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Injustices In Sexual Misconduct Cases


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In the past months, both high profile and common men alike have faced an onslaught of sexual assault allegations. These allegations are made by close friends, people from their past, and even anonymous reporters. Though all allegations of sexual misconduct  should be taken very seriously, the accused are facing unfair treatment through the denial of various constitutional rights including the 5th amendment right to due process and the 6th amendment right to the confrontation of witnesses. The constant accusation of men without substantial evidence has evolved into what could best be described as a modern day witch-hunt.

According to the U.S. Court of Appeals in the case of Doe v. Univ. of Cincinnati, John Doe was denied his constitutional rights when he was suspended from the University of Cincinnati for a year for the sexual assault of Jane Roe. In 2015, John Doe met Jane Roe on Tinder, and the two had sex in John’s apartment.  Three weeks later, Jane approached the school’s Title IX office and reported John for sexual assault, saying the sex was not consenual. After considerable delay, the school held an administrative hearing by the Administrative Review Committee (ARC), in which the committee hears allegations from both sides and reviews evidence for a fair decision. Both parties are also allowed to question each other, emulating cross examination in higher courts.  Upon the date of the hearing, Jane Roe failed to arrive to testify. In her absence, the Title IX office read her statement, then asked John Doe if he had any question he would like to ask. John Doe replied there was nothing to ask since his accuser was not present. There was no other evidence for or against John Doe, therefore the case was simply he-said, she-said, which evolved into hearsay when the witness failed to arrive to testify. The ARC found him guilty of misconduct and suspended him. Doe appealed this ruling on the grounds it denied him his right to confront witnesses. The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in Doe’s favor, saying:

“The Due Process Clause guarantees fundamental fairness to state university students
facing long-term exclusion from the educational process. Here, the University’s disciplinary
committee necessarily made a credibility determination in finding John Doe responsible for
sexually assaulting Jane Roe given the exclusively “he said/she said” nature of the case.
Defendants’ failure to provide any form of confrontation of the accuser made the proceeding
against John Doe fundamentally unfair.”

Situations such as these have occurred in many higher educations institutions. Some universities, such as Princeton, have gone so far to lower the burden of proof the prosecution must meet to convict someone for sexual assault. However, mishandling of sexual misconduct cases are not limited to higher education. There are multiple examples of it in the professional world too. Men are being laid off of jobs due to sexual misconduct claims without the due process of a properly conducted investigation and evidence. One of these men was The New Yorker employee Ryan Lizza. Lizza was fired due to what they viewed as “improper sexual conduct”. Mr. Lizza says what they deemed as inappropriate was a “respectful relationship with a woman,” and says “The New Yorker was unable to cite any company policy that was violated.” This goes to show companies are willing to lay off workers without proper investigation so they can be viewed as progressive in a world where men are always viewed as the aggressors.

The hunt for sexual offenders in our modern world has turned into a modern day version of witch trials, where the accused are rendered guilty before a fair trial or investigation takes place. Not only do they lose jobs or opportunities, they face extreme scrutiny from the media. Thousands of people will have access to threaten him and spread even more rumors about the topic before any real facts are established. This is known in our court system as “Trial by Media” and is a persistent problem in our society.

While all sexual misconduct claims should be taken very seriously, our constitution and morals dictate we cannot condemn someone for an offense that has not been proven by facts or a fair trial. To deny anyone these centuries old rights is a great injustice to not only the potential offender, but his significant other, children, parents, co-workers, and friends. This unfair treatment is tearing families apart, along with our society as a whole.

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Injustices In Sexual Misconduct Cases