The ‘Rape’ Disaster at Washington and Lee

In the latest college to settle a due process lawsuit instead of defending its policies in court, MassLive reports that Amherst College reached a settlement with an anonymous male student who sued the school after Amherst withheld his degree. The case was unusual in a couple of respects: first, the allegation involved a same-sex rather than an opposite-sex encounter; second, the college enacted a punishment (a one-year de facto suspension) and welcomed the accused student back to school thereafter. According to the lawsuit (and not denied by Amherst), he had a strong record and no disciplinary problems, but when the accusing student complained a week before graduation, the college effectively decided to impose a second penalty for the same offense, denying the accused student a degree and withdrawing an offer to work for Amherst.

An Amherst spokesperson offered the following Orwellian statement to the confidential settlement: “Previously, hearing board panels were comprised of Amherst students, faculty and staff. Under the new system, cases are decided by well-trained and experienced professionals from the other four colleges in our community. We made this change because students requested it. They did not want adjudication of sexual misconduct allegations to include individuals whose classes they might be taking or whom they might see on campus. That change made a lot of sense, and we hope and expect that it will help to establish trust and encourage reporting.”

Or, in real English: “Yes, we just were forced to settle because we treated a student accused of sexual misconduct unfairly—but we’ve changed our procedures to increase the likelihood that more accused students will be treated unfairly in the future.”

Meanwhile, the latest school to face a due process lawsuit (which you can read here) is Washington and Lee. The facts, by this point, are depressingly familiar. Two students had a sexual encounter after attending a party, at which both consumed alcohol. The next morning, the accused student drove the accuser back to her dorm. The next day, the accuser told a friend that she had a good time the previous evening, and made no mention of any assault; and the accuser hooked up with the accused student a month later. Many months later, and after working over the summer at a women’s clinic, the accuser indicated that she’d had an “evolution” in how she felt about the incident, which she now concluded was a sexual assault. Part of this evolution was seeing the name of the accused student—who she had also discovered now had a girlfriend—on the acceptance list for a college program in Nepal.

The accuser filed a complaint with W&L’s Title IX officer, Lauren Kozak, who harbors the unusual theory that for female college students, “regret equals rape.” (After the lawsuit was filed, the video of Kozak’s talk vanished from the hosting site.) After the accuser formally filed her complaint, W&L conducted a lightening investigation/adjudication/punishment process—the accused student was branded a rapist and expelled from school within 21 days. (Imagine the appropriate outcry from politicians in both parties if any state handled criminal complaints in such a casual manner.) The accused student received six hours’ notice of his initial meeting with Kozak, who told him that he could discuss the matter only with his parents, and that “a lawyer can’t help you here. We won’t talk to them. This matter stays strictly within the school.” The accuser also was forbidden to speak with potentially exculpatory witnesses, thus weakening his chance at a fair defense.

Although several people who spoke with the accuser shortly after the attack said she hadn’t described the incident as a sexual assault, the college went forward with the case. At the hearing, the accused student represented himself (since W&L doesn’t allow lawyers). He was forbidden from directly cross-examining the accuser (the complaint alleges that significant discrepancies existed between contemporaneous Facebook postings and even what the accuser told the Title IX investigator on the one hand and what she told the panel on the other). Even more problematically, none of the witnesses who spoke to the Title IX investigator appeared at all, with the panel instead relying on Kozak’s written summary. By a vote of 3-1, the panel deemed the accused student a rapist; W&L, like an increasing number of schools, doesn’t require unanimity to find a student culpable of sexual assault.

The complaint also raises some troubling issues of coincidence: the W&L cited a fear of OCR investigation as one of his justifications for hiring Kozak, and the expulsion decision came one day after publication of the Rolling Stone article on UVA. Though that piece is now hopelessly discredited, at the time it was accepted as gospel, and doubtless influenced at least the general mindset at a school in the same state.

Will Washington and Lee be the next to settle?


  • 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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8 thoughts on “The ‘Rape’ Disaster at Washington and Lee

