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‘Hammered’ yet ‘enthusiastic’? Yale sexual-assault investigation revealed

The Yale Daily News has a must-read deep dive into one sexual-assault investigation at the school, using documents handed over by the accusing student that are supposed to remain confidential.

Regular College Fix readers will notice that it sounds an awful lot like Occidental College’s botched investigation that’s now the subject of a lawsuit against the school by the accused student.

The main difference is that Yale’s sexual-misconduct committee (also the subject of criticism from former Yale student Patrick Witt in a recent op-ed) sided with the accused student – but the final decision must come from a Yale College dean, whom the Daily News says has missed his “timeline” this week for ruling in the case.

A few pertinent points:

  • The accusing student waited 13 months to file a complaint
  • The parties had a previous sexual relationship they had promised to end, but the male still had “strong feelings” for her
  • “Anticipating that she would become more intoxicated,” the accuser kept texting the accused
  • “I mean … sex is awesome, and I might try to get it from you. But I shouldn’t. I don’t think,” she wrote
  • “[T]he male student interpreted the female student’s texts as ‘ambivalence,’ not an explicit refusal of a sexual encounter”
  • Though she described herself as “hammered” earlier in the evening, the male said she was “enthusiastic” and they had sex twice that night and once in the morning
  • She didn’t recall sending most of the texts

And in another strong parallel to the Occidental case:

While the complainant said she was upset with the events of March 22, she did not initially consider the encounter to be an instance of sexual misconduct. A few days later, however, the complainant was surprised when her friends said the respondent’s actions constituted rape because her level of intoxication rendered her unable to give consent. …

[Thirteen months later, over] the course of the next few days, the female student met with a SHARE counselor and Pamela Schirmeister, the Title IX coordinator for Yale College at the time.

She decided to file a formal complaint.

While the paper rightly focuses on Yale’s failure to meet its own stated timelines for investigation, what really stands out is the assigned fact-finder’s correct analysis of the pertinent question:

“It is undisputed that she was highly intoxicated that night,” Berkman wrote. “The more complex and central question for this committee is whether this level of intoxication caused [her] to ‘lack the ability to make or act on considered decisions to engage in sexual activity.’”

The sexual-misconduct committee came to similar conclusions, and the accusing student said she was “floored” they sided with the accused.

Let’s see if the top Yale official agrees – eventually.

Read the Daily News story.

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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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