In recent posts, we’ve discussed some of the devastating consequences, both personally and professionally, that can happen to a suspect accused of a sex crime in Florida. Those consequences may be deepest felt at the college level, where many students have yet to launch their professional careers and have not yet entered into marriages or long-term relationships.

In the case of a college athlete accused of sexual assault, even an allegation that is later disproven may cost the athlete recruiting opportunities from professional teams. Although college administrators do not want to appear to have a double standard for athletes, they also want to avoid a scandal developing from potentially unfounded or false allegations. Administrators may also fear reputational damage to their institutions.

Admittedly, the balance between enforcement and concerns of privacy and procedural fairness may be difficult to achieve. Federal officials from the U.S. Department of Education, however, may believe that the scales have tipped too far on the side of leniency.

Federal officials are investigating a complaint brought by several female sexual assault victims at a public state university. The women claim that university administrators mishandled their complaints and further failed to reveal the alleged sex crimes on campus, in potential violation of federal laws requiring such disclosure. The women advocate for a campus alert system, so that other students may be put on alert of potentially dangerous suspects. Other safety advocates also agree that written policies directing the specific procedures that administrators should follow for filing criminal charges and releasing campus alerts might encourage more victims to come forward.

Source: centralfloridafuture.com, “College sexual crime reports need overhaul,” Joni Fletcher, March 24, 2013