously mocking the rights of innocent men and boys in the name of waging war on rape.

But wait, the article isn't finished. It also quotes an anti-abuse campaigner named Anthony Foster who, the article says, "questioned whether lawyers were simply worried they were 'losing control' because it was becoming harder to discredit victims in sexual assault cases."

No, Mr. Foster, I'd say the veteran lawyer quoted in the story wasn't bemoaning the fact that he can't help rapists beat the rap. He was bemoaning the fact that a man was wrongly deprived of his liberty for almost a year.

If anti-rape advocates want the public to get behind their efforts, they need to denounce rape lies because every rape lie diminishes the perceived integrity of every rape victim, and they need to come up with more appropriate reactions when the lives of presumptively innocent men and boys are destroyed by selfish rape lies and incompetent police.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Woman jailed for perverting the course of justice

A 30-year-old woman from South Gloucestershire has today been jailed for three-and-a-half years after making a series of false allegations of rape, assault and false imprisonment against her former partner.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Male student rescued from giant vagina statue in Germany

Well, as it turned out, the feminists were wrong after all.

It wasn't the snow penis at Harvard Yard, the sleepwalking man statue at Wellesley College, the clock tower logo at Brooklyn College, or the husky dog logo at UConn that people should fear, despite their patriarchal trappings.

It's the giant vagina statue in Germany.

A young male American in Tübingen, Germany had to be rescued by 22 firefighters after getting trapped inside a giant sculpture of a vagina called Chacán-Pi (Making Love) by Peruvian artist Fernando de la Jara.

A newspaper account explained: "Police confirmed that the firefighters turned midwives delivered the student 'by hand and without the application of tools.'"

We will leave it to our readers to draw from this what they want.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Economist: the government's one-in-five number doesn't add up -- using the government's own numbers

Mark Perry, an economics professor for the University of Michigan and a visiting scholar at the AEI, said this: "If you look at virtually any university in America and take the number of reported sexual assaults, and use that number in conjunction with the White House's under-reporting percentage, you don't get one-in-five. Nowhere near." See here

Prof. Perry's information is important because the one-in-five canard is routinely trotted out to justify diminishing the due process rights of presumptively innocent men who are accused of sexual assault. A recent blog post at Ms. Magazine Blog is an example of this blatant hostility to due process -- read it here -- it starts off with this: "One in five college women are sexually assaulted . . . ." (But read the comment after the story by "Fran," who identifies as a feminist -- she sums up the problem better than we could.)

In his recent infamous column on rape, George Will relied on Prof. Perry's study, and was attacked for it. One writer said this: "Will’s interpretation of the data, which relies on a dubious analysis from the American Enterprise Institute — a right-wing group that has a long history of downplaying campus sexual assaults." In fact, Prof. Perry is principally associated with the University of Michigan, but it sounds more evil to tie him to a conservative group. One attack on Prof. Perry's analysis claimed that many sexual assault reports don't make it to campus authorities when local police handle a case. Professor Perry answered their criticisms: It's the White House that claimed the numbers added up in the first place, he said. "If you think there's a problem with these statistics, then you should be looking at the White House."

The fact is, rape laws and policies are shaped by surveys where every rape allegation is uncritically accepted. So uncritically, in fact, that rape victims' advocates don't bother to make sure the one-in-five number is consistent with their own numbers about underreporting.

But there is another, even more troubling, problem about relying on rape surveys where every allegation is uncritically accepted:  none of the claims reported in surveys are tested against competing claims of innocence. Dr. Lisak's work shows us that the majority of rape claims that are reported can't be classified as actual rapes or non-rapes, so why is every claim on a survey -- the majority of which were not reported -- uncritically accepted?

A recent scientific study shows that some women lie on surveys to minimize their consensual sexual encounters, likely because of societal double-standards that find it acceptable for men, but not women, to engage in sexual activity. These lies are designed to bring women in sync with their expected gender role. When women believe they can lie and get away with it, they understate the number of their sexual partners. In contrast, when women are hooked up to a polygraph and believe their lies will not go undetected, they generally report more sexual partners than when they felt no such compulsion to be honest.

Should it surprise anyone, then, that some women report in surveys that they've been subjected to unwanted sex even when the sex was consensual in order to be in sync with societal expectations about gender roles?

The study shows men lie too -- but in the opposite direction: they exaggerate the number of sexual partners when they think their lies won't be detected. Is it any wonder that men don't report that they've been sexually assaulted? Such a claim would not be in keeping with the masculine "ideal" that men are up for sex all the time.

In any event, the impact of sexual assault surveys on public policy is significant, even draconian. Perhaps the best example is that the infamous April 4, 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter cited one such survey as a justification to diminish the due process protections afforded persons accused of sexual misconduct on college campuses (almost always young men). That letter stated: "A report prepared for the National Institute of Justice found that about 1 in 5 women are victims of completed or attempted sexual assault while in college."

It is time for a national conversation about the uncritical acceptance of sexual assault surveys that produce the one-in-five number, and for a critical, unbiased look at their reliability.Unfortunately, the sexual assault milieu is so terribly politicized that attempts even to broach the subject typically are met with vitriol and name calling, not serious, much less respectful, dialogue.

Sexual assault is a serious problem; diminishing due process rights, and justifying it with dubious numbers, is not the way to attack it.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Professor warns about young men who seek legal redress for false rape claims

Former Iowa State University basketball player Bubu Palo has filed a civil action for defamation against the woman who accused him of sexual assault two years ago. Criminal sexual assault charges had been brought against Palo, but they were dismissed before trial. A forensic analysis of a blouse the alleged victim wore the night of the incident determined it had been torn after the alleged assault, contrary to statements the alleged victim had made under oath.

The local newspaper that reported the story quotes a Stanford law professor named Michele Landis Dauber, who said this about the Palo lawsuit: “I think that there are valid public policy reasons that a judge might want to look very carefully at such a case and make sure that there’s really good evidence to support (the defamation claim), because otherwise it is going to be very harassing of sexual assault victims."

Dauber's comments are the legal equivalent of gobbledygook. The standard of proof for defamation claims is preponderance of the evidence. "Really good evidence" has no legal meaning, and law professors from Stanford ought to know better.

Does Dauber mean that a judge should require Mr. Palo to produce evidence beyond a "preponderance of the evidence"? If Dauber didn't mean to suggest that, why did she bother making the statement? The implication of Dauber's quote is that because the alleged defamation arose in the context of a sexual assault claim, the plaintiff should be subjected to a different -- presumably enhanced -- standard that does not apply to plaintiffs in any other defamation action. (If Dauber meant something different, she can tell us, and we will happily report it.)

The preponderance of the evidence standard is the same standard that rape victims' advocates tell us is fair to use to judge young men in campus disciplinary tribunals involving sexual assault. But somehow, that standard is not fair when those same young men sue because they claim they were wrongly accused? It is well to note that in a civil defamation action, the defendant is afforded all manner of prophylactic safeguards -- including the right to cross-examine her accuser -- that are not available in college hearings.

