You Won’t Believe New Campus Rules on ‘Rape’

June 15, 2014

By Bob Unruh at WND

A student is suing Occidental College in Los Angeles for expelling him after a female student allegedly sent text messages indicating she had wanted to have sex, arranged for a rendezvous, then one week later accused him of sexual assault.

The case is the latest to follow the Obama administration’s new effort to crack down on campus rape.

The plaintiff, who filed anonymously as John Doe, said the female student texted him asking if he had a condom, informed a friend she was “goingtohave ‘sex” (sic) and coordinated a route to his dorm.

Police investigated and decided not to prosecute, but the male student was expelled, because of “pressure from the federal government to take action on sexual assault,” according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which is working on the case.

Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Alison Meyers found that witnesses “agreed that the victim and suspect were both drunk” but were “willing participants exercising bad judgment.”

The college, nevertheless, which had faced a multi-plaintiff lawsuit from attorney Gloria Allred before the “Doe” case arose, found the student “responsible” for sexual assault.

FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley said disregard “for due process on campus, prompted by mandates from the federal Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, has predictably led to unjust results.”

“Occidental has now provided another stark demonstration of how the abandonment of fair procedures in college tribunals is failing students by producing outcomes whose accuracy cannot be trusted,” he said.

FIRE said the encounter between the first-year students was on Sept. 8, 2013. More than a week later, after the accuser was “counseled by Occidental employees,” she filed a complaint.

The accuser cited advice from Professor Danielle Dirks, who was reported to have said Doe “fit the profile of other rapists on campus in that he had a high GPA in high school, was his class valedictorian, was on [a sports] team, and was ‘from a good family.’”

When police refused to charge Doe, Occidental hired attorney Marilou Mirkovich. She found it was more likely than not that the accuser “engaged in conduct and made statements that would indicate she consented” but still concluded she was “incapacitated.”

FIRE said the ruling appeared to violate Occidental’s own policy defining “incapacitated” as someone who “lacks conscious knowledge of the nature of the act … or is physically helpless.”

The lawsuit came after Doe was expelled.

Shibley said Occidental dismantled the due process system in the case and “rendered vast numbers of students unwitting rapists.”

WND columnist Thomas Sowell recently wrote about the issue of assault.

“There seem to be a dangerously large number of people who think that the law exists to give them whatever they want – even when that means denying other people the same rights that they claim for themselves,” he wrote. “Nowhere is this self-centered attitude more common than on college campuses. And nowhere are such attitudes more encouraged than by the Obama administration’s Justice Department, which is threatening colleges that don’t handle rape issues the politically correct way – that is, by presuming the accused to be guilty and not letting constitutional safeguards get in the way.”

The New York Times reported that the White House was increasing the pressure on universities to be more aggressive in combating sex assault on campus.

But WND reported a recent move by the administration to mandate a lower standard for convictions in on-campus rape trials – the preponderance of evidence – was defeated.

At the time, the U.S. Department of Education said that while criminal trials must show guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” campuses were being told to use the preponderance standard, which means it was more likely than not that something happened.

Various civil and student rights organizations had fought the proposal, and word came on their victory through Inside Higher Education.

The group said the draft regulation approved after a series of meetings on the plan “scrapped a controversial effort by the Education Department to require campus sexual assault proceedings to adhere to guidance issued by the department’s Office for Civil Rights.”

The Occidental incident was not the only recent case.

WND reported a federal judge allowed a series of claims by a student-athlete against his school to go to trial.

The student had been branded a rapist in a campus hearing even though a local prosecutor who investigated said the case should be dropped.

The ruling from U.S. District Judge Arthur Spiegel rejected the request by Xavier University to toss the case. It ordered a trial on claims by Dezmine Wells regarding breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, libel through injury to his personal reputation, his profession reputation and with malice, negligence and discrimination.

WND also reported the case of student Caleb Warner from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

Warner was found guilty of sexual assault by a campus court in 2010, despite the facts established at the time by city police. Officers not only refused to charge him in the case but also alleged his accuser made a false report. Police issued a warrant for her arrest.

Even so, the university process found Warner guilty, and it took 18 months to resolve. During that time, Warner not only was banned from the UND campus but also from all college campuses in the state.

Cases: Occidental College: Student Found Guilty of Sexual Assault After Incapacitation Standard Is Misapplied