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California Supreme Court declares students accused of sexual misconduct cannot cross-examine accusers


Campus Reform, William Biagini

The Supreme Court of California ruled in July that the state’s private universities are not obligated to allow students accused of intimate partner violence to cross-examine their accusers.

Associate Justice Joshua Groban wrote in the Court’s opinion that while universities should be giving accused students opportunities to respond to allegations prior to disciplinary action is administered, colleges need to make sure that alleged victims are not “retraumatized.”

[RELATED: BREAKING: Rape and sexual assault reports increased by 18% at US military academies] 

However, Ken Tashjy, a higher education attorney at Suffolk University and Campus Reform Higher Education Fellow, told Campus Reform that these possible effects can be minimized by permitting accused students to present their questions through the disciplinary hearing officer rather than directly to the alleged victim.

“Denying an accused student facing allegations of sexual violence any right to question his/her accuser is fundamentally unfair and smacks of a presumption of honesty on the part of the alleged victim and of guilt against the accused student,” he stated.

Tashjy also added that “Because a university’s disciplinary process is generally considered an administrative action, as opposed to a criminal prosecution, the due process rights afforded in higher education disciplinary proceedings are much less than those afforded or required in a criminal case.”

The Court’s opinion cites Title IX as part of its grounds for the decision—which comes just over a year after Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona proposed a regulatory plan that would broaden its effects.

[RELATED: George Washington University to re-train faculty on Title IX]

Cardona’s proposed draft mirrors the Court’s recent decision in that it aimed to abolish a requirement for universities to hold live hearings to analyze cases of sexual misconduct and intimate partner violence on and off campus.

Regarding his draft, Cardona said “I firmly reject efforts to politicize these protections and sow division in our schools.”

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Republished with permission from Campus Reform

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