In campus rape cases, colleges to learn sexual advances go both ways
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Aaron Farrer was expelled from Indiana University in Nov. 2015 for allegedly sexually assaulting a female student. Farrer is now suing the university for violating his rights and suing his accuser for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Farrer said in his lawsuit that he met his accuser when he moved into an off-campus apartment complex. She was his neighbor.

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Farrer’s lawsuit alleges that it was the female student who began “aggressive(ly) flirting” with him, even though her roommates claimed she had boyfriends in two different states. Farrer’s lawsuit includes text messages from his accuser that were sent to him while he was patrolling an IU football game as an IU Police Department cadet.

 

After the brief exchange that included some light flirtation about using handcuffs, Farrer found the female student in the stands. Farrer alleges that she told him that “F—ing a cop is on my bucket list” and put his hand on her breasts.

Farrer says he told her that was unacceptable behavior while he was on duty and she told him she had “been tryin’ to hit on you since you moved in” and again placed his hand on her body, this time on her buttocks.

After the game, the female student asked Farrer for a kiss and he obliged, but apologized “if I made you uncomfortable” the next day. Farrer responded by saying he didn’t make her uncomfortable at all.

A couple weeks later, his accuser’s roommate invited Farrer to a party, where he drank two alcoholic beverages and four or five shots of hard liquor. He alleges in his lawsuit that he was intoxicated, but only saw his accuser take one sip of alcohol — from his drink. Farrer alleges that the female student flirted with him the entire evening, even sitting on his lap and putting his arm around her.

The other partygoers wanted to go out, so Farrer left, but was called back to the apartment to stay with his eventual accuser at the request of her roommate, who had claimed the woman wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t join them.

Farrer agreed, thinking the female student would just go to bed. Instead, she called him into her bedroom, where he stood in the doorway. Farrer claims that she asked if everyone else had left, and upon learning that they had, asked Farrer: “Do you want to f— me?”

Farrer says he declined, but she persisted and asked her to come closer. He did, and she took his hand and put it on her genitals. Farrer attempted to resist but his accuser persisted, he claimed.

She allegedly escalated her attempts to engage in sexual activity with Farrer, and he continued to resist. He alleges that she initiated all sexual contact, including oral sex. The woman allegedly told Farrer to have sex with her, but he resisted, saying “we can’t do this.” She allegedly responded “No, it’s fine.”

Farrer claims that the woman never denied making these sexual advances, but claims that Farrer shouldn’t have given in because she was too drunk.

IU agreed with her and expelled Farrer.

Here’s the problem with this scenario. Both students were drunk, but only the man was punished.

IU adopted the “affirmative consent” policy regarding sexual assault, meaning both students need to obtain constant agreements throughout sexual activity. This policy also states that alcohol negates consent but cannot be used as an excuse for not obtaining consent.

Many accusations of sexual assault on college campuses involve female students alleging the male student made all of the advances. In these scenarios, he is the aggressor. But in this scenario, the female student was the aggressor yet she was not punished for taking advantage of a drunk male student.

Farrer alleges that his accuser did not slur her words, had no trouble walking, was not vomiting and did not otherwise appear intoxicated during their encounter.

She claimed to campus investigators and police that she was “s— faced” but that he was completely sober, which he denies. Further, Farrer alleges that the woman reported him because she was embarrassed about her behavior and wanted to cover up the fact that she had cheated on her remaining boyfriend (she had broken up with the other).

This case is yet another example of the problems schools face when dealing with claims of campus sexual assault.

Thanks to federal guidance documents (which aren’t legally binding but carry heavy threats including the loss of federal funding), schools are forced to adjudicate accusations. Sexual assault is a felony, but campus hearings do not afford accused students proper due process rights such as attorney representation and cross-examination.

These limits, along with a campus culture that insists women never lie about sexual assault and that the issue is so prevalent that schools must take swift action to punish the accused, lead to many male students being expelled.

For the past half decade, more and more lawsuits from these male students have been filed, alleging schools violated the anti-sex discrimination statute known as Title IX by discrimination against male students, ironically in the name of correcting Title IX violations against female students.

Farrer’s case is different for two reasons. One, most male students file as “John Doe” to avoid having their names put in print, and two, Farrer is suing his accuser for defamation and intentional infliction of harm.

This will be an interesting case to watch, as the dynamic between these two students may force schools and lawmakers to accept the uncomfortable complexity of sexual relationships; that men are not always the aggressors, and that alcohol impairment goes both ways.

Ashe Schow (@AsheSchow) is a higher education reporter for Watchdog.org and the senior political columnist for the New York Observer.


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