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Yet Another College Under Fire for Mishandling Rape Case

July 17, 2014 in Blogs

By Angus Johnston, RH Reality Check

Sunday’s NYT report on an incident at Hobart and William Smith Colleges comes at a time when the failure of U.S. colleges to address campus rape is under high scrutiny.

The latest evidence that many U.S. colleges are badly bungling their responsibility to effectively investigate and address sexual assault on campus came Sunday in the form of a lengthy New York Times report on a 2013 incident at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in upstate New York.

In that incident, a student named Anna (she gave the Times permission to use her first name) who was two weeks into her first semester on campus, reported she was sexually assaulted twice in one night by members of the college football team. Despite witness testimony and physical evidence, however, the college took just ten days to exonerate all three of the accused. Worse, the process by which it did so was slapdash, biased, and riddled with error.

The Times investigation of Hobart and William Smith comes at a time when the failure of U.S. higher education to address campus rape is coming under high scrutiny. In January of this year, President Obama created a Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault, and in April that task force released its first report, along with resources aimed at strengthening colleges’ sexual assault policies.

The standards for sexual assault investigation promulgated by the task force so far are preliminary and partial, but even these initial materials make clear that Hobart and William Smith’s policies were deficient in the most basic ways.

The task force’s Checklist for Campus Sexual Misconduct Policies, for instance, says such policies should be organized in a “clear, logical” way, and offers no-contact orders as an example of the “immediate steps” colleges should use to “protect complainants.” At Hobart and William Smith, however, the disciplinary panel overseeing Anna’s complaint apparently misread its own policies when advising her on appeals procedure and …read more


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