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Stanford student challenges university's handling of sexual assault case

Original post made on Jun 5, 2014

A 21-year-old Stanford University student is challenging the administration's handling of a sexual assault case she reported at the beginning of this year, alleging the investigation has taken more than twice as long as the 60 days recommended under federal law and that the consequences imposed on her assailant fall short of his crime.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, June 5, 2014, 9:45 AM

Comments (47)

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Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 5, 2014 at 10:32 am

What does this mean? How? "According to Francis' appeal, he is claiming he committed the assault during his sleep."

Good for Leah Francis to pursue this! Very brave to expose herself like this.

How does Stanford defend going so slowly on this case? Is there also a criminal case outside of the university being pursued?


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Posted by david
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 5, 2014 at 10:55 am

This sounds like rape. Has the case been referred to Santa Clara Co. D.A. office?


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 5, 2014 at 11:07 am

>> The male student, whom Francis has been instructed by the university not to name due to confidentiality issues

This hardly seems fair when this woman's name is being mentioned all over the article. The implicit message here seems to be that a woman has to reveal all to a faceless irresponsible institution and the public while the accused gets anonymity.

>> Her appeal also cites a May 7 incident in which a male student she does not know entered her room in the middle of the night and started screaming, "Don't you think he would have been punished if he had actually done it?"

Why do people who feel strongly about an issue whatever the facts may or may not be feel they have an "entitlement" to being what sounds here like virtual terrorism to bear on someone they desire to intimidate?

I think this is almost as bad as the original incident. These are Stanford students, the people who will be at the top of our public and private institutions and setting the tone for our future and what justice is supposed to look like?


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 5, 2014 at 11:21 am

David
> This sounds like rape. Has the case been referred to Santa Clara Co. D.A. office?

There may be reasons for this, or even the delay, but one would think the "linguistically and legally superior" 1% from Stanford University ought to be able to articulate intelligently and fully what the problem is and why in a timely and responsible manner? What's up Stanford?


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 5, 2014 at 11:27 am

Barron Park Dad:
> What does this mean? How? "According to Francis' appeal, he is claiming he committed the assault during his sleep."

Perhaps what that means is that she is dealing with a Stanford Law student pleading some kind of diminished mental capacity when perhaps the real capacity that is diminished is his ability to respect other people due to an "entitlement mentality" to abuse, i.e. sociopathy.

I hope this gets sorted out and real justice can be exercised as opposed to the political nonsense that so often comes out of our privileged institutions.


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Posted by Colleen
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 5, 2014 at 11:36 am

My heart goes out to Leah Francis. And I applaud her coming forward to shed light on something we should all care about. That takes courage and determination. A big thank you, too, to Michele Dauber for her support.


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Posted by A
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 5, 2014 at 11:58 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2014 at 12:07 pm

I have The Stanford Daily student newspaper dated June 3, 2014 - just got it at the newspaper boxes on the sidewalk outside downtown PA Whole Foods.
You can easily go there and pick up a copy of this newspaper.
I am just reading this issue now - it includes several unflattering things about Stanford, rape, fraternities, sororities and an editorial on page 5 Opinions page, Op-Ed: "Responding to Rape at Stanford."
I commend the student journalists for writing honestly about their university. Other story gems concern cheating in Computer Science- but I haven't gotten to that one yet.


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Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 5, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Nora Charles is a registered user.

"The assault took place during winter break at his home out of state."

I can understand why this might take Stanford some time to review.


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Posted by Etaoin Shrdlu
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2014 at 12:27 pm

I'm curious as to why sexual assault is not a police matter, like aggravated assault.


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Posted by Karen Gibson
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 5, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Thank you for coming forward with your story Leah. You are very courageous to do so. I'm so sorry you had to endure this treatment by both your ex and then Stanford. It's important to inform others, as you are doing, and it takes a lot of voices to make change happen. So you are making a difference with your story. Shame on Stanford for taking so long and for not making student safety a top priority. Anyone who sexually assaults another student should obviously be expelled. There's no excuse for any school to dismiss that type of violence. I'm glad you found an advocate at school and are hopefully getting the support you need now. May you soon find peace.


