March 24, 2016

ASHE SCHOW: Amherst College: Finding key evidence in sex assault cases is expecting ‘perfection.’

Amherst College, which is in the midst of one of the most egregious sexual assault lawsuits I’ve ever seen, is now defending itself against a lawsuit by claiming it can’t be expected to find key evidence.

I’ve written about this case previously, and though it seems like an article from The Onion, it’s real. A male student was blacked out (as in, a blackout state, not passed out) and received oral sex from a female student, who happened to be his girlfriend’s roommate. The ordeal cost the female student her friends, and 18 months later (and after befriending some victims’ advocates) she accused the male student of sexual assault.

So, to briefly recap: A male student is blacked out, receives a sex act, and is then accused of sexual assault.

The male student was expelled by a campus process where he lacked basic due process rights. After being expelled, he got a lawyer, who discovered text messages from the accuser immediately following the alleged attack. Needless to say, the texts do not support her story.

Her first text was to a boy she had a crush on and with whom she had been flirting earlier in the night. She invited him over for sex, right after she had allegedly just been sexually assaulted. She also texted a female friend, writing: “Ohmygod I jus did something so f–kig stupid” [sic throughout]. She then fretted over upsetting her roommate, because “it’s pretty obvi I wasn’t an innocent bystander.”

The woman then complained to her friend about the second man she invited over waiting until 5 a.m. to have sex with her. This male friend would supply an affidavit for the accused student’s lawsuit stating that when he went to the accuser’s dorm, she was “friendly, flirtatious and spirited” and was in no way “anxious, stressed, depressed or otherwise in distress,” as she would later claim during the campus hearing.

Armed with these revelations, the accused went back to the university to try to get his expulsion overturned, and the university declined, saying that he had missed his opportunity (during the appeal process, when he did not have a lawyer or any ability to discover the text messages) and therefore the school didn’t need to consider the evidence.

In Amherst’s response to the lawsuit, they went so far as to claim that the messages above and others didn’t prove the accused student was innocent. The mental gymnastics the school had to perform to come up with that conclusion are Olympic-worthy.

If this stuff is so hard, maybe they should try leaving it to the police.

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