The University of Michigan has suspended a student for four years over allegations that he sexually assaulted another student – even though the charges have not been proven.
Engineering student Drew Sterrett told the Detroit Free Press that in August 2012, five months after he had consensual sex with a female classmate in his dorm room, school officials notified him that a complaint had been filed against him. When he refused to sign a resolution in January 2013 agreeing to be suspended until May 2016, the university instituted the punishment anyway, he said.
A lawsuit filed in April against 10 university administrators, said Sterrett was never able to face his accuser, no written statement of the allegations had been provided to him, the alleged victim never signed off on the complaint, the police were never notified, no criminal investigation ever took place, testimony on his behalf was ignored, and he was told not to consult a lawyer when notified of the allegation, according to the Free Press.
Already under federal investigation for its handling of an unrelated sexual assault charge, the school said it is “reviewing the complaints and plans to vigorously defend them.”
“What we can say now is that our student sexual misconduct policy and practices meet or exceed due process requirements,” spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham said in a statement.
Sterrett’s lawyer, Deborah Gordon, said the school has disregarded an affidavit from Sterrett’s roommate swearing that he was in the top bunk while the couple below were busily engaged, and that he texted Sterrett to stop making so much noise.
“Are they looking for facts or are they sticking with their preconceived ideas?” Gordon asked the Free Press. “It has to be the latter. They ignored the facts.”
Obama’s U.S. Department of Education has recommended lowering standards of evidence in sexual misconduct cases on school campuses, and the University of Michigan seems to be taking them to heart. Unfortunately, the guidelines cannot trump rights guaranteed by the Constitution, and Sterrett, whose life has been turned topsy-turvy, may well be the one to prove it.
H/T: The Daily Caller
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