The 6th Circuit got it right again! The same court which sided with persons required to register as sex offenders in Does v. Snyder, issued another well-reasoned decision in Doe v. Baum, et al.

The case concerned the “he said/she said” situations which can arise with sexual assault accusations on University campuses. In this case; the University of Michigan. The accused (male) and the alleged victim (female) were at a fraternity party, there was drinking, the two went upstairs and had sex. The female later insisted she was too drunk to consent, while the male countered that the sex was consensual and that she was not that drunk. More than a dozen witnesses testified – the female witnesses corroborated her side of the story, the male witnesses, his.

At the end of the day, nobody truly knows except the two involved. The case does not concern the criminal aspect of the process, but the procedural aspect. The University took the side of the alleged victim and kicked the male out of school, but refused to allow him to cross-examine his accuser first. The male sued the school for violating his due process rights and discrimination.

Due process is the constitutional “right to be heard”, which includes the right to cross-examine your accuser. Since this case involved he said/she said, the credibility of what “he” or “she” said is critical. The discrimination, he argued, arose when the University took the side of all the female witnesses over the male witnesses.

In today’s climate of “sexual harassment hysteria”, entities are so scared of backlash that they seem to employ a take-no-chances approach and just believe the accuser and sacrifice the accused. The 6th Circuit, in essence, said that cannot happen. “being labeled a sex offender by a university has both an immediate and lasting impact on a student’s life….The student may be forced to withdraw from his classes and move out of his university housing. His personal relationships might suffer. And he could face difficulty obtaining educational and employment opportunities down the road” The cost to the University in facilitating the cross examination is insignificant in contrast to the cost to the accused for not having that opportunity.

A copy of the decision can be found here: https://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/UofM.pdf

 

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