May 19, 2018

K.C. JOHNSON: The Fallout From Weaponizing Title IX.

In April of 2011, the Obama administration changed Title IX policy, pressuring colleges to adopt procedures that dramatically increased the chances of a guilty finding in sexual misconduct cases. Justice for accused males became so rare that many turned to the courts, filing suit for loss of due process. Since then, universities and colleges have suffered 97 setbacks in these suits, few of them as dramatic as the ruling last Monday in a lawsuit against Johnson & Wales University of Providence, Rhode Island.

After an hour-long oral argument in which Judge John McConnell (an Obama nominee) peppered JWU’s lawyers with skeptical questions, the judge ruled from the bench that the Title IX claim would proceed. “On the pleadings,” he said, he could “find no reason at all why the result was Mr. Doe’s expulsion. The only inference [is] . . . gender played a role,” in violation of Title IX.

Even among the wave of dubious campus sexual assault adjudications, the JWU case was particularly problematic. The accused student, identified only as John Doe, had a short-term sexual relationship with a female student. Months later, the female student’s new boyfriend told JWU officials that she had been sexually assaulted. When Doe wanted to question the boyfriend about why he came forward, JWU cited university procedures to deny the request. (Incredibly, the university allowed the boyfriend—despite his status as a witness in the case—to serve as the accuser’s “advocate,” thus shielding him from questioning.) The school also refused to provide Doe with a written copy of his accuser’s complaint. (Instead, a JWU administrator orally read the document to the accused student.)

This procedure ended with Doe found guilty, and JWU expelled him. The lawsuit resulted. University lawyers opened the hearing by conceding that the accused student’s breach of contract claim could move forward. But they alleged that there was no plausible gender discrimination in the case.

This is disgraceful, and these officials should face personal ruin for their misconduct.

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