Sex Education, Part One:
When students and their families tell me that they "want to sue" after being found responsible for sexual assault at a University Hearing, they generally believe that the court can be used as a sort of "super appeals court" to have their hearing redecided on the merits; generally this is precisely what the courts will not do, but the recent John Doe v. Miami University decision has given some life to this use of the courts to challenge Title IX sexual assault cases (if you are not familiar with the facts of this case, see Part 1 of this series). The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has said that if an accused can show "'(1) "facts sufficient to cast some articulable doubt on the accuracy of the outcome of the disciplinary proceeding" and (2) a "particularized . . . causal connection between the flawed outcome and gender bias,"'" then the accused can challenge the outcome in court with an "erroneous outcome" claim.
A blockbuster decision dropped in the Title IX Sexual Assault world last week when the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, in part, against Miami University in a case filed by a suspended student. The student had been suspended for sexual assault based on a theory that the alleged victim was "severely intoxicated" (an undefined term in Miami's Code of Student Conduct) when sexual conduct allegedly occurred. There are several layers to this decision that carry important implications for both accused students and alleged victims; perhaps the most interesting involve the constitutional rights of equal protection under the law in terms of who Miami chooses to prosecute for a claim of sexual assault.
A former school counselor in Covington, KY, has successfully sued a Covington Police Officer in federal court, claiming the officer falsely arrested him for sexual abuse of a 7-year old boy. The lawsuit, filed in April of 2010, concerns a criminal case from early 2009 that was quickly dismissed after a grand jury refused to indict the school counselor based on a lack of evidence.
The Ohio University Police Department says that reports of sexual assault have quadrupled over last year. At this time last year, there had been six reports of sex crimes. This year, there have been twenty-three. These reports range from public indecency to rape. A spokesperson says that the increase probably does not reflect an increase in incidents, but rather an increase in reporting.
It seemed like harmful hazing rituals were on the decline, but several new lawsuits show that the serious problem still persists throughout U.S. high schools and colleges.