La Sierra University Student Booted for Alleged Rape Can Register for Fall Classes

La Sierra University can’t win. After a lengthy, at times contentious, clash between the university and students and alumni over its handling of Title IX cases involving allegations of sexual assault, La Sierra has expelled a male student for alleged rape only to see that student reinstated by a superior court judge.

The international student, identified in a court case filed in Riverside County only as John Doe, is accused of raping a female student who blacked out at an off-campus party that involved drug and alcohol use. The suit, filed on May 16, contended that in expelling Doe, La Sierra University did not provide due process.

The Press Enterprise reported that Riverside County Superior Court Judge John D. Molloy issued a stay that will allow the student to register for fall classes at La Sierra. A hearing scheduled for September 16 will provide the student, represented by Los Angeles-based attorney Mark Hathaway, an opportunity to present the case that La Sierra did not follow its own appeals process in expelling the him. Hathaway states that La Sierra failed to provide his client access to evidence against him. Legal counsel for the university says the suit is premature because the student has not exhausted the school’s appeals process.

La Sierra University has made substantive changes to its handling of Title IX cases dealing with allegations of sexual assault including rape. The procedural updates followed a protracted campaign for change by students and alumni alleging that La Sierra mishandled Title IX reports filed by female students.

SEE ALSO: “Understanding La Sierra University’s Messy Title IX Implementation”

Among the changes, La Sierra has secured a full-time Title IX coordinator to handle complaints, and will focus more attention on training for both faculty and students.

La Sierra University must now strike a delicate balance between taking swift and decisive action in response to allegations of sexual assault if and when they arise on the one hand, and on the other hand also protecting the rights of alleged assailants. Adding to the complexity is La Sierra’s identity as a Seventh-day Adventist institution, which means prohibitions on substance use and forbidding extramarital sex. Like many Adventist institutions, La Sierra has an amnesty clause in its disciplinary policies that protects students who admit substance use when reporting sexual assault. The provision signals that rape is a far more serious offense than using drugs or alcohol.

Which brings us back to the case of La Sierra’s John Doe.

The alleged assailant admits sexual contact with a female student, but says it was consensual. The female student has said she doesn’t remember any of it. With Judge Molloy’s stay, the male student will likely be registering for classes in the fall with the September hearing slated to determine whether or not he will be permitted to attend those classes.

Jared Wright is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7587

I think a lot of Medical Professionals will tell you that there are many cases where a person “appears awake”, appears “alert”, but the MEMORY portion of the Brain is not functioning
Their Sub-Conscious has taken over, and they are responding and doing in “automatic”.
Two years ago I had a friend hit by a car in a pedestrian accident. Had to have a steel rod put in his leg from knee to ankle. Actually had to go to surgery twice early in the 10 days he was in the hospital.
He had had a severe concussion. In the ER he could talk to you. Tell you what he felt. When I would visit him in the hospital he seemed awake, could carry on conversation. He was diabetic so had finger sticks 4xs a day. Ate his meals.
But he had little to no memory. Later in the week they had to put the bed alarm on him because he was attempting to climb out of bed and walk. Watch him for taking off the surgical dressings.
Later after I took him home I talked to him. He had very little recollection of the accident. No recall of the ER. No recall of surgery. Recalled one or two fingersticks and that was toward the end of his stay. No recall of climbing out of bed or removing dressings. Could only recall one of my visits.
But for any one being with him, he acted fairly “alert” and “oriented”.
This same thing could occur under the influence of drugs. The Sub-conscious could misunderstand what is said and meant, and could say “Yes”, while the Conscious Mind, the Mind that makes rational decisions is “Asleep” and not functioning. And so this might be a case when there was no accountable consent given for sex be cause the judgment and understanding center was asleep.

Stephen – THAT is what puts this Male into Jeopardy. He raped a girl who at the time was unable to make reasonable decisions. And so “forced” himself on her. He took advantage of her inebriated state of mind. I think he needs some jail time. Will this make him a “sex offender” for life?? Depends on CA Law.

From my perspective, that Judge made a Bad Decision. Did he use ALL the Consults Available by Neurologists and Psychologists? If NOT!

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The female student could be hit with a double whammy: if she returns there to school, she will constantly be confronted by his presence, maybe in the same classes.

This story has been repeated numerous times with different universities and the final ruling is often surprising. Complying with the law in a school that states alcohol, drug use, and premarital sex is forbidden, makes legal decisions even more difficult.

Young men and women need to be taught much earlier respect for not only themselves but others and there are lines that should never be crossed. If the girl “blacked out” it is obvious that the male was not totally out and took advantage of her condition. In the same way if someone robs someone who is “dead drunk”, it is still a crime and he robbed her.

