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Imagine: Court reverses student's suspension for sexual misconduct, cites total absence of due process

This news is actually from Tuesday, but we certainly haven’t seen it covered anywhere else outside of a few tweets that scrolled past us today.

We do hope that Chris “Captain America” Evans is reading, since he was so enraged by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos trying to reform campus handling of sexual assault cases that he tweeted sarcastically, “It was getting way too easy for victims of sexual assault to navigate their horrific situation. Way to go, Betsy.”

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Actually, she was trying to do away with kangaroo courts that end up in situations just like this one.

In short, a male student at the University of California Santa Barbara had been accused of rape and suspended by the university. The courts, however, have reversed that suspension, citing a total lack of due process that did no favors to either the accuser or the accused.

Look at that: the court ruled that “credibility cannot be properly decided until the accused is given the opportunity to adequately respond to the accusation.” Huh … remember how one of Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyer’s demands was that Brett Kavanaugh, the accused, would testify first? And he wouldn’t be allowed to face his accuser?

Anyway, back to UCSB:

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And look at that: “Due process — two preeminent words that are the lifeblood of our Constitution.” It’s hard to believe this was written in California.

A detailed look at the case can be found at the blog Academic Wonderland. Here are some excerpts:

Even in the annals of bizarre campus due process cases, this one was strange. In 2016, the accuser—who had consumed alcohol despite taking an anti-depressant, Vibryd, that discouraged alcohol use—claimed that she was violently sexually assaulted at a party. Her allegation was of a brutal rape, in which the attacker also photographed her during the assault. Yet two other students—including her best friend—were seated three feet away from her during the alleged assault, and told the hearing panel they saw nothing. A critical piece of evidence—the name of the anti-depressant—was provided to the accused student shortly before the hearing (the night before, according to his lawyer; a few days before, according to the university).

The accused student was found guilty, largely on grounds of the emotional trauma of the accuser, who dropped out of school and went to counseling after the alleged assault. The hearing panel said that, given the layout of the dorm room, it was possible for a violent assault to have occurred without the two other students, three feet away, noticing it. The panel dismissed results of a lie detector test, which the accused student passed, on grounds that he was drunk on the night of the incident and therefore his memory was unreliable. An appeal—to UCSB Margaret Klawunn, a figure well-known from various lawsuits against Brown dating from her time there—was denied.

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Huh … the panel dismissed the lie detector results because the student was drunk and probably couldn’t remember the sexual assault. Why does this sound so familiar?

So maybe DeVos isn’t trying to make it harder for sexual assault victims on campus to find justice after all.

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