The “Yes Means Yes” bill was a big deal when Jerry Brown, the governor of California, signed it into law in 2014. It made California the first state to pass an “affirmative consent” law requiring all parties to get consent for each touch each time; silence can not be interpreted as consent. Now, it seems, Brown is not so certain about what has been wrought. This week, in an unexpected move, Brown vetoed a new bill that would have broadened the definitions and rules regarding alleged sexual misconduct for students attending California colleges and universities. Brown wrote he could not endorse the bill because of troubling concerns that have arisen in recent years. He noted that since he signed Yes Means Yes, “thoughtful legal minds have increasingly questioned whether federal and state actions to prevent and redress sexual harassment and assault—well-intentioned as they are—have also unintentionally resulted in some colleges’ failure to uphold due process for accused students.”
theatlantic.com By Emily Yoffe
Due Process Rights
Articles relating to due process rights for our College boys
On Monday Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary H. Strobel ordered Pomona College to dismiss the college’s findings and two-semester suspension of an accused male student, finding that Pomona College’s Title IX disciplinary process unlawfully denied the student a fair hearing.
Last July, Pomona College found the accused student responsible for sexual misconduct and issued the suspension following a campus hearing, which the female accuser refused to attend. On July 26, 2016, John Doe, as the wrongfully accused student is identified in court records, appealed Pomona College’s Title IX action to the California Superior Court, and named Samuel D. Glick, Chairman of the Pomona College Board of Trustees, Miriam Feldblum, Dean of Students, and Darren Mooko, Pomona College’s Title IX Coordinator and Diversity Officer as respondents. In August 2016, Judge Strobel ordered Pomona College to stay the suspension pending a final ruling on John Doe’s appeal, which has now been issued against Pomona College.
In her final ruling, Judge Strobel expressed particular concern about Pomona College’s denial of the accused student’s right to question the complainant at a hearing, in light of last year’s Court of Appeal decision involving the University of California, San Diego, Doe v. Regents of the University of California (2016) 5 Cal.App.5th 1055.
“Pomona College’s Title IX investigation process has been devastating for the student and his entire family,” said Mark Hathaway, attorney for John Doe. “Pomona College presumed him guilty from the start and discounted evidence that he was the victim and wrongfully accused by a female student from another college. John Doe is glad to finally have vindication.”
A complaint filed in federal court alleges John Doe completed undergraduate work but the college withheld his diploma over a complaint lodged against him in 2016. It notes the college’s actions “fly in the face” of standards issued by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in September 2017. “The Department promulgated the new guidance specifically to protect the due process rights of accused students and ensure fundamental fairness to all parties, but the University has ignored and continues to ignore these rights,” the lawsuit argues. However, John Doe falls outside the new DoED mandate because he has already graduated, leaving the plaintiff in a “punishing, extended state of limbo,” his complaint states.
www.masslive.com By Stephanie Barry
California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed SB169, there by refusing to codifying 2011 Obama era guidelines. Thank you Jerry for supporting the presumption of innocence! Read Gov. Brown’s veto statement here.
Dear Governor Brown,
I am a long time California resident, attorney and Co President of Families Advocating for Campus Equality (FACE), a nonprofit formed to provide support and advocacy to innocent students wrongfully suspended or expelled from their college and university campuses following Title IX disciplinary proceedings.
Today I am asking you please, please veto SB-169.
Do not stop reading because you think you know what I’m about to say, because you do not know the half of what I have seen, and how many times I have been brought to tears by the destruction the Title IX machine has left in its wake.
Most Americans would be stunned to learn how Title IX disciplinary processes are conducted on many campuses, and those who have learned cannot fathom that such Kafkaesque “trials” are allowed to occur in our country, land of the free and fair.
In the past three-plus years hundreds of students and some professors have contacted FACE after experiencing result-driven Title IX disciplinary processes in which school officials have: refused to disclose details of the conduct of which they’ve been accused; denied them access to the very same evidence relied on to find them responsible; refused them the opportunity to question their accusers and witnesses; relied on hearsay and other evidence inadmissible in any other adjudicatory arena; ignored their lack of harmful intent or good faith beliefs; and dispensed with any presumption that the student may actually be innocent.
