NCFM Carolinas Spokesperson Joshua Strange Featured on TV

Lying about rape pic.jpg

NCFM Carolinas spokesperson Joshua Strange along with his mother Allison were recently featured on an Al Jazeera America segment that highlighted the aftermath of Auburn University's mishandling of Strange's sexual assault case.

As reported during his interview:

Josh Strange had dreamed of attending Auburn since he was 12. Toward the end of his freshman year in 2011, he pledged a fraternity and began dating a young woman he’d met through mutual friends. After a month, they changed their Facebook statuses to “in a relationship.”

Then, on June 29, 2011, they went back to his apartment after a night of heavy drinking. Strange said that a little while after going to sleep, the couple woke up and started having sex.

“My girlfriend had woken up, and she initiated everything,” he said. “We started having sex that night and all of a sudden, about midway through, she just loses it.”

Strange’s girlfriend called the police, who detained him for questioning. She said Strange had forced himself on her. He said that she initiated the sex. His accuser didn’t press charges. In fact, he said she returned to his apartment the next morning to apologize for the misunderstanding.

“I was just confused,” he said. “She looked at me and said, ‘Well, it was nothing, you know, I freaked out. I’m sorry.’ She said [it was] a misunderstanding. I don’t really know what she meant by that, but she just kept apologizing and apologizing.”

The couple continued to date and sleep together for another six weeks. Then, their relationship started to fall apart. On Labor Day Weekend of 2011, a month after they cut off communication, Strange was again arrested at his home. He said she made a second false charge of dating violence, accusing him of slapping her in the face with a set of keys in a parking lot of a frozen yogurt shop back in September.

He flatly denies the charge, and said witnesses confirmed that he was 15 miles away from where the incident allegedly took place. This time, however, the accuser did press charges for misdemeanor simple assault, as well as for the earlier alleged incident: felony forcible sodomy.

It didn’t take long for word to spread through Auburn. It hit him when he was standing in line at a campus Chick-fil-A.

“All of a sudden I heard, ‘Did you hear about that Josh Strange guy?....He raped a girl,’" he remembered. “…At that point, I got out of line and I just left. I went home.”

On Nov. 7, 2011, the university held a hearing to determine Josh’s future. The jury was made up of two students, a staff member from the College of Liberal Arts and a fisheries professor from the Agriculture College. Strange was present, but didn't speak on the advice of his lawyer, who said anything could be used against him in a criminal trial. And he said his accuser stood in the middle of the room in what resembled a jerry-rigged PVC structure, draped in a black sheet.

The first witness was an associate director with the campus police who doubles as a “safe-harbor advocate.” A tape recording of the hearing revealed that while she found the accuser “very credible” and Josh “a potential threat to [his accuser’s] safety,” she had never actually heard the accuser’s version of events.

“As a safe harbor advocate, I really don’t need to know a lot of details, and so I didn’t ask her to go into great detail,” the official said, according to the tape recording. “I don’t really want survivors to have to tell their story over and over again.”

There was no cross-examination. After just over an hour and a half, the discipline committee recommended expulsion.

A few months after Strange's college hearing, a criminal court cleared him of all charges. A grand jury found there wasn’t probable cause for prosecution for the sodomy charge. When the simple assault case went to trial, the accuser didn’t show up so the case was dropped. But none of that changed the fact of Strange's expulsion. He was warned that if he ever stepped on Auburn's campus again, he would potentially be charged with criminal trespass.

Colleges that don't comply with Title IX risk losing their federal funding. And while no school has ever faced that penalty, critics caution that the current administration's more active tack in investigating schools are rushing some to hasty judgments. The recent trend of “yes means yes” or “affirmative consent” policies have further fanned the fears. These conduct codes put more of the burden on the accused to prove that the other person consented, as opposed to making alleged victims prove that they were forced.

Strange thinks he was a victim of this new climate.

“The explanation that we’ve really come up with is just Title IX compliance,” he said. “They had to have something to say, that they’re complying with this federal mandate to try to keep the funding that they get.”


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