We all remember the Duke lacrosse scandal in 2006 where three fraternity brothers were charged with rape. Obviously, hiring a stripper was not the smartest thing these fraternity brothers ever did, but it hardly rose to the level of a crime. A lot of outside forces got involved. It was labeled a ‘hate crime,’ and a racial element also came into play with the arrival of the professional racial complainers. After all was said and done, part of the lacrosse season was canceled and team members were put through various legal processes before their names were finally cleared. Three accused players were eventually paid millions of dollars by the University in exchange for nondisclosure agreements after they were found not guilty. Some of the players transferred to other schools in order to continue playing lacrosse. The players were definitely guilty of bad judgement, but were eventually cleared of any other charges. The damage done to their reputations, however, is incalculable. Enter Education Secretary Betsy DeVoss.
On Saturday, The Detroit News reported:
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is following through on her commitment to stand up for the due process rights of all students on U.S. college campuses. From what we’ve seen of a new framework, it would go a long way to restoring constitutional protection in campus sexual assault investigations.
That’s a long-overdue change. Last September, DeVos began this work, rescinding overzealous Obama-era guidelines that pushed university administrators to investigate and adjudicate serious accusations and even crimes.
Using the threat of withheld funding if schools didn’t comply, the former administration instructed universities to lower the burden of proof and create a framework to give alleged victims the upper hand. Title IX, the law preventing sex discrimination in schools that take federal funds, has been expanded greatly in recent years to apply to cases of sexual misconduct.
All this led to accused students with little recourse to defend themselves, with serious repercussions as a result, including expulsion.
…As reported by the Times, the new rules would allow both the accused and the complainant to request evidence and to cross-examine each other — something that was discouraged previously. Also, universities could apply other avenues for solving complaints such as mediation and restorative justice, as long as the individuals involved mutually agreed.
The Education Department also seeks to define sexual harassment in a much more specific way: “Unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it denies a person access to the school’s education program or activity.”
Previously, universities were told to handle any unwelcome sexual conduct.
Obviously there are many aspects to this story. We have instances of male college students accused of rape because their dates woke up the next morning regretting foolish decisions made the night before, and we have genuine instances of rape that were not punished sufficiently.
On June 3, 2016, The Cut reported the following:
Brock Allen Turner, the former Stanford swimmer who was discovered raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on campus in January of last year, will be sentenced to six months in county jail and probation. Prosecutors had recommended that Turner receive a sentence of six years, but judge Aaron Persky determined that Turner’s age — 20 — and lack of criminal history warranted him a much shorter sentence.
To me, that is as unjust as what was done to the Duke lacrosse team. Both extremes need to be avoided.