False Accusations of Sexual Harassment May Soar, SAVE Warns
Washington, DC/November 8, 2011 – The National Association of Scholars recently released a position paper condemning an Education Department directive that forces colleges to remove fundamental due process protections from persons accused of sexual harassment. The statement describes the Dept. of Education mandate as “ominous,” bordering on the “surreal,” and excluding any mention of free speech.
The National Association of Scholars (NAS) position statement follows similar letters by the American Association for University Professors, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and Stop Abusive and Violent Environments: http://www.saveservices.org/falsely-accused/sex-assault/complaints/
Concerns about false allegations in society have escalated in the past week as a growing number of persons have questioned the validity of accusations by two unnamed women that GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain sexually harassed them over 10 years ago. Leading Democratic politicians have been subjected to false allegations of sexual offenses, as well.
The Department of Education directive mandates that all colleges receiving federal funds change the usual “clear and convincing” standard to “preponderance of evidence.” This low standard requires only that 50.01 percent of the evidence be in favor of an offense having happened in order to reach a conviction.
Of greater concern, the draft of the federal Violence Against Women Act, currently being circulated by Senator Patrick Leahy, proposes to turn the Department of Education directive into statutory law. “It really is strange for a bill to delegate to a federal agency the power to lower due process protections and standards of proof. I believe that is unprecedented,” says Hans Bader of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
“The consensus among academics is that the proposed VAWA would turn campus disciplinary committees into veritable Kangaroo Courts, thus increasing the number of false allegations by leaps and bounds,” warns SAVE spokesman Philip Cook.
A student who was wrongfully expelled by the University of North Dakota after a cavalier investigation of sexual assault charges against him is a recent example: http://www.saveservices.org/2011/10/falsely-accused-student-will-not-return-to-college-that-wrongfully-expelled-him/
Over the last 20 years, sexual harassment policies on college campuses have become increasingly neglectful of Constitutional protections, reveals the NAS. In one case, a professor of history was handed a pink slip, unaware of the accusation or of a clandestine investigation being conducted against him.
SAVE calls on Senator Leahy’s proposed Violence Against Women Act to protect the civil rights of the accused so the credibility of true victims is not diminished by trivial and non-meritorious claims.
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is a victim-advocacy organization working for evidence-based solutions to partner violence: www.saveservices.org.