The Corner

At Brown University, a Male Student Suspended for Sexual Misconduct Takes on the University and His Accuser

After being found responsible for sexual misconduct by a campus kangaroo court, a Brown University student is taking the unusual step of suing the university and suing his accuser. He’s accusing Brown of violating its own policies after putting him through a campus judicial proceeding that — as described in the complaint — would make any self-respecting lawyer recoil in disgust. The plaintiff, who goes by “John Doe” in the complaint, paints a picture of a university that was committed to punishing him from the start, exhibiting bias at every stage of the campus process.

John Doe is suing his accuser for making “false and defamatory statements” — focusing on her own contradictory testimony and on the substantial gap between her statements to Brown officials and John Doe’s evidence, including pictures and text messages. Doe’s defamation suit is extraordinary. Rarely do men accused of sexual assault directly confront their accusers — typically choosing to take on the school alone. But if John Doe succeeds, look for more defamation suits against accusers — if for no other reason than leverage against the university (many women will have quite a story to tell of campus activists urging them on, coaching them on how to obtain campus convictions.) 

Unless and until universities stop the witch hunt and start referring law enforcement matters to competent courts, there will only be more litigation. Ideologues on campus demand more campus prosecutions. The Obama administration demands more campus prosecutions. Yet kangaroo courts can’t fabricate rape, they can only fabricate verdicts. And when they do, they’ll face a plaintiff’s bar hungry for a chunk of the university’s endowment.

One final note: Perhaps the campus kangaroo court’s ultimate insult to injury is the extent to which it places all campus verdicts under a cloud. After all, there are actual rapists on campus, and the notion that they could actually benefit from discrediting campus verdicts is noxious. Criminal law is best left to criminal courts. Civil litigation is best left to civil courts. Campuses must and should get out of the sexual assault adjudication business. Radical campus politics are incompatible with criminal justice.

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