September 16, 2015

OF COURSE, HIS REPUTATION WILL NEVER FULLY RECOVER: A Campus Rape Ruling, Reversed: The University of Michigan has vacated its findings against a student accused of sexual assault, after he sued the school for violating his civil rights.

The sexual encounter in question took place in March 2012, in the spring semester of Sterrett’s freshman year. Legal documents described how the female student, CB, who was a friend of Sterrett’s, asked to stay in his room because her roommate was having guests. He expected her to sleep on a mat on the floor and was surprised when she got into his bunk bed. Soon the two were kissing, then more; CB asked Sterrett about a condom, and he got one. Their encounter went on for so long, and was so loud, that Sterrett’s roommate, who was trying to sleep in the top bunk, sent Sterrett an annoyed Facebook message about being kept awake. The roommate later gave a sworn statement that he was close enough to the pair that he would have heard, and intervened, if CB had said no or objected.

The semester ended, and Sterrett and CB left school. The events that prompted the university investigation of Sterrett are described in an affidavit sworn on his behalf by LC, a friend of CB and her sophomore-year roommate. While CB was home for the summer, her mother discovered her diary, in which the young woman described her drinking, drug-taking, and sexual encounters. (In her own deposition, CB confirmed the contents of the diary.) After confronting her daughter with her discovery, CB’s mother drove her to campus, where CB made her accusation. She never reported it to the police.

During the summer, campus officials informed Sterrett via Skype that a student had made an allegation against him. When the tone of the interview turned hostile, he asked if he should retain a lawyer. He was told if he ended the interview this would be reported to the university and the investigation would go on without him. He continued to talk.

Sterrett was never provided with the charges against him in writing. The Skype interview turned out to be his sole encounter with the campus officials investigating and deciding his case. He never had a chance to question his accuser. He was not told the names of the witnesses the university interviewed in its inquiry. In November of his sophomore year he received a “Sexual Misconduct Investigation Report,” which concluded he was responsible for the accusation against him.

Everyone involved in this travesty should be fired, and the University of Michigan should have to pay a large damage award. Vindication is nice, but not enough. And since the rape charges are unfounded, shouldn’t the “victim’s” name be public now?

Meanwhile, male students, and parents of male students, have a reason to be suspicious of the University of Michigan, which costs at least $27,812 per year in-state and $57,432 per year out-of-state.

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