They are also limited by federal privacy rules from defending themselves against attacks from all sides.Raleigh attorney Sarah Ford, who advises colleges on assault cases, says the schools’ handling of the incidents traditionally has pleased no one.


Under Quillen’s leadership, the school has become more aggressive in reporting allegations of sexual misconduct.

In her column for the Observer earlier this year, Quillen talked about the balancing act colleges face: “Our criminal justice is founded on due process and the possibility of innocence,” she wrote.

She says the three were verbally harassed across campus and two were physically assaulted.

Ultimately, no criminal charges were filed in the case and the university decided the incident did not warrant a hearing, Sutton says.

A UNCC spokesman said the school could not comment.

Sutton, who has built a practice around defending students accused of assault, says too many schools have procedures that presume more guilt than innocence, and where “the defendant starts out in a hole.” She blames what she describes as exaggerated statistics on the frequency of campus assaults for creating “hysteria” at many schools.

Last month, the American College of Trial Lawyers called for major reforms in how campuses handle reports of sexual assault.

While acknowledging that the issue is a serious one, the group advocates policies that afford “basic fairness and due process.” Colleges do not operate courtrooms and do not have the resources, or legal authority, to conduct police-style investigations or trial-like proceedings, experts say.

And while there are no exact figures, in dozens of those cases male students also have sued the women who lodged the original allegations.

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