Q: You were handed this flyer at orientation?
Q: So you knew that “if she has touched alcohol, do not touch her.”
Q: You saw her put the bottle of beer to her lips?
Q: You saw her drink from the bottle of beer?
Q: And after that, you had sex with her?
No further questions.
To combat wrongful accusations of sexual assault on college campuses, a pro-due process group is distributing flyers meant to prepare young men for potential expulsion.
The organization, Families Advocating for Campus Equality has already begun distributing the flyers on California campuses, where “yes means yes” consent policies were adopted last year. The policies purport to make clear what is and isn’t consent, but make it impossible for accused students to prove their innocence and in fact redefine normal human actions as rape.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions, particularly when the good intentions are in the hands of an advocacy group comprised of passionate volunteers with inadequate understanding of law.
It’s difficult to imagine what purpose was served by this flyer. It’s not merely hyperbolic, but at most a lame attempt to ridicule the excesses of Affirmative Consent combined with the evisceration of due process on campus.
The latter is particularly ironic, given that the group, in particular, is at the forefront of trying to horse-trade other people’s due process rights in exchange for being given table scraps. Advocacy groups trying to establish their bona fides often do that, desperately seeking to appear reasonable so that they won’t be laughed at.
“This flyer was created by a small group of California mothers of sons, including some whose sons have been falsely accused, to raise awareness of the propensity of college and university disciplinary panels to find male students guilty of sexual misconduct, often with no evidence except the accuser’s claim, and frequently in the presence of tangible evidence to the contrary,” said Cynthia Garrett, an attorney and board member of FACE.
This flyer was created by people who have never litigated anything. This flyer was created by people who lack the capacity to understand that things that seem like a brilliant idea to that small circle of people who chat amongst themselves play out very differently when exposed to people who do not share their narrow view of life. But it was well-intended.
Garrett says her group has “encountered many young men who were literally blindsided by false accusations of sexual assault made by a former girlfriend or someone whom they honestly believed had consented to a sexual encounter.” She stressed that the purpose of the flyer “is not only to encourage young men to carefully adhere to campus policies, but also to alert them to the possibility that they could be falsely accused.”
What does “encountered many young men” mean? The sons of the mommies? Young men who might otherwise turn to competent counsel but for the fact that mommies have created their own groups to feel as if they’re helping because they really, really hate what happened to their own kids?
Q: She sent you a text that said, “Okay, do you have a condom”?
Q: You responded “yes”?
Q: She replied, “Good give me two minutes”?
Q: And then you had sex?
There are advocacy groups, like the ACLU and FIRE, which over time and with great effort have established a level of sophistication and legal acumen that allows them to do excellent work in furthering their mission. Even so, there is a fine line where they decide internally that they have the authority to trade-off other people’s rights.
Much as we may admire their work, it does not follow that we have endowed them with decision-making authority over our rights. And these are well-established advocacy organizations, with proven track records in the litigation of substantial issues.
In contrast, a fledgling organization with no track record, no litigation capacity, proposed to vulnerable male freshmen that, should they find themselves falsely accused, to call 661-829-6848. That’s the telephone number for stopabuseforeveryone.org, “a human rights agency.”
Stop Abuse For Everyone (SAFE) provides unique services for domestic violence victims. We help those who typically fall between the cracks of domestic violence services and few services are available: straight men, GLBT victims, teens, and the elderly. We promote that there should be services for ALL victims and accountability for all perpetrators.
Seems legit. Or, they could tell students to obtain competent legal counsel immediately. But that appears nowhere on their flyer.*
When FACE first appeared by press release, I questioned their qualifications and efficacy. My doubts were swiftly confirmed.
On August 22, 2014, an email arrived from the three mommies at FACE, containing a “White Paper” as to their mission and seeking Applicants (yes, applicants) for their Board of Directors, because what lawyer wouldn’t want to apply to three mommies to see if they are worthy of their time being used to bask in the reflected glory of these monumentally important people.
As trial lawyers know from painful experience, the only thing we fear more than our adversaries are inept “allies.” We expect our adversaries to attack us from the front, but it’s our “allies” who stab us in the back.
There are myriad excuses for this, that they’re volunteers, they’re too busy, they don’t have enough time, it seemed like a good idea at the time, and nobody said that this could end up backfiring and being used as the bludgeon to destroy those we really, really wanted to help.
That will likely prove of little comfort to the mommies of male students who suffer as a result of a well-intended but inept advocacy group.
*Yes, the flyer says “consult a lawyer before you say anything — your school will not help you prove your innocence.” That’s not the same thing, and let’s not even start with “proving your innocence.” But then, in big bold letters toward the bottom (by the QR code that no one has used in the past two years), the flyer says “start here.”