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Expelling students for sexual violence has been proposed before

Original post made on Jun 5, 2014

A Stanford University student's call this week for more severe punishment by administrators of students found responsible for sexual assault is not new.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, June 5, 2014, 12:42 PM

Comments (13)

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Posted by He-Said/She-Said
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2014 at 1:26 pm

The longer article is so full of issues that it's difficult to begin to address more than one, or two, without getting bogged down writing a thesis.

The one large problem that occurs in the longer article deals with issue of why rape (or sexual assault) is a felony in Palo Alto, but across El Camino on the Stanford campus—it does not seem to be so. It seems to me that claims of sexual assault without a police report, and a rape kit (if possible) should be the minimum level of evidence that is required by any university considering what to do next.

The other problem turns out to be that of due process for all concerned—particularly the accused. The following is an example of how this lack of due process has victimized one young man on a North Dakota Campus:

Web Link

Moreover, the false claims of gang-rape by a stripper on the Duke Campus, followed by years of painful, expensive, appeal work on the part of the young men who were wrongfully accused demonstrate how poorly managed these situations can be. In this case, the DA in charge of the case ended up getting carried away with the presumption of guilt that seemed so easy to hold. In this case, the DA was finally removed from office—having failed to do his job for mostly political reasons.

The articles don't use the words "due process", nor is there any investigation on the part of the Weekly to determine what internal processes are in place that work to protect both parties involved in this sort of conflict. Since there is no right for Stanford to depose students under "penalty of perjury", there would seem to be a classic he-said/she-said conflict.

In the longer article, the young man is supposed to have "confessed", but then is supposed to want to change his statement. There is no mention of his having a lawyer. Without a lawyer, or any kind of generally agreed up "due process"—what happens when someone does want to change his/her testimony?

And how professional in terms of reviewing criminal acts (rape is still a felony off-campus) are the people involved with the process?

While expelling a violent student makes sense, doing so on the say-so of a single student who has never filed a police report seems a bit extreme. If the case had gone to court, and the court found the male student guilty, then presumably he would end up doing several years in a prison somewhere. Mandatory expulsion at that point would seem to be a non-controversial decision on the part of any university.

And then there is the issue of false testimony on the part of a female student who manages to get a "conviction" of an innocent male student. What civil law stands for the male student to use to sue the female student. Presumably the university should be liable—but no doubt most universities would argue that they followed their procedures—and hence are not liable for any results which ultimately were based on false testimony.

So—without a police report, at a minimum, dealing with these sorts of cases are really a can of worms.


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Posted by trying to sort it out 2
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Thank you "He Said/She Said" for your well laid-out concerns.

The Stanford case per the Weekly is further complicated by the two being boyfriend and girlfriend at the time and it happening while they were together at home over winter break.

The result: Stanford suspended the boy from classes for almost two years and now requires that he have a Stanford Safety escort any time he needs to be on campus.

The position of the student and Michele Dauber, whom the Weekly reports has been advising her from early on, is that doesn't go far enough; he must be expelled.

The girl seems to have softened her stance though, saying now that "the more time went on the more I realized it doesn't actually matter if he's expelled."

But Michele Dauber hasn't; the Stanford Daily this week reports that "Professor Dauber believes that 'expulsion is the appropriate sanction for sexual assault, unless there are highly unusual mitigating circumstances.'"

From the Stanford rep's quote, it sounds like Stanford is now considering that.





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Posted by trying to sort it out 2
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2014 at 2:21 pm

He Said/She Said,

From a Town Square post a few days ago:

"Noting that assault has become a politically charged issue on college campuses now that that OCR letter requires colleges - in place of or parallel to the police - to be the investigator, judge and jury, [Stanford's] Berkowitz implores untrained college administrators to be mindful of the constitution.

He uses a recent case at Swarthmore as an example. 19 months after three alleged consensual encounters, a Swarthmore student reported that she had been coerced sexually. She 'offered no physical or medical evidence, and no police or campus safety reports.' After an investigation, Swarthmore cleared the accused.

But then, in response to a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education by two Swarthmore female undergraduates claiming that the school mishandled sexual misconduct cases, Swarthmore suddenly re-opened the case and expelled the student saying, again without physical or medical evidence or police/campus reports, that he 'more likely than not' committed sexual misconduct.

