The Smearing of Patrick Witt Continues

When Patrick Witt published his op-ed on what was done to him in a sexual assault hearing at Yale, he had to know that the critics would emerge from the woodwork. And so they have. The New York Times continues to stand behind its botched reporting on the case, which even the Timespublic editor said was “unfair” to Witt and not worthy of publication. And one of the self-styled campus “activists” revealed perhaps more than she intended regarding how she approaches the question of campus sexual assault.

Alexandra Brodsky is a representative of “Know Your IX,” one of the many anti-due-process groups that have sprung up on campuses in the past few years. (For a taste of her general approach, see this piece in the New York Times, in which she denounces colleges for urging women to stay sober as a way of avoiding dangerous situations.) Brodsky, a student at Yale Law School, leapt into action with two tweets responding to the Witt op-ed.

“I care a lot,” Brodsky tweeted, “about fair process in campus violence adjudication. But trust me that Pat Witt is not the right poster boy here.” She continued, “And by trust me, I mean talk to anyone who was at Yale at the same time, including his teammates.”

It’s good to hear that Brodsky cares “a lot about fair process in campus violence adjudication”; nothing in any of her previous writings indicates she cares a whit about fairness. And this tweet suggests she doesn’t care about fairness now.

Recall the specific manner in which Witt (and all other students subjected to the “informal complaint” process at Yale) are treated. He couldn’t have a lawyer representing him in the panel. (You’d think that problem alone would trouble future attorney Brodsky.) He didn’t have the right to present evidence of his innocence—or, indeed, to even see the evidence against him. The sole protection he had—that the adjudication would be confidential—was violated, either by the accuser or by someone at Yale, and there’s no indication that Yale ever investigated the issue. Those procedures don’t trouble someone who allegedly “care[s] a lot about fair process”?

As FIRE’s Ari Cohn pointed out, the “poster boy” remark confirms that Brodsky doesn’t really care about fairness, since “caring requires you demand fair procedures regardless of ultimate guilt or innocence.”

Brodsky’s second tweet, meanwhile, is nothing more than an anonymous smear. (“Victim-blaming,” to use Brodsky’s preferred terminology.) I tweeted Brodksy if she had any evidence to corroborate her claim, or would reveal any of her alleged sources; she did not reply. Imagine her (appropriate) outrage if such unsourced character attacks were directed against an accuser who didn’t receive due process.

Brodsky’s reaction to the Witt op-ed shouldn’t come as a surprise; the basic agenda of the campus “activists” and their faculty allies is to create a process that will yield more guilty findings. Fairness and due process don’t help in the achievement of that goal. Nonetheless, Brodsky’s tweets should be recalled the next time she speaks up on the general issue of campus adjudication of sexual assault claims.

The Princeton version of Brodsky achieved a victory with the resolution of a Title IX complaint against the university. The resolution formalized the anti-due process reforms that Princeton already had sought to implement. As has occurred in virtually all of these “investigations,” the accused school quickly folded to OCR’s demands, and appeared concerned chiefly with ending the inquiry, not in treating its students fairly.


  • KC Johnson

    KC Johnson is a history professor at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is the author, along with Stuart Taylor, of The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America's Universities.

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5 thoughts on “The Smearing of Patrick Witt Continues

  1. Will, I may have assumed too much in my Mikado comment. “The Mikado” was a Gibert and Sullivan light opera set in (where else? ) Japan. (Japan is an island country in the Pacific.) There was a song entitled, “There’d none of them be missed”, explaining the insignificance of convicting innocent people. I’m sure you see the reference. (Or…perhaps not.)Well,at least I’ve not been too obscure for you
    And, KC- I must express my admiration for your efforts to help people

  2. Will,Some of my best friends were Liberal Arts majors , and I still see them socially. (One of them gave me a large sized fries,the other day, when I’d only bought a regular.) Well, enough fun.Diffidently, I have to point out,Prof Johnson hasn’t defended Patrick Witt;rather he has pointed out the lack of legal protections ongoing in certain areas of accused crimes. The congruence you exhobit is more Mikado like than constitutional.Finally,it’s a source of wonder how prestigious and even worthy accomplishments ( a rhodes -a Harvard law aceptance and degree- become anti accomplishments in the opiions of the mediocre. (Heinlein is very good about this.)A little advice about helping yourself accomplish some things
    Change Utterly

  3. KC Johnson has published a book entitled ‘Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Case.’ Hmm. I wonder if there is anything self-serving, anything biased, about his point of view regarding the Witt case. I wonder if his surmise, his blind defense of Witt, has anything to do with that other book. It seems that KC Johnson, who wrote this article, is guilty of defending his thesis universally– ignoring what is, from this commentor’s personal, incontrovertible yet inadmissible evidence, the fact that Patrick Witt is guilty and was in fact spared by Yale’s antediluvian sexual assault response policies. Let us not forget that he is now enrolled in Harvard Law School. A former golden boy prevented from placing an undeserved feather in his menacing cap– the Rhodes scholarship– now enrolled in Harvard Law School; why should we be sympathetic? Oh– because then KC Johnson can remain relevant…

    1. If you have incontrovertible evidence of sexual assault go to the police and file charges. Then again, unlike Prof. Johnson you are just an anonymous “commentator” full of jealousy and have nothing.

  4. Miss Brodsky seems to be implying that if you are (allegedly) an asshole, then immediately all semblance of due process disappears. This is a Yale Law Student writing that.

    “And by trust me, I mean talk to anyone who was at Yale at the same time, including his teammates” almost gives me an aneurysm with how cowardly and non-committal it is. Hey, trust me! But talk to other people! They must have the same opinion I do! And even if they did, it doesn’t make this right.

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