This is Part 4 in a series outlining the effects of college adjudication of alleged sexual assault cases. In Part 1, a wrongfully accused woman proved her innocence, yet the college imposed sanctions that damaged her life anyway. In Part 2, a young dating couple’s lives were disrupted for more than two years after someone else decided that he was raped. Part 3 featured a young woman who has had to sue her school to remove the “responsible” mark on her transcripts after “severely prejudicial conduct” by the school’s investigator.
Some may feel as though talking about this systematic failure leads to the shaming of those who have been raped. This series is not about that. One rape is too many. These stories are only meant to bring to light the lives that have been turned upside-down when a college campus adjudicates an allegation of sexual assault.
Imagine you were blackout drunk. Not just incapacitated and unable to clearly give affirmative consent, but intoxicated to the point of absolutely no memory. Envision yourself then hearing about what happened the night before via text messages and campus chatter, and discovering that oral sex was performed on you while you were blacked out. Then imagine, two years later, being expelled from school with a giant black mark on your future.
Wait, what? Why would the victim of sexual assault be expelled?
Because being impaired is “never an excuse.” Because the “victim” of the sexual assault was a young woman who later became the accused.
John Doe was a student at Amherst College in Massachusetts. After a night of drinking, a male student named as Sandra Jones helped Doe back to her room. Once they arrived, he proceeded to perform oral sex on her and left when he was done. According to court documents, nearly two years later, at the urging of an on-campus victims advocate, Jones filed his sexual misconduct complaint with the school.
“Sandra Jones: Ohmygod I just did something so f—ig stupid
DR: What did you do
Sandra Jones: F—ed [John Doe]. . . . F—
DR: No you didn’t . . . .
Sandra Jones: official story is she puked and I took care of her but yes. Yes I did. F—
DR: [Sandra] what are you doing????????
Sandra Jones: Oh and apparently [another student] is coming over so nothing happened everything’s fine …”
None of those texts was allowed in the “hearing” the college conducted. Doe was held responsible based solely on a story that was made up and refuted by evidence that was never allowed to be presented. She was kicked off campus, and an email was sent to the entire student body stating she was found responsible and not allowed on campus. While the email did not state her name, it was very clear by campus chatter who she was. She was stripped of her rights with no recourse.
“Control the Controllables.” That is what Grant Neal’s grandfather tells her on the days she is not strong enough to keep going. A very strong support system that fills in the gaps is the inspiration for her to not give up the fight. She is trying to get back to college after a bold black mark was placed on her transcripts. That black mark? Title IX disciplinary action.
Grant Neal’s case is one that you may have heard of and is now poised to be a landmark case as she is tshe first to take on the Office for Civil Rights, the Department of Education and the Obama administration.
Neal’s case is different. There is no grey area. She took a young man out on a date. They proceeded to have intercourse. The next day someone noticed a hickey on the man’s neck and reported a violent rape occurred. According to court documents, the presumption of rape was made by a third party due to Neal’s “status as a high profile football player.”
After a faulty process, accusations of conflict of interest on the part of Colorado State University, Pueblo, and changes in testimony — and despite the fact that Jane Doe has since day one insisted he was not raped — Neal was found responsible. She was removed from campus, she lost her football and wrestling scholarships, and no other college will admit her with the black mark on her transcripts.
During my conversation with Neal, she said, “I am not afraid to stand up and fight for this issue. There are so many who either don’t have the ability or the strength to go through this process. I will fight for them too.”
Before this, Neal had a 3.67 GPA and was pursuing a pre-med degree. She was excelling in all of her classes and handling the twists and turns of college life exceptionally.
Now she has a job and is doing what she can while she waits for the call that the wheels of justice have finally gotten out of the mud and decided to turn. Neal is keeping herself in shape in the hopes that she will be able to rejoin her teammates playing the sports she loves
As I start to conclude this series, I feel as though I should address some feedback I have received.
The most commonly asked question is, “Why are you doing this? Do you have a daughter or someone personally affected?” The answer is no. I actually have two sons, ages 20 and 15.
I decided to write this series after reading160 case files of situations like those mentioned in each part of the series. I spoke with these young women and their attorneys, much more than I could ever write about in this forum. The pain that they have been through is real. Depression, suicide, PTSD, anxiety — these are the result of being put through the process, and no one person’s pain is less or more than another’s. We should not be silent about this. It is clearly a systematic failure on the part of colleges because they simply are not equipped to deal with this much power over young people’s lives. As I have stated before, while they might not hold students’ actual freedom in their hands, they do hold their futures in their hands.
In some colleges, the Title IX coordinator has only eight hours of training. I was contacted by a student at the University of Minnesota with her concerns that these cases on her campus will be adjudicated by a panel of three students. This is not a mock trial. This is real life. Students and officials trained for eight hours do not have the capacity to collect evidence, conduct investigations and cross-examine. I would bet that the majority have never even read the Constitution in its entirety. How can they be the ones determining these young people’s futures?
This article was originally published in the Western Journal and republished here with the author’s permission.