Especially now that the Obama administration has demanded that colleges strip away the basic rights of students accused of rape, the practice of not releasing a false accuser’s name to the media must end.
The compelled switch to a “predominance of the evidence” standard in such cases has led to too many false charges, too many wrongly punished male students, and too many scarred lives. High profile national leaders like Hillary Clinton are undeterred in supporting this power play by feminists, and university officials apparently don’t have sufficient regard for fairness or even basic logic: the Department of Education threatened their income stream, so if a few male students get railroaded out of school and haunted for a lifetime with the stigma of being a rapist, the college leaders consider it a necessary sacrifice to the greater good.
It is only one case, but if the facts of the University of Michigan’s persecution of student Drew Sterrett are as they appear to be, this is signature significance: one incident this irrational proves that campus sexual assault hysteria has turned into a genuine, bona fide witch hunt, with the metaphor appropriate for once. There must be accountability, and the Obama Administration, the schools, their administrators, irresponsible leaders like Clinton, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Jared Polis, and, yes, sorry, false accusers must share it.
Sterrett was forced to leave the University of Michigan in 2012 during his sophomore year, after a female’s student’s accusation of forced sexual intercourse was upheld under circumstances that would have made a kangaroo court, with real kangaroos, an improvement. He sued the university in federal court, arguing that his 14th Amendment rights to due process had been violated. The only possible response to his claim, once one reads the account published in Slate, is “Ya think?” It is disturbing that anyone should have to sue to get such treatment recognized as outrageous. Apparently no one at the University of Michigan who has power possesses any ethical twitches whatsoever, while nobody with a passing knowledge of right and wrong has any power.
The sexual encounter in question took place in March 2012, in the spring semester of Sterrett’s freshman year. Legal documents described how the female student, CB, who was a friend of Sterrett’s, asked to stay in his room because her roommate was having guests. He expected her to sleep on a mat on the floor and was surprised when she got into his bunk bed. Soon the two were kissing, then more; CB asked Sterrett about a condom, and he got one. Their encounter went on for so long, and was so loud, that Sterrett’s roommate, who was trying to sleep in the top bunk, sent Sterrett an annoyed Facebook message about being kept awake. The roommate later gave a sworn statement that he was close enough to the pair that he would have heard, and intervened, if CB had said no or objected.
The semester ended, and Sterrett and CB left school. The events that prompted the university investigation of Sterrett are described in an affidavit sworn on his behalf by LC, a friend of CB and her sophomore-year roommate. While CB was home for the summer, her mother discovered her diary, in which the young woman described her drinking, drug-taking, and sexual encounters. (In her own deposition, CB confirmed the contents of the diary.) After confronting her daughter with her discovery, CB’s mother drove her to campus, where CB made her accusation. She never reported it to the police.
During the summer, campus officials informed Sterrett via Skype that a student had made an allegation against him. When the tone of the interview turned hostile, he asked if he should retain a lawyer. He was told if he ended the interview this would be reported to the university and the investigation would go on without him. He continued to talk.
Sterrett was never provided with the charges against him in writing. The Skype interview turned out to be his sole encounter with the campus officials investigating and deciding his case. He never had a chance to question his accuser. He was not told the names of the witnesses the university interviewed in its inquiry. In November of his sophomore year he received a “Sexual Misconduct Investigation Report,” which concluded he was responsible for the accusation against him. Sterrett was suspended from the school until 2016, a year past CB’s expected graduation date. After a series of appeals, his punishment was reduced, but he was placed on “disciplinary probation,” which would have put restrictions on his movements so onerous that, he concluded, complying with them was impossible. By then, he had already left the school for good.
Rape and other sexual assaults are grave crimes that demand investigation and punishment. But the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, citing unreliable statistics to prove that such assaults are an epidemic on American campuses, has issued edicts that have created systems of adjudication and punishment that abrogate the rights of accused young men. In the past five years, about 70 male students found responsible for sexual misconduct have brought lawsuits against their schools, alleging that their treatment violated their contractual or due process rights or was so biased as to constitute sex discrimination against them….
Everyone knows Drew Sterrett as a young man who was accused of being a rapist, and there will be feminists, possibly even some who are well-known, who will continue to argue that he is the beneficiary of a sexist system that condones rape. These ideological fanatics have created a system that makes being a male in college unconscionably perilous, and returning to sanity must have consequences. We still don’t know who “Jackie” is, though the UVA student contrived to accuse a fraternity of gang rape, her accusations tarred the reputation of a named student, and a major national publication was sucked into her scheme. Her continuing anonymity is indefensible, and so is the fact that we don’t know Sterrett’s accuser. She must be accountable.
Yes, being known as someone who would falsely accuse a man of rape will be a career and life handicap. Good. It is not good that genuine victims will be less inclined to report campus assaults, but they can focus their anger on “Jackie” and whatshername. They and others like them abused a privilege, and many will continue to abuse it unless and until a frivolous and vindictive accusation carries genuine risk.
The risk must be that if you accuse a student of rape unjustly, everyone will know it.
As they should.
Pointer and Spark: Instapundit