Male Students Condemn College 'Courts' Over False Sex Claims

Thursday, 21 Aug 2014 11:05 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Hundreds of sexual attacks on college campuses across the country are reported every year — but now men are coming forward to claim they are the victims of false accusations, The Washington Post reported.

The White House is attempting to wipe out the wave of sex attacks with a national campaign to increase sexual assault awareness and put pressure on colleges and universities to take action against students accused of rape or "forcible sex offenses."

But the accused are now claiming that internal tribunals have a lower standard of proof for determining whether an offense occurred compared to the legal requirements for a conviction of a sex crime, the Post said.

The alleged attackers are also angry that accounts end up circulating on campuses and the Internet alleging that they are rapists or committed sexual assault on another student.

Joshua Strange, 23, of Spartanburg, S.C., was devastated that Auburn University kicked him out in 2012 for sexual misconduct even though an Alabama grand jury found there was not enough evidence to prosecute him.

Strange said that the police charges and the university's internal disciplinary hearing resulted from an ex-girlfriend falsely accusing him of sexual assault.

"The way that universities are handling the entire situation is terrible," Strange said. "It's kind of a broken system."

Strange, who recently graduated from the University of South Carolina Upstate, said he hopes his criticism of the college "court" system will help others from being unjustly treated. "I want to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else," he said.

Bobby Woodard, Auburn's associate provost and vice president for student affairs, said the U.S. Department of Education has ordered public universities to follow strict rules involving sex assault allegations, which do not have the same burden of proof as criminal laws.

"Those requirements are very clear and come with severe penalties for noncompliance," Woodard said. "We at Auburn take these requirements very seriously, and that is reflected in our Code of Student Discipline."

An unidentified student at Brandeis University, Massachusetts, also slammed an internal investigation that found him guilty of sexual misconduct, the Post reported.

"I wasn't given a fair trial," he said. "It's sad that this process can be abused and that the university can totally change somebody's life, with very little evidence. In the real world, rape and sexual assault are crimes punishable by going to jail, and rightfully so. Why is this left up to schools?"

Two months ago, attorneys for a former Brown University student wrote to the federal government to complain about "unsupported allegations of strangulation and violent rape" against their 21-year-old client that they said had "forever tarnished" his good name.

The man was suspended for a year after the university found him responsible for sexual misconduct involving a female student. Although he was not charged with a crime, he was identified in April in a student newspaper article about whether his punishment was too lenient, according to the Post.

In several cases, men accused of sex assaults say that the closed-door, internal hearings at colleges and universities are invalid because they don't have the same rules of evidence and procedure as criminal courts, the Post said, noting that students have to defend themselves without the aid of an attorney.

The newspaper said that some men who feel they have been wrongly convicted by internal hearings and also been victimized by the pressure on schools to reduce campus attacks are filing lawsuits against schools.

Charles Wayne, a Washington attorney who defended a student accused in federal court of an attack in 2011 at Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee, said colleges should not be allowed to decide sex assault allegations.

"The people involved in the process are not properly trained and don't have the necessary expertise," Wayne said. "In addition, the assumption that a 19-year-old can defend himself without counsel against rape charges is absurd."

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