Facing student disciplinary charges is stressful enough. When the investigator seems biased, you may feel like you have no chance.
College football players who faced sexual misconduct allegations recently gained a second chance when a federal appeals court ruled they may have been victims of investigator bias.
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals revived the sexual discrimination claims of four University of Minnesota players who had been accused in the case of the gang rape of a cheerleader in 2016.
What is Investigator Bias?
Investigator bias may stem from a conflict of interest. The investigator may gain some benefit from ruling in a certain way. That benefit could be as simple as job security.
This bias could also be rooted in the investigator's belief system. We all view the world through our own lenses, and we don't always see things in the same way as others.
So while this bias can feel stacked against us, in reality, it may not be personal. In the Minnesota case, the appeals judges ruled that the players faced this bias because they are male.
The judges cited “external pressures” that led to “dubious investigative procedures.”
How Might Investigator Bias Affect My Case?
While every case is different, patterns can form over time. At the University of Minnesota, several high-profile cases had already rocked the campus before the cheerleader's accusations led to the expulsion of four members of the Golden Gophers football team.
This problematic pattern can lead to an over-correction on the part of the school. In order to show parents that their campus is safe, a school may cut corners on the disciplinary process in order to show they are tough on the offenders.
Whether a university is public or private, it is an entity that is trying to make money. Tuition dollars are at stake, and schools want to attract as many students as possible. Parents and students make tough enrollment decisions that sometimes come down to the wire between two schools.
Schools compete for students as much as students compete with each other. If a school can make the impression that it is safer, it helps win that last-minute battle for tuition dollars.
How Common is Investigator Bias?
The Minnesota case is not the first time investigator bias came into play in a sexual misconduct case. In 2020, the same Eighth Circuit ruled that a University of Arkansas student who had been accused of sexual assault made a plausible case of investigator bias on the basis of his gender.
The Arkansas student was sanctioned “to avoid further negative media attention and to portray a stricter approach to sexual assault cases,” the judges wrote.
Who Can Help Me With My Case?
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have unparalleled experience in handling student and staff discipline cases across the nation and are widely regarded as experts in the field. They are familiar with cases like yours and will work tirelessly to ensure a fair process and a favorable outcome. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.