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Colleges getting schooled by students about rights violations

Thanks to television shows and movies -- and perhaps even this blog -- most people in the United States are at least partially familiar with the criminal justice system. We all know that we have rights prior to and during a trial. We also know that if at any point those rights are violated we have the right to appeal our case or file a civil complaint against those guilty of the violation.

But for students accused of sex crimes on college campuses, such as sexual assault, the reality is very different. Many face school board hearings where the burden of proof rests on the shoulders of the accused rather than the accuser. In some cases, students are not allowed to have an attorney, despite the fact that they are facing serious accusations. And in a few cases, some students say that the disciplinary process following accusations is skewed against males, thereby violating the 1972 Title IX law that bans sex discrimination.

Just like in criminal cases, many of these students face serious allegations of rape and sexual assault. Oftentimes, they are suspended or expelled without receiving a fair trial to prove otherwise. In some cases, this could mean that an innocent person is wrongfully accused. But in just about every case, they experience the same negative stigmas associated with sex crimes.

It’s because of this that at least three male students are fighting back against this injustice in the form of civil litigation. It is their belief that they did not receive a fair trial in any of their cases and were not afforded the same rights and protections offered by the criminal justice system, even though they faced similarly serious charges. By taking the case away from the school board and putting it into the hands of the courts, these men hope to finally receive the fair trial they deserve.

Source: The Los Angeles Times, “More college men are fighting back against sexual misconduct cases,” Teresa Watanabe, June 7, 2014

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