Mr. Miltenberg insists his decision to sue a number of universities on behalf of male students who have been suspended or expelled following sexual assault accusations is not inconsistent with any of the above. He’s already filed four lawsuits—against Vassar College, Columbia University, University of Massachusetts Amherst and Drew University—will file several more before month’s end, and is consulting on 20 or so appeals at the college disciplinary level. In each, he is suing the schools for violations of the Title IX gender-parity law of 1972, contractual claims, unfair trade practices, as well as a number of tort claims.
If you feel like you’ve been reading more about campus rape of late, that’s because you have—most recently in a New York magazine cover story in September. The trend has been gathering steam since the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights sent a letter to colleges nationwide on April 4, 2011, mandating policy changes in the way schools handle sexual assault complaints, including a lowering of the burden of proof from “clear and convincing” evidence to a “preponderance” of evidence. Not surprisingly, there has been a marked increase in women coming forward with such complaints.
That doesn’t bother Mr. Miltenberg at all. The man is not pro-rape, for God’s sake. What does bother him is the way that many schools have handled the complaints.
Every single one of the men he’s representing, Mr. Miltenberg argues, has suffered egregious due process violations in closed-door college hearings. (He also believes that his clients are innocent of the charges against them.) And that is how he has found himself in the decidedly impolitic position of not only defending those accused of rape, but also suing on their behalf.
Impolitic, perhaps, but he’s also in good company. Twenty-eight current and retired Harvard Law School professors recently sent a letter to the university asking it to abandon its new sexual misconduct policy, arguing, as Mr. Miltenberg has more generally, that the new rules violate the due process rights of the accused. “This is an issue of political correctness run amok,” Alan Dershowitz, an emeritus professor, told a Boston Globe reporter.
Yes, it is.