David Jia Burned By University of Miami’s Due Process Failure
January 11, 2017 (Fault Lines) — David Jia was accused of raping a fellow student at the University of Miami. The evidence was not sufficient for the South Miami Police Department to bring charges. But the University of Miami decided to begin disciplinary procedures, and a campus “unofficial rape counselor” petitioned to have him expelled.
According to the Miami Herald, this was the accuser, Cameron’s, account:
At some point during the night, she told police, she recalled Jia initiating sex, and her saying no. Later, she said, she woke up and found her panties off and Jia climbing off her. She said she blacked out again. She awoke at 8 a.m., and the two had sex again — this time consensually, according to her statement to police.
There were some problems with the account aside from the awkward fact that Cameron had consensual sex with Jia the morning after the alleged assault. According to Cameron, she slept with Jia three more times. It was not until three weeks later when Cameron would make the claim that Jia had raped her.
According to Jia, this was the same night that he had told her that he did not want to have a serious relationship with her.
So far, so good. Jia figured he’d get a fair hearing in the disciplinary process. He had some decent evidence to back him up: his roommates would testify that Cameron and he had had consensual sex in their shared apartment, and there was evidence that Cameron had reportedly fabricated a pregnancy test when a previous boyfriend told her he did not want a serious relationship with her.
In a jury trial, with full constitutional protections, the state would have probably struggled even meeting the preponderance standard. But at Jia’s disciplinary hearing, the judicial dean “forgot” to tell Jia’s witnesses what day to show up for. So he ended up not having anyone to support his account. Reportedly, the Dean “screamed at” Jia in a way that suggested he believed Jia to be guilty.
Jia was suspended for a semester from school, which Cameron thought to be wildly inadequate. After Cameron shared her story with Katharine Westaway, a women and gender studies professor and, once again, “unofficial rape counselor,” she decided to respond to the injustice of the situation by using her position as a professor to distribute fliers asking that Jia be expelled from school.
Cameron said that the expulsion was especially necessary because Jia had found her, a year after the assault, in her dance studio. Allegedly, he twisted her wrists and threw her against the wall. Local police found that Jia was not even in town at the time, and could not have inflicted the injuries.
This may have been a bit of a blow to Cameron’s credibility. When a police officer confronted Cameron with evidence that no one had seen Jia near the site of the attack, she signed a non-prosecution form and asked him to stop the investigation.
David Jia is now suing the University of Miami, claiming that the failure to afford him meaningful due process protections because of his gender violated Title IX, the omni-elastic document that addresses all collegiate wrongs.
Naturally, every article that discusses the story manages to bring in the same stale fact: the rate of false reports of rape is only 2-8%. Or, if you want to be more accurate to the FBI study that sourced that number, 2-10%.
Of course, the problem with this number, as has been pointed out, is that this is simply the number of rape claims that are confirmably false. And saying that every rape case that can’t be confirmed false is true is a nice bit of question begging. There are thousands of UFO sighting every year after all, and only a small number of those are disproven by clever skeptics. That does not mean that the rest of the incidents definitely happened.
Imagine, by contrast, if men trotted out that 99% of rape allegations are false, because only 1% result in criminal conviction, as one misleading chart suggests.
Yet it’s impossible to read a sympathetic story about the hurdles faced by campus rape accusers without also learning that the rate of false reports is “incredibly low.” The barrier against declaring a rape account false once given is so high that even “Jackie,” who provably fabricated the name of the man who raped her, still finds belief in many circles.
If you want to frustrate a neurologist, ask him about how people only use ten percent of their brains. This ancient trope, invoked by psychics, crystal healers, and other assorted snake oil salesman, is both obviously untrue (look at an MRI) and irritatingly omnipresent. But brain scientists don’t have a monopoly on bad data claims.
If you want to frustrate a lawyer, say 2-10%. Not because we believe deep down in our dark little hearts that women go out of their way to maliciously lie about men raping them, but because the presumption at the heart of that number cuts against every good thing about our criminal justice system. We can’t predicate our “campus justice” on the notion that every accused person is guilty until proven innocent.
The outcome of that set of decisions is now here. Schools are sued by both sides, both for failing to prosecute harshly enough and for failing to accord basic due process protections. Schools, if you can’t create a fair process, get out of the game.
 Westaway has since been fired from University of Miami:
[S]he claims that the firing “was certainly tied to my involvement in seeking justice and healing for sexual assault victims. And I am not looking for UM to re-hire me–because of the manner in which they treated me for the last eight months, I will never feel safe to work with victims or teach civic engagement at UM again.”
 NASA, if you need an unofficial astronaut, I am available.