CoA rules UNC must release details of administrative sexual assault cases

Sweeping it under the rug is no longer an option:

In a ruling issued Tuesday, the North Carolina Court of Appeals said UNC must release the names of people found responsible for rape, sexual assault or any related acts of sexual misconduct through the University's Honor Court, Committee on Student Conduct or Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office.

Erica Perel, the general manager of the Daily Tar Heel, said she's glad the case is coming to a resolution. "This information is something that Daily Tar Heel reporters have been seeking for quite a few years, as DTH reporters have reported on sexual assault on UNC’s campus and UNC’s response to those assaults," Perel said. "This will kind of help complete the picture of the true nature of assault on campus."

Overall, this is a good thing. Some victims and their advocates have made legitimate arguments that having their identity revealed can make their lives harder, and could discourage others from coming forward in the future. But sexual predators are almost always repeat offenders, and keeping their behavior confidential merely puts other females at risk, even if it's a delayed risk:

In another case, Swarthmore College's disciplinary proceeding found the accused student responsible but the victim felt the sanction did not protect her or other students in part because the accused's identity was never revealed by the school. Though her assailant was found responsible for rape and suspended, he will be allowed to re-enroll after she graduates. In the meantime, his suspension wasn't made public so he continues to visit the campus and present a safety risk.

When Liz Braun, Dean of Students at Swarthmore, asked for student feedback about the school's College Judiciary Committee process, the victim described the CJC process as "unnecessarily torturous." She asked a valid question in her response to Dean Braun: "Should the outcomes of CJC hearings and appeals be made public with identifiable names of perpetrators?" In fact, the accused student's name could be made public if the CJC's final decision found him responsible. This would not violate FERPA and could help protect other students.

That appears to be the threshold for non-consensual disclosure: If the accused is found "responsible" for an act that in another venue would be classified as a crime, the educational institution can no longer hide behind FERPA as the reason they can't release the information.

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