In other news reports, Dauber is said to advocate for expulsion in cases of sexual assault. In cases that might end in life-altering expulsion, we wonder if Dauber believes the university should be required to "make sure that there's really good evidence to support" the charge? Because -- you know -- "otherwise it is going to be very harassing of" presumptively innocent young men? Or do Dauber's concerns only run one way?

Dauber is also on record opposing the right of persons accused of sexual assault to cross-examine their accusers. Here is a quote attributed to her: "Having the 18-year-old rape victim be cross-examined by the guy who raped her? That's just wrong, wrong, wrong," she said.

But what about the 18-year-old man who is wrongly accused of rape? Dauber's policy also assumes it is "wrong, wrong, wrong" for him to cross-examine his accuser in an attempt to establish his innocence. Perhaps the idea that a young man might be wrongly accused of sexual assault never crossed Dauber's mind. Or perhaps there aren't enough of them for Dauber to worry about. Therein lies the injustice in her advocacy.

The local newspaper reporting on the Palo case also quoted someone named Beth Barnhill, executive director of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, who said that that lawsuits against alleged victims are “really unfortunate.” And: “I think it can discourage reporting. It’s a terrible precedent, and I think that there are a very small number of false reports.”

Barnhill's comments are staggering in their hostility to fundamental notions of fairness. Young men who are defamed should be deprived of their right to legal redress -- so long as the defamation occurred in the context of a false rape claim.  Only in the loopy milieu of gender politics are such statements uttered with a straight face. Sadly, such puerility is about par for the public discourse when it comes to sexual assault.

This sums up this blog's message. Enough said.

I don't think I can top this and think I'll stop with this post. Here is a comment by a woman who identifies as a feminist under the Ms. Magazine blog entry we've recently written about:

Fran says:  
I always am confronted with a personal hypocrisy (to use my own words) when it comes to issues like these. 
As a liberal, I sympathize with a biased judicial system where defendants are often on the short end of the stick, stigmatized for life with felon status, and often have their constitutional rights infringed before, during, and after trial. This sentiment and concern I feel is often a “liberal” idea as potentially demonstrated by the “liberal” SCOTUS justices often siding with broader protections for criminal defendants than their conservative counterparts. 
However, as a feminist, I often see in myself and many liberal organizations an irrational position that sex crimes are different. I scream loudly for fair trials, right to confront witnesses, and for an impartial jury and judge. However, I see the exact opposite when it comes to sex crimes. We demonize the defendant before a finding of guilt, we sympathize with the victim to the point where we suggest she shouldn’t have to testify because of trauma (in the face of the Confrontation Clause) and protest when a jury returns a verdict in favor of the defendant that we disagree with. 
I speak for myself but recognize that many organizations of the liberal kind that promise fair trials and demand justice for defendants sentenced to death, long prison sentences, etc. However, we hypocritically dismiss the rights of sexual assault defendants and, in my opinion, ask that we bend the constitutional protections to shield victims at the expense of a fair justice system for defendants who are innocent until proven guilty. 
I’m not saying in the context of college review that the full force of a judicial system needs to be in place, but the pessimistic and negative view that I feel is inherent in this article is a little disconcerting. If college campuses persecuted thieves and drug addicted students under this standard, ruining the lives of many, I think Ms. would be write an article with a different tone than the present one’s.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Occidental College professor ratchets up the hostility to college men accused of sex offenses

"Welcome to Caroline Heldman's Facebook page! She is a professor of politics, Occidental College." And here is a snapshot from that Facebook page today:

Heldman was recently quoted in a Ms. Magazine blog entry about the spate of lawsuits filed by men who claim their colleges denied them their due process rights in connection with sexual assault claims. She said this: "These lawsuits are an incredible display of entitlement, the same entitlement that drove them to rape." Read her full comments in that blog entry for yourself. We read them to indicate that she believes the young men's civil actions are frivolous.

There is no indication in the referenced sites that Heldman has information about the actual evidence pertinent to any of the specific cases she has prejudged. If she does, she did not share it. That doesn't stop her from convicting young men she's never met in the court of last resort -- the radical feminist blogosphere -- based on nothing more than her righteous ipse dixit.

I wrote about Heldman's comments in this blog earlier this week. I had hoped that Heldman would come forward and explain that her comments were taken out of context.

Alas, on her Facebook page yesterday, Heldman posted a link to the blog post that quoted her, and it only confirmed my concerns. It points out that campus predators are rarely brought to justice, and that now "they" (the campus predators) are suing. Heldman assumes the young men suing are guilty. Don't take my word for it -- I do not want to be unfair to Heldman -- read it yourself.

Heldman's pronouncements sweep over the rights of the presumptively innocent like a high-speed rail, and she doesn't for an instant consider even the possibility that some their claims might have validity. It is one thing to assert that rape is too common and that too many rapists get away with it. All persons of good will should agree with that. It is quite another to suggest, as Heldman does, that the young men who've filed suit are guilty as a class merely because too many rapists in general get away with it. Most unsettling is her dismissive tone that paints all of the young plaintiffs with the same broad brush, reduces them to vile caricature, and treats their cases as fungible, the facts be damned. I know nothing about Heldman aside from the quotes on the internet sites I've referenced, but it is unfathomable that a professor of politics at an American college could be so terribly unschooled in, or so terribly hostile to, notions of fairness that are foundational to our traditions of justice. Just as all persons of good will should be outraged when anyone is raped, Heldman's morally grotesque rush to judgment should be widely censured.

We note in passing that the nation's leading authority on the subject of campus rape justice, Brett Sokolow of NCHERM (who, incidentally, has done more to advance the cause of eradicating rape on campus than anyone) says there is a problem for young men on campus. He says that in "a lot" of cases, schools are holding young men "accountable in spite of the evidence – or the lack thereof – because they think they are supposed to . . . ." And that in "case-after-case . . . sincere victims believe something has happened to them that evidence shows absolutely did not . . .." And: "We see complainants who genuinely believe they have been assaulted, despite overwhelming proof that it did not happen." We've written a lot about Mr. Sokolow's views lately.

Professor  Heldman's comments are appalling. She owes the presumptively innocent young men she has unjustly prejudged, and the entire Occidental College community, a sincere apology.

Brett Sokolow: some colleges "have let the pendulum swing too far in the wrong direction"

From this source. Excerpt:
In responding to concerns raised on their campuses, some colleges "have let the pendulum swing too far in the wrong direction," said Brett Sokolow, CEO of the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management Group, a law and consulting firm. He said he has taken on some sexual assault cases on behalf of men in which both parties had been drinking heavily before having sex. "It's a trend that really needs to be nipped quickly. We have to provide equal dignity for all students," Sokolow said.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Colleges' dirty little secret: Their insurers are paying out a lot of money to settle false rape claims

United Educators is an insurance company owned by more than 1,000 colleges and universities. 54 percent of the claims it receives come from students who say they were falsely accused of sexual assault. A full 72 percent of the insurer's payouts -- almost three quarters -- go to students who were falsely accused.

