Adelaide University’s Star Chamber

Finally I have been able to tell the story of an Adelaide University PhD student who was investigated by a university committee after being accused of sexual assault by another student. We have just posted my YouTube interview with the young man describing his ordeal. Here’s the article I wrote in for the Adelaide Advertiser about what happened:

Why would Adelaide University choose to get involved in the messy business of determining which story to believe in a date rape case involving two students? It is notoriously difficult to determine the truth in these he-said, she said cases which is why juries so rarely convict young men accused of such crimes.

That low conviction rate has feminists up in arms and that’s the reason why universities across the country are coming under pressure from campus activists to get involved in adjudicating such cases in the hope of achieving a higher conviction rate of accused young men.

Many of our universities have sensibly resisted this course, choosing instead to provide support and advice for students claiming to be rape victims but where possible referring such cases on to the police. South Australian universities are an exception. Adelaide, for instance, has a Student Behaviour and Conduct Committee which investigates sexual harassment and assault cases, makes decisions (“on the balance of probabilities”) as to whether the misconduct occurred and even to determine appropriate outcomes.

The rashness of the university’s actions has been amply demonstrated over the past eight months by a case involving a PhD student accused of sexual assault by a fellow student which was investigated by the Committee. The student – I’ll call him ‘David’ – received a series of emails trying to persuade him to attend meetings with the committee, despite being given no details of the accusation, nor any advice as to his own legal standing. Acting upon advice from a criminal lawyer, for months David resisted interrogation by the committee and demanded full details of the accusation. The committee apparently had the power to stop David being awarded his degree, which added considerably to his stress.

Then suddenly the University’s general counsel stepped in and immediately back peddled, assuring David that he too should be afforded procedural fairness and offering him support services. The lawyer finally presented David with a full statement from the accuser but also gave proper legal advice that he was under no obligation to respond. His version of events differed substantially from hers, as he explained in correspondence with the university lawyer, supplying social media messages to support some of his assertions.

The whole business came to an end when the university declared they were dropping the case. David was awarded his PhD and with great relief left the university. I’ve recently interviewed him about his ordeal for a YouTube video.

The real issue is not what happened in that bedroom but rather why would a university make it their business to find out? Even the most insular university administration has surely noticed that American university system is reeling under a wave of law suits from the families of young men who have been thrown out of colleges following poorly-handled investigations of alleged sexual assault charges by college committees.

The universities have lost the majority of these Federal Court cases, 53 to 37, according to Brooklyn College history professor KC Johnson, co-author of The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America’s Universities. Many colleges pay out six-figure settlements, says Johnson who is monitoring the 170 similar cases currently working their way through the court system.

You would have thought that universities would be off the hook in Australia after the failure of last year’s fake rape crisis on our campuses. The fact that our campuses are such safe places for young women should have been celebrated but instead many universities still went ahead with various virtue-signalling activities, including establishing committees such as the one being exposed in this latest saga. What we don’t know is whether other young people have already been subjected to these investigations which often subvert basic legal principles critical for a fair society.

What’s happened to the presumption of innocence in Australia?

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