A Majority Agreed She Was Raped by a Stanford Football Player. That Wasn’t Enough.
At Stanford University, in a conference room above a Starbucks, a panel of five gathered in June 2015 to decide whether a sexual assault had occurred on campus. Several months later, after a process marred by procedural errors, five different panelists convened to rule on the matter again.
The case involved a woman, a sophomore, who had met a player on Stanford’s powerhouse football team at a fraternity party one Saturday night. They went back to her room where, she said, he raped her. He said they had consensual sex.
Seeking to avoid the trauma of a police investigation, the accuser turned to the university’s in-house disciplinary board, one of many on college campuses that adjudicate sexual assault cases, and it would decide whom to believe. If the panel had found that sexual assault had taken place, the man could have been expelled.
Both times, three of the five panelists — drawn from a pool of administrators, faculty members and students — concluded the man, who remained on the football team throughout the case and is on the roster for a bowl game Friday, committed sexual assault.
At many schools, this simple majority vote would have been enough to find the accused responsible. But Stanford had set an uncommonly high bar, requiring at least a 4-1 decision.
This year, amid dissent over how it handles these kinds of cases, Stanford changed its procedure in a way that victims rights advocates say favors the accused. It requires a unanimous verdict from a three-member board, making it an outlier among prestigious universities.
In the case with the football player, the woman, who had gotten a second hearing after presenting evidence of errors in the first proceeding, has temporarily left the school to avoid the player.
The man, who did not reply to requests for comment, remains enrolled at Stanford.
Stanford officials said they could not talk about details of the case because of confidentiality rules and federal law. But they defended the system they have put in place to resolve sexual assault allegations.
Stanford’s decision to require a unanimous panel of three, in place since February, stemmed from recommendations made by a task force last year.
Reports of sexual assaults on and around Stanford’s campus increased to 39 in 2015, from 21 in 2010, according to data Stanford compiles under federal law, though it is possible victims were coming forward more often, rather than there being more attacks.
Still, very few sexual assault cases that have gone through the university’s internal process in recent years have led to any significant punishment for the accused, a fact that Stanford attributes to a rigorous but fair standard to guard against wrongful judgments. Advocates for sexual assault survivors consider it a sign of a system stacked against victims.
A New York Times examination of the Stanford case concerning the football player, based in part on a review of more than 100 pages of documents from Stanford’s proceedings, illuminates the school’s struggles in adjudicating these cases.
The woman who made the accusation against the football player said she decided to speak about it so the public might have a better understanding of the lapses that can occur when such cases are handled internally.
The Times is not identifying her nor the man she accuses of assault.
The football coach, David Shaw, a member of the NCAA Commission to Combat Campus Sexual Violence, said he was aware that a “proceeding was happening” involving the player, but he did not know the charge. He said he saw no reason to suspend him from the team without more information.
球队教练大卫·肖(David Shaw)是全国大学体育协会反校园性暴力委员会(NCAA Commission to Combat Campus Sexual Violence)的成员，他说自己知道校方“当时正在审理”涉及该球员的案子，但不清楚相关指控。他说在没有更多信息的情况下，他没有理由让这名球员暂时离开球队。
Stanford was empowered to handle the case internally by Title IX, a federal law dating to 1972 mandating equal access to higher education regardless of gender, and United States Education Department’s interpretation of that law as requiring universities to carry out investigations of alleged sex crimes on campus.
根据1972年出台的《教育法修正案》第九条(Title IX)——一项规定不论何种性别的人都有权平等接受高等教育的联邦法律，以及美国教育部(United States Education Department)对第九条的阐释，即要求高校就校园性犯罪指控展开调查 ，斯坦福有权对该案进行内部处理。
Advocates for sexual assault victims say Stanford’s process has made it more difficult for accusers to receive rulings in their favor. Critics say the university has done this to protect its public image; Stanford maintains it is to ensure fairness to the accused in a proceeding with standards lower than a criminal case.
“Imagine a senior, who has paid four years of Stanford tuition,” said John W. Etchemendy, the outgoing provost, explaining why Stanford’s system includes protections against adverse findings for accused students.
“想象一下，一名大四学生已经向斯坦福交了四年的学费，”即将离职的教务长约翰·W·埃切门迪(John W. Etchemendy)解释了斯坦福为什么要在学校制度中加入保护被指控的学生的条款，使其免遭不利裁定结果的伤害。
“Being expelled is really a life-changing punishment,” he said. “I think we as an institution have a duty to take that very seriously.”
Michele Dauber, a Stanford law professor and critic of the university’s policies on sexual assaults, declined to comment on the case involving the football player because she did not know the specifics of it, but she said she doubted that the university’s proceedings complied with Title IX — particularly its requirement to have unanimous rulings.
The woman who agreed to talk about her case described an arduous process that took nearly nine months.
On June 25, 2015, the woman, along with her lawyer, took their places at a table inside the Tresidder Memorial Union at Stanford.
2015年6月25日，这名女子及其律师在斯坦福特里雷德纪念堂(Tresidder Memorial Union)内的一张桌子旁坐了下来。
Her lawyer was there only for support and was prohibited, under the rules of the proceeding, from guiding her testimony. In the middle of the table was a telephone for the young man to listen to the proceeding. She had about 30 minutes to give her account of what happened four months earlier.
Afterward, the football player was allowed to email follow-up questions to the panel that they could decide to ask or not.
She began the hearing feeling that the deck was stacked against her. She said that only the night before did she see the accused’s statement for the first time, and that it included new statements from two of his football teammates.
When she asked to postpone the hearing so she could ask for redactions of statements that she deemed prejudicial as well as suggest follow-up questions for an investigator to ask the witnesses, she said she was denied without an explanation.
“He was allowed to speculate on why I ‘targeted’ him,” she said. “His teammates, who were not even involved in that night, basically said he was a great guy and was being punished for consensual sex.”
The next day she was notified that a majority of the panel agreed with her that a sexual assault had occurred, but the football player would not be given a finding of responsibility.
She appealed the decision. Along with procedural errors, she said, she was bothered that the man’s status as a football player was injected into the proceedings.
Etchemendy insisted there was no special treatment for athletes or anyone else.
After the second five-member panel came back 3-2, the accuser appealed again.
Her appeal for a third hearing and a no-contact order was denied, without explanation.