Denied the protections which normally accompany the use of the required (under California law) preponderance standard of evidence, innocent students are routinely found “more likely than not” to have committed what, more often than not, is not a crime, but a technical violation of the school’s conduct code. For this they earn lengthy suspensions or expulsions.
Though FACE representatives met personally with the SB-169’s sponsor Sen. Jackson, the Senator refused to acknowledge or even consider that students most tragically affected by these one-sided proceedings are the underserved, minorities and scholarship students, most of whom have worked diligently to rise above the circumstances into which they were born.
When faced with Title IX investigations, these innocent students believed the advice, variations of which they’ve heard their entire lives, that they should “just tell the truth and you’ll be fine.”
Unfortunately, these young students – often just 18 or 19 years old – are blindsided by experienced campus attorneys and administrators who effectively act as their prosecutor, compiling evidence and testimony only to establish their guilt, while denying them access to an equivalently experienced advocate or attorney because their families do not have the resources to retain one. Imagine constructing your own defense at that age. The consequences of this David v. Goliath farce are students left with no opportunity to complete their education, loss of a promised career and significant loans to pay for a diploma they will never receive.
No wonder an African American mother told me that, to them, “it’s just more of the same.”
Perhaps even more tragically, the foundation on which these students have relied since childhood, the promise of a better future and their belief in the American sense of justice, is destroyed. Disturbingly, many attempt suicide, some successfully, many, many are hospitalized and most suffer significant life-long trauma, PTSD and anxiety. Some have psychotic breakdowns and, in at least one case, a California college student developed schizophrenia, documented to have occurred as a direct result of the traumatic Title IX process he endured at his college.
When will this stop?
When will our representatives realize the lives of our children are being lost, destroyed, permanently and irrevocably changed?
When will our legislators take off their political hats and, as human beings, open their eyes to see the resulting destruction of promising young, innocent lives, not only in California but across this entire country?
Governor Brown, will you be the hero who opens your eyes to help stop this madness?
Cynthia P Garrett
FACE Co President
San Diego, California
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ decision to amend the Obama administration’s guidance regarding campus sexual assault has prompted Title IX coordinators at various universities to reassure their students that they are committed to preventing and responding properly to sexual violence… Among the 2017 new guidance’s most significant changes is allowing universities to choose a higher standard of evidence when adjudicating Title IX cases. The “clear and convincing” standard to judge accused students roughly translates to 75 percent certainty. Officials can also continue using the “preponderance” standard, a 50.01-percent certainty standard that had been mandated under Obama. The preponderance standard is one of the lowest standards of evidence that can be used to adjudicate assault claims. Some campus leaders say they will continue to use that low standard. This is a shove to the spirit of the new guidance, which was created because the preponderance standard, critics argue, has failed to adequately ensure due process rights to the accused.
thecollegefix.com By Jeremy Beaman
According to a recent headline by Rasmussen Reports, “Most Americans Agree with DeVos on Sexual Misconduct Cases.” That headline however is an understatement. Respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with DeVos’s statement that “Every survivor of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously. Every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined.” 73 percent agreed with that statement, compared to only 6 percent who disagreed, leaving 20 percent not sure how they felt about it.
thefire.org By Joe Cohn
On Oct. 4, 2017 FIRE testified at the Department of Education’s hearing on regulatory reform, which sought public input on “regulations that may be appropriate for repeal, replacement, or modification.” FIRE took yet another opportunity to ask the department to prioritize fair procedures and due process for both alleged victims of sexual misconduct and those accused of it. Read the full text of FIRE’s comments, delivered at the department’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
thefire.org By Alex Morey
Proskauer’s Higher Education group released a report on lawsuits brought by students accused of sexual misconduct. Their report reviews 130 federal and state court complaints filed by students across the country between January 2011 and December 2016 who claim violation of their rights during a Title IX investigation.