Sunday, September 29, 2019

UW Oshkosh defends its handling of sexual assault case

An unnamed male student has filed a federal lawsuit challenging university process.

By Miles Maguire
The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is defending the way it handles sexual assault cases, arguing that a recent campus investigation passes constitutional muster.

The case involves two students who attended a social event at a bar outside the city on March 16. Afterwards the two returned to the female’s sorority and had sex in her bedroom, according to court papers.

The male student, who stands accused of subjecting the woman to nonconsensual sex, is arguing in a federal lawsuit that the university is violating his constitutional rights to due process and equal protection.

He complained about five specific aspects of the university’s approach: 

  • Its refusal to subpoena witnesses;
  • Its use of a hearing examiner who has the same supervisor as the university’s investigator;
  • One-sided communications with the woman who has brought the complaint;
  • A cross-examination process that limits direct questioning; and
  • The standard of proof the university wants to use.
“None of these things violate the 14th Amendment,” lawyers for the university said in a Sept. 25 filing. A key reason is that the male student is undergoing an administrative review of possible misconduct, which has standards different from those for a criminal case. Criminal charges have not been brought.

Doe’s lawyer had asked the court to block a hearing that was scheduled for last Thursday. But U.S. District Judge Pamela Peppers ruled that a temporary stay was not necessary and then did not rule last week on a separate request for a preliminary injunction.

The male has brought the case as John Doe and asked that he not be forced to reveal his identity. The woman’s name has not been disclosed.

The university argues that Doe should wait to see the aftermath of the hearing. “Doe’s remedy, at this point, is to move forward with the university’s due process hearing, and, if unsatisfied with the outcome, utilize the university’s and the state’s appeal procedures,” lawyers for UW Oshkosh said.

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