Quote of the Day:

It took our civilization a few thousand years to achieve a separation of powers that unmixed the authority of the police to investigate from the authority of prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, and jurors and to put the presumption of innocence and the right to face one’s accusers at the center of the proceedings.

It has taken the higher-education establishment and the White House Task Force just a few months to figure out that all that fuss was unnecessary. One enlightened administrator can do the whole job.

   –Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars

In a National Review Online article headlined “The White House War on Men,” Wood is writing about the Obama administration’s proposal for a “single investigator” model in dealing with accusations of sexual assault on campus.

This would give a single administration official the power to investigate and recommend a resolution–which would almost certainly be accepted–to any case. The investigator would be not only the investigator but the judge and jury, the defense and prosecution rolled into one person.

This move comes in the wake of a more than two decades of development of a sexual assault doctrine in which the rights to due process of the accused steadily have been eroded.

The subhead to the article sums up the thrust of current thinking on campus assault:

Rule of thumb: If a woman alleges sexual assault, she is telling the truth.

The single-investigator proposal was a recommendation in the Not Alone, a White House report on sexual assault on campus.  Woods notes:

The report, Not Alone, was produced at breakneck speed after President Obama established the [White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault] on January 22.

That suggests, among other things, that the Task Force members didn’t waste much time on research: They knew what they wanted to say before they convened.

A skeptic might indeed say that the hastily-created taskforce is aimed more at protecting vulnerable Democrats—who would benefit from support among women voters in the midterm elections—than actually protecting vulnerable women.  The matter of the bogus figures used in Not Alone has already been discussed on Inkwell (here and here).

Wood gives a sketch of the evolution of sexual assault doctrine in the U.S. It seems to have been a decades-long march towards diminishing the rights of the accused (with the exception of the one incident during the Clinton administration, the Monica Lewinsky affair, when activists rallied around the accused the accused and helped turn the woman into a figure of fun).  

Sexual assault is a serious offense. Rape and murder are the two most serious crimes there are. That is why the rights of the accused must be protected.

In Not Alone, the White House proposes to nearly eliminate the rights of the accused. This may be politically expedient but it flies in the face of western jurisprudence.