Even though Iowa's Central College found a male student guilty of raping his classmate, they couldn't decide what to do with him. So they let him choose his own punishment: He could either accept expulsion a month before graduating, or graduate but not walk, and risk the administration notifying employers that he violated their "code of conduct."
As reported by the Des Moines Register, the panel who oversaw the student's disciplinary hearing came to this decision after finding him "slightly" guilty of "non-consensual sex" (that euphemism again!), given the discrepancies between both sides of the stories:
In a letter to the woman, the panel said it believed her mental health plummeted directly after the assault last year and concluded there was no evidence her symptoms were "feigned or attributable to any other cause."
The panel also found the testimony of several witnesses more credible to the woman's account than the man's.
Yet the committee said the man was offered a choice of sanctions because of "discrepancies between the two individuals' perceptions and explanations of their relationship and the incident."
In other words, Central College is allowing this student (who obviously picked the not-being-expelled option) to escape any punishment because the school didn't have the wherewithal to fully side with the complainant, even they supposedly believed her. They just didn't believe her enough; what results is a cowardly non-solution devoid of justice.
And then there's all the shit that Central College put this woman through. In violation of Title IX, they delayed opening an investigation until the Spring semester (the victim reported in the fall) because she didn't go to the police first, and notified the accused of her complaint before she consented to making it public. The administration also failed to remove the accused from his dorm until two officials saw the accuser go through "trauma-related shock."
Let that sit with you for a moment: Central College officials witnessed the mental health effects that this crime had on this woman, and they still thought that she wasn't credible enough for them to actually punish the alleged attacker.
They still have time to right this wrong, though. Both students have filed appeals, with the woman's lawyer asking for an expedited review before graduation so that the accused can maybe get the punishment he actually deserves, rather than the one he got to choose.
Image via biotour13/Flickr.