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Posted by Appalled!!
a resident of University South
on Jun 5, 2014 at 12:48 pm

THIS IS STANFORD - unbelievable! Students here at this internationally acclaimed institution have to know that if there is an incident of this magnitude that occurs, it WILL be handled expeditiously. There is NO excuse! Potential applicants may take this sort of response into consideration as they mull over their choices.


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Posted by Paly mom
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 5, 2014 at 1:20 pm

THANK YOU to Leah and to Professor Dauber. Being upstanders is so important for all women, of any age.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 5, 2014 at 1:50 pm

This probably deserved reiteration:

Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford
> "The assault took place during winter break at his home out of state."
> I can understand why this might take Stanford some time to review.

Still, this is a long time, and Stanford could have responded in some way if only to say the out of state DA/Police are dragging their feet.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Web Link
Here's Stanford's Evan Spiegel, Stanford frat brother and 2012 grad on women
shocking.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2014 at 2:45 pm

sorry, forgot to mention: Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel, and karma'll getcha....on women


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Posted by Real American
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jun 5, 2014 at 2:50 pm

criminal matters should be handled by the police [portion removed.]


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 5, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Spiegel was an utter charmer just a few years ago, eh? I wonder how his family feels about his emails.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2014 at 3:02 pm

@Hmmm
I just stumbled on this awful stuff about Evan Spiegel's behavior while a student at Stanford by casually picking up a copy today of the Stanford Daily. Subsequently, I looked it up on the net and it is all over the place, in the business press and Stanford Provost Etchemendy appropriately has "condemned the messages" (see page 1 of the Daily). It is shocking some of the attitudes of men...I recommend against using Snapchat. I do not knowingly give my business to vulgar people like this guy. Vote with your feet, it's the only way, apparently, to get some respect. He is "sorry" for being found out. [Portion removed.]


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2014 at 3:19 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Anyone else find this ironic? Stanford was dragging their feet? They need to get Edmund Burke on Stanford's case.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 5, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

neighbor - I am well aware of the controversy swirling around Spiegel. I am not surprised. As a Sili Valley veteran, I've seen that attitude in the area, and I've experienced with Stanford frat boys. It's despicably shocking, but not surprising to me. The more things change, the more they remain the same. I've seen similar attitudes among accomplished Stanford "professionals" who don't even have the excuse of being young. I know of women in science at Stanford who have to be very, very careful about picking their battles when it comes to sexual harassment. Stanford for many years has NOT had a good rep in this regard, nor has it had a good rep in how it deals w/sexual assaults against women.

I don't use Snapchat, incl for the reasons you stated. Spiegel's had a rep for some time, and like you, I've opted not to help line his pocket.


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Posted by Edmund Burke
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2014 at 4:03 pm

Kudos to the victim in this case for being brave and telling her story to the world. It must not have been easy.

Stanford has made tremendous progress on this issue but still has work to do. There appear to be faculty at Stanford who have the matter in hand. I note that Stanford's Title IX coordinator is a lawyer who formerly worked at OCR as a sexual harassment investigator for 19 years. That sounds like a very good strategy -- much better than passing resolutions biting the hand that feeds it.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2014 at 4:07 pm

What tremendous progress? Sounds like nothing has changed. Pity that Stanford with its own law school has not been able to solve this issue. Or, maybe that is the problem. Too many lawyers. How can we expect a lowly high school to do so.


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Posted by Observer
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 5, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Kudos to the Weekly for printing this piece, and to the students and faculty for raising this issue. I am sorry for your ordeal, but know that institutions can get better when they face their shortfalls directly and honestly. To paraphrase Mead, it's the only thing that can.


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Posted by ndtn
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 5, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Assuming that an assault did take place at his home out of State I fail to see why such a horrifying event ( was it assault, rape?) wouldn't have been referred to the local police for prosecution. Have we come so far in human rights that we dispense with the administration of justice? I hope that a witch hunt doesn't replace a court of law. The investigation by Stanford reached a conclusion but also a punishment. Let it stand. We really don't know all the facts for a judgment, but they apparently do.


