A female student at Auburn University was so angry that an athlete asked her to leave his room that she accused him of domestic violence. She later admitted that she had none of the injuries she'd originally described to campus authorities, and also she'd made the whole thing up. That didn't stop officials from dismissing the student from the team just weeks later.
The athlete and his accuser had been hanging out the night of July 16 when somehow, the athlete "unintentionally broke [the accuser's necklace], but proceeded to laugh about it and not apologize," according to the initial email accusation sent to the athlete's coach.
The accuser then asked the athlete to walk her back to her room, but said he refused, so she instead watched TV with him in his room.
"After about [five] minutes, without being provoked in any way, he frantically gets up and shoves me out the door, not giving me a chance to gather my things before doing so (phone and keys)," the accuser wrote. "In the process to physically throw me out, [the accused] managed to smash my head in the door and skin both of my knees on the hallway carpet. I now have two bloody knees, a bruised shoulder, and a knot above my eye."
The accuser wrote the coach that she wanted to keep the situation private, but also said it was the "second or third time an incident of this sort has happened with him." She added that she thought he should "be held responsible for the way he has been acting toward not just me, but women in general."
A few hours later, the athlete's coach forwarded the accuser's email to Auburn's Title IX coordinator, Kelley Taylor, who proceeded to investigate the claim according to school and federal policy. She followed the policy, but this case highlights how schools rush to do whatever they can to throw an accused student out based on an accusation that isn't scrutinized much, without any consideration of whether it may be false.
Taylor followed up with the accuser and asked her to send pictures of her injuries. After a couple of conversations, the accuser admitted to Taylor that she had made a false accusation, and that she could not send photos of her injuries because there weren't any. The accuser came forward after the dismissal and has since spoken to the press.
"[Taylor] really wanted to make it a big deal, after I told her basically that I lied," the accuser told AL.com, an Alabama news outlet. "I can see her calling me one time after I said it, but two times and then a week later? That kind of made me wonder, why was she trying to do that?"
The athlete was dismissed from the athletic program just a few weeks after the accusation, despite the lack of evidence — physical or eyewitness — that an assault had occurred. Also, AL.com reports that the record of the case doesn't make clear whether the accuser recanted her story before or after the athlete was dismissed.
As to the accuser's claim that this was the "second or third" incident of violence with this man, she said she'd also made that up. "[I] never reported anything else to anyone. ... It was all made up. Nothing happened," she told AL.com.
It doesn't even matter that this accusation appears to be false, the rush to punish someone based on what appears to be zero evidence is an indication of what happens when the federal government pressures schools to expel anyone accused. If Auburn hadn't punished him, the school could have been found in violation of Title IX for failing to protect students. It was easier for the school to believe the accusation by default and without a serious investigation, rather than risk the federal government investigating the school and issuing a report that it doesn't take such allegations seriously. This leads to schools ignoring exculpatory evidence (like the fact the accuser claimed to have suffered several injuries yet none were visible) in order to railroad accused students.
This is why accused students need rights that would allow them to properly defend themselves.
Correction: The athlete was dismissed from the football program but not from the university.
Ashe Schow is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.