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Lawyers Seek to Defend Justice in College Sexual Assault Misconduct Claims

June 25, 2015 Hastings and Hastings

Colleges have recently come under scrutiny over the frequency of sexual assaults on campus. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has been pushing for increased regulation of sexual assault on campus. Some schools have responded by adopting a standard of clear convincing evidence, dropping the policy of a preponderance of evidence. With the movement towards female empowerment, campus disciplinary procedures have tightened up. However, due process has been abandoned on campuses when addressing student-on-student sexual misconduct. Accused students are often expelled or subject to criminal charges without really having a fair shot to defend themselves.

Colleges have been adopting a policy of clear and convincing evidence in order to protect their image. The process in place at the moment is so lopsided against the defendant that it’s almost silly. Students accused of sexual violence cannot question witnesses directly or indirectly in interviews or hearings. That means a student could be expelled without having any idea who is accusing them of the crime. Moreover, many of these complaints surface a year after the alleged incident. Students claim that some purported victims of sexual violence are not always truthful, and sometimes are seeking revenge for their own poor decisions.

As a result of universities abandonment of the preponderance of evidence requirement, suits will flood in against colleges mishandling sexual violence and harassment investigations. Students victimized by a university commitment to upholding their image rather than administering justice, will be able to sue for monetary damages.

Harvard University attempted to employ a new university wide sexual harassment and violence policy last July, after catching heat for a sexual violence charge that was mishandled at the administrative level. However, 28 law professors from Harvard Law signed a letter published in the Boston globe in which they contended “The policy lacks the most basic elements of fairness and due process” and is “overwhelmingly stacked against the accused.”