Under the recently-adopted “preponderance of the evidence” standards for campus rape tribunals, many young men are being ramrodded through campus kangeroo courts with seemingly little sense of fairness or pursuit of the truth and are being expelled from college.
Note: This is the 2nd part of three that I am presenting on rape statistics and the issue of rape on campus. The 1st is here: http://www.justfourguys.com/rape-why-1-in-4-is-wrong/ and the 2nd is here: http://www.justfourguys.com/the-campus-rape-myth/
I will firmly state that any rape is a terrible thing and the perpetrator should be fully punished. However, false accusations and exaggerating stats to club men over the head are also terrible.
Now, focusing on the topic of campus rape tribunals going overboard, this excellent article by Cathy Young, Guilty Until Proven Innocent, shares one such example, with my comments in square brackets interlaced:
One evening in February 2012, Vassar College students Xialou “Peter” Yu and Mary Claire Walker, both members of the school’s rowing team, had a few drinks at a team gathering and left together as the party wound down. After a make-out session at a campus nightspot, they went to Yu’s dorm room, where, by his account, they had sex that was not only consensual but mainly initiated by Walker, who reassured her inexperienced partner that she knew what to do. At some point, Yu’s roommate walked in on them [damn roommates!]; after he was gone, Yu says, Walker decided she wanted to stop, telling him it was too soon after her breakup with her previous boyfriend [or she was embarrassed to get caught?]. She got dressed and left.
The next day, according to documents in an unusual complaint that Yu filed against Vassar last June, Yu’s resident adviser told him some students had seen him and the young woman on their way to the dorm. They had been so concerned by Walker’s apparently inebriated state that they called campus security. [Were they alarmed that he might have been inebriated too since he had a few drinks?] Alarmed, Yu contacted Walker on Facebook to make sure everything was all right. She replied that she had had a “wonderful time” and that he had done “nothing wrong”-indeed, that she was sorry for having “led [him] on” when she wasn’t ready for a relationship. A month later Walker messaged Yu herself, again apologizing for the incident and expressing hope that it would not affect their friendship. There were more exchanges during the next months, with Walker at one point inviting Yu to dinner at her place. (In a response to Yu’s complaint in October, attorneys for Vassar acknowledged most of these facts but asserted that Walker had been too intoxicated to consent to sex and had been “in denial,” scared, and in shock when she wrote the messages.)
Last February, one year after the encounter, the other shoe dropped: Yu was informed that Walker had filed charges of “nonconsensual sexual contact” against him through the college disciplinary system. Two and a half weeks later, a hearing was held before a panel of three faculty members. Yu was not allowed an attorney; his request to call his roommate and Walker’s roommate as witnesses was denied after the campus “gender equity compliance investigator” said that the roommates had emailed him but had “nothing useful” to offer. While the records from the hearing are sealed, Yu claims his attempts to cross-examine his accuser were repeatedly stymied. Many of his questions (including ones about Walker’s friendly messages, which she had earlier told the investigator she sent out of “fear”) were barred as “irrelevant”; he says that when he was allowed to question Walker, she would start crying and give evasive or nonresponsive answers. Yu was found guilty and summarily expelled from Vassar.
Yu, a U.S.-educated Chinese citizen, is now going after the Poughkeepsie, New York, school in federal court, claiming not only wrongful expulsion and irreparable personal damage but sex discrimination. His complaint argues that he was the victim of a campus judicial system that in practice presumes males accused of sexual misconduct are guilty.
In April 2011, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights sent a letter to college and university presidents laying out guidelines for handling reports of sexual assault and harassment. One key recommendation was that such complaints should be evaluated based on a “preponderance of the evidence”-the lowest standard of proof used in civil claims. (In lay terms, it means that the total weight of the believable evidence tips at least slightly in the claimant’s favor.) Traditionally, the standard for finding a student guilty of misconduct of any kind has been “clear and convincing evidence”-less stringent than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” but still a very strong probability of guilt.
Another article reports on how a convincing defense by the accused should be taken as an indication of guilt, so basically, if you can’t persuade them of your innocence you’re screwed but if you can then they should take that as a sign of being an abuser–kind of sounds like the old witch trials where you were screwed either way: float and you’re a witch; sink and you’re innocent but you often drowned;
At the time the student was charged, Stanford was using the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard — the highest standard of proof, used by courts in criminal cases. But after OCR’s letter, Stanford shifted to the “preponderance” standard in the middle of his case.
Plus, the campus panel that heard the case had been “trained” using documents boldly proclaiming that “everyone should be very, very cautious in accepting a man’s claim that he has been wrongly accused of abuse or violence” and that one indication of an abuser is that he will “act persuasive and logical.”
