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City pays $85,000 to accused college student for pro-accuser criminal investigation

Accuser went to police after roommate ‘guilted’ her

“Believe the survivor” activists have been largely successful in convincing college administrators to run shoddy investigations into sexual-misconduct claims in order to deliver at least a partly guilty verdict.

Police might want to think twice about taking advice from people whose goal is to erase the presumption of innocence but will never suffer for their attacks on due process.

A municipal government just agreed to pay a falsely accused college student $85,000 to settle his lawsuit against the police department for running an investigation heavily tilted toward his accuser.

South Carolina’s WCSC reports that Charleston police held the sexual-assault charge “and a possible ten year prison sentence” over the unnamed student for nearly four years, before a jury cleared him.

It had ample reason to drop the investigation and clear the College of Charleston student, but instead pursued what sounds like a classic “victim-centered” investigation:

The man was arrested in March [2014] after a woman accused him of date rape.

Court documents state the woman told friends about her date and consensual sex and only went to the police after being “guilted” by her roommate. The suit claimed the investigator had evidence contradicting the woman’s statement and also lacked sufficient evidence to back up the claim.

But police arrested the man on a sexual assault charge and took him to court, documents state.

The student’s civil suit cited the detective’s testimony in the criminal trial about the “scope of her investigation.” He used it to prove negligence in her investigation of the case.

The incident is mentioned in a new warning to state legislatures by the Center for Prosecutor Integrity, which fights the adoption of victim-centered investigations in sexual assault cases.

The essence of a victim-centered investigation, also known by the descriptors “start by believing” and “trauma-informed,” is the intentional refusal to collect evidence that may undermine an accuser’s allegations.

This includes the concealment of inconsistencies in the accuser’s statement by not writing detailed reports “for any victim or witness who has already provided a detailed, written summary of events.” They are also intended to make the accuser “appear more innocent” and focus on witness statements that corroborate the accuser’s account.

If state lawmakers don’t want to have a Charleston incident on their hands, they should restrict funding for police departments that use these pro-accuser methods rather than obey their ethical duty to investigate objectively and impartially, the group said.

MORE: Why is a GOP senator supporting ‘junk science’ in rape investigations?

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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