This standard of review is one required in the OCR letter but is not found in the Civil Rights Act or its regulations. It is akin to a flip of the coin (51% likely). Because of that, this standard was flatly rejected by Congress when debating the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act. Legislative drafts called for that standard (for example, S. Bill 128, 2(a)(5)) but the version the President signed into law did not include it. Senators on the Judiciary Committee, experts on standards of review, removed OCR's standard from the bill because of the harsh feedback they received. (lifted from another Town Square discussion: Web Link)

The cost of the expulsion to the accused? The honors student who chose Swarthmore over other elite schools because his parents met and married there and was expelled on the basis of 'he said/she said' evidence discovered that Swarthmore's verdict rendered him ineligible for transfer to some 300 colleges.

Berkowitz points to other cases where students were perfunctorily expelled who spent years to get their reputations restored by courts which operate under strict rules of evidence and standards of review"

Web Link

Web Link


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 5, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Actually, trying to sort it out 2, the alleged victim says that they were no longer in a romantic relationship when the assault occurred.

Here's the link:
Web Link

Here's the quote:
"Leah Francis, an English major from Alaska, said she was sexually assaulted off campus Jan. 1 by another Stanford student, a man with whom she had a previous romantic relationship but was not dating at the time."


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 5, 2014 at 3:00 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by trying to sort it out 2
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Hmmm,

Maybe not boyfriend/girlfriend but it sounds like the two were still friends since she was in his home [portion removed] when the alleged assault happened. "The assault took place during winter break at his home out of state."


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Posted by Rape myths
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 5, 2014 at 3:08 pm

So what? So they were friends? What's your point?


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 5, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Rape is a serious crime. So is lying about rape. Objective evidence is required. Remember the Duke rape accusations? It simply cannot rely upon what she says.


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Posted by He-Said/She-Said
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2014 at 3:23 pm

> What's your point?

Well, getting at the truth.

The article said that the young man sexually assaulted her "off campus". "Off campus" generally means locally, although obviously, in the extreme, it can mean anywhere in the cosmos—except the campus. If the article had been more honest, saying something like: "during a break, when both of these students were in their home state [portion removed], the female student said she was sexually assaulted while voluntarily visiting the male student's home."

This scenario is a lot different than the girl being raped at a party here in Palo Alto, or Menlo Park. Also drawn into question is what exactly a "sexual assault" might be, from the point-of-view of the Stanford Review Process? It calls into question if the sex might have been consensual, or if violence was really used to overcome this young woman. It calls into question where the family members of each student's family might have been, during the assault, and when the girl returned home. And of course, why the female student decided to wait for her return to the Stanford Campus before doing anything about the matter? [Portion removed.]

Ultimately it calls for a clear statement of what happened—rather than one person accusing another of some act in a place far, far, away from the Stanford campus.

There are simply too many unasked, and unanswered, questions in these articles to become outraged.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 5, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

I would hope that Stanford would use the legal definition of sexual assault, which includes but of course isn't limited to sexual battery, which is often a misdemeanor in this state.

So was a police report ever filed in the jurisdiction where this took place, and readers aren't being told that, or we just don't know, or a police report was never taken?


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Posted by trying to sort it out 2
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2014 at 4:09 pm

I am not disputing the young woman's claim. It is just that these cases are more difficult when the two had been good friends or more and there is no other evidence to go on. As this case shows, it can be a he said/she said. The person attacked is very clear what happened but the accused may not have been so clear: may have misread cues or flatly deny the allegations as he did here, etc.

I know nothing more than what the story reports so am not expressing any opinion on the case. I am just acknowledging that cases like these are difficult all around.


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Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 7, 2014 at 12:05 am

Nora Charles is a registered user.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 5, 2014 at 3:49 pm
Hmmm is a registered user.
I would hope that Stanford would use the legal definition of sexual assault, which includes but of course isn't limited to sexual battery, which is often a misdemeanor in this state.

So was a police report ever filed in the jurisdiction where this took place, and readers aren't being told that, or we just don't know, or a police report was never taken?
______

That's the question, Hmmm. Was the male student arrested or charged with sexual assault? If he wasn't, how is it possible for Stanford to take action to discipline or expel him? Or if there was a conflicting police report and no arrest, is it up to Stanford (or any university in a similar situation) to investigate? Especially when the (alleged) incident took place in another city or even state. I'd be interested to know more facts on this case.


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Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2014 at 2:15 am

Sparty is a registered user.

" It seems to me that claims of sexual assault without a police report, and a rape kit (if possible) should be the minimum level of evidence that is required by any university considering what to do next."


Well...if you read the Stanford student code/Fundamentals, as I've suggested, and no one seems to be doing, it spells it all out.

Stanford will rule on things like this with or without a criminal case, and regardless of the outcome of a case if there is one. Right there on their website.

You'll also see that if you are DUI, but not "legally drunk" under CA law, they still reserve the right to punish you.


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