James Taranto reports about how another young man, Joshua Strange, was accused of “misdemeanor simple assault” and “felony forcible sodomy” but was cleared in court. However, “Auburn expelled him after a campus tribunal found him ‘responsible’ for committing the catchall offense of ‘sexual assault and/or sexual harassment.'”
Taranto further describes the proceedings:
Mr. Strange still should not have been convicted [by the university]. The grand jury found there wasn’t even probable cause, a looser standard than preponderance of the evidence. But the university hearing that yielded his expulsion was a travesty of a legal process.
The most striking quality of the 99-minute proceeding is its abject lack of professionalism. Imagine a courtroom with a jury and witnesses, but no judge or lawyers. Mr. Strange and his accuser had lawyers present—the only people in the room with legal training—but they were forbidden to speak except to identify themselves at the outset.
Presiding was an Auburn librarian, Tim Dodge, the committee’s chairman. The other members were two students, a staffer from the College of Liberal Arts and a fisheries professor from the Agriculture College. Mr. Dodge was confused and hesitant throughout. At one point he got lost and admitted: “I can’t find the script here.”
The absence of a judge to control the proceedings left Mr. Dodge anxious for authoritative guidance. It was provided by the two Auburn administrators the accuser called as witnesses. [WTF are witnesses doing providing guidance for the procedure? Why are people with no legal training acting as the judge, and why are they then acting as the jury?] First up [as a witness] was Susan McCallister, an associate director with the campus police who doubles as a “safe-harbor advocate,” a concierge for purported sex-crime victims. “Any kind of services that they need access to, we provide a doorway,” she explained. Such services include counseling, “academic accommodations” and help in filing police reports.
At the hearing, Ms. McCallister proclaimed the accuser “very credible” and attested to the belief that Mr. Strange was “a potential threat to [the accuser’s] safety.” But Ms. McCallister disavowed knowledge even of the accuser’s version of events. “As a safe-harbor advocate, I really don’t need to know a lot of details, and so I didn’t ask her to go into great detail,” Ms. McCallister said. “I don’t really want survivors to have to tell their story over and over again.” [How can you judge if you don’t know a lot of the details?]
Ms. McCallister had referred the accuser to Kelley Taylor, the university’s sex-discrimination enforcer and the accuser’s second witness. Ms. Taylor also described the accuser as “credible” and added that she found the allegation “very compelling.”
Mr. Dodge asked Ms. Taylor to describe “typical behaviors” of “somebody who may have undergone a sexual assault.” She listed three. First, “they frequently cry.” Second, “their storytelling is sometimes disjointed, sometimes not.” Third, “there’s often a lot of emotion inserted into the story that is about being very upset or in disbelief or unsure what to do next, petrified.”
Read the rest of the article to see how farcical this tribunal was.
Returning to Cathy Young’s article, the question is raised of why unqualified people are even in the business of doling out justice. A crime as serious as rape or sexual assault shouldn’t be left to unskilled amateurs with no safe-guards of fairness for the accused:
The campus is a place where sex happens a lot-including sex in random, often drunken encounters rife with potential for misunderstanding and regret. The Online College Social Life Survey, collected from nearly 25,000 students on 20 campuses from 2005 to 2011, found that women and men alike drink heavily when hooking up with a casual partner: an average of five alcoholic drinks for women, six for men. When you try to criminalize much of this confused and confusing sex, subjecting it to second-guessing by secretive quasi-judicial panels operating under arbitrary rules and influenced by the deference to feminist orthodoxy that prevails on many campuses, the results will not be pretty.
Complaints from all sides about the way colleges handle sexual assault reports raise the question: Why should an offense as serious as rape be “prosecuted” by a college, rather than turned over to the police? The answer is that the vast majority of these charges would be unlikely to survive the most basic legal scrutiny.
There’s much more in these articles that will raise the ire of any fair-minded person so I encourage you to read them.
Also, recall this feminist who saw the light about the war on men when her son was falsely accused. Luckily, even though he had to endure a kangaroo campus court, he was acquitted.
Rape is a terrible crime and should be punished. However, it should be investigated by competent and fair-minded authorities, not zealous feminists or campus bureaucrats afraid of losing federal money. Likewise, a false rape claim is a terrible crime and should be punished. Hopefully both rape and sexual assault will continue to drop.
The good news is that according to the US Dept. of Justice, the rate of completed rape or sexual assault has dropped by nearly 70% from 1995 to 2010. Also, there was a 58% drop in total sexual violence committed against women (threatened, attempted or completed) during that time period. More needs to be done to reduce this even further but more needs to be done to reduce false accusations as well.