College Males Fight Back Against Sexual Assault Charges

Caleb Warner’s life was changed irrevocably when he was accused of rape at the University of North Dakota in 2010.  Timothy Bella, writing for Aljazeera America, reports that Warner met a freshman girl at his Phi Delta Theta frat house and they ended up having consensual sex. They had sex another time at his off-campus home.  Later, the freshman texted him saying, “Don’t ever talk with me again”.

After Christmas Break, Warner was called out of class and accused of raping the freshman. She had filed a sexual assault charge with the university against Warner. During the campus disciplinary hearing, Warner’s attorney could not speak, nor could Warner question his accuser, as is typical in college hearings.

Normally, on campuses, the standard of guilt is much lower than it is in a courtroom.  Instead, a disciplinary hearing looks at the “preponderance of evidence”.  This process does not use the “beyond reasonable doubt” rule, but, instead, the “more likely than not” standard.  In 2011, the Department of Education advised schools that “preponderance of the evidence is the appropriate standard for investigating allegations of sexual harassment or violence.”

Warner was found guilty and was banned from the campus for at least three years.  Later, the Grand Forks Police Department got involved because the woman had filed a complaint with them as well.  Because she had told varied versions of the story to friends, and because she had sent Warner text messages days after the party that she wanted to have sex with him again, the police issued an arrest warrant for the woman.  Warner’s mother, who was a former union leader, pressured the university.  She launched a campaign along with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).  Warner’s case was “vacated” and he was cleared of all charges.

According to Susan Kruth on the FIRE website:

Brett Sokolow, president of the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management, noted in The Chronicle of Higher Education that institutions of higher education are under pressure to reach a finding in favor of the complainant in order to limit their own liability, but accused students are increasingly fighting back against unfair procedures:

  • There is an increase in the number of men who are complaining that colleges mishandled their cases.
  • There is a realization that some “advisers”  to students during the disciplinary process are untrained in the areas necessary to fulfill their roles.
  • Individuals and organizations are asking if the students who are banned or suspended are truly sexually violent they should be put in prison, not suspended.
  • After a student is found innocent,  he still has been branded as a criminal without due process.

On the other hand, Lynn Arditi writing for the Providence Journal, reports that two Brown University freshman football players have been accused by a Providence College student of sexual assault in November of 2013. The victim believes she could have been drugged at a bar prior to the incident.  Brown officials said they were not told of the incident until February of this year.

In late April, the alleged perpetrators were asked to leave the campus.  The alleged victim obtained a restraining order in Superior Court against the two Brown students.  When she reported the incident to Providence College officials, they issued a “No Trespass” order against the two football players.

Teresa Wantanabe, reporter for the The Los Angeles Times, says that three young men from three different colleges are pushing back after they alleged that their rights to a fair hearing were violated.  The colleges are Duke University, Vassar College, and the University of Michigan.  However, their new twist is that the disciplinary process is skewed against them because of their gender, which violates the 1972 Title IX law, banning sex discrimination by schools receiving funding from federal funds.

In April, Dezmine Wells, a basketball player, settled a lawsuit with Xavier University, from which he was expelled after he was found responsible for sexual assault.  The victim later recanted.  Wells received an undisclosed amount as a settlement with the school.