See the right side of page 2 here.

Add these to the misandry hall of fame

The year isn't half over, yet we've already seen a rash of kooky statements that evince a disturbing hostility to men and maleness. It is perplexing that these sorts of assertions are rarely widely denounced. What follows are some pretty disturbing quotations collected from just this year alone:

Amanda Childress, Sexual Assault Awareness Program coordinator at Dartmouth College, declared that campus policies aren't going far enough to protect students. She asked: "Why could we not expel a student based on an allegation?"

Dartmouth defended Childress's comment, noting that she "was asking a question—a provocative one—meant to generate dialogue around complex issues for which answers are necessary to continue to strengthen and promote fair and equitable processes at all colleges and universities.”

Ms. Magazine blog intern Emily Shugerman says that men who are suing colleges for alleged violations of their due process rights in connection with sexual assault claims are just "playing the victim" and that their suits are a "backlash" in the "face of this rising tide of feminist action."

The Ms. Magazine blog also quotes someone named Caroline Heldman, a professor at Occidental College: "These lawsuits are an incredible display of entitlement, the same entitlement that drove them to rape."

California’s Senate Bill 967 would codify the use of the low “preponderance of the evidence” standard (50.01% likelihood) in sexual assault cases on campus and mandate “affirmative consent” at every step of a sexual encounter. The co-author of the bill in the Assembly, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, said when she was asked how an innocent person is supposed to prove consent: “Your guess is as good as mine. I think it’s a legal issue. Like any legal issue, that goes to court.

Stanford grad students Anna Ninan and Jonny Dorsey wrote: "While an alleged sexual assault is under investigation, the principle of innocence until proven guilty and the right of all students to pursue their education free from fear or intimidation may be in conflict." They said: "Stanford needs a process for considering the balance of harms in adjudicating such conflicts." How do Ninan and Dorsey propose that the "balance" be struck? By "tak[ing] the survivor's perspective," of course. Specifically: "Stanford should . . . consider the option of removing accused students from campus on a case-by-case basis . . .."

Jenny Davis said the use of the word "seminal" is "blatantly sexist" and "perpetuate[s] inequalities or marginalization."

A petition to ban a statue of a sleepwalking man at Wellesley College said the statue was "a source of apprehension, fear, and triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault for many members of our campus community," and "a source of undue stress for many Wellesley College students."

Zoe Magid, a Wellesley College junior, said this about the statue ". . . it's making students on campus feel unsafe . . . ."

Tracey Spicer wrote: "I know it's sexist. But I don't want my kids sitting next to a man on a plane."

Sen. Claire McCaskill circulated an extensive survey about sexual assault to 350 college and university presidents. The survey classifies persons who make accusations of sexual misconduct as “victims,” and in one place calls persons merely accused of sexual misconduct “offenders.” Then on page 14, it contains this query: "Below is a list of policies and procedures that may discourage victims from disclosing and reporting assaults at some schools . . . . 1. Disclosure of offender’s rights in the adjudication process . . . ." The implication: it is somehow improper to insure that students accused of serious sexual offenses are aware of their rights.

A jury acquitted former Dartmouth student Parker Gilbert of raping a female student at the school in a "he said/she said" dispute. A juror told a reporter “(The woman’s) story of how the night played out, the evidence wasn’t there to support that." And: “There is tons and tons of evidence that just doesn’t add up.” But WISE, an organization that seeks to empower victims of domestic and sexual violence, issued a formal statement: "Today’s decision in the Dartmouth rape trial of Parker Gilbert is devastating and there is no doubt that it sends a terrible message to survivors of sexual assault."

James Taranto wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal in which he said that it is unjust to hold only the male responsible for sexual assault when sex partners engage in mutually reckless, drunken sex; that is, when they engage in precisely the same conduct and the only difference is that one has a penis and one has a vagina. Tara Culp-Ressler twisted Taranto's words beyond recognition: "In a Wall Street Journal column published on Monday," Culp-Ressler wrote, "conservative commentator James Taranto argued that a 'balanced' approach to the college sexual assault crisis involves placing equal blame on rapists and their victims, if both of them were drinking alcohol." (Shortly after that, the nation's leading authority on campus sexual violence, Brett Sokolow, cautioned colleges that when a man and a woman engage in mutually tipsy sex, the school can't single out the male for discipline because that would be discrimination against him.)

Duke University Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek was asked what would happen if two students got drunk to the point of incapacity, and then had sex. "Assuming it is a male and female, it is the responsibility in the case of the male to gain consent before proceeding with sex," said Wasiolek.

Pamela Geller had a conniption because major universities are instituting "non-gender specific bathrooms" that have both stalls and urinals. Geller explained that unless your daughter is the type who will "fellate any guy who asks her to, and if she actually respects herself, her body and her self-worth, this could be – sexually traumatic."

●A male student writing in The Technician, student daily newspaper of North Carolina State University, said that "as men, we have no right to tell women what rape is. We have no right to weigh in on the logistics of what constitutes rape. Our role is to shut up and stop raping people."

I think the reason that these sorts of outlandish, anti-male sentiments are largely given a free pass in the mainstream media, while less egregious comments about women are immediately denounced, is because the media treats groups that are perceived to be disadvantaged with greater sensitivity. A couple of years ago, the BBC's director-general admitted that Christianity is treated with far less sensitivity than other religions because it is "pretty broad shouldered."  Since most positions of authority are occupied by males, comments like the ones quoted above are largely ignored.

The problem is, of course, that while men are more likely than women to occupy positions of authority, there are also more men than women at the bottom rungs of society. For virtually every social pathology, more men than women are afflicted.

The mainstream media's insensitivity to issues affecting men is a misplaced and outmoded remnant of an era long since passed. The aforementioned statements, and many others like them, ought to evoke far greater scrutiny by the mainstream media.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

This article is among the most hostile to due process I've ever seen

Ms. Magazine blog writer Emily Shugerman says that men who are suing colleges for alleged violations of their due process rights in connection with sexual assault claims are just "playing the victim" and that their suits are a "backlash" in the "face of this rising tide of feminist action." Then the magazine quotes someone named Caroline Heldman, a professor at Occidental College: "These lawsuits are an incredible display of entitlement, the same entitlement that drove them to rape."

It is well to note that neither Shugerman nor Heldman bother to discuss the actual merits of any of the cases -- you know, silly little things like evidence -- because they can't. That doesn't stop them from rushing headlong to judgment and assuming the plaintiffs are guilty by reason of penis. Because rape happens too often in entirely unrelated cases, these particular men can't possibly have valid claims. They are just "playing the victim" and are "entitled."

It would be difficult to imagine a more shocking hostility to due process, or to men.

