Stanford University: Biased Sexual Misconduct Procedures and Unjust Guilty Finding


Stanford University

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Case Overview

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.