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A UNCC spokesman said the school could not comment.
Sutton, who has built a practice around defending students accused of assault, says too many schools have procedures that presume more guilt than innocence, and where “the defendant starts out in a hole.” She blames what she describes as exaggerated statistics on the frequency of campus assaults for creating “hysteria” at many schools.
that perhaps the pendulum has swung too far.” In the past two years alone, according to the publication Inside Higher Ed, colleges have lost at least a dozen lawsuits filed by men accused of sexual misconduct who say they were treated unfairly by their schools.
“In over 20 years of reviewing higher education law cases, I’ve never seen such a string of legal setbacks for universities,” Gary Pavela, an expert on student conduct issues, told the publication.
And, most difficult of all, how can we help a survivor feel believed when we can take no action because she chooses not to file a complaint?
Acting as if we believe survivors while respecting their right to choose a course of action collides head on with our equally strong commitment to due process. ” Gresham, a Davidson alumnus, and other attorneys continue to question the fairness of the school’s procedures.
Locally, lawyers used the threat of defamation complaints against female accusers in sexual-misconduct cases at both Davidson College and UNC Charlotte.
While acknowledging that the issue is a serious one, the group advocates policies that afford “basic fairness and due process.” Colleges do not operate courtrooms and do not have the resources, or legal authority, to conduct police-style investigations or trial-like proceedings, experts say.
“In years past, there really was a failure on the part of colleges and universities to take complaints of sexual assault seriously and many victims were ignored, at best,” Ford says.
“There is some concern that schools have been so anxious to correct their past sins ...
But the lawyers can’t ask questions, take notes or “otherwise actively participate.” Charlotte attorney Sonya Pfeiffer said she got around the restrictions in 2014, when she was representing a male Davidson student who was investigated by the school after a female acquaintance filed a report that she had been sexually assaulted.
Pfeiffer says she prepared a 12-page memo for her client to present to school officials that summarized the evidence.“Nothing about due process says to a rape survivor, ‘I believe you.’ How can we best support her when a district attorney declines to prosecute?