Title IX and College Rape: A Series of Injustice

Title IX has been brought to the spotlight due to sexual assault survivors stepping up to tell their horror stories of not only rape but also a secondary rape of sorts. Many of these victims have to face their rapists every day due to the failing of universities and their complete inability to adjudicate these rape cases properly. How is it possible that this amount of life altering power has been handed to untrained university administrators?

The stories from college rape victims are absolutely heart-wrenching, and they are stories we all need to hear. However, there is another side to complaints that you may not have heard of. The other side is rarely spoken about because it implies that a woman may have lied about being raped.

According to some, just the mention of these cases causes victim shaming. The other side of facts can be a double-edged sword that could silence the next victim from coming forward to report the attack. The other side of facts and evidence will actually show you that sometimes the wrong person is accused, incidents can be filed without the knowledge of either party involved, sometimes complaints are filed out of vengeance, some are filed because “all drunk sex is rape,” and occasionally, a false report is made.

When any injustice occurs, a victim is created. This series will tell you stories you may not have heard about, or may not have known that these victims even existed. Please keep in mind, that is not the basis for this series. This series is intended to show readers how incredibly inept colleges and universities are when it comes to rape complaints on their campuses. Also, hopefully sharing these stories will bring enough light to the severity of the issue, that a change might be inspired.

Title IX and Rape. I am sure there are some people reading this who had no idea it was even an issue. I mean Title IX is supposed to ensure that sexual discrimination is prohibited in any federally funded education program or activity, right? Why is the word rape even associated with Title IV? In 2011, The Office for Civil Rights put into place a “Dear Colleague Letter“ which explains that discrimination includes the following, “Sexual harassment of students, which includes acts of sexual violence, is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX.” The letter also states:

Police investigations may be useful for fact-gathering; but because the standards for criminal investigations are different, police investigations or reports are not determinative of whether sexual harassment or violence violates Title IX. Conduct may constitute unlawful sexual harassment under Title IX even if the police do not have sufficient evidence of a criminal violation. In addition, a criminal investigation into allegations of sexual violence does not relieve the school of its duty under Title IX to resolve complaints promptly and equitably. A school should notify a complainant of the right to file a criminal complaint, and should not dissuade a victim from doing so either during or after the school’s internal Title IX investigation. For instance, if a complainant wants to file a police report, the school should not tell the complainant that it is working toward a solution and instruct, or ask, the complainant to wait to file the report. Schools should not wait for the conclusion of a criminal investigation or criminal proceeding to begin their own Title IX investigation and, if needed, must take immediate steps to protect the student in the educational setting.

What this says in short form is that non-campus police don’t matter to the university. Non-campus police evidence or lack thereof is irrelevant to a college or university because the standard of proof of guilt is not “beyond a reasonable doubt” instead by a “preponderance of truth.” The standard of proof is lower because they aren’t finding individuals guilty or not guilty of rape with criminal consequences. Due Process is a thing of the past thanks to the “Dear Colleague” letter. The university has a lower standard of proof because what they are adjudicating isn’t actually impeding on anyone’s actual freedom. That is what we are told. Until you dig deeper.

Take for instance the Title IX case of John Doe v. Boston College. The incident is described and documented in a Complaint filed in Massachusetts District Court. The Title IX case came to fruition after Boston College students were on a casino boat event for the school in 2012. According to the complaint, security guards on the boat detained him until they got to the pier. At that time, state police arrested him on the spot and placed him in handcuffs with bags on hands to preserve any evidence. He was arrested and put in jail for the weekend, and later released on bail. He was charged with indecent assault and battery and pleaded not guilty. A female student on the boat accused him of walking by and lifting her skirt, and putting two fingers in her anus.

His parents hired an attorney and a private investigator. It was forensically proven through both surveillance and DNA, as well as a polygraph, that he was innocent. (It was allegedly another man who was walking directly in front of him). All charges criminally were dropped against John Doe and also erased from his record.

However, at the school level, he was immediately suspended and kicked off campus. According to the complaint, no real investigation was done. No one was allowed to testify on his behalf, the school would not take his statement, allow the private investigator or attorney to speak or introduce the evidence. He had been suspended from school pending the outcome at the same time his due process rights were stripped. He had no way to prove his innocence without the facts of the case being presented.

The school found him responsible for sexual misconduct. He appealed and was denied. He was suspended from school for TWO years. His official transcript stated “Suspended for Sexual Misconduct,” he had no option but to wait out the imposed sanctions, as no other school would admit him with the branded record.

He went back to Boston College and graduated after serving his sanctions. At graduation, his father spoke with college officials, (also noted in the complaint) who stated they would do a re-examination of the case. That promise was not held up, and John Doe was branded a sexual predator, which every possible employer sees when they ask for his transcripts.

His life has forever been altered because of the inability of the college to follow through effectively or accurately. While technically he still has his “freedom,” his reputation and future employability are absolutely tarnished with a sexual misconduct brand; when according to actual evidence, he did nothing wrong.

Let me state again, I found 140 cases like the one above. The accused had his or her life ripped apart and destroyed by college administrators due to their mandate that has proven to be a complete sham. There are cases and cases of wrongful sexual misconduct brands on accused individuals that will follow them for life printed on their college transcripts, “Suspended for sexual misconduct” or “Expelled for Sexual Assault.”

One Title IX Complaint filed says that after the accuser admitted to filing a false incident report because she was “pissed off” when she realized that John Doe had rebuffed her, and because she thought John Doe was “just another douchey frat dude.” The school continued to prosecute John Doe. He was suspended for three terms for sexual misconduct and had to sue to the school under Title IX to attain any sort of fair resolve. His case was eventually settled out of court.

Lawsuit after lawsuit shows that women’s rape allegations are rarely actually investigated by colleges. Lawsuit after lawsuit also shows that when they are investigated, more harm is done than good. The harm of course first is to the victims. The majority of reporting statistics show that universities only pursue 1 in 12 cases of rape allegations. The victim’s cases that aren’t pursued are beyond appalling. However, that data isn’t readily available, because either the incidents aren’t reported to the university or the university drops the ball completely.

One experienced attorney stated to me, “Title IX needs to be repealed in its entirety because the Department of Education had twisted its reach far beyond its limited legislative intent. In the meantime, these due-process cases need to be pursued.”

This blog is part one in a series outlining the horror stories caused by campus adjudication and clear lack thereof. These stories are very important to clarifying the extreme injustices happening on our college campuses. I hope you will continue to read the series.

If you have a story to add or input you would like included, please feel free to contact me.

Follow Jessica Denis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jessicadenis10

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