Innocent Male College Student Punished Because He Resembled Rapist?

| by Michael Allen

Several Harvard University law professors are worried that the Ivy League school's new sexual assault and harassment policy could criminalize drunk sex, favor victims over the accused and circumvent the law itself.

In October 2014, 28 law professors from the prestigious university wrote an op-ed in The Boston Globe opposing the new policy:

"As teachers responsible for educating our students about due process of law, the substantive law governing discrimination and violence, appropriate administrative decision-making, and the rule of law generally, we find the new sexual harassment policy inconsistent with many of the most basic principles we teach."

The new policy states in part, "When a person is so impaired or incapacitated as to be incapable of requesting or inviting the conduct, conduct of a sexual nature is deemed unwelcome, provided that the accused party knew or reasonably should have known of the person’s impairment or incapacity."

That part bothers Harvard law professor Elizabeth Bartholet who told Business Insider that it "specifically covers impairment not just incapacitation, covering the situation where students would simply have had a few drinks."

"This means that students who engage in sexual touching or sexual intercourse while having a few drinks are all at risk of being held guilty of the very serious charges of sexual assault and rape, regardless of their understanding at the time that they mutually consented to such activity," added Bartholet.

Law professor Janet Halley recently wrote in the Harvard Law Review:

"I recently assisted a young man who was subjected by administrators at his small liberal arts university in Oregon to a month-long investigation into all his campus relationships, seeking information about his possible sexual misconduct in them (an immense invasion of his and his friends’ privacy), and who was ordered to stay away from a fellow student (cutting him off from his housing, his campus job, and educational opportunity) — all because he reminded her of the man who had raped her months before and thousands of miles away."

"He was found to be completely innocent of any sexual misconduct and was informed of the basis of the complaint against him only by accident and off-hand. But the stay-away order remained in place, and was so broadly drawn up that he was at constant risk of violating it and coming under discipline for that."

Sources: Harvard Law Review, Business Insider,, The Boston Globe
Image Credit: Harvard Law School Logo