Colleges' Treatment of Assault Accusations
News surfaced out of Salt Lake City this past December that the Utah State University police chief was forced to resign after the disclosure of a recording. In this recording, he told the school's football players that some women might lie and say the sex they had was not consensual, because they regret having done it.
On the recording, Chief Earl Morris could be heard telling the players that religious women “might tell their religious leaders they didn't consent to sex...If players are accused of assault, officers have to investigate and the cards are stacked against you.” More than half of the university's student population self-identifies as members of Latter-day Saints religion, more commonly known as Mormons.
That same week, another woman at Utah State filed suit against the school for its mishandling of a sexual assault report involving a football player. This followed an earlier promise by administrators to improve procedures after news stories revealed that the university had failed to respond appropriately to reports of multiple previous attacks by yet a different athlete.
Universities' handling of sexual assault allegations have been sometimes criticized as too lax, sometimes as overzealous. Title IX, the federal civil-rights law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in schools receiving federal funding, requires that educational institutions promptly respond to reports of sexual violence. At the same time, courts require that public universities provide basic due-process rights to students accused of misconduct. But establishing the facts of what transpired can be difficult given that many situations involve young, relatively immature adults in social situations where they are using drugs or alcohol, and whose attitudes and later recollections of what transpired may differ.
One Incident, Two Clashing Perspectives
National media shone a spotlight on the issue of different perspectives a few years ago after a young woman published an article about her date with actor-comedian Aziz Ansari, which she described as “the worst night of my life.” But many readers of both genders who read her detailed description of the evening saw it as nothing more than a bad date.
A school's mishandling of sexual-assault allegations has been known to ruin a young person's career. In 2016, wide receiver Keith Mumphery was a promising rookie with the Houston Texans when his alma mater Michigan State decided to reinvestigate an old sexual-assault accusation without informing him. The school found him guilty of relationship violence based solely on the young woman's claims. Mumphery was quickly dropped from the Texans and expelled from his graduate program. He spent the next three years seeking to clear his name. After three years of litigation, the university agreed to a reportedly $1.2 million settlement without any admission of fault. Mumphery's career has never recovered.
The Lento Law Firm: Defense Counsel for Those Accused of Sexual Misconduct
If you or someone you know faces administrative discipline based on an accusation of college sexual assault, there's too much at stake to handle it alone. An unsatisfactory outcome could harm not only your college record, but your whole professional career. Joseph D. Lento is an experienced defense lawyer who has guided hundreds of students across the United States in similar situations through the process, helping them to obtain a better outcome than they would have on their own. Call for a consultation at 888-535-3686.