THE SMEARING OF PATRICK WITT CONTINUES by KC JOHNSON
When Patrick Witt published his op-ed on what was done to him in a sexual assault hearing at Yale, he had to know that the critics would emerge from the woodwork. And so they have. The New York Timescontinues to stand behind its botched reporting on the case, which even the Times’ public editor said was “unfair” to Witt and not worthy of publication. And one of the self-styled campus “activists” revealed perhaps more than she intended regarding how she approaches the question of campus sexual assault.
Alexandra Brodsky is a representative of “Know Your IX,” one of the many anti-due-process groups that have sprung up on campuses in the past few years. (For a taste of her general approach, see this piece in the New York Times, in which she denounces colleges for urging women to stay sober as a way of avoiding dangerous situations.) Brodsky, a student at Yale Law School, leapt into action with two tweets responding to the Witt op-ed.
“I care a lot,” Brodsky tweeted, “about fair process in campus violence adjudication. But trust me that Pat Witt is not the right poster boy here.” She continued, “And by trust me, I mean talk to anyone who was at Yale at the same time, including his teammates.”
It’s good to hear that Brodsky cares “a lot about fair process in campus violence adjudication”; nothing in any of her previous writings indicates she cares a whit about fairness. And this tweet suggests she doesn’t care about fairness now.
Recall the specific manner in which Witt (and all other students subjected to the “informal complaint” process at Yale) are treated. He couldn’t have a lawyer representing him in the panel. (You’d think that problem alone would trouble future attorney Brodsky.) He didn’t have the right to present evidence of his innocence—or, indeed, to even see the evidence against him. The sole protection he had—that the adjudication would be confidential—was violated, either by the accuser or by someone at Yale, and there’s no indication that Yale ever investigated the issue. Those procedures don’t trouble someone who allegedly “care[s] a lot about fair process”?
As FIRE’s Ari Cohn pointed out, the “poster boy” remark confirms that Brodsky doesn’t really care about fairness, since “caring requires you demand fair procedures regardless of ultimate guilt or innocence.”
Brodsky’s second tweet, meanwhile, is nothing more than an anonymous smear. (“Victim-blaming,” to use Brodsky’s preferred terminology.) I tweeted Brodksy if she had any evidence to corroborate her claim, or would reveal any of her alleged sources; she did not reply. Imagine her (appropriate) outrage if such unsourced character attacks were directed against an accuser who didn’t receive due process.
Brodsky’s reaction to the Witt op-ed shouldn’t come as a surprise; the basic agenda of the campus “activists” and their faculty allies is to create a process that will yield more guilty findings. Fairness and due process don’t help in the achievement of that goal. Nonetheless, Brodsky’s tweets should be recalled the next time she speaks up on the general issue of campus adjudication of sexual assault claims.
The Princeton version of Brodsky achieved a victory with the resolution of a Title IX complaint against the university. The resolution formalized the anti-due process reforms that Princeton already had sought to implement. As has occurred in virtually all of these “investigations,” the accused school quickly folded to OCR’s demands, and appeared concerned chiefly with ending the inquiry, not in treating its students fairly.