Penn State Withdraws Suspensions In Sexual Misconduct Case, Implements New Procedure
Penn State is withdrawing the two-semester suspensions of two Alpha Chi Rho fraternity brothers in a sexual misconduct case and expunging their records. In light of the withdrawal, the university is implementing a new procedure for sexual misconduct cases.
The accused sued Penn State, President Eric Barron, and senior director of student conduct Danny Shaha for violation of due process rights to confront their accuser after the two were found guilty of violating Penn State’s Code of Conduct through the investigative procedure.
Penn State’s sexual misconduct investigative process the accused sued over works like this: An investigator interviews the accused, accuser, and others involved then puts together an information packet which a three-person panel uses to decide if the accused’s actions were a violation. Cross-examination is done only via questions to the investigator, but the accused are allowed an adviser and may object to any information from the panel. Shaha testified that since the panel isn’t given names of the accused or accuser, there is no bias in the process.
The new student body-wide procedure will allow the accused to defend themselves to a different decision panel. The process will allow them and sexual misconduct defendants from here on out to observe possible interaction between the complainant and the panel (either recorded and shown later or the accused will be in a different room watching a live video stream) and after add pertinent information to the investigative packet, and to stand before a Title IX decision panel and propose questions to ask of other parties.
The Code of Conduct violation (now expunged) was for engaging in non-consensual oral sex and sexual misconduct involving an incapacitated individual. They and two other fraternity brothers claim they were in the basement of the fraternity house on Dec. 5, 2014 when a woman suggested a “fivesome” and performed oral sex on them.
The accuser’s sister reported the incident to State College police, but no charges were filed. The woman claimed she was too drunk to consent to the sexual activity, but the accused claim she was acting normal. They also claim the woman made a complaint because she was upset when denied access to a fraternity formal later because her date was not a member of Alpha Chi Rho.
U.S. Middle District Judge Matthew W. Brann said the university “has adequately shown a willingness to not only depart from its policies in material ways but to do so in an expedient fashion” in his order to dismiss the injunction motions.