Accused Rapists Slaughtering Colleges In Courts; Applying Due Process to Private Colleges, and Now a Class Action
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 23, 2019) – College and university students accused of rape are increasingly winning law suits challenging their expulsions, or even suspensions, on due process or other fairness grounds, a trend likely to be accelerated by a new class action law suit, and by decisions holding that due process – or at least principles of fundamental fairness – apply to private institutions of higher education as well as public ones, reports public interest law professor John Banzhaf.
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He cites a new decision in which Quinnipiac, a private University, in a proceeding against a student, destroyed the notes of its own investigation, and now must go to trial for violating his rights.
This follows another ruling by federal judge John Fowlkes, Jr. that, in Title IX proceedings involving date rape, even private institutions of higher education must give accused students all of the protections - including the all-important right to cross examine witnesses - that public institutions have been required to provide under the constitutional guarantee of due process.
Shortly after than ruling, Yale University settled a bizarre case charging that it violated the due process rights of former basketball player Jack Montague in expelling him for an alleged rape.
Now an attorney has filed a class action law suit against Michigan State University on behalf of college students who want the right to cross examine other students who accuse them of date rape and other forms of sexual assault.
It follows a ruling by the Sixth Circuit that students accused of sexual assault, or their representatives, have a right to directly question their accusers.
Also, says Banzhaf, here are a few other recent examples of institutions which have capitulated, just in the last week:
- The University of Miami has just settled after its motion to dismiss the law suit was denied.
- Northern University of Michigan has likewise agrees to settle a due process law suit at it.
- The University of Colorado at Boulder settled after a judge questioned whether it could use a preponderance of evidence standard.
- The University of California at Berkeley has also agreed to settle following an adverse ruling.
These rulings and other developments are very important because they suggest that this trend will continue if not further accelerate, and that the protections which must be afforded at collegiate date-rape proceedings will be determined by judges, not legislators or regulators, says Banzhaf.
Due process rulings based upon the Constitution trump federal and state laws, and whatever rules may eventually be issued by the Department of Education, he notes.