A federal judge has denied a motion from lawyers representing St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict to seal documents filed in a Title IX lawsuit against the schools. Judge Brisbois denied the motion, saying that the right of access by the public is “far higher than the deminimis nature of that right which the defendants have argued…Lawsuits similar to the present action are being filed across the nation, and they are the basis for a national debate regarding what procedures ought to be required for investigating allegations of sexual misconduct on campus; such as the sexual misconduct investigation underlying the present complaint,” he wrote.
www.sctimes.com By David Unze
Court wins, settlement agreements, positive legislation
Lawmaker Rep. Earl Ehrhart wants to limit the ability of Georgia’s public colleges to investigate and discipline alleged campus rapists. Ehrhart is worried about the lack of legal protections for those accused of sexual assault. In hearings last year, Ehrhart grilled officials from Georgia Tech. Several Tech students have sued, arguing they were forced out of the school unfairly after being accused of sexual assault. “I want to treat these crimes with the seriousness they deserve,” Ehrhart said. “But I am not going to sacrifice due process to get there.”
Every defender of due process rights should take heart. Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos was asked whether she would uphold the Education Department’s 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter regarding campus sexual assault. DeVos didn’t give a “yes” or “no” response, but instead said she knew there were “a lot of conflicting ideas and opinions” surrounding the document. “If confirmed, I look forward to understanding the past actions and the current situation better and to ensuring that the intent of the law is actually carried out in a way that recognizes both the victim -the rights of the victims – as well as those who are accused.”
watchdog.org By Ashe Schow
Kentucky state Rep. Wesley Morgan introduced two fantastic pieces of legislation, and soon students at public institutions of higher education may enjoy important new rights. The first bill, the Student and Administration Equality Act, HB 126, would ensure that students facing potentially lengthy suspensions or expulsions from campus have the right to hire lawyers for representation during campus proceedings.
thefire.org By Joe Cohn
Sacred Heart University has issued a letter of apology to a local man for wrongly posting his name and photograph on leaflets. The letter of apology is part of his settlement of a $1 million defamation lawsuit against the Fairfield school. His attorney Thomas Ganim, confirmed that a settlement in the Superior Court lawsuit had been reached but declined comment on the details, citing a confidentiality agreement with the university.
www.ctpost.com By Daniel Tepfer
Attorney Kimberly Lau representing an innocent accused male from Cornell has successfully reached a settlement. After Ms. Lau had two motion wins- a motion to dismiss and a motion to amend, Cornell and Ms. Lau’s client reached a confidential settlement agreement… Another recent settlement win for Ms. Lau is with Wesleyan College. It’s a little known secret that colleges do settle with innocent accused males, but because the settlements are confidential, there is very little publicity.
The Winthrop University Police Chief says after a thorough investigation, the report by a student that she was sexually assaulted is “unfounded.” The police investigation included a review of video from a number of security cameras in the area where the assault is said to have happened. “Winthrop Police found no evidence to substantiate the allegation that an assault occurred or that an assailant was present on campus. The campus was not in danger.”
A Connecticut state court judge rebuffed Central Connecticut State University’s attempt to use FERPA to deny an accused student access to evidence against him. The decision is a shot across the bow for schools considering invoking FERPA to withhold police records during disciplinary proceedings even though FERPA explicitly excludes law enforcement records from being withheld. The university’s distorted interpretation of FERPA is noteworthy because it perversely construed the statute, which was designed to protect students’ rights, to require the denial of one of the most fundamental due process rights of the accused-the right to present a defense.
www.thefire.org By Zach Greenberg
Judge Elizabeth Dillon proved that some campus procedures are just too outrageous to survive judicial review. The judge’s due process ruling came in a case out of James Madison University. The case illustrates the effects of an often-overlooked effect of the 2011 Dear Colleague letter-the requirement that colleges allow accusers to appeal not-guilty findings…this double-jeopardy principle creates an additional layer of injustice. “No reasonable jury,” [Judge Dillon] concluded, “could find the accused student was given fundamentally fair process. Instead, the undisputed facts show that JMU denied him a ‘meaningful hearing.’”
www.mindingthecampus.org By KC Johnson
Incoming Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows recommended that the Trump administration roll back 2011 campus sexual assault guidelines that “deny the often-innocent accused basic due process rights.”
usatoday.com By Paul Singer