Shugerman proceeds to exclaim that "according to the FBI, only eight percent of rape reports are unfounded." The implication is that 92 percent of all claims are actual rapes, and the FBI never said that. In fact, as Dr. David Lisak has shown, the majority of rape claims can't be classified as true or false. But why left the facts get in the way of a good radical feminist rant?

The nation's leading authority on the subject of campus rape justice, Brett Sokolow of NCHERM, says there is a problem for young men on campus. He says that in "a lot" of cases, schools are holding young men "accountable in spite of the evidence – or the lack thereof – because they think they are supposed to . . . ." And that in "case-after-case . . . sincere victims believe something has happened to them that evidence shows absolutely did not . . .." And: "We see complainants who genuinely believe they have been assaulted, despite overwhelming proof that it did not happen."

Both Shugerman and Heldman come off like Harvard Lampoon caricatures of angry, irrational feminists. Most appalling is the arrogance of these ideologues, who deign to prejudge judicial actions without bothering to deal with the facts.  Is it any wonder that so few people -- including so few women -- identify as feminist? It is unfortunate that leading feminist pundits don't call them out on their intolerance because they engender disrepute of the entire movement.

And, of course, they do rape victims no favors: hostility to the fair administration of justice undermines confidence in the system and fuels a growing belief -- which Mr. Sokolow has verified -- that college disciplinary proceedings can be hostile places for young men. The more prevalent that belief is, the greater the likelihood that persons adjudicating these disputes will be wary about finding even guilty men responsible for their actions.

Teacher's defense: boy is the aggressor because he nagged her for sex

Read about it here. The boy "wore down her defenses." The teacher's defense adopts the unfortunate memes of radical feminists who want to make nagging for sex a punishable offense. On many college campuses, such nagging is grounds for discipline. Read about that sad trend here.

It is both comical and frightening when women who are not victims adopt the memes of victimhood. Remember the false rape accuser who declared the following when she was arrested for her lie: "That's why women don't report rape."

Friday, June 13, 2014

Off topic: Hung jury mistakenly acquits defendant in burglary case, defendant is killed one hour later

Almost too bizarre for words. Bobby Lee Peason must have felt like the luckiest man in the world after he was accidentally acquitted by a hung jury.

His luck lasted just one hour. He was killed in a fight with his sister's boyfriend.

Read it here.

'Nearly Choked to Death'==Two Versions

By John Leo. This appeared in Minding the Campus:
In the Brown University rape-charge scandal, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has declared that the complaining student was "nearly choked to death."

The male involved says the "choking" was minor and meant to be affectionate:

"Both (the female and male students, Lena Sclove and Daniel Kopin) acknowledge that Sclove had an intensely negative reaction when Kopin put his hand on her neck while they were kissing and touching each other in the street....According to Kopin, he (again) put his hand on her neck, in a "gentle manner," while she was giving him oral sex--at which point she stopped and told him she did not want to be touched that way, and he apologized.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Apology to Brett Sokolow

Brett Sokolow is doing more to advance the rights of young men on campus than anyone I know, just as he's done more to advance the rights of sexual assault victims on campus over the past 15 years. In our predecessor blog, we misjudged Mr. Sokolow, based on the limited information available to us, as someone hostile to the due process rights of persons accused of sexual assault. In fact, in writing after writing, we see that Mr. Sokolow is concerned about fairness.

I don't agree with all of his positions. In my opinion, his views on sexual coercion are on shaky legal ground, but he is someone whose good faith needs to be acknowledged and credited. I will be writing about the standard of review on campus in the next few days -- we have criticized him in the past on this. The issue is more complicated than most want to acknowledge.

Mr. Sokolow, you have our apology, our best wishes for your continued success, and our hope that you keep up the fight for fairness for all students. I am linking NCHERM to this blog.

Here is the latest news on Sokolow:
Since April, he says, at least 55 young men have asked him to represent them in disputes with their colleges or universities. So far, Mr. Sokolow has taken on 11 of those cases.

He believes that the rising number of complaints from men stems in part from increasing pressure on colleges to hold students responsible for sexual misconduct, and the mistaken belief among administrators that this means they should find more young men responsible. "All of this pressure from the White House and OCR has been communicated, and these university panels believe they are supposed to vote a certain way now," says Mr. Sokolow. "Campuses are saying, We have to comply with Title IX, so we have to side with the victim."

How can a student prove consent to sexual activity under California's proposed "affirmative consent" law? The bill's co-author says: "Your guess is as good as mine."

California’s Senate Bill 967 would codify the use of the low “preponderance of the evidence” standard (50.01% likelihood) in sexual assault cases on campus and mandate “affirmative consent” at every step of a sexual encounter.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) says the proposed law is "a confusing and legally unworkable standard for consent to sexual activity." Under this bill, a student can be found responsible for sexual assault even if there was actual consent, simply because he could not prove he obtained consent in the prescribed manner.

FIRE sums it up: "Under this mandate, a student could be found guilty of sexual assault and deemed a rapist simply by being unable to prove she or he obtained explicit verbal consent to every sexual activity throughout a sexual encounter."

The law is about to become a guessing game for young men on California campuses. If you think that's an exaggeration, read what the co-author of the bill in the Assembly, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, said when she was asked how an innocent person is supposed to prove consent: “Your guess is as good as mine. I think it’s a legal issue. Like any legal issue, that goes to court.”

And that about sums it up. SB 967 threatens to turn innocent young men into pariahs who will be expelled from college and have their goods names blackened simply for failing to meet a confusing and unworkable legal standard.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Balance, balance, balance . . . finally, some voices in the mainstream media are having an adult discussion about serious issues

Read Daniel Drezner's Washington Post piece here.

An example of lousy news reporting of an alleged rape

Too often, news reporting destroys the good name of presumptively innocent men accused of sexual assault. Rape is widely regarded as the loathsome of all acts (for many people, even more loathsome than murder), so the stigmatization of a false rape claim is unique and can be severe, even life altering. This blog receives requests from wrongly accused men to remove their names from stories reported on our site even though the stories portray them as victims. They tell us that having stories appear on-line that allude to a rape accusation against them -- even though the accusation was shown to be false -- harms their reputations. We always comply.

The following is an almost verbatim news story about a false rape claim that appeared in the Newark Advocate, see here. The only change I made to the story is that I am not posting the name of the accused man. When I first read the news story, one fact was painfully obvious: inexplicably, the accuser is not named, but the accused is. The news story recounts an atrocious lie the woman allegedly told about the man. First, read the story:
Rape charge against Newark man dismissed after woman admits to lying
NEWARK — A rape charge against a 22-year-old Newark man was dismissed Monday after the woman who filed the report told law enforcement officers she lied about being sexually assaulted. 
______________ had been charged with the first-degree felony May 20 following the woman’s report and an interview with police. The woman reportedly told police ______________ had held her down and covered her mouth while engaging in sexual conduct with her. 
According to a Newark Division of Police report, the woman who reported the sexual assault admitted to police Monday morning that she had lied. 
Assistant Licking County Prosecutor Chris Reamer filed a motion to dismiss Monday and ______________ was released from the Licking County Justice Center. In his motion, Reamer said the possibility the woman had lied was made known to law enforcement after Facebook communications had been brought to the attention of police. 
The woman could face falsification charges for filing a false police report.
At the time I am writing this post, there are ten comments under the story. Presumably, these are regular readers, not civil libertarians or "men's rights advocates." The comments are typical for news stories like this -- they express outrage and a desire to punish the false accuser. Four of the comments want the woman named. One reader wrote: "She should face jail and be publically [sic] named, the advocate had no issue giving the real victims name in this case[.]" Another wrote: "She is no longer a victim. She should be named and charged" Another wrote: "again, you name the poor guy who gets blamed, but protect the woman who made the claim,,NAME HER for darn sake[.]"

