Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Grand Jury Won't Press Charges Against Xavier Student Expelled for Sexual Assault

The University of Montana, which we blogged about earlier today, was not the only university in the news this week in a story involving athletes and sexual assault.  A grand jury in Ohio decided not to file charges against Dezmin Wells, a former Xavier student and basketball player who had been expelled for sexual assault.  This decision raised questions about whether Xavier should reinstate the player, which the university has declined to do. In a press release, the university defended the disciplinary procedure that it used to determine Wells's expulsion as compliant with Title IX requirements on how universities' should respond to sexual assault.  The "preponderance of evidence" standard that universities must use in student disciplinary cases is actually stricter than the "probable cause" standard a grand jury uses to decide whether charges should be pressed, so University's decision is in some sense inconsistent with the grand jury's.  On the other hand, the University pointed out that the rules of evidence also differ -- that due to evidentiary rules designed to protect defendants in criminal cases, the grand jury might not have been able to hear all of the evidence than the university conduct board did.  Of course,  both the conduct board and the grand jury's proceedings are confidential, so we're not likely to find out exactly what that evidence could have been.