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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Berkeley Sex Assault Developments

We are about one month from the next Regents meetings and some developments at UC-Berkeley suggest that the evolving policies and legal framework surrounding sexual assault, affirmative consent laws, etc., will be back on the agenda.

News reports from the Bay Area report on alleged fraternity sexual assaults at UC-Berkeley.  However, the details on what happened, as reported in the commercial press and the student-run Daily Californian, are unclear.

From the Oakland Tribune: A security alert was issued Friday by UC Berkeley police after a fraternity leader claimed a member of his fraternity had been sexually assaulted by another member.

The student, affiliated with the Theta Delta Chi fraternity at 2647 Durant Ave., contacted the Campus Security Authority on Thursday and said that a member told him he had been sexually assaulted by a current Theta Delta Chi fraternity member, Lt. Eric Tejada said.

The leadership member, who has not been identified by police, also told campus police that there may be other victims, Tejada said.
Police did not say when the assault took place or provide any further details.
On Thursday, another security alert was issued by campus police after an anonymous report alleging that five people were drugged and sexually assaulted at an off-campus fraternity house last weekend. The allegations were made by an unidentified person who also alerted the Campus Security Authority, which in turn reported it to UC Berkeley police.
Tejada said the person told a campus security liaison that five people were given rohypnol, a date-rape drug commonly known as "roofies," before being assaulted at the Delta Kappa Epsilon house. Delta Kappa Epsilon is not officially recognized by UC Berkeley.


UC police put out alerts in both incidents under reporting guidelines mandated by the federal Clery Act...

Full story at http://www.insidebayarea.com/breaking-news/ci_26747632/uc-berkeley-issues-alert-after-report-that-5

The Daily Californian story is similar: http://www.dailycal.org/2014/10/17/fraternity-member-reports-sexually-assaulted-another-member/

At the same time, a Berkeley student charged with rape was declared factually innocent by a judge.  Such judicial declarations are unusual:

On Friday, a rape charge against UC Berkeley student Eugene Quillin was dismissed after prosecutors concluded that Quillin was innocent of committing the crime. Quillin, 20, was charged with rape by use of drugs last week after an alleged sexual assault Sept. 27 was reported. The woman whom Quillin was charged with assaulting, identified in court documents only as “Jane Doe,” was “prevented from resisting by an intoxicating, anesthetic, and controlled substance,” according to the court documents. But after reviewing the evidence provided by Berkeley Police Department and interviewing Jane Doe, district attorney spokesperson Teresa Drenick said, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office determined that Quillin didn’t commit any sexual assault Sept. 27 and motioned to dismiss the charges. The charges were dismissed Friday, the same day Quillin was scheduled to enter a plea. Judge Gregory Syren granted an 851.8 motion filed by the defense — indicating a factual finding of innocence — that seals off and destroys the records of Quillin’s arrest. The motion differs from expungement because the motion, under Penal Code 851.8, indicates Quillin shouldn’t have been arrested in the first place...

Full story at http://www.dailycal.org/2014/10/17/rape-charge-uc-berkeley-student-dismissed/

These stories raise issues about how well campus authorities will be able to handle such events.  At Harvard, for example, there is a big brouhaha over an op ed written by a group of law school faculty suggesting that Harvard's sexual harassment/assault processes lack adequate due process:

http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/10/14/rethink-harvard-sexual-harassment-policy/HFDDiZN7nU2UwuUuWMnqbM/story.html; http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/10/14/harvard-law-professors-want-university-new-sexual-harassment-policy-changed/HZ72eaMcLgRgoq4DL9ZBOO/story.html; and http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/16/education/harvard-law-professors-back-away-from-sexual-misconduct-policy.html

We'll be watching the mid-November Regents meetings to see how these issues play out.  One suspects that the actual implementation of campus procedures will not go as smoothly as administrators hope.  As noted in a previous blog posting, it was encouraging that Chancellor Block has expressed skepticism over the value of yet another mandatory "training" program for faculty related to the sexual harassment/assault policy, online or otherwise.  See http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2014/10/good-idea.html

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