But wait, that's not the end of the story. Last month, before the woman recanted, the Newark Advocate ran a story reporting the alleged rape in which it splashed the young man's mugshot on its site and even provided his address for anyone interested. See here. But in the original news story, the following passage appears (again I am redacting the name of the accused): "______________ allegedly admitted to the assault during a police interview and said he knew the victim did not want to engage in the sexual conduct, 'but because he had consumed alcohol and was sexually aroused, he had sex with her anyway.' The victim may have some mental handicaps, according to the statement of facts."

In the most recent news story where the woman recanted, the Newark Advocate doesn't bother to mention the alleged admission of the accused or the accuser's purported mental handicaps. If the man admitted to the assault, and if the woman has mental handicaps, should law enforcement be crediting her recantation? Or was the original story wrong? Did the Advocate question police about why the recantation of a supposedly mentally challenged young woman has been credited in the face of the accused's purported admission? Isn't that something that readers of the Advocate would want to know? And if the recantation was worthy of being credited, why on earth does the Advocate print the man's name but not the woman's in the latest story?

The Newark Advocate doesn't bother to tell us any of it. We are left with only questions because, we fear, this story wasn't "big" enough to investigate thoroughly even if it was life-altering for either the man or the woman involved. Sadly, that's all too common for stories like this.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

List of lawsuits by male students alleging due process violations in adjudicating sexual assault

A Voice for Male Students has published an excellent list of lawsuits by male students alleging due process violations in adjudicating sexual assault charges. Here is the list, with some modifications to make the description of the documents consistent with legal terminology:

Monday, June 9, 2014

Must read: The "rapist" who was allowed to return to campus speaks out -- and it turns out he may not be a rapist after all

The news media has ganged up on a former male student of Brown University and declared him to be a rapist after he was accused of rape by another student. Rarely do young men accused of rape speak out publicly, even if they are innocent, the young man in this case has gone public. He claims he is innocent, and the picture he paints is compelling. Read Cathy Young's gut-wrenching account here:

Students question ‘affirmative consent’ bill designed to combat sexual assaults


LONG BEACH  A bill on its way to the state Assembly mandates that California’s public universities adopt a policy requiring college students to obtain ongoing consent throughout a sexual encounter.

Senate Bill 967, introduced by state Sens. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, and Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, requires Cal State University, the University of California and community college districts to adopt campus anti-sexual violence policies that include an affirmative consent standard.

The bill, which was co-authored by Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, passed the state Senate 27-9 on May 29 and was moved to the Assembly.

“I strongly believe that we need to change the way we look at sexual assault and how we talk about it,” said Lowenthal, who chairs the state Legislative Women’s Caucus, with Jackson as vice chair. “In the past, there’s been legislation requiring campuses to disclose crimes on campus and establish victims’ rights, but all across the state, whether it’s private colleges or public universities, campuses have been failing to prevent assaults and protect victims, so I believe our students deserve better.”

SB 967 requires campuses to adopt the affirmative consent standard when determining whether consent was given.

The bill defines affirmative consent as “an affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.” It adds that consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual encounter and can be revoked at any time, and the existence of a dating relationship between the people involved, or their past sexual relations with one another, can’t be assumed to be an indicator of consent.

A pair of friends at Cal State Long Beach said the bill seemed well-intentioned, but questioned how practical it is when it comes to ensuring consent throughout sex with their partners.

“I feel like their hearts are in the right place, but the implementation is a little too excessive,” said Henry Mu, a 24-year-old biology major. “Are there guidelines? Are we supposed to check every five minutes?”

The remark drew laughter from his friend and fellow 49er, Sue Tang.

“If you were to do that, it would definitely kill the vibe,” said Tang, 27.

Lowenthal said affirmative consent means an individual “must say ‘yes,’” and “if an individual says nothing, that doesn’t imply consent.”

The UC system in February, when SB 967 was introduced, adopted a similar policy, also defining consent as “an affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.”

At the 23-campus CSU system, “the concept of affirmative consent suggested by the bill is in line with our own system-wide policy, and the CSU has taken a position of support on SB 967,” said CSU Spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp in an email.



Shortly after the report, the federal Department of Education released a list of 55 colleges and universities that were under investigation for allegedly mishandling sexual assault complaints. The list included Occidental College, UC Berkeley and the University of Southern California.

Before the floor vote on SB 967, de Leon urges lawmakers to address the “profound problem” by approving the bill and promoting preventative programming that empowers survivors. De Leon said the “vast majority” of campuses have no consistent program to deal with young women who are traumatized by sexual assault and need services, adding that in some cases, the alleged perpetrator is allowed in the same classes as their victim.

“Twenty percent of young women on a college campus, whether it’s a UC, a Cal State or private independent college, will be sexually assaulted in some form, way or shape,” de Leon said. “We need to have a cultural shift across institutions of higher education to take these crimes very seriously.”

Supporters of the bill, which include the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the UC Student Association, say SB 967 is needed because sexual assault on campuses is a gray area that needs to be better defined.

“The general discussion around this is that consent needs to be something that is not in question,” said Kareem Aref, president of the UC Student Association and a student at UC Riverside. “If there’s a point where it’s in question, then you’re doing something wrong. If a woman or a man is not consenting, or if it’s blurry, that they’re not consenting, something’s wrong. It needs to be very clear.”


Critics of SB 967 say the “one-in-five” women statistic is dubious, and is used by legislators and universities to create a climate of fear on campus that ignores the rights of the accused.

Samantha Harris, director of policy research at the Philadelphia-based nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said the statistic comes from a 2007 federally funded Campus Sexual Assault Study using broad definitions of sexual violence to inflate the prevalence of the problem.

“Depending on their answers, they were classified as victims, regardless of whether they had identified themselves as victims,” Harris said. “If somebody replied as having sex when drunk then they would be classified as a victim. Sexual assault on campus is a serious issue, but you have to get those numbers right.”

Harris said for too long there has been a lack of due process for the accused in college judicial systems, which, under Title IX, are required to investigate student claims of sexual assault or risk being accused of creating a hostile learning environment under federal civil rights laws.

Other critics of SB 967 say the proposed law is too vague and doesn’t represent consensual sexual interaction in the real world.

