By Meghan Keenan at Red Alert Politics
A California court has ruled that campus rape trials violated the due process rights of a male student accused of sexual assault at the University of California at San Diego.
A superior court judge ruling on Friday found that the student, referred to as John Doe in court documents, was not allowed to adequately challenge his accuser during a disciplinary hearing at UCSD.
The court also found that the UCSD disciplinary panel held Doe’s silence against him as evidence of his guilt – a violation of his Fifth Amendment rights.
According to a description of the case by the Washington Post, the two students had numerous sexual encounters in early 2014. Some of these encounters were consensual, and some allegedly were not.
After the hearing, Doe was suspended for one quarter.
When Doe appealed his case, the Dean of Student Affairs increased the term of his suspension to a full year, without any explanation.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman noted this in his decision to overturn the university’s ruling.
“Nowhere in Dean Mallory’s email to [Doe] does she indicate the reasoning behind the increased sanctions,” Pressman wrote. “…it appears the increased sanctions are punitive towards [Doe] for appealing the decision of the panel.”
This decision comes at a time when universities across the country are debating their sexual assault policies. Many universities are considering instituting ‘affirmative consent’ rules, which generally give the accused much less opportunity to defend themselves.
“The decision in Doe v. UCSD is important because it demonstrates that when courts subject campus proceedings to scrutiny, the ugly truth of their shortcomings is glaring,” writes Joseph Cohn of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
“This is a particularly important ruling in California, where legislators have undermined the due process rights of the accused students further by requiring them to prove they obtained affirmative consent in the school disciplinary hearings,” Cohn writes. “Hopefully, more courts will weigh in to restore some semblance of balance so that all students’ rights are respected.”
Schools: University of California, San Diego