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Your description of the interplay between the Conscious and Sub-Conscious Mind is intriguing but it begs the question. How is one person able to tell whether it is the other person’s Conscious or Sub-Conscious MInd that is saying “yes” beyond extreme cases where it is patently obvious? I suspect that the line between the two varies from individual to individual which complicates matters even further.

The court decision demonstrates that things are rather more complex than some (including myself - having worked with victims of sexual violence) would have it. Nevertheless I remember that once upon a time we were told that studying at an Adventist institution was a privilige, not a right. I was critical of that sentence then and still am today (after all - I paid for my tuition, while universities in Germany were for free … and also it sounds a bit snobbish). And yet there is some truth to it… In this case, of course, the John Doe had already been accepted…

If I am not mistaken, John Doe is a ministerial student. That I find alarming. The court’s decision - and the fact the university was sued - is foreboding a steep career within the Adventist church. Tricky indeed. Ethics (rather than laws and regulations) will become a more and more important topic in the church - I hope.

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That is very true, and I’ve been in situations where people are drunk enough such that while they’re still interacting with others in the group, the next day they have no recollection of what took place. Add other drugs, and this no doubt increases the likelihood of this occurring.

This is where the situation get’s very murky. Perhaps the woman gave consent, but just doesn’t remember doing so. And perhaps the man didn’t realise the woman was impaired to the extent she was (ie., that she would make a decision that, 1) she would not recall; and 2) would not have made without the influence of the drugs).

At the risk of sounding like I’m “blaming the victim”, any time a person uses alcohol and drugs, they’re taking a risk that they might make some bad and unfortunate decisions. (And in the interests of full disclosure, I am a regular drinker, so I understand what I’m talking about.) Just because something bad happens under these conditions, does not automatically make it somebody else’s fault. From what we’ve been told about this case thus far, it is not at all clear that a rape occurred.

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Rights and right and wrong are different beasts. The courts deal with rights and the university deals with right and wrong. Thus the issue comes down to Due Process. If he returns, I suggest he change his major. Due they offer bar tending? TZ

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How complex and difficult to be an Adventist college president!

Kudos to my retired college president friends, Larry Geraty, Gordon Bietz, and Niels-Erik Andreasen. How happy they must be not to have to navigate this tight rope, balancing academic freedom, students’ rights, and the demands of right wing, fundamentalist donors.

How times change! Now we deal with dead drunk, drugged out students, and college rapists.

My splendid aunt, an impoverished dirt poor immigrant, was a nursing student at Washington Missionary College, Takoma Park, in the depths of the depression circa 1934.

Her husband, a highly successful evangelist in his home country was enrolled in the Adventist Theological Seminary, then located in Takoma Park, Maryland.

My aunt, possessed of only one skirt, laundered it to the point of shrinking. In those days, skirt length was the obsession of the bitchy “old maid” women’s dean. She would take a tape measure to ensure appropriate hem levels!
When my aunt’s shrunken skirt crept above knee level, my aunt, a married woman, was labeled a “whore” and a “prostitute” by the women’s dean.

My uncle did not take kindly to this denigration of his wife.
They both left Adventism, never to return.

As skirt lengths creep up to crotch level, and necklines plunge to reveal cleavage, on today’s Adventist college campuses, is it any wonder that males’ minds turn to sexual assault?

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The type of Title IX case apparently described here, that of the “respondent” having a sexual encounter with a a “reporter” who was blacked out, is one of the most difficult to investigate and deliberate. Blacking out is different than being passed out or unconscious.In blackout a person appears to be conscious but is not actually recording memories and therefore has no recall of them. An important point of education here for college students is that if there is any indication the other person has been drinking or could be drunk, DO NOT initiate sexual activity with them or accept their advances. You will be judged on the basis of what a reasonable person should have known in those circumstances, even if you were drunk yourself.

The Office of Civil Rights at the DOE and the courts generally understand the complexity of such cases. They are also aware of the low-threshold “more likely than not” standard that must be applied by educational institutions when determining responsibility. What they do not tolerate, however, are unfair processes or a failure offer a fair and full hearing based on good process (including appeals). La Sierra would not be the first to have its Title IX decisions (which are not legal decisions) challenged or overturned by a court. LSU was in the process of hiring its new Title IX Coordinator this week, and I expect we’ll see a more tightly-run operation there soon.

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So true, Robert.

These situations make it impossible to determine what actually happened.

I’m hoping that there is at least a bit more awareness among college students (most especially young women) to the consequences of drinking to the passing out state, and not putting themselves in these situations. This happens far too often on college campuses.

