GOOD NEWS ON TITLE IX (REALLY): Could the law banning sexual discrimination actually mean what it says — and apply even if the victim is male? ? K.C. Johnson, co-author of The Campus Rape Frenzy, says a court ruling against Amherst is the best legal news in years for male college students. It involves the outrageous case on the opening page of the book about a student named Michael Cheng (a pseudonym to protect his identity). While he was “blacked out” drunk, a non-drunk female student performed oral sex on him. Two years later, after becoming involved with anti-rape activists, she rewrote history and accused him of sexual assault. Amherst expelled Cheng, refusing to consider strong evidence (including the woman’s texts after the event) exonerating him. If anyone was a victim of sexual assault, it was Cheng, but the frenzy on Amherst’s campus required a male scapegoat.
Cheng sued Amherst, arguing that Amherst had violated Title IX by discriminating against men. Amherst tried to get the case dismissed by arguing that Title IX didn’t apply, but a federal judge in Massachusetts ruled against the college. The judge, Mark Mastroianni, noted that Amherst realized the woman had initiated sex while Cheng was incapable of consenting, yet the college “did not take even minimal steps to determine whether Doe should have been viewed as a victim.” The judge allowed the suit to go forward because there is a “a sufficient basis for Doe to proceed with a Title IX deliberate indifference claim.”
Johnson and his co-author, Stuart Taylor Jr, have tracking the rape frenzy since the Duke lacrosse case. Their superb book debunks the myth of a rape epidemic and tells the horror stories of men convicted in the kangaroo courts mandated by the infamous “Dear Colleague” letter from a bureaucrat at the federal Department of Education. Dozens of them have sued, with mixed results so far, but Johnson says the Massachusetts ruling is an encouraging development:
To me, this is the most significant district court decision since the ‘Dear Colleague letter,’ because of the facts of the case: Cheng is not only innocent, but it’s at least plausible that his accuser victimized him, with the college ignoring it. So if Amherst had won the motion to dismiss, it would be hard to imagine any set of facts that would ensure a defeat for a college. The judge is an Obama appointee who, it seems to me, was disinclined to rule for the accused student but had no choice. He wasn’t looking for legal precedents to help Cheng. But even under the more limited precedents he cited, he couldn’t come up with a way to decide for Amherst. The Title IX section of the ruling was very broad, and puts Amherst in a tough position.