Stanford University: Biased Sexual Misconduct Procedures and Unjust Guilty Finding

Category: Due Process
Schools: Stanford University

In 2011, a male student at Stanford University was found guilty of sexual assault and suspended for two years after Stanford determined that his accuser had been intoxicated during a sexual encounter, violating Stanford’s sexual assault policy which states that one cannot consent to sex if “intoxicated” to any degree. After the federal Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released its April 4, 2011, “Dear Colleague” letter mandating that federally funded universities try students under a “preponderance of the evidence” standard, Stanford lowered its evidentiary standard to this level from its prior threshold of “beyond a reasonable doubt” in the middle of the student’s proceedings. FIRE’s investigation of the case also revealed that the training materials provided to jurors in sexual assault cases at Stanford instruct them that being “persuasive and logical” is a sign of guilt, that they should be “very, very cautious in accepting a man’s claim that he has been wrongly accused of abuse or violence,” and that maintaining neutrality is equivalent to siding with the accused.

  • Stanford So Smart Even Its Rapists Are Logical

    July 21, 2011

    A Stanford University student accused of sexual assault in an incident that the Palo Alto police and prosecutor investigated and declined to pursue nevertheless was convicted by a student court under relaxed evidence standards introduced by U.S. Department of Education.  In the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post, Princeton alumna Samantha Harris reports that the student court – which I guess is what you would get if you replaced kangaroos with students in a kangaroo court – changed its standard mid-trial, in response to a letter from Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR):  At the time the student was […]

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  • ‘Minding the Campus’ Applauds FIRE, Criticizes Stanford’s Due Process Failures

    July 21, 2011

    In response to our press release from yesterday as well as Samantha’s op-ed in the New York Post, Professor KC Johnson has written an article on Minding the Campus praising FIRE for its work in exposing the blatantly biased materials Stanford University uses to train those in charge of adjudicating allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault. As we reported, these materials (excerpted from Lundy Bancroft’s book, Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men) teach student jurors that “act[ing] persuasive and logical” is a sign of guilt, that “[t]he great majority of allegations of abuse—though […]

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  • The Problem with Stanford’s Definition of ‘Intoxication’

    July 21, 2011

    I want to take a few moments today to discuss a particular aspect of FIRE’s recent work regarding due process protections for those accused of sexual misconduct. Specifically, I want to focus on the issues of consent and intoxication. Because many cases of sexual misconduct involve intoxicated students and questions of consent, precisely how a school defines intoxication is of obvious importance when thinking about due process rights and ensuring fair procedures. Let’s take Stanford University as an example. As FIRE detailed in yesterday’s press release, Stanford defines sexual assault as occurring “when a person is incapable of giving consent.” This […]

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  • Accused Student Pays Heavy Price at Stanford, Where Intoxication Eliminates Consent and ‘Acting Persuasive and Logical’ is Sign Of Guilt

    July 20, 2011

    Today, both FIRE’s press release and Samantha’s op-ed in the New York Post pry the lid off an ugly story at Stanford University, where due process rights and fair hearings have seemingly been abandoned for students accused of sexual misconduct. It’s hard to know quite where to begin, but let’s start with the fact that Stanford University is training student jurors in sexual misconduct cases to believe that “act[ing] persuasive and logical” is a sign of guilt. That’s not all: Stanford also instructs campus tribunals that being impartial is the equivalent of siding with the accused. The training materials for Stanford’s […]

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  • Stanford Trains Student Jurors That ‘Acting Persuasive and Logical’ is Sign of Guilt; Story of Student Judicial Nightmare in Today’s ‘New York Post’

    July 20, 2011

    SAN FRANCISCO, July 20, 2011—Displaying a shocking disregard for fair procedures on campus, Stanford University is training student jurors in sexual misconduct cases to believe that “act[ing] persuasive and logical” is a sign of guilt. Stanford also instructs campus tribunals that taking a neutral stand between the parties is the equivalent of siding with the accused. In this climate, Stanford last semester found a male student guilty of sexual assault solely because it determined that his partner was intoxicated (as was he). Stanford policy states that students cannot consent to sex—even with a spouse—if “intoxicated” to any degree. To make […]

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