“To me, this bill turns most people into sexual assaulters,” said Hans Bader, senior attorney for the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Bader, who wrote against the bill at, said many campuses already broadly define sexual activity, and consent is often a nonverbal cue, with either partner being able to stop the activity at any time. He wondered if romantic partners would need to ask each other’s permission for a kiss or hug.

Bader also said he was concerned about false accusations.

“If someone can be nasty enough to rape, can someone be nasty enough to say I didn’t consent?” Bader said. “Are they going to pass a law saying don’t lie?”

When asked how an innocent person is to prove he or she indeed received consent, Lowenthal said, “Your guess is as good as mine. I think it’s a legal issue. Like any legal issue, that goes to court.”

Serial false accuser to be charged. Finally.


HELENA – The state has sufficient grounds to charge a Billings woman with tampering with or fabricating evidence by falsely reporting her ex-boyfriend raped her in August 2012, the Montana Supreme Court has found.

The court’s 5-0 ruling May 27 overturns a decision by District Judge G. Todd Baugh, who ordered the felony charge against Christina Nadia Nelson dismissed in July.

Nelson, 24, also is the subject of an arrest warrant in Flathead County, where she is charged with two counts of tampering with or fabricating evidence for falsely claiming that her prom date raped and assaulted her in Columbia Falls in 2009. Prosecutors say that was the first of five false rape claims she has made since arriving in the United States as an exchange student from Germany.

Nelson’s attorney, Penelope Strong of Billings, did not return a phone call Friday from the Associated Press seeking comment.

Baugh found that while Nelson lied about being raped in August 2012, nothing in her forensic exam was false or inaccurate and there was no physical evidence of the rape she described.

Baugh told prosecutors there were more specific statutes that covered Nelson’s conduct, such as perjury, false swearing or making a false report to law enforcement. He gave prosecutors 30 days to amend the charge.

The state appealed, arguing Baugh’s decision violated the discretion prosecutors have in making charging decisions. Given the “extreme measures” Nelson used to mislead investigators, prosecutors should be able to charge her with a felony, the state argued.

On Aug. 10, 2012, Nelson went to the Billings Clinic and reported she had been raped earlier that evening by her former boyfriend. Nelson said she was attacked as she left work and was assaulted in his van.

Afterward, Nelson said she went to a bar, had a drink with a friend and went to the gym with her husband. Her husband told officers Nelson told him about the rape after they had unprotected sex, which she initiated.

Police interviewed Nelson’s former boyfriend, who proved he was out of state that day. Officers also obtained surveillance video from Nelson’s workplace, which showed her getting into her car after work and leaving, with no one approaching her.

Detectives learned about four earlier rape reports Nelson made and then declined to pursue, including the Columbia Falls case and another in 2009. Nelson, whose maiden name is Mark, also filed two false assault claims and two other false rape claims against the same former boyfriend she accused in the 2012 case, prosecutors said.

“Nelson’s conduct not only placed (her ex-boyfriend) at serious risk of facing a rape charge, it made an already difficult road even more difficult for women who truly have been raped,” the state argued in asking the Supreme Court to overturn Baugh’s ruling.

Prosecutors charged Nelson in December 2012 with tampering or fabricating physical evidence for making a false report leading to the August 2012 rape exam in which evidence was collected.

Nelson’s attorney argued the false statements could not be considered physical evidence.

Police: "Rape" by white male in his 20s never happened


BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - After a day-long investigation into a reported sexual assault near Boise State University, Boise Police detectives say the victim told them the crime actually did not take place.

Detectives say they will now turn the report over to prosecutors to review and decide whether charges will be issued for filing a false police report.

The report was originally filed with Boise Police shortly after 9 a.m. Sunday. Officers say the woman told them she was walking underneath the Broadway bridge on the north side of the river when she was attacked by a white male in his 20s. She told officers she was sexually assaulted, but was able to get away.

Again, the victim admitted to detectives that this crime did not actually happen.

Friday, June 6, 2014

'Lying law graduate who claimed boyfriend raped her 11 times so she had an excuse for failing her bar exams faces jail'

A lying law graduate who falsely accused her boyfriend of rape so she would have an excuse for failing her legal exams is facing jail after being found guilty of perverting the course of justice.

Rhiannon Brooker, 30, claimed Paul Fensome, 46, forced her to have sex with him on 11 occasions and faked injuries to suggest he beat her.

The Birmingham law graduate even alleged Mr Fensome caused her to have a miscarriage by punching her in the stomach.

During the eight-week trial at Bristol Crown Court, jurors were told Brooker falsified the allegations because her party lifestyle led her to fail her bar assessments.

She is said to have told an exam committee that her performance suffered from 'extenuating circumstances'.

Mr Fensome, a 6ft 8in tall heavy metal fan, was arrested, charged and held in custody for 36 days before police realised there was no evidence against him.

Brooker, from Frampton Cotterell, South Gloucestershire, denied 20 charges of doing an act tending and intended to pervert the course of justice between May 2011 and January 2012.

The charges related to 11 made-up claims of rape, eight assaults and one of false imprisonment.

After nearly 21 hours of deliberations, the jury of 10 men and two women found Brooker guilty of 12 charges - related to five false rape claims, six assaults and one of false imprisonment.

Jurors failed to reach verdicts on the other eight charges and were discharged by Judge Julian Lambert.

The prosecution is not seeking a re-trial and Brooker, who was released on bail, will be sentenced on June 26.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Roundup: campus sexual assault news

The government's one-in-five stat doesn't mesh with its own under-reporting stat

Excerpt from this column:
The statistics are: One in five women is sexually assaulted while in college, and only 12 percent of assaults are reported.
Simple arithmetic demonstrates that if the 12 percent reporting rate is correct, the 20 percent assault rate is preposterous. Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute notes, for example, that in the four years 2009-12 there were 98 reported sexual assaults at Ohio State. That would be 12 percent of 817 total out of a female student population of approximately 28,000, for a sexual assault rate of approximately 2.9 percent -- too high but nowhere near 20 percent.
Colleges discriminate against men in their decisions about bringing charges

"Charging only the male if both parties are drunk (not incapacitated) is gender discrimination." Brett Sokolow, president of NCHERM. See here.  Last April, Mr. Sokolow wrote a letter devoted this subject. See here.

Duke dean's views discriminate against men

In the recent case where Lewis McLeod sued Duke, Rachel B. Hitch, a Raleigh attorney representing McLeod, asked Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek what would happen if two students got drunk to the point of incapacity, and then had sex.

"They have raped each other and are subject to explusion?" Hitch asked.

"Assuming it is a male and female, it is the responsibility in the case of the male to gain consent before proceeding with sex," said Wasiolek. (Source here)

Dean Wasiolek's views are troubling. They are contrary to the views of Brett Sokolow of NCHERM, who is probably the leading authority in America on the subject. If Duke makes disciplinary decisions in accordance with Wasiolek's philosophy, men are being charged with sexual assault when they shouldn't be.

