In a recent editorial from The Detroit News, titled “Regret: isn’t the same as rape” speculation is raised about the statistics of rape and sexual assault on college campuses released in a report from the Obama administration in January. The statistics stated that one out of every five college women are sexually assaulted while in college, but only 12% of those incidents are reported. These statistics when looked at in combination would be virtually impossible.

Regardless of whether these statistics are true, college campuses are being forced to change their policies on sexual assault proceedings, otherwise they may risk losing their federal funding. Over 50 colleges are being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education for violations of the federal law for mishandling sexual violence complaints. “Sexual violence,” as described by federal law, is compiled of “physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent — including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual abuse and sexual coercion.” Included in the list of colleges to be investigated are Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. As a result of this, colleges and universities are changing their sexual assault policies to be stricter, and more in favor of the alleged victim and less favorable to the accused.

With these recent changes, allegations of sexual assault on college campuses are becoming more difficult for students to defend. It has become easier for allegations to be made and with less due process afforded to the accused at the university level, it has become far more difficult for students to remain in school and not face disciplinary proceedings. Lawsuits in Michigan will sort out how far universities can actually go in trampling on the rights of students. We believe that the expanded definitions of sexual assault that universities are using are grossly unfair, especially when criminal charges are not being pressed because of insufficient evidence. Further, while universities have a duty to protect the students, some universities are investigating and taking action for off-campus conduct which should not be in their jurisdiction. If an alleged sexual assault takes place off campus, the correct entity to investigate and take action is law enforcement.

Smith Blythe, PC is highly experienced in handling allegations of criminal sexual conduct in Michigan. Focusing on CSC cases, Smith Blythe, PC, P.C. has had success in defending students for sexual assault allegations. If you have been accused of a crime of criminal sexual conduct, contact the Law Offices of Shannon M. Smith, P.C. for a consultation.

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