The University of North Dakota will reinstate the student banned from campus last year after a university disciplinary panel convicted him of sexual assault. University officials determined the verdict was “not substantiated” by further evidence in the case; in May 2010, the accuser in the case was charged with making a false accusation by the Grand Forks County District Court. Despite the false report charge, the university did not overturn the punishment for the accused student, Caleb Warner, until this week.
FIRE, which worked on Warner’s behalf, points out the distinction between how Warner was charged on campus, and how the criminal justice system assesses crime:
In finding Warner guilty, UND used the weak “preponderance of the evidence” standard (50.01% certainty) to determine guilt or innocence—the very same standard recently imposed upon every federally funded college in the country under an April 2011 regulation from the federal Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
UND’s reliance on the “preponderance of the evidence” standard lowered the accuracy of the proceedings so much that the police and the university arrived at very different results. Using what the university later insisted was the very same evidence, UND’s campus tribunal convicted Warner of sexual assault, while the Grand Forks Police Department determined that Warner’s accuser had lied about what had happened.
In fact, on May 13, 2010, the Grand Forks County District Court formally charged Warner’s accuser with “False information or report to law enforcement officers or security officials,” a Class A misdemeanor, and issued a warrant for her arrest on May 17, 2010. To date, Warner’s accuser has failed to appear to answer the charges against her.