A New York State county jury acquitted a male student Thursday of raping a female student two years ago at Paul Smith’s College, a private school in the Adirondacks.
In May 2018, Anthony Chandler, 35, was charged with both first-degree rape and a first-degree criminal sex act, each of which carries a sentence of from five to 25 years.
A female student accused Chandler of forcing her to have sexual intercourse and perform oral sex on him on the campus where both were students, reported Press Republican.
Chandler claimed the sex was consensual. As a result of the allegations, he was expelled from the school.
One hour after the trial concluded the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.
Chief Assistant District Attorney David Hayes admitted the female student’s recollections of the events were inconsistent, but said that situation occurs when someone is raped and is asked “to tell the story again and again.”
Greg LaDuke, Chandler’s attorney, however, said the discrepancies in the accuser’s recall of the alleged attacks were stark.
“It was very clear from the read-backs, from the way I cross-examined her … her specific allegations of how the sexual assaults occurred were completely different from her allegations from the last few months, including last May,” he said.
He added a rape kit performed for the female student “came back completely and thoroughly negative for any trauma.”
According to the news report, LaDuke and Chandler “ignored the school’s process of investigation and discipline because there was no chance of winning.”
“These schools like that, they have a totalitarian system,” LaDuke said. “You have no ability to defend yourself. You are considered not only guilty but evil upon accusation.”
“We didn’t participate in their ‘Star Chamber’ witch hunt,” he added.
In November, the Trump administration released new proposed rules for campus sexual assault allegations that emphasize due process for accused students, including the ability to cross-examine their accusers.
“Every survivor of sexual violence must be taken seriously, and every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, adding:
That starts with having clear policies and fair processes that every student can rely on. We can, and must, condemn sexual violence and punish those who perpetrate it, while ensuring a fair grievance process. Those are not mutually exclusive ideas. They are the very essence of how Americans understand justice to function.
The rule would require schools to apply basic due process protections for accused students. They would receive written notice of the allegations against them and the opportunity to review all evidence collected.
Accused students would also have the right to cross-examination, and their schools would be required to hold a live hearing where cross-examination would be conducted through the parties’ advisors.
In order to promote impartial decisions, the rule would no longer allow schools to use a “single investigator” or “investigator-only” model.
According to the U.S. Education Department, the rule uses the same definition of sexual harassment as employed in U.S. Supreme Court Title IX cases: “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the school’s education program or activity.”