sexual assault

Double Standards in NYU Sex Abuse Case

The troubling story of NYU professor Avital Ronell has been covered extensively by Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice; Brian Leiter has also broken several items on his blog, including the scholars’ letter on her behalf. A long article in The New York Times and a very sympathetic account in the Chronicle brought the matter to […]

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Pensive woman by Eugene Kukulka

Sexual Abuse Gets a Free Pass on Campus

Amid the tidal wave of sexual abuse allegations against powerful individuals in politics, sports, the media, the entertainment industry, and in academia, one stands out because it has not inspired the kind of collective outrage that the others have. Ithaca College’s new President, Shirley M. Collado, was accused—and convicted—of sexually abusing a female patient in […]

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Harvey Weinstein and Higher Ed

Harvey Weinstein—priapic, smug, and richly honored—has been losing his degrees. The University of Buffalo is rescinding his 2000 honorary degree. Harvard is revoking his Du Bois Medal, awarded in 2014 for his contributions to black culture. France is rescinding his Legion of Honor. These take-backs come despite Mr. Weinstein’s long record of standing up for […]

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Weaponizing Title IX at Middlebury

Last week came two more court decisions involving due process and campus sexual assault. The first, which involved a student at Case Western Reserve University, had Judge Christopher Boyko (a George W. Bush appointee) ruling that it was plausible the accused student was innocent and the CWRU had manufactured inculpatory evidence—but there was nothing he […]

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The Odd Sexual Accounting at Yale

Since 2011, as part of its settlement with the Department of Education’s  Office for Civil Rights, Yale has published biannual reports that provide brief summaries of each sexual assault allegation at the university. (Yale is the only university in the country to have such an obligation.) I’ve analyzed each of these reports, issued by the […]

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Why ‘Yes Means Yes’ Rules Can’t Work

Despite criticism from all overthe politicalspectrum, so-called “yes means yes” sex rules are on the march. After California, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law on July 7 requiring all of the state’s universities to adopt an affirmative consent policy for sexual assault cases. Similar rules are set to go into effect at the […]

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Mattress girl

Did ‘Mattress Girl’ Tell the Truth?  Not Very Likely

At least for now, Columbia’s mattress saga is over. Emma Sulkowicz, the student who spent her final year on campus toting a mattress to protest the school’s failure to punish her alleged rapist, graduated at the end of May; so did Paul Nungesser, the accused man who says he’s the real victim. There was more […]

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Wendy Murphy Comes to the University of Virginia

The Office of Civil Rights’ mandated procedures for investigating sexual assault are tilted heavily against the accused party. The institution can hire “neutral fact-finders” who produce the equivalent of a grand jury presentment, deny the accused an advisor of his choice, add witnesses that the accused student does not request, forbid the students from cross-examining […]

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Critics of Freeh Report Fire Blanks

Over the past several weeks, high-profile criticisms of the Freeh Report, which examined the Penn State administration’s failed response to a report of inappropriate sexual behavior by former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, generated more heat than light. Nearly identical missives from a handful of renegade PSU trustees, the family of ex-coach Joe Paterno, and a […]

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After Awful Tragedies,
The Campus Bureaucracy Expands

The Boston Herald is a scrappy, politically conservative tabloid that normally rants and rails against excessive regulations and good-for-nothing government bureaucrats. Yet in an editorial on the Penn State child molestations, titled “Keeping campuses safe,” the Herald called for a heavily expanded bureaucratic response. It excoriated “the football program staff” of Penn State who, quoting […]

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More Advice on Railroading Males in Sex Cases

Not one college or university that I know of has resisted the notorious “Dear Colleague” letter’ urging a lowering of the burden of proof in campus sexual assault cases. Reasons for this timidity include the fact that powerful forces within the academy fully support the attack on due process by the Department of Education’s Office […]

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Duke Didn’t Come Clean, Penn State Did

In 2006, the Duke lacrosse case featured an extraordinarily high-profile intersection of college athletics, academic culture, and the criminal justice system. Six years later, the tragedy at Penn State far surpassed events in Durham in the annals of campus scandal. There were clear differences between the two cases (chiefly, of course, that at Penn State, […]

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The Hollow Nature of the “Dear Colleague” Threat

An interesting article by Sara Ganim noted that with the conclusion of the Jerry Sandusky trial, attention will shift to civil suits against Penn State and criminal actions against former and current Penn State employees. Probably the most explosive recent report came from NBC, which revealed existence of e-mails among former top university officials (including […]

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More on the Rape Accusation at Brown

Marcella (Beth) Dresdale was the former Brown student who accused a classmate of sexual harassment and then (a week later) changed the accusation to one of rape. The classmate, William McCormick, quickly left Brown, but eventually sued both Dresdale and her father, Richard Dresdale, a wealthy Brown donor. Before the Dresdales agreed to an out-of-court […]

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Star Chamber Hearings at Brown, Yale, and Cornell

The ugly episode at Brown–a botched hearing of an alleged rape case– is part of a disturbing pattern of how sexual assault procedures are handled at Ivy League schools. Typically, the schools impose a gross form of injustice, permanently damaging the reputation of the accused male, then congratulate themselves for acting so fairly and appropriately. […]

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Student Editor Details the Corruption at Brown

As university after university follows the OCR’s mandate to lower the threshold for evaluating campus sexual assault claims–and thereby to increase the likelihood of convictions from false accusations–it’s worth keeping in mind cases in which even the pre-“Dear Colleague” procedure broke down. Caleb Warner’s is one such case; William McCormick’s is another.

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The Kafka-like “Dear Colleague” Letter Wins at Cornell

Another day, another two-tier student disciplinary policy–this time at Cornell. The Cornell Daily Sun reports that the university has modified its sexual assault policy, in response to pressure from the Russlynn Ali-led Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education. As the Obama administration demanded, the key change comes in a lowering of the […]

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The Notorious “Dear Colleague” Letter in Action

Inside Higher Ed brings interesting news today about how the infamous “Dear Colleague” letter from the Obama education department–which requires all sexual assault and harassment cases to be judged by the lowest possible burden of proof, a preponderance of the evidence–has affected one university campus. In response to the letter’s mandate, the University of North […]

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What Yale and the Times Did to Patrick Witt

Remarks delivered at a Manhattan Institute luncheon, March 28, 2012 in New York City. Professor Johnson and attorney Harvey Silverglate, whose talk will be presented here tomorrow, spoke on “Kangaroo Courts: Yale, Duke and Student Rights.”                                                                                        *** Before the Patrick Witt case, I had some experience writing about how the New York Times handles […]

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The Times Doubles Down Against Patrick Witt

In a column posted Saturday, New York Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane concluded that the paper had gotten it wrong when it went after Yale quarterback Patrick Witt. Brisbane wrote “that reporting a claim of sexual assault based on anonymous sourcing, without Mr. Witt’s and the woman’s side of it, was unfair to Mr. Witt. […]

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Patrick Witt and Yale’s Disastrous Failure

Richard Perez-Pena’s New York Times article on Patrick Witt consisted of little more than dubious inferences and negative insinuations. But the story did, unequivocally, feature one revelation: someone (presumably either in the accuser’s entourage or a Yale administrator) violated Yale’s procedures by leaking existence of the “informal” complaint against Witt–with the motive of torpedoing his […]

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Media “Watchdogs” Foul Up the Mess at Yale

In an ideal world, Richard Perez-Pena and the New York Times would have been subjected to widespread condemnation, even shame, for the character-assassination frame the paper gave to the Patrick Witt story. Kathleen Parker, most prominently, has spoken with moral clarity on the issue, translating the Times argument as, “We don’t know anything, but we’re […]

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Second Thoughts About Joe Paterno

Some Penn State alumni, outraged over the Board of Trustees peremptory firing of Coach Joe Paterno, are organizing a campaign to elect three new trustees.  The objective of Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship is, ultimately, to oust the current Board.  The Board fired Paterno, two University officials and the University President for not responding forcefully […]

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Will The NY Times Apologize to Patrick Witt?

The denouement of the Times’ coverage of Duke lacrosse came when then-sports editor Tom Jolly apologized for the paper’s guilt-presuming, error-ridden articles on the case. Will the paper ever get around to giving former Yale quarterback Patrick Witt an apology? With a few days perspective, it’s become clear that the Times‘ mishandling of the Witt […]

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The Times Vilifies Another Athlete, Presenting No Evidence

Over the past year, FIRE has led a campaign of civil liberties organizations against the Obama administration’s infamous “Dear Colleague” letter, which ordered colleges and universities to lower the burden of proof in their on-campus judicial proceedings. The letter demanded that all universities receiving federal funds employ a “preponderance of the evidence” standard (in other […]

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A Black Eye for Brown In a Controversial Rape Case

I’ve written before of the peculiar case of Brown and Marcella Dresdale. In 2006, Dresdale accused another Brown freshman, William McCormick, of sexual assault. But she didn’t go the local police, and she never filed charges. Instead, she went to the Brown administration–over which, it turned out, her father Richard, a major Brown donor, exercised […]

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Brown Shows How to Skew a Case and Skewer the Accused

Tuesday’s Brown Daily Herald brings an interesting column on one of Brown University’s best known–and most questionable–disciplinary proceedings: the expulsion of a student, William McCormick, after an allegation of rape by the daughter of a major donor. I’ve written about McCormick’s case before–in what resembled a coerced plea bargain, he was dismissed from Brown after […]

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Here Comes the Anti-Bullying Bureaucracy

The overwrought anti-bullying crusade has come in for heavy and very specific criticism from Hans Bader, the lawyer and writer who played a key role in keeping out a dangerous provision of a proposed federal law on how colleges must deal with campus sexual assault. Though Washington officials call bullying a “pandemic,” in reality, Bader […]

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Paterno: Sentence First, Verdict Afterwards

Why did the Board of Trustees of Penn State University put a humiliating end to the unblemished career of 84-year-old football coach, Joe Paterno?  In announcing the Board’s decision to fire him on the evening of November 9, the Vice-Chairman of the Board, John Surma Jr., spoke vaguely about the need to “make a change […]

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The Penn State Trustees React to the Stench

The Board of Trustees acted properly in cleaning house at Penn State, by firing president Graham Spanier and longtime football coach Joe Paterno. The inaction of the duo, along with similar conduct from now-suspended Athletic Director Tim Curley and now-retired VP Gary Schultz has exposed the university to potentially massive legal liability, as well as […]

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