As you might remember, Congressman Jared Polis, a Democrat from Colorado, recently expressed a cavalier attitude about handling rape allegations on campus.
Polis said that, when an accusation of rape is made on campus, we shouldn't get too hung up over guilt or innocence. Just expell the accused if there is a "reasonable likelihood" that they are guilty. "Reasonable likelihood" has never been a standard of American justice.
Now Stan Garnett, the district attorney of Colorado's twentieth district, which is headquartered in Boulder, has responded tforcefully to Polis in an article that should (but won't) shame Polis into admitting that, in his pandering to women, he has ironically denied just how serious the crime of rape is.
The other point District Attorney Stan Garnett makes clear is that rape allegations should not be handled by college tribunals. He reminds us that rape is a serious crime, and that we should "never tolerate the adjudication of serious felony behavior outside the criminal justice system."
These tribunals often do not allow the accused to have counsel and in general erode the right of due process (unlike "reasonable likelihood" a cornerstone of Western law). Unlike in a court of law, much of the action takes place behind closed doors. There is often very little attempt to be transparent. Garnett writes:
Although universities adjudicate student discipline, it is a serious mistake to equate investigation and resolution of felony sex assault with cheating on a test or drinking or smoking in a dorm room or the other normal fodder of the university discipline process, where due process on some level is important, but of an entirely different quality than the criminal justice system provides.
he criminal justice system is public and the public can observe, evaluate and criticize the proceedings. University conduct investigations carry the inherent secrecy of the discipline process, which can leave the public questioning the fairness of an investigation and the accuracy of the determinations.
The federal government's decision to tie campus funding to a one size fits all investigative approach can interfere with criminal investigations. Fair, effective, sex assault investigations take time and cannot be handled by investigators under pressure to rush to a particular conclusion due to financial pressures on the university. Also, "warning letters" or warning bulletins, or campus-based "stay away from each other" orders can, if issued prematurely, prevent law enforcement from determining the truth of alleged criminal behavior.
Because campus-based sex assaults are a serious problem, communities should demand that their criminal justice systems be up to the task of investigating and prosecuting these cases. It is no solution to put in place a secret, "shadow" adjudication system under the guise of student conduct investigations that does not have the protections and reliability of the American justice system.
In making it easier to get a "conviction" through a college tribunal, the current college guidelines for handling rape allegations–promulgated in response to the Obama administration's belief that there is a "rape culture" on campuses–actually do women a disservice.
A tribunal is not a serious enough forum in which to adjudicate rape allegations.
And a rapist shouldn't just be expelled–he should face the criminal justice system. Rapists should go to jail, not just to a new college.
Isn't it interesting that in pandering to women the Obama administration is actually taking their allegations less seriously rather than more seriously?