Men Punished for Sexual Assault Are Suing Schools More Often
An increasing number of male students expelled from college after being accused of sexual assault are filing lawsuits against those schools.
More than 150 Title IX lawsuits have been filed against colleges alleging due process violations during sexual assault proceedings since 2011, according to Title IX For All. The group, which created a database on Title IX lawsuits using legal data, found only 15 such lawsuits in the 20 years before 2011.
Additionally, a recent survey revealed the lawsuits might be paying off. SAVE Services, which seeks to protect the rights of students accused of sexual assault, determined that 70 percent of those lawsuits filed against colleges between 1993 and 2015 brought results at least partially beneficial to the plaintiffs, reports the Salt Lake Tribune.
The lawsuits highlight the controversy over current university Title IX proceedings. When university officials are making disciplinary decisions related to alleged sexual misconduct among students, the U.S. Department of Education instructs them to use the preponderance of evidence standard of guilt.
The standard, which stipulates the evidence suggests it is “more likely than not” a crime occurred, represents a much lower burden of proof than the beyond reasonable doubt standard used in criminal court proceedings.
Campus Safety recently reported on the American College of Trial Lawyers’ stance that the preponderance of evidence standard is unfair to students accused of sexual assault. The group recommended colleges switch to the clear and convincing standard of guilt.
Colleges, meanwhile, are left in a situation where failing to follow federal guidance can risk fines from the Office for Civil Rights, while punished students may sue the school for using a system they perceive as unfair.
People on both sides of the debate have been watching new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos closely.
The Detroit News reports DeVos met with Michigan first lady Sue Snyder to discuss campus sexual assault prevention in April, one day after meeting with Georgia Rep. Earl Ehrart, who has threatened to withhold funding from colleges depriving accused students of due process.