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Posted by out of state
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 5, 2014 at 4:37 pm

why is this in Stanford's court in the first place? off campus, out-of-state! Why isn't this the task of the local (out of state) law enforcement? Once there is a ruling, Stanford has to do, what's right.

But what's next? Stanford student traveling Australia or Asia and being accused of rape or being a victim of rape? Still Stanford's job to investigate???


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Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 5, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Nora Charles is a registered user.

Posted by out of state, a resident of Gunn High School
8 minutes ago
why is this in Stanford's court in the first place? off campus, out-of-state! Why isn't this the task of the local (out of state) law enforcement? Once there is a ruling, Stanford has to do, what's right.

But what's next? Stanford student traveling Australia or Asia and being accused of rape or being a victim of rape? Still Stanford's job to investigate???
________

I agree, resident of Gunn. And I wonder; was the male student arrested and charged with a crime in his hometown? That part seems murky. I imagine and hope Stanford would act only after a careful examination of the case, which does not seem clear cut.


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Posted by Danielt3
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 5, 2014 at 7:40 pm

Danielt3 is a registered user.

If Stanford would not investigate any other felony such as murder or armed robbery, why would it investigate a rape? It should be investigated by the police department in whose jurisdiction it occurred.


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Posted by Those 183 Votes
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 5, 2014 at 7:58 pm

Those 183 Votes is a registered user.

I'm not sure I understand the concern about where this took place. If a work colleague was assaulted by another work colleague and was reported to HR, HR are obligated to investigate and make sure that the workplace is a safe environment.

In this case, obviously the girl no longer felt safe on campus. Both people involved were students at Stanford and effectively "employed" by the university. It is up to the university to ensure there is a safe learning environment. It doesn't matter whether the incident was investigated by the police.

So, yes, if incident took place in Australia and both people involved were attending Stanford, there would be the same result.

Harassment can occur outside of the workplace.


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Posted by Margaret Fruth
a resident of Ventura
on Jun 5, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Margaret Fruth is a registered user.

Stanford is providing education to men it considers to be rapists, including a serial rapist, so they can prey on other victims?


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Posted by Margaret Fruth
a resident of Ventura
on Jun 5, 2014 at 8:44 pm

Margaret Fruth is a registered user.

Thank you, Leah Francis, for exposing Stanford. Thank you, Professor Michele Dauber, for supporting the rule of law.


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Posted by True Blue
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 5, 2014 at 10:24 pm

True Blue is a registered user.

OK, playing devil's advocate for a moment - otherwise this discussion is really boring...

To set the record straight up front: I see sexual assault as a horrible crime whose perpetrators should see maximum punishment, closer to the punishment for murder (the impact to victims and their families can be almost equally devastating).

But I can't help pausing judgement in this case.

This victim did not need to go to the press - her case is being handled by Stanford and the benefit to the Palo Alto "general public" is unclear, other than to garner much sympathy and potentially identify the alleged perpetrator "off the record" with those who knew whom she was previously dating. Perhaps a story in the Stanford paper would be more appropriate and reach more Stanford students who might actually benefit from knowing what other help they may need in a similar circumstance. The male, on the other hand, can only lose by coming forward to tell his side - his only hope for a normal future is to maintain anonymity.

QUESTIONS:

"... a man with whom she had a previous romantic relationship but was not dating at the time."

"The assault took place during winter break at his home out of state. "

What was she doing at the out-of-state home of a man she was no longer dating?

New Years Day - suggests they spent New Years Eve together and were still together in the am on 1/1/14.

Was she (also) "asleep" when the assault took place? His defense that he was asleep when it happened (not saying I believe a man could sleep through perpetrating a sexual assault) suggests they were in bed together already, or at least in near proximity. Again, what was she doing there?

I'm certainly not suggesting she deserved to be assaulted, I just wonder how the circumstances came to be, and what his side of the issue is. I don't feel there is nearly enough information here to form an opinion, particularly given my questions above.

