The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has taken what sounds like an unprecedented step: investigating a college for violating the Title IX rights of a student accused of sexual assault.
But it appears sexual orientation may have been a relevant factor.
Brandeis University’s independent school paper, The Justice, reports:
The accused student was interviewed for previous Justice articles, saying that the University ignored several claims that he made during the process, as well as lists of witnesses that he provided to testify on his behalf. “I was found responsible for these instances with little regard for any fairness during the process,” the accused student told the Justice in a June 24 article.
According to a letter from the Department of Education obtained by the Justice, the main components of the accused student’s complaint against Brandeis include the University’s failure to address a complaint of sexual assault that the accused student also filed against [alleged victim Joseph] Babeu; the accused student’s allegations that he was wrongly disciplined due to this mishandling and his allegation that the University failed to equitably consider his counter-allegations.
What may make this case stand out for the Office for Civil Rights is the same-sex nature of the claims, as both accuser and accused are male, and the dueling assault narratives.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education opines:
This investigation stands in contrast to the many cases initiated by students who argue that their universities failed to properly respond to their claims that they were victims of sexual assault. …
OCR’s investigation could signal a new recognition that accused students’ due process rights cannot be sacrificed in order to achieve a certain result in sexual misconduct cases.
Read the full Justice story here.
IMAGE: Phil LaCombe/Flickr