WDAY Channel 6 News out of Fargo, N.D., is reporting that student Caleb Warner will not be returning to school at the University of North Dakota (UND). For those who are new to The Torch, Warner was found guilty of sexual assault by a UND campus court in February 2010, despite the fact that the Grand Forks police who investigated the case not only refused to charge Warner with sexual assault, but actually charged his accuser with making a false report to law enforcement about the incident. Nevertheless, UND refused to reexamine its finding on Caleb Warner for nearly a year and a half, until FIRE exposed this horrendous abuse to the public in the pages of The Wall Street Journal. Two weeks ago, UND finally vacated his punishment, meaning he was free to return to school.
Considering what happened to Warner, nobody should be surprised that he does not want to return to UND. The university showed less than zero concern for disrupting his life and career and branding him a criminal based on an extremely low standard of evidence, and has shown zero inclination to be remorseful about what it has done. (Meanwhile, his accuser continues to have a warrant out for her arrest, and according to the Grand Forks police has returned to her home state of California, where she need not fear extradition because North Dakota does not extradite over misdemeanor charges. If she doesn’t return to North Dakota, she will never face the law.)
However, this does not mean UND clearing Warner’s name will have no effect. A side effect of the punishment was that he was actually banned not just from UND’s campus but from attending any college in the state of North Dakota. That restriction is now lifted. His academic record will be repaired. And, of course, he has been publicly vindicated as a victim of a horrendous abuse of due process. FIRE hopes that Caleb will soon return to school at another institution, either within North Dakota or outside of it. But this question will linger as long as due process remains in its sorry state across our nation’s campuses: How many other Caleb Warners are out there?