I have to admit, I only started looking hard at the details because this article seems so opportunistic and vindictive. It's quite possible she truly is every bit the victim portrayed by this article, but it does strike me as unusual, particularly given her presence at his home out-of-state. Sounds more like a break-up gone wrong.

I also wonder where the local (out of state jurisdiction) legal process is with this case. Was there a police report filed? Is he facing charges at home?

I have no idea how Stanford University can adequately investigate and find someone guilty of sexual assault when it happened out of state on a school holiday. Perhaps they are leaning on the local jurisdiction.

@Those 183 Votes:
"I'm not sure I understand the concern about where this took place. If a work colleague was assaulted by another work colleague and was reported to HR, HR are obligated to investigate and make sure that the workplace is a safe environment. "

Really? In my experience the company would stay out of any issue that occurred off the clock and off the premises. If two employees get involved and then one accuses the other of sexual assault at a personal residence out of state there is no way the company is going to take a strong stand. The most they would do is offer reassignment of the "victim" to an office location further from the "perpetrator." Otherwise they would be sued by the perpetrator. Stanford's actions must have to do with whatever the Alternative Review Process (ARP)is. Maybe students have to agree to it as a condition of admittance?


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Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2014 at 10:36 pm

Sparty is a registered user.

All these comments. People don't even bother to know the facts.

She put her own name in the press.

The alleged attack happened in ANOTHER STATE.

He hasn't been convicted


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 5, 2014 at 10:50 pm

Craig Laughton is a registered user.

True Blue,

Thanks for a critical analysis. As the father of a son and daughter, I think I am cautious about a rush to judgment. Happily, I did not have to face this situation.

Simple question: What is rape? I think we can all agree about forced penetration and ejaculation (proved by a complaint to police authorities and a rape kit test). But does it also apply to unwanted sex demands from the female? For example, if a female professor at Stanford is accused of coercing her husband/wife into unwanted sex, will she be forced to go under review at Stanford?

Also, let's not forget the Duke rape accusation case...several male lives were significantly altered by lies from a paid stripper.


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Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2014 at 11:21 pm

Sparty is a registered user.

During this time--before the accused is either convicted or exonerated-- is a good time for everyone to re-read the Fundamental Standard. Because I'm assuming everyone has already read it.


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Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2014 at 11:33 pm

Sparty is a registered user.

" In my experience the company would stay out of any issue that occurred off the clock and off the premises. If two employees get involved and then one accuses the other of sexual assault at a personal residence out of state there is no way the company is going to take a strong stand."


Stanford's "Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Assault" policy states that actions that constitute sexual misconduct or assault under STANFORD's policy is the determining factor of whether or not a student will be punished. Separate from any criminal investigation, and regardless if any criminal investigation is pursed to begin with.

So basically, as a student you are subject to their interpretation of the events and criminal prosecution proceedings or lack thereof have no bearing. From the article is appears that Stanford chose this suspension as the penalty.

Stanford policy also states that even if you are not "legally drunk" you can be disciplined for driving under the influence.


"If Stanford would not investigate any other felony such as murder or armed robbery, why would it investigate a rape?"

Because of Title IX.


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Posted by Those 183 Votes
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 6, 2014 at 7:24 am

Those 183 Votes is a registered user.

@True Blue,

Really? In your experience your company would not take a report of sexual harassment between two work colleagues seriously if it occurred outside of the workplace? They are opening themselves up for a lawsuit. The company is still responsible for ensuring a safe work environment regardless of where the incident occurred. In this case, Stanford failed to do that.

There is a separate thread on whether expulsion/suspension or whatever should be applied but that is different to ensuring a safe work environment.


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Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2014 at 9:36 am

Sparty is a registered user.

" In this case, Stanford failed to do that. "

Could you post your transcript of the hearing so we can see exactly what happened?

Thanks


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Posted by Those 183 Votes
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 6, 2014 at 10:30 am

Those 183 Votes is a registered user.

@Sparty,
I don't understand your question. Are you asking what Stanford did or didn't do to ensure a safe working environment or the transcript of what happened off-campus?