  1. I am currently looking for a well respected university where I can focus on and advance in a solid paralegal program.
    Admittedly it has taken me quite some time to find the field that I am truely passionate about and want to dedicate the rest of my working life to. However, in hindsight my past employment history (civilian, current military and federal) all make this upcoming chosen field the logical conclusion for me. I can honestly say that my path has led me to where I was always supposed to be and I’m thankful for that.
    Now as far as how this novel of a response relates to this article, here we go.
    I will be reclassing (military term) to paralegal NCO very soon and wanted to take my military certification to a university to ensure that both military and civilian certification requirements are met before proceeding to masters level paralegal studies. I first linked to GW university but then I remembered several high profile instances of “hate crime hoaxes” and I wanted to see how the University handled them in the end. Of course, they were highly disappointing in their results. No punishment for the bearers of false witness it seems, while the desired perpetrator that actually fits the narrative would have been ritually crucified at the PC alter as well as in both the courts and the media but they just seem to hard to come by.
    I looked on in hopes of finding a university that I could feel actual pride and respect in being associated with and whose degree would one day hang on my wall that I would have no regrets in occasionally having to take the time to dust. However, the disappointment continued. Without the need to occupy to much of a readers time with specifics that are for the most part public’s a sad little list (feel free to add more) of universities failures to live up to what should exemplify standard of higher learning and that of a degree granting institution. 1) UVA, Duke and now Washington and Lee university rape hoaxes. 2) Missou, GWU and others that escape me at the moment with false “hate crime” cases…I believe mainly consisting of incorrectly drawn “poop swastikas” unless it was those pesky Hindu fecalfeliacs that were the culprits..I kid of course or the one that just never gets old, the correctly but crudely done swastikas drawn by Jewish perpetrators. 3) Yale and Harvard welcoming the leadership from the race hustling terrorist organization known as BLM to speak and even “teach” at their campus. I’m sure the standard college communists, self loathing whites and thick headed freebie students brought in for the sake of diversity loved attending “in defence of looting” although I’d imagine any required written assignments resemble something of a sub kindergarten level with crayon drawings included. Just sad really. And finally 4) The RBF afflicted hairy pitted, man hating debacle that is “3’rd wave feminism”. Although let’s be serious, it’s only males of the Caucasian persuasion that seem to get their daddy issue decorated panties (I just threw up in my mouth a little) in a twist and all previous ripples in the feminist cesspool have been rooted in the same.
    So my search leads me to this…do any out there, if your still reading know of a school, ideally in Va DC Metro area, that has handled any such cases or movements in what I personally and quite possibly many others may deem in the appropriate manner? This “appropriate manner” defined by myself would be immediate expulsion of students, University sponsored vigorous pounding in criminal and civil courts, the firing of staff (tenured or not) and again a drawn and quartered approach in the legal system as well as public apologies, University as well as community sponsored support for the falsely accused whether an individual or a group based on gender or ethnic background and figuratively putting the heads of all that were quick to vilify the innocent on pikes on the green quads of academia. Anyone? Bueller, Bueller?

  2. This young man is winning in court. Federal judge recently ruled that he was “railroaded” (actual wording of judge) and that he had a good chance to win his claim of sex discrimination at trial. Also last week the national DA.s assn demanded changes in the college system, including involvement of local police and prosecutors

  3. This is my alma mater. This story is horrifying. This is not the same school from which I graduated almost 15 years ago.

    1. “Me too.” I finished many years ago and am humiliated by this event. I know of several fine young men who have chosen other colleges because of this tragic situation. W&L should pay this young man whatever he wants, fix their system and hope time heals this perverse situation. Plus they should fire Koznack. Just as they have, I understand, fired Pres. Ruscio because of this.

  4. If “regret equals rape”, and he regrets having sex with her, as I am sure that the student at Washington and Lee does after these accusations, does that mean that she raped him?

    1. Probably not, because in this day and age, men can’t be raped, and women can’t rape. In this day and age, if you are female, and rape another women or a child it’s considered “exploring”…..Lena Dunham is proof of that.

  5. Considering the hysterical, anti-male climate that exists within contemporary academia, it’s difficult to understand why parents are still sending their sons off to college. In the past, college offered young men pathways to prosperous, middle-class careers. However, unless one is studying pre-med, computer science, or certain types of engineering, today’s universities do little to enhance one’s employment prospects. Why risk going into serious student-loan debt and being falsely accused of rape (with a system in place that won’t even treat you fairly) when you could earn a degree online or learn an in-demand trade that can’t be off-shored?

  6. What’s … just, unbelievable – and a lot is – if you said 10-20 years ago that this was going to be the norm for how “investigations” were going to be run, you’d have been branded a loon.

    I was falsely accused 20+ years ago (90’s) – and the beginnings of this structure were already in place:

    1) No lawyer allowed to represent you, you HAD to speak, and that records, should there be criminal charges, could be accessed by the ADA.

    2) No direct questioning of the accuser or witnesses by the accused.

    3) It was made a practical impossibility to talk to witnesses to find out who is saying what, what could help, what would hurt, and so on.

    4) I was told that if I “influenced” any witness (how vague is that?) by speaking to them that further charges could and WOULD be filed – my accuser faced no such limitation.

    5) I had 3 campus cops show up to my dorm and was given:
    a) A notice I had been falsely accused.
    b) A restraining order.
    c) A notice I had **1 HOUR** to leave my home (my dorm was my home, I had no other place to live)

    6) I asked the school to compell witnesses to come to the hearing to testify, to include the 3 police officers who interviewed me that fateful night, and was told they would not.

    7) I was accused 3 weeks after I broke up with my former GF, the DAY after she attended a college rape lecture where she was told that “if you regretted it, it was likely rape” – and a total of 6 weeks after we’d had sex.

    8) I was EXTREMELY lucky – in that after the college found me “responsible” (they did not use the term “guilty”) that I went to the local ADA, and she, was willing to listen with an open mind.

    Yes, you read that right – **I** went to the local ADA – and begged her to become involved.

    She was, ahem, skeptical to say the least, but after **I** supplied her with the accusers statement and offered to speak to detectives without any cousel – within a short time she was on my side. She even gave me legal advice on what to do if a criminal complaint was filed.

    (of note to the lawyers – the ADA was not actiing in conflict of interest – I called what I THOUGHT was the local ADA, the one from my nearby hometown, and she worked for the Middlesex County Prosecutor – the school was across a line on a map and was actually under the jurisdiction of the Suffolk County Prosecutor’s office)

    She advised me and gave me a promise that if my accuser tried to file charges she’d call the Suffolk County office and recommend against charges and share he opinion.

    Regardless – my life was shattered. To. This. Day. It haunts me – and I’ve never gone back to get a degree – colleges and their tribunals terrify me. Take note: I’m now in the Army, been on 2 combat tours, and have been engaged multiple times. Deployment, to me, is less scary than a college campus: at least in combat I can shoot back.

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