U.S. appeals court agrees that University of Cincinnati can’t suspend student accused of sex assault

CINCINNATI (AP) — A federal appeals court panel Monday upheld blocking a university’s suspension of a male student who argues he was completely denied his right to confront a female student accusing him of sexual assault.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal’s 3-0 ruling agreed with a federal judge’s 2016 preliminary injunction after the student appealed his University of Cincinnati suspension. He claims his constitutional rights to due process were violated.

MORE: Colleges caught in crossfire of sex assault cases, balancing women’s rights and due process

The ruling comes after Friday’s announcement that the Trump administration is rolling back Obama administration policy on investigating college sexual assaults. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has said Obama’s policy had been unfairly skewed against those accused of assault.

Women’s rights groups warn the new interim guidelines will discourage reporting of sexual assaults.

“There’s a common misconception — and it’s cruel and it’s traumatic — that being accused of perpetrating violence is just as traumatic as being, you know, a survivor of violence,” UC student Kenna Corey said. 

Corey said she was assaulted in high school and realized, after transferring from Ohio State to UC that she was attending college with her attacker. The experience made her anxious , and although she funneled much of that anxiety into advocacy for other victims of assault, it continues to affect her day-to-day life.

“Every single day wandering around on campus, as I’m walking, as I’m participating in class, as I’m moving and existing, I’m constantly wondering ‘Is my perpetrator going to be in my class? Is my perpetrator going to be in the library when I’m studying? Is my perpetrator going to run into me on the street?’ And it’s absolutely terrifying,” she said.

RELATED: Is University of Cincinnati responding quickly enough to sex assault cases?

Judge Richard A. Griffin, writing the appeal court’s opinion, said the judges are “sensitive to the competing concerns” in the case and agree UC has a strong interest in eliminating sexual assault on its campus and providing appropriate discipline for offenders.

The University of Cincinnati student referred to as “John Doe” contends he was denied a fair hearing without confronting his accuser, who failed to appear at his university…

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