The problems with Stanford's response are documented, albeit briefly, in the story above:

"[...] I have lost my sense of personal safety and security."

"It's just been really hard to know that he could be behind any corner on campus for this long,"

"It was not until Francis approached Stanford law professor Michele Dauber for help, hoping a tenured professor could aid her case, that the university removed the male student from campus housing, Francis said"

If you're asking what happened off-campus, that isn't the issue. It was proven that something happened that wasn't consensual and the offender doesn't deny this.

Stanford has a responsibility to ensure a safe learning environment throughout this process and the above comments show they haven't done that.


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Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Sparty is a registered user.

Which of the above comments have shown Stanford didn't do what you think they should have? Did you read the policies I mentioned? Where is your transcript of the proceedings? Or were you there? Or whose side of the story did you hear about what happened when the attacker was put under review.

You must know EXACTLY what happened since you are telling us that Stanford failed. So either you were in the hearing or you have a transcript which you are refusing to share.


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Posted by Those 183 Votes
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 6, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Those 183 Votes is a registered user.

Sigh.


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Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2014 at 6:27 pm

Sparty is a registered user.

Oh yes "sigh"

Outstanding comeback from someone who doesn't seem to know what went on in this guy's hearing. If you look you'll see all the Stanford policies spelled out right on their website.

You're still free to point out what exactly the panel decided were factors in their decision in the accused student's hearing.


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Posted by True Blue
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 6, 2014 at 9:38 pm

True Blue is a registered user.

@183:

"Really? In your experience your company would not take a report of sexual harassment between two work colleagues seriously if it occurred outside of the workplace?"

OK, let's put it back in the context of this case. If a woman went to HR in any company and claimed she had been sexually assaulted by a man who also worked for the company, at his home out of state, while both the man and the woman were on vacation, the company would tell the woman to work out her personal relationship on her own time. The company would do nothing unless the man did something harassing in the workplace.

The company would not even ENTERTAIN the idea of punishing him at his job, much less fire him ( equivalent of expulsion).

As Sparty says, it is only Stanford's "Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Assault" policy that gives them any jurisdiction at all. And, I agree with Sparty that we are having one side of the story jammed down our throats while the "alleged perpetrator" only stands to lose by trying to tell his side.

I'd still like to know why she was at this man's house. Something just doesn't seem quite right about this one.


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Posted by Those 183 Votes
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 7, 2014 at 9:40 am

Those 183 Votes is a registered user.

@True Blue,
You probably haven't worked in a large corporation in a long time or are still playing devil's advocate.

If a woman went to HR in any company and claimed she had been sexually assaulted by a man who also worked for the company, at his home out of state, while both the man and the woman were on vacation, the company is still under obligation to ensure the woman is safe at work.

As soon as the woman notifies HR that she no longer feels safe in the work environment, HR WILL investigate. If they found, as Stanford did, that something happened that wasn't consensual and the man admitted to it, they are under obligation to make sure that the woman is safe.

Actually your previous comment shows how long you've been away from the workplace. "The most they would do is offer reassignment of the "victim" to an office location further from the "perpetrator." That is the opposite of what they would do. You don't move the victim, you move the offender.

As I stated, there is another thread on punishment this is about how Stanford responded.


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Posted by True Blue
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 7, 2014 at 11:18 am

True Blue is a registered user.

@183,

LOL - no need to make assumptions about my work status or experience (and you are completely wrong, btw). Perhaps we have had different experiences in different companies. The companies I have worked for fear being sued by the guy as much as by the woman. Again, we are getting one side of the story and its hearsay - I have not personally seen the guy admit to anything so there's really no point in arguing.

In any case, we've established that Stanford has a policy that gives them more jurisdiction so what happens anywhere else is irrelevant.


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Posted by Those 183 Votes
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 7, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Those 183 Votes is a registered user.

You move the offender because you want to remove any obstacle to people making reports. If the person making the report needs to be concerned they will also be moved to another position they're less likely to make the report.

You have been in companies that mistakenly move the victim after a report because it is easier than confronting the offender. This is wrong and not supported by Title IX or Title VII.

It's not about fear or being sued.


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