March 16, 2016

OF COURSE THEY ARE: Ashe Schow: ‘Victim-centered’ sex assault investigations designed to railroad accused.

A new “victim-centered, trauma-informed” approach to handling campus sexual assault appears at first glance to be an improvement on the current model of allowing campus administrators to play police, judge, jury and executioner. But look deeper into the new guidelines and one will see that this is far from an improvement and more an attempt to railroad accused students while looking impartial.

The new blueprint, produced for the University of Texas System, will be used to train campus law enforcement officers how to adequately respond to accusations of sexual assault. This would give the investigations an appearance of legitimacy. But as I’ll show, the training provided to these officers will make the investigations even less legitimate.

For starters, the blueprint identifies accusers as “victims” throughout, pre-supposing the truthfulness of their claims. It also includes a section claiming unfounded and false allegations are rare (the implication being that accusers should automatically be believed). I’ve detailed before how the “rare” statistics are faulty, but beyond that, fact finders are not to predetermine the outcome at the beginning of a case.

But the most egregious demand in the blueprint, noted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s Samantha Harris, is the requirement that police officers — who are supposed to be “neutral fact finders” — actively work to “anticipate” and “counter” defense strategies.

It seems to me that the mere existence of such policies, coupled with an overwhelming imbalance in the gender of accused vs. accusers despite social science evidence to the contrary, is prima facie proof that a campus is a gender-based hostile educational environment for male students.

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