Patterico's Pontifications

8/1/2017

Another Day, Another Controversial Campus Assault Allegation

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:00 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Here is a story that will be all-too-familiar in this day and age of Aggravated Gender Conflict on our college campuses. It’s fitting that it takes place here in Los Angeles, at a campus from which the Hollywood sign on Mount Lee is visible on a moderately clear day. The story has all of the makings of movie on the Lifetime channel: a male athlete from what is likely a privileged background now playing for a prestigious football program, a plucky coed studying to be a veterinarian while playing for the varsity tennis team, a campus Title IX tribunal with lots of power, very little accountability, and staffed almost exclusively with female administrators. Here’s how the Daily Breeze relates the story:

Matt Boermeester, the USC placekicker who made the winning field goal in the Rose Bowl last January is not permitted to return to the university, his attorney, Mark Schamel, said Sunday night.

The school discipline followed from an investigation led by USC’s Title IX Office, said Zoe Katz, Boermeester’s girlfriend, in a statement provided to the Southern California News Group.

USC began a Title IX investigation in late January after an allegation that Boermeester pushed Katz in the driveway of her home near the University Park campus, Schamel said.

Pretty straightforward thus far, right? Entitled football jock assaults (however mildly) our female lead causing the social justice crusaders on campus to rush to her defense and neutralize the threat to all female students. But hold on, it starts to get complicated with the plot twists:

Boermeester and Katz denied [the shoving incident]. Katz said the allegation was made by a “third party.”

Katz, 22 and a senior, was an all-conference player on USC’s women’s tennis team. She is expected to graduate this fall and issued the statement which called the investigation “unfair” and “biased” and that Boermeester, 23, “has been falsely accused of conduct involving me.”

Well now, how about that? Apparently not only did Ms. Katz not originate the charges against Mr. Boermeester but she has also denied that they so much as took place. So how did this all end up with the Title IX office? If you are familiar with the Star Chamber characteristics of modern campus bias complaints, you can probably guess:

Title IX investigators contacted Katz three days after the alleged incident occurred on Jan. 20, according to her attorney, Kerry Steigerwalt.

Steigerwalt said a complaint was first made to the Title IX Office by a men’s tennis coach at the university. A player on the team, who was also a neighbor of Katz, told the coach he witnessed an incident between her and Boermeester.

In her statement, Katz said she was told by the investigators that she was in an abusive relationship and was “told that I must be afraid of Matt.”

“I was stereotyped and was told I must be a ‘battered’ woman, and that made me feel demeaned and absurdly profiled,” Katz said in a statement. “I understand that domestic violence is a terrible problem, but in no way does that apply to Matt and me.”

During the investigation, Katz said the university issued a no-contact order against Boermeester, preventing him from communicating with her. As he was suspended from the football team, he was also prohibited from using its facilities to rehab a knee injury, she said. He underwent surgery after the Rose Bowl.

Let me issue this caveat: I obviously wasn’t there to witness whatever went on with the two students, nor am I privy in any way to the deliberations of the Title IX committee or the evidence that they considered. It could be that the tennis player who claims to have witnessed what went on between the two really did see an actual assault, and it could be that Mr. Boermeester is physically abusive and that Ms. Katz is sadly delusional with respect to her boyfriend’s actions.

But ever since the Obama Justice Department issued its infamous 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter, higher education has interpreted their role in these matters largely as being that of avenging angels, meting justice to victims in cases where our silly legal system with its archaic burdens of proof and reasonable doubt would otherwise fail entire classes of the perpetually aggrieved. USC would appear to have wholly discounted the testimony and statements of the alleged victim, and placed a great deal of their faith in an unnamed witness who could conceivably have self-interested reasons to bring forth these types of accusations. Naturally we don’t know the full story, but that being the case shouldn’t we put extra consideration on the alleged victim’s denial of the events? The use of kangaroo courts to judge these matters and hand out discipline has started to come back to haunt many universities (the blog Outlawyered has a number of links to excellent posts on the Volokh Conspiracy blog guest written by K.C. Johnson and Stuart Taylor who have worked tirelessly to expose the problems with Title IX investigations), and with the new Secretary of Education perhaps somewhat leery of the overwhelming activism that drives Title IX policy at the expense of common sense and fair play, perhaps this is the opportune moment to reevaluate what role the campus has in overseeing campus romances and hookups.

There is no such thing as the right to play football at USC, and if the team decides that Mr. Boermeester’s conduct disqualifies him from participation then so be it. But should the school decide to interrupt his education for at least a year through the suspension and expulsion process, it had better be ready to defend its actions in a real deal court of law, not one dominated by advocates for the lack of due process which has come to define today’s Title IX inquisitions.

– JVW

24 Responses to “Another Day, Another Controversial Campus Assault Allegation”

  1. This isn’t even a “He Said/She Said” situation, it’s more like a “He and She Said/But Somebody Else Said” situation. I would not feel comfortable as an administrator expelling a student over this, but then again maybe there are things here that the tribunal knows that I don’t. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Boermeester sues, and what might come out during the discovery and testimony if he does.

    JVW (42615e)

  2. there are only 5 people what could be considered men’s tennis coaches at the USC

    Peter Smith
    Kris Kwinta
    Delton Baughman
    Brian Crouser
    Tim Ojeda

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  3. Esquire
    From NPR:

    Wheeler alleges Fox News and the Trump supporter intended to deflect public attention from growing concern about the administration’s ties to the Russian government. His suit charges that a Fox News reporter created quotations out of thin air and attributed them to him to propel her story. Fox’s president of news, Jay Wallace, told NPR on Monday that there was no “concrete evidence” that Wheeler was misquoted by the reporter, Malia Zimmerman. The news executive did not address a question about the story’s allegedly partisan origins. Fox News declined to allow Zimmerman to comment for this story. The story, which first aired in May, was retracted by Fox News a week later. Fox News has, to date, taken no action in response to what it said was a failure to adhere to the network’s standards.
    Also, Sean Spicer, whom the president* really should have permitted to meet the pope, has driven a couple nails into the coffin.

    The first page of the lawsuit quotes a voicemail and text from Butowsky boasting that Trump himself had reviewed drafts of the Fox News story just before it went to air and was published. Spicer now tells NPR that he took the meeting as a favor to Butowsky, a reliable Republican voice. Spicer says he was unaware of any contact involving the president. And Butowsky tells NPR that he was kidding about Trump’s involvement. “Rod Wheeler unfortunately was used as a pawn by Ed Butowsky, Fox News and the Trump administration to try and steer away the attention that was being given about the Russian hacking of the DNC emails,” says Douglas Wigdor, Wheeler’s lawyer.
    The political exploitation of the murder of Seth Rich pushed the boundaries of decency even in this particular polarized time. Now, this lawsuit alleges the indecency ran deeper and higher in the White House political operation than even I suspected. Unfortunately, there are precedents to this particular episode. The Republican Party—and the conservative movement that is its only animating force—went out of its way to invite these people and this brand of politics into itself. The name Terri Schiavo comes immediately to mind, and that brings us the Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona.

    Ben burn (b3d5ab)

  4. Oops, wrong thread..sorry.

    Ben burn (b3d5ab)

  5. zoe is maybe more properly identified as “the captain of USC’s women’s tennis team”

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  6. that last link has Zoe’s complete legal statement

    On one occasion I was told to come in to view a videotape – which I was happy to do – and then nothing was shown to me. It ended up being just another interrogation. I feel I was misled, harassed, threatened and discriminated against by the Title IX office to such an extent that I had to retain my own attorney during the process to protect myself and to try to get them to listen to me. The Title IX office’s response was dismissive and demeaning, “We are sorry you feel that way.”

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  7. so it looks like Tanner Smith is the person who most likely started the social justice ball rolling

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  8. zoe is maybe more properly identified as “the captain of USC’s women’s tennis team”

    Maybe make that former captain? I note that she is not listed on their website as a returning player for this fall’s season, even though the article says she is finishing up her degree this fall.

    Ah, never mind: I just saw that her entry for last year had her listed as a senior, so I guess she has used up her athletic eligibility.

    JVW (42615e)

  9. there are at least two younger smith boys but they were too young to be Zoe’s neighbors

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  10. i only mentioned the captain thing cause of it she’d have a higher profile cause of that

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  11. it

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  12. ok i work here is done i just hate bad reporting where you have obvious questions after reading the article

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  13. The USC I know and really love upholds values like family, trust and excellence. Facts and fairness are supposed to govern Title IX and not agendas, intimidation and falsehoods. I am so sad that a rogue group like the Title IX office can bring down this amazing school. On behalf of all Trojans, I have to speak up. But more importantly, I am speaking up for myself and for Matt. I will not permit anyone to portray me as a victim, I am not. Nor will I stand by silently and watch a good person like Matt be railroaded by a rigged system.

    Matt Boermeester did nothing improper against me, ever. I would not stand for it. Nor will I stand for watching him be maligned and lied about, and I implore the USC community to stand together to stop this from happening to Matt or anyone else.

    I know we are not alone.

    she’s kinda laying down her marker here huh

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  14. Maybe the third party accuser was crushing on the girl and trying to break them up

    steveg (d73f93)

  15. i wouldn’t necessarily assume it was the girl

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  16. Is Boermeester’s neighbor a UCLA alum?

    Alum. That explains the expression on his face, right?

    Don (11847a)

  17. I’m pretty sure that the team cannot suspend someone for arbitrary and capricious reasons — students have rights, at least of a sort.

    Whether they can do so for reasons they cannot substantiate, or have not attempted to substantiate, or even have reasons to doubt, is a question for the lawyers. Considering the VAST wealth that accompanies a pro sports career, or might be lost in its absence, I’d sure want to have my ducks lined up before I stepped into the minefield.

    USC is a school that depends greatly on the generosity of its alumni, and many of the alumni are greatly invested in the football team. I suspect there will be more said.

    Kevin M (752a26)

  18. So, a faculty member’s son complains about something he saw. He may or may not have video (how? how much? why?). The lady in question seems quite articulate — the type of modern woman USC would be proud to have as an alumnus — yet they don’t credit her statements. It would be interesting to know what passes for due process there, but it seems like the coaches had words and after that the evidence didn’t matter.

    Kevin M (752a26)

  19. USC is a school that depends greatly on the generosity of its alumni, and many of the alumni are greatly invested in the football team. I suspect there will be more said.

    I don’t think the alumni will go to the mat for a kicker. A quarterback? Absolutely. A tailback or linebacker or defensive end? Sure. But a kicker? Nah.

    JVW (42615e)

  20. The only thing that’s troubling is that the school thinks that it has jurisdiction over what its students do off campus. (Or is this university-sponsored off-campus housing?) Otherwise, it’s a domestic dispute scenario that cops, lawyers and judges are all too familiar with. The couple fights and God help the third party who sticks his nose in. They both turn against him.

    nk (dbc370)

  21. Campus Due Process, Back at the 6th Circuit

    “In recent years, campus due process claims have fared poorly before courts in the 6th Circuit. Judge Susan Dlott dismissed a complaint against Miami despite what she deemed the “troubling” allegation that the university’s chief investigator discouraged an exculpatory witness from testifying. Judge Christopher Boyko dismissed a complaint against Case Western Reserve University despite finding a “plausible claim that Plaintiff was innocent of the charges levied against him.” And the University of Cincinnati has seemed desperate to claim the nation’s most unfair campus sexual assault process, currently boasting that students accused of sexual assault will not receive “a space whether [sic: where?] the standard of proof is ‘innocent until proven guilty.’”

    Today, Cincinnati was back before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, defending a process even more unfair than the two previous cases that went before the appeals court last year. (In one of those, the university had refused to look at potentially exculpatory video evidence; in the other, it allowed an accuser to testify and then flee the room before cross-examination, contending that cross-examination from a previous hearing, whose result had been invalidated for other procedural improprieties, was enough.)”

    https://academicwonderland.com/2017/08/01/campus-due-process-back-at-the-6th-circuit/

    harkin (536957)

  22. Greetings:

    Me, I’m thinking that I’d be checking out the punter or the second-team placekicker. Nothing personal, it’s just sports.

    11B40 (6abb5c)

  23. Q. Was this the only known issue between them in the relationship?

    Did Matt Boermeester say anything to Zoe Katz when he “shoved” her?

    How long after the incident was it reported?

    Of course there’s no way to rosecte it – theres no complainant and the allegation is not any kind of a crime.

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)


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