Campus rape: A presumption of guilt?
Imagine you’re a male Amherst College student who, “after a night out drinking with friends,” walks a female student back to her dorm room, said Deion Kathawa in The Detroit News. “While you’re blacked out, she performs oral sex on you. Nearly two years later, she accuses you of sexual assault—and you’re expelled,” because you never asked her if it was OK to have sex. This isn’t some fictional horror story; it “happened a few years ago,” under absurd campus rape guidelines brought in by the Obama administration. Thankfully, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is considering reforming this “broken” system, said Cathy Young in The New York Times. The 2011 Title IX guidelines encouraged colleges to evaluate sexual assault allegations on a “preponderance of the evidence”— far below the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in the criminal justice system. That creates a “powerful bias” against the accused, many of whom have seen their lives destroyed despite no evidence of coercion.
“No one wants to see someone wrongfully accused and punished,” said Rekha Basu in The Des Moines Register. But the Trump administration, led by our groper in chief, is about to undo all the hard-won progress we’ve made on campus rape in recent years. Before the Title IX guidelines, allegations were all too often ignored, and 80 percent of victims were afraid to report attacks. “The highest estimate of false reports,” by contrast, is just “8 percent,” said Lauren Duca in TeenVogue.com. Yet the Trump administration wants to “do more to protect the rights of alleged rapists.” No surprise there, given that this president is “a self-identified predator” who boasted on videotape that he sees “women as objects to be gawked at and grabbed.”
Campus rape remains a huge problem, said Tiana Lowe in NationalReview.com, but that doesn’t justify the current, “Kafkaesque” system. Under its guidelines, colleges are discouraged from cross-examining accusers so as not to cause them further trauma; the accused sometimes aren’t even allowed to testify in their own defense. The result is “show trials conducted by hapless administrators.” To get the best possible investigations and verdicts, we should let the police and the courts handle these often-murky cases, so they can gather evidence and testimony—and use constitutional standards to reach verdicts. Too much is at stake to leave sexual assault cases in the hands of “virtue signaling’’ assistant deans.