Victims advocate says colleges need to get the process right

Excerpt from here.
Longtime victim advocate S. Daniel Carter, director of the 32 National Campus Safety Initiative at the VTV Family Outreach Foundation, said getting the right balance in campus adjudications is critical for the accusers as well.
"If you have a process that does not treat both the accuser and the accused fairly, it's just wrong," Carter said, "and it's not going to be politically viable amongst the community."
We agree with Mr. Carter. The recent lawsuits filed by men against schools that expelled them, and the recent chilling comments from NCHERM, suggest that the system is not being fair to men accused of sexual assault on campus. This perception does no favors for rape victims because it undermines public confidence in the way rape is handled. If jurors and persons assigned to college disciplinary boards believe that the system is stacked against men and boys accused of rape (that, for example, the standard of proof is too low, or that charges are brought when they shouldn't be), they will be all the more wary about punishing even men and boys who should be punished.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Stanford grad students want men accused of rape kicked off campus altogether while the school's investigation drags on for months

The chorus of voices across America that are hostile to the due process rights of college men accused of sexual assault keeps growing.

We've written extensively about this hostility lately. Perhaps the most egregious manifestation of it was the comment by Amanda Childress, Sexual Assault Awareness Program coordinator at Dartmouth College, who declared that campus policies aren't going far enough to protect students. She asked: "Why could we not expel a student based on an allegation?"

Stanford grad students Anna Ninan, MBA ’15, and Jonny Dorsey ’09 MBA ’14 have added their voices to the chorus. "While an alleged sexual assault is under investigation, the principle of innocence until proven guilty and the right of all students to pursue their education free from fear or intimidation may be in conflict," they write. "Stanford needs a process for considering the balance of harms in adjudicating such conflicts."

How do Ninan and Dorsey propose that the "balance" be struck? By "tak[ing] the survivor's perspective," of course. Specifically: "Stanford should . . . consider the option of removing accused students from campus on a case-by-case basis, as is legally permitted under Title IX."

Ninan and Dorsey concede that the the process to determine culpubility "can take months," and they do not even hint at, much less explore, the burdens such a de facto suspension might have on the accused. It is a price worth paying, they suggest, because otherwise the accuser will "suffer the psychological burden of close proximity to his or her attacker."

Ninan and Dorsey blithely ignore the fact that the interim measure they advocate -- a potentially life-altering removal of the presumptively innocent man from campus -- would work a far greater hardship on him than the "psychological burden of close proximity" that his accuser might suffer if he isn't removed. No matter. His rights are not only trumped, they are eviscerated, by virtue of a rape accusation. Nice "balance," wouldn't you say?

The fact is, schools can, and do, impose interim measures that reasonably insure that the accuser and the accused do not come into contact while the investigation is underway. What Ninan and Dorsey advocate goes beyond that -- they seem to want the accused to be punished (on a "case-by-case basis") because of an accusation.

Ninan and Dorsey urge that Stanford speed up the process -- but not because of the burdens to the accused student who might just be innocent. The delay is deleterious because it results in "further traumatizing the survivor." (The assumption that an accuser is a "survivor" means, of course, that the accused student must be a rapist.)

Ironically, even if the accused is guilty, the interim measures Ninan and Dorsey advocate can scarcely be counted on to accomplish the benefits they tout. In a country where the majority of college students are commuters -- even Stanford has a significant commuter base -- booting a rapist off campus isn't going to stop him from legally frequenting the same off-campus hangouts where he might have committed his misdeeds as a student. If we were really serious about protecting women from rape, we would insist that every report be turned over to the professionals in law enforcement who can actually remove the accused from society, instead of relying on unqualified college officials to figure out if a rape occurred and who can't remove the accused from society if he's guilty.

Then again, Stanford is the school that trained its panels deciding sexual assault cases to be "very, very cautious" about accepting a man's word that he is innocent and that taking a neutral stance between the accuser and the accused is to actually side with the accuser.

Stanford should think twice about kowtowing to this draconian suggestion. Kevin Parisi has sued Drew University for the harm he suffered from precisely the same kinds of  "interim measures." Although Drew ultimately found Mr. Parisi not culpable, he plowed ahead with his suit. It is a cautionary tale for colleges that fail to strike the right balance between the rights of the accuser and accused. Here is how one news outlet described Mr. Parisi's case:
In the lawsuit, Parisi claims that he and his accuser had "what was clearly consensual sexual activity on or about September 24, 2013" — toward the beginning of their junior year. The two had been friends, had lived in the same dormitory previously and had sexual intercourse during their freshman year, he says.

The lawsuit describes a night that begins with the two agreeing to be "cuddle buddies" after the accuser and her boyfriend broke up — and then a progressing to more intimate acts, each with specific permission.

But Parisi says his accuser was adamant he never tell anyone — because her boyfriend wouldn't take her back if she knew.

The lawsuit says once Parisi's accuser confessed to her boyfriend about the sex, together they made a false claim to the university that Parisi and the accuser had sex without her consent.

It blames Drew for barring Parisi from all university buildings except the cafeteria and his classrooms while an investigation was ongoing — forcing him to sleep on the "on the filthy floor" of a nearby apartment's kitchen, aggravating his anxiety and digestive disorders. That led to his grades slipping, and his eventual academic suspension, the lawsuit alleges.
And it says Drew's investigation went on too long, as it was suspended while the school waited to hear back from police on their own investigation — started after the accuser and her boyfriend contacted police. Detective Lt. Dennis Lam of the Madison Police Department told Tuesday the accuser never came to police headquarters to discuss her initial claim, and the case has since been closed with no charges.

The lawsuit points to a university policy saying investigations and hearings about alleged sexual harassment or sexual misconduct should be concluded within 15 days — though the policy does allow for extensions.

The "human rights policy" in Drew's student handbook — one of the policies the lawsuit references — also includes statement that "fact-finding may be placed on hold at the request of law enforcement." However, Lam told he couldn't speak to any steps the school might take in response to a law enforcement inquiry.

Parisi further blames the school for not investigating his own allegations that his accuser made a false claim about the sexual assault — confiding in a close friend and trying to convince her to lie about it. He also says the school never looked into his allegation the accuser broke a no-contact order to call him from a blocked number, and apologize for "ruining" his life.

It says the investigation — which ended Dec. 17, when Parisi was deemed not responsible by the school — not only interrupted his academic career, but threw into chaos his prospects for a future as a college-educated member of the workforce. It wasted the money his parents spend on his college education as well, the lawsuit alleges.

As the majority of those accused in sex assaults are men, Parisi argues in the lawsuit, "male respondents in sexual misconduct cases at defendant Drew are discriminated against solely on the basis of sex. They are invariably subjected to discipline without the benefit of due process."
If Mr. Parisi's allegations are true, we hope he wins a lot of money. That would send a message to colleges that ignore the rights of presumptively innocent men accused of sex offenses.

