The March 7 Metro article “Suit fights new law on campus sex crimes ” highlighted but one problem with colleges and universities seeking to play cop, prosecutor, defense counsel, judge and jury: The schools can’t even figure out what standard of proof to require. And the new federal Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act won’t solve that problem.
Schools need to stop interfering in the prosecution of violent crimes. As a former sex offense prosecutor who now sometimes represents students in college disciplinary matters, I know that sex crimes are among the most difficult of criminal cases to investigate and prosecute. The idea that university students and staff can manage such cases is demeaning to victims. University hearing boards lack rules of evidence, uniform standards of proof and legal representation for both accused and complainant. This lack of competent process endangers victims and is unfair to those accused of a crime that can potentially result in expulsion and academic or professional ruin.
What’s the solution? Colleges and universities should establish mandatory and comprehensive reporting requirements and then get out of the way. Protection for the complainant could be managed by the no-contact orders that usually accompany a criminal case. College conduct codes could then simply list sanctions accompanying a conviction for sexual assault.
Shanlon Wu, Alexandria