Those Accused of Sexual Assault on Campus May Not Receive Fair Hearing
The issue of sexual assault on college campuses has been blown out of the shadows in recent years with several high-profile cases. In April of this year, Vice President Joe Biden spoke to the successes that college communities have had in recent years in curbing the number of sexual assaults, but noted that there was far more work to do.
While in past years, statistics and reports often found that students who were accused of sexual assault faced little to no reprimand by university authorities — while the lives of victims were often thrown into psychological and social upheaval — according to research in 2015, the pendulum may be swinging too far the other way. That is, in an effort to stay out of headlines and attack the issue of sexual assault head on, some university authorities have begun to take accusations of sexual assault as fact, without doing due diligence to back up these accusations. And the accused often faces severe punishments without fair investigation.
This is often the case when accused men are tried in a college tribunal rather than in court, as would happen if the incident occurred off college campus. In these tribunals, an accused is often not given a period of discovery (thus cannot get the evidence he needs to exonerate himself), is not given an attorney, and has limited right of cross examination. While these tribunals ostensibly operate on the assumption that the accused is innocent until proven guilty, in small college communities the system does not actually function as such in operation.
These college tribunals began operating like this, according to some sources, after the Obama administration warned universities that if they failed to crack down on the rate of sexual assault accusations and cases, they ran the risk of losing federal funding. This decree came after the administration reported that one out of every five women in college is the victim of sexual assault.
If you have been accused of sexual assault on campus, the most important step is to speak with a legal professional. Do not go through it alone. Contact an experienced Fairfield County criminal defense attorney today.