A male student at the University of California-Davis shelled out roughly $12,000 in legal defense after a female student he had a consensual sexual encounter with later changed her mind about the nature of his actions.
According to an in-depth report from Reason magazine, statements from both students (pseudonymously known as James and Becky) describing the interaction indicate that they engaged in light consensual sexual touching and kissing in October of 2017.
“In James’s view, the encounter had not only been fully consensual, it was also mutual: Becky bore just as much responsibility for initiating it as James. And, as Becky would later make clear to the investigator, she had also touched him sexually—she explicitly described her own actions in her official statement,” notes Reason.
But in February of 2018, James received an email from a Title IX compliance officer informing him that he would be investigated for possibly violating the school’s sexual assault and sexual violence policies; a guilty finding could lead to James being suspended or expelled.
Becky had apparently changed her mind about the encounter and filed a complaint, alleging the freshmen touched her “on her breasts and buttocks over and under her clothing without her consent.”
Notably, James’ lawyer argued that Becky’s statement, which he categorized as more damaging to her than his client, did not so much as even allege any misconduct.
“[Becky’s] account of the incident as set forth in the summary of her investigative interviews does not, on its face, allege any ‘act of Prohibited Conduct,'” the attorney wrote in a letter to UC-Davis’ Title IX coordinator Wendi Delmendo. “Even if everything [Becky] alleges is true, my client clearly did nothing wrong and did not engage in Prohibited Conduct.”
But that didn’t matter.
In accordance with Obama-era guidance, the investigation lasted until May 1, 2018, when James was finally found innocent, after his family had paid some $12,000 in legal defense fees and his life had been tuned upside down.
“We’re not a rich family, so that made a sizeable debt,” James told Reason. “Tuition for UC-Davis is around $16,000 a year. This was almost another year of college.”
As noted by Reason’s Robby Soave, the process, in one sense, “worked,” since James was rightly found innocent. “But if this was an example of the process working, it’s quite a curious one,” argues Soave. “University administrators spent weeks investigating the matter. It cost James’ family thousands of dollars. And it caused James tremendous emotional stress.”
James is just another example of the harm the excesses of the perhaps well-intentioned #MeToo movement can enable.
For the full report, click here.