A male student identified as “John Doe” has sued Amherst College for allegedly denying him due process and ignoring evidence that he says proved another students Sandra Jones, lied about an alleged rape at the college. This is the second such lawsuit accusing the school of stripping students of due process in the handling of sexual harassment or assault claims. I have previously written about my concerns over the heavy-handed measures that the Obama Administration has forced on universities over the objections of faculty and students alike in such cases.
The controversy stems from February 2012 when the male student escorted his girlfriend’s roommate, Sandra Jones, back to her residence hall. Jones reportedly performed oral sex on him and Doe alleges that he blacked out during the encounter. Two years after the incident, Jones reportedly accused Doe of sexually assaulting her and the school compelled Doe to face a school rape trial. The trial had many of the elements that I criticized earlier, including the absence of any legal representation.
Notably, the former student never appears to have been charged with a criminal offense in the case by local authorities. There is no reference to the alleged victim filing a rape complaint with police.
One piece of evidence was a text message that was said to have been sent after the rape. Doe’s later legal counsel found that the text message did not seek help but rather suggested that the encounter was consensual:
Jones: Ohmygod I jus did something so fuckig stupid
DR: What did you do
Jones: Fucked [Doe]… FUCK
DR: No you didn’t…
Jones: Official story is he puked and I took care of him but yes. Yes I did. FUCK
DR: [Jones] what are you doing????????
Jones: Oh and apparently [ML]s coming over so nothing happened everything’s fine
Counsel says that “ML” was a male friend that Jones invited over on the same night after Doe had left. Counsel further alleges that the later texts include a flirtatious exchange between Jones and ML in which the alleged victim urged the male student to “come over and entertain me.”
If true, the allegations again show the need for representation and due process rights in these proceedings despite the effort of the Obama Administration to strip away such basic protections. Regardless of the merits, these trials lacks the fundamental guarantees of due process that bring legitimacy to the results. The Obama Administration has sought to create highly outcome determinative procedures in such cases. The effort to combat sexual assault at universities and colleges is commendable and I agree with it being a priority. However, stripping away legal protections is not a valid means to that worthy end in my view.
Source: Boston Globe