Ehrhart bill restores due process to college rape cases

 

There is finally some good news in the fight to return rape investigations and prosecutions to the only place they belong: the real justice system. Georgia House Bill 51 sponsored by Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, passed out of the House and now moves to the Georgia Senate.

“House Bill 51 is about due process, safety on our campuses … and rights of the accused,” Ehrhart said. HB 51 (bill tracking here) requires colleges and universities to report all allegations of sexual assault to real law enforcement instead of doing what they do now, which is subject students accused of sexual assault to extralegal kangaroo “courts” run by the schools. These Kafkaesque tribunals shun the usual standard of proof in criminal proceedings – beyond a reasonable doubt – in favor of the significantly weaker balance of probabilities standards used in civil law.

(Editor’s note: Dr. Trent wrote about the sex-crimes star chamber at Amherst College on Feb. 2. Read that post here.)

Of course, the Obama administration sided with the radical feminist lynch mob on this issue. As Stuart Taylor Jr. and KC Johnson wrote in late 2015:

For more than four years, the White House and the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) have used an implausible reinterpretation of a 1972 civil-rights law to impose mandates unimagined by the law’s sponsors. It has forced almost all of the nation’s universities and colleges to disregard due process in disciplinary proceedings when they involve allegations of sexual assault. Enforced by officials far outside the mainstream, these mandates are having a devastating impact on the nation’s universities and on the lives of dozens — almost certainly soon to be hundreds or thousands — of falsely accused students.

In the previous U.S. Congress, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the since-defeated Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), and Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), joined with Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) in co-sponsoring legislation, the shameful proposed “Campus Accountability and Safety Act” (CASA), which would have made things worse.

Predictably, campus rape activists in Georgia say the sky is falling and accuse Ehrhart of declaring open season for rapists on college campuses. And just as predictably, the reliably dishonest Atlanta Journal-Constitution is playing along by running interviews with women who say that they will now be in greater danger of being raped because of Ehrhart’s bill. Rhonda Cook of the AJC characterized HB 51 as a case of Georgia moving “a step closer to restricting the ability of its public colleges to independently investigate and punish rapes on campus,” treating these un-American, runaway rape panels as legitimate. Activists carrying incoherent signs flooded the state capitol to oppose Ehrhart’s bill. Some of the messages paraded before legislators included: “Consent isn’t sexy, it’s Vital”; “Control Yourselves, not Women”; “The Only Thing That Causes Rape is Rapists,” and “What Are We Teaching Our Sons?”

With a spineless media refusing to ask them hard questions, campus activists are just spouting crude accusations against legislators. Instead of letting them get away with accusing elected officials of being pro-rape, the media should ask these women why they feel that they alone are so special that they merit an entirely different justice system from the one in which mere non-college students seek justice.

For, if it really is true that the real justice system doesn’t succeed in putting real rapists away, then how do these activists live with their choice to seek special privileges only for themselves, while leaving other rape victims out in the cold?

There are many reasons for ending on-campus kangaroo courts. Most notably, the students investigated under such conditions are not being granted due process rights. But the philosophical and moral errors of the campus feminists are worth considering as well.

First, it is nothing short of despicable to accuse Ehrhart of siding with rapists or wishing for more women to be sexually victimized on campuses. We need to stop letting activists get away with this sort of behavior.

Activists also need to explain why they feel that they deserve a system of justice that is different from the system of justice that applies to everyone else.

Campus administrators and the U.S. Department of Justice need to explain how they can justify creating, not just kangaroo courts, but kangaroo courts that do not even emulate important aspects of real courts. It’s bad enough to invent a fake, extralegal justice system: it’s worse to invent a crappy, fake, extralegal justice system.

One of the primary complaints about Ehrhart’s bill is that women often don’t feel comfortable going to real law enforcement to file a sexual assault report. But Ehrhart’s legislation doesn’t actually allow the school to disclose the identity of the alleged victim to law enforcement unless she or he agrees to be identified.

HB 51 also requires schools to abstain from conducting disciplinary investigations until police are done investigating the alleged sexual crime. In addition to thus having real investigators protecting the rights of the accused, this requirement prevents amateurs from damaging evidence collection and testimony that might be used in a real court case.

Campus feminists should be cheering this proposal, not denouncing it. Why wouldn’t they support anything that makes it easier to prosecute real rapists in real courts?

The answer, grotesque as it may seem, is that many of them don’t really care about real justice. Many of them are so hostile to real law enforcement that they would rather see rapists get away with merely being expelled from school instead of being incarcerated if the alternative would mean that they would have to personally cooperate with the police.

Women’s Studies departments and other campus feminists are knee-deep in garbage theories like “prison abolitionism.” They spend big money bringing cop-haters like Angela Davis to their campuses and kowtow submissively to the pro-cop-killing agitators of Black Lives Matter.

For these women, having a biased, politicized, alternative “justice system” set up expressly to serve their purposes is preferable to making society safer for everyone by using the real justice system.

Another moral failing of the campus rape movement is that it diverts resources from real rape prosecutions. Every tax dollar showered on campus activists and administrators to set up parallel “justice” systems is a tax dollar not going to support real courts, where crime victims are, in fact, denied justice due to lack of resources every day. Don’t they care about other victims?

There are intellectual failings as well. How does a university tasked with training future lawyers to uphold the justice system simultaneously empower non-lawyers, including undergraduate students, to practice fake law in cases of serious criminal charges?

For the first few decades of the modern feminist movement, serious-minded anti-rape activists worked closely in good faith with prosecutors and police to improve the justice system’s responses to sex crimes. That transformation was painfully slow, and it required changing the hearts and minds of jurors who had never experienced sexual violence but would need to comprehend and judge the actions of both rapists and their victims.

We were making real progress until the campus feminists came along and began exploiting the issue of rape for their own political gain. Many millions of federal tax dollars and bad ideas later, the campus rape activists have squandered much of our hard-won progress. It’s time to cut off their federal funding and return rape prosecutions to the only place they belong: in the real courts.

Georgia lawmaker Ehrhart’s bill is the most promising step in that direction to emerge from any state legislature this year.

Dr. Tina Trent of Georgia is a widely-published author and columnist.

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