Like you, I’m not opposed to drinking. But, it has to be in a responsible manner. Drinking to the passing out stage is really putting yourself in a dangerous situation.

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Some may be interested in this article that appeared today in the online New Yorker. http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/colleges-go-to-court-over-sexual-assault

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The idea that not accepting sexual advances of someone who has been drinking or is drunk presumes that sex (with someone not already romantically involved with) is easily accomplished when in a sober state. It has been said that “alcohol is the gateway to all the other vices.” Surely, there would not be nearly as much sexual activity among adults not married to each other were it not for the involvement of alcohol.

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You lost me on that last paragraph:

“As skirt lengths creep up to crotch level, and necklines plunge to reveal cleavage, on today’s Adventist college campuses, is it any wonder that males’ minds turn to sexual assault?”

Yes it is a wonder. I hope I am not the only one that sees how absolutely deplorable that assertion is. Are you suggesting that sexual assault is a natural and logical consequence of viewing the female body? And I fail to see how your preceding story leads to those concluding sentiments.

I’m speechless.

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It’s the culture. In many Middle Eastern countries, a woman’s hair is a real turn-on; if they are not completely covered head to foot, they are considered a prostitute. If they swim, they must be covered head to foot in a burkini, a great way to drown or prevent a lifeguard from aiding a swimmer.

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Adventist or not, what else is there to say? The responsibility of what happens while under the influence of drugs is not the church’s, the school, nor anyone else. It belongs to the competent person who chooses to engage in substance use.

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You may not realize it, but this is a very, very incorrect way to approach the case: Blaming men’s behavior on women’s dress blames the victim of a crime for the crime. That is a grossly incorrect approach. When there is a rape, it is always, always the rapist to be blamed and never the victim. This is a very important point that we must uphold at all times.

We should always think of the victim as just that and never ask things like:

  • Why were you dressed like that?
  • Why were you in that dark parking lot in the middle of the night?
  • Why were you drunk? Don’t you think that was irresponsible?

All of these things are an incorrect way to think about a rape. It is like asking the homeowner why they didn’t have a better security system after a robbery. Or the gunshot victim why they were in a bad part of town and not wearing SWAT gear. Sure, it might be a really good idea to have a better security system, but it does not make the victim of the crime responsible for the crime. Responsibility always lies with the predator, not the victim.

If a man cannot navigate society without committing crimes against women, then he should be removed from society. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the women or their behavior.

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The complication in this case is the school’s enforcement of its behavior standards. And legal pressure brought upon the school in its management of those standards.

I agree the individuals are responsible when they choose to impair their judgment. However, their substance use doesn’t cancel another person’s ethical and legal obligations. Their being under the influence is no free pass for our behaviors towards them, nor can we ignore their impairment. This goes from having a contract signed to sexual activity.


This is in reply to me, but I’m not sure I understand it in relation to my comment. My point is that substance use, even if against legal or institutional rules, isn’t a moral evil such that it excuses others in exploiting a user. I’m not addressing this LSU case whatsoever, but the general problem with dismissing allegations made by persons under the influence solely on that basis.


I wasn’t addressing details of this case, which as you point out aren’t sufficiently known. My concern was over what seemed to be a principle that a person’s substance use removes involved others’ responsibility in whatever happens while he/she is under the influence.

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Isn’t alcohol use also against school rules? Weren’t several school rules broken?

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Even if a student is NOT suspended for other kinds of behavior,
An Event such as an alleged Rape needs to have 911 called first.
Allow the Courts to handle it. But also to protect the Victim from
the Abuser. AND to provide proper therapy for the Victim.
The ONLY way to handle protection of the Victim is not to
have the Abuser on Campus until the Courts settle the matter.
If necessary, assist the Victim to take out a Restraining Order.

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Agree.

Except in this case 1) the behavior described was the parents’ version and not Jane Roe’s version, 2) the school enforced its “behavior standards” based on the parents’ reports and to complicate matters, 3) there might not be even a case because there is no police report of the “rape” incident. Jane Roe never filled a report, then when confronted acknowledged having no recollection. Perhaps LSU would have been more effective had it laid down its “behavior standards” outside the guise of Title IX jurisdiction where no “due process” is involved such as John Doe breaking the 10 commandments or 28 FBs.

Except in this case we really do not know whether John Doe was under the influence of illicit drugs. I would surmise he was because it would take an inordinate amount of psychological energy for someone majoring in religion to force sex on another person or as it is commonly known, alcohol and illicit drug use dilutes superego. The news report missed a number of critical details. I’d like to interview John Doe and Jane Roe. Perhaps @GeorgeTichy or I should offer consultative services to our educational institutions, free.

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