Monday, June 2, 2014

At the University of Oregon, the University Senate lowered the standard of proof to "preponderance of the evidence" but some involved in the debate (the ones who prevailed) didn't seem to understand what that means

At the University of Oregon, the University Senate voted to lower the standard of proof for charges that might result in student expulsion from "clear and convincing" to "preponderance of the evidence." This means that the school must only prove a slightly better-than-even chance that the student is responsible for the conduct charged to find him guilty of an offense that could result in expulsion.

In contrast, the school's previous "clear and convincing" evidence standard required considerably greater evidence. Some courts define "clear and convincing" evidence as evidence which "produce[s] in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or conviction as to the truth of the allegations sought to be established, evidence so clear, direct and weighty and convincing as to enable [the factfinder] to come to a clear conviction, without hesitancy, of the truth of the precise facts in issue." United States v. Askari, 222 Fed. Appx. 115, 119 (3rd Cir. 2007).

The change to lower the standard of proof was prompted by the Department of Education's April 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter mandate for sexual assault charges. The school felt compelled to apply this standard to sex offenses and decided to apply it to all charges, even offenses of a non-sexual nature.

We have written extensively about lowering the standard, as has FIRE. Read FIRE's explanation of the dangers in lowering the standard of proof. This is a very important issue that needs to be debated seriously.

Unfortunately, at the University of Oregon, there is indication that some of the participants in the debate did not even understand what the "standard of proof" means. According to AroundtheO:
A student and several senators argued that with a life-altering penalty such as expulsion the university should require a higher standard of “clear and convincing evidence“ to prove wrongdoing. But others said the university should expect more from students than the bare minimum of acceptable behavior. 
This allows for a community to set higher standards, and many universities do this,” said Sen. Jane Cramer, a political science professor. “We can do this here and we should do this now.”
(Emphasis added.)

Lowering the standard of proof to "preponderance of the evidence" has nothing to do with setting higher standards of "acceptable behavior" for students. The actual conduct that warranted expulsion when the standard called for "clear and convincing" evidence still warrants the same punishment now that the standard has been lowered. The definition of sexual assault has not changed: the same conduct that was forbidden previously is still forbidden now. Lowering the standard of proof simply means that the school needs significantly less evidence to prove that the student is guilty of an offense that will allow the school to expel him. The evidence need not be nearly as clear or as certain as it used to. In short, this change has nothing to do with "expect[ing] more from students," it means expecting less from the school -- less proof to make a decision that could forever alter a student's life.

The following needs to be clearly understood: the sole and exclusive goal sought to be achieved by lowering the standard of proof is to make it easier for the school to find students guilty of offenses they've been charged with. The benefit of lowering the standard of proof is that more students who actually committed offenses will be found guilty and will be expelled. Every sane and rational person should applaud such a result. But there is a negative side to lowering the standard of proof that ought to give everyone pause: it makes it easier for the school to find innocent students guilty of offenses they did not commit. Unfortunately, this latter concern is typically ignored in the public discourse about campus rape. That is one of this blog's primary concerns.

While there are legitimate arguments to be considered on both sides of the debate about lowering the standard of proof, before the issue may be seriously debated, everyone needs to understand what lowering the standard of proof actually means, and what it will, and will not, do.

The University of Oregon has just made a monumentally important decision that could affect the lives of many students, and there is indication that some involved in the debate that led to that decision didn't understand what they were debating -- and yet their position prevailed.

Judge Blocks Expulsion of Duke Student Accused of Sexual Misconduct

As reported here:

A North Carolina judge has stopped Duke University from expelling a male student who was accused of rape by a female freshman.

Duke, which came under fire in 2006 for its handling of rape accusations against lacrosse players who were later exonerated, has found itself back on the defensive, as it battles a claim by a student that it expelled him without a proper investigation and due process. State prosecutors in the earlier case dropped all charges against the players, declaring them innocent victims of a district attorney’s rush to judgment.

The unusual case comes as colleges around the nation face growing pressure to go after sexual-assault crimes on campus. Dozens of schools have come under investigation by the Obama administration for their perceived inadequate handling of sexual violence or harassment complaints.

The Duke case also comes amid criticism by some student civil liberty advocates who say campus systems for adjudicating complaints lack safeguards for protecting the rights of the accused.

Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith III on Thursday rejected Duke’s effort to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the accused student, Lewis McLeod, a senior who accuses the university of violating his contractual rights. The ruling blocks Duke from expelling him at least for now.

“The plaintiff has demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits as to his contentions that the defendant has breached, violated, or otherwise deprived the plaintiff of material rights related to the misconduct allegations against him and the resulting disciplinary process addressing such allegations,” the judge wrote.

Judge Smith enjoined Duke “from expelling the plaintiff… pending a final determination on the merits.” But he declined to order the school to grant him his degree, stating that he couldn’t make that decision at this stage of the litigation.

“We are pleased the Court recognized the need to preserve the integrity of Duke’s decision not to issue a degree at this point in the lawsuit,” a Duke spokesman, Michael Schoenfeld, said in a statement. The school declined to comment on other elements of the litigation.

Mr. McLeod’s attorney, Rachel Hitch, called the granted injunction “very hopeful news” for her client, who hasn’t been charged with any crime.

She believes Mr. McLeod, a soccer athlete on the school’s dean’s list, is the first student expelled by Duke for alleged sexual misconduct and that it’s the first time the school enforced a year-old policy that makes expulsion the default punishment for a student it found culpable of sexual misconduct.

The female student, whose name has been redacted from court documents, accused him of raping her while she was intoxicated after the two met at a campus bar and took a late-night cab back to his fraternity house. After police investigated her claim but declined to file charges, she reported the matter to the school’s student conduct office. Mr. McLeod claims the sex was consensual and came to a stop after she started crying.

Duke’s student misconduct policy considers sexual conduct as “without consent” if an individual is incapacitated due to alcohol. What constitutes “incapacitated” is left vague, according to some academic watchdogs, including Brooklyn College historian, K.C. Johnson.

In March, a three-member Duke disciplinary panel ruled that the female student “had reached an incapacitating level of intoxication that rendered her unable to give consent to sex,” and that “a reasonable person would have known [complainant] was too intoxicated to be able to give consent,” according to the Indy Week newspaper, which published a lengthy account of the case.

Mr. McLeod’s complaint claims that the panel failed to interview — or permit testimony — from key witnesses, including fraternity brothers at the house that night, while relying on a second-hand account of an anonymous witness. It also alleged that Duke discouraged him from seeking legal advice and expelled him under an unpublished policy.

“[W]hen Mr. McLeod’s representative asked for a copy of the policy, Dean Stephen Bryan slammed the door in Mr. McLeod’s face and said, ‘You can get it when you sue us,’” according to the complaint.

An Australian native in the U.S. on a student visa, Mr. McLeod said he needs a degree to work at a Wall Street investment firm that offered him a job. And without a job, he would have to go back to Australia, according to his lawyer.