There’s a reason most survivors of sexual assault never report the crime. Many of those who do report it go by Jane Doe to protect their identity and avoid some of the abuse and death threats that get aimed at anyone who claims they were sexually assaulted.
Regardless of what the survivors of sexual assault are made to endure, society is generally more sympathetic towards the accused and the possibility that the accusation will follow them around for the rest of their life.
The latest example of this is the recent decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court to allow a former Yale undergraduate student who was accused of rape to sue his accuser for defamation.
When he first filed his lawsuit against his accuser, who is going by Jane Doe to protect her identity, an attorney representing Doe said she was protected by absolute immunity under Title IX, which is the law under which she made her accusation.
But the former Yale student insisted he had the right to sue her, and the case made its way up the court system until it reached the Connecticut Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor.
According to the state supreme court, Doe had qualified immunity, which allows the defamation lawsuit to go to trial, but requires the plaintiff to prove the defendant knew their statement was false or did not care that it was likely false at the time the alleged defamation occurred.
The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that Doe would only have been granted absolute immunity if the Title IX proceedings had been quasi-judicial.
To qualify as quasi-judicial proceedings, they would have had to include Doe testifying under oath; the cross-examination of witnesses in real time; providing both parties the opportunity to present witnesses; allowing the accused to consult with an attorney; and providing the accused with a transcript or some other record of the hearing afterwards.
The problem with these requirements (especially the first two) is that it can be extremely difficult for survivors of sexual assault to relive their trauma by explaining it again and again on the stand. Continue reading ›