While our universities are under increasing pressure to do more to tackle sexual assault, their campus kangaroo courts are thriving. Last year, Sydney University alone investigated 121 reports of sexual misconduct, which included 74 cases of sexual assault and 47 cases of sexual harassment. All those little bureaucrats busily holding their secret meetings to decide whether to throw these young men out of the university and perhaps even confiscate their degrees – what delicious power.
For over five years I have been helping falsely accused young men ward off these committees, with the help of some marvellous lawyers working pro bono to try to defend these students. It's a tough gig, with universities doing everything they can to deny procedural fairness and undermine justice.
I thought regular readers might like a catch-up on some of the cases I have shared with you over the years, showing how these young men are now faring.
To start with some good news. You might remember the story of an overseas doctor who was foolish enough to choose Australia for post-grad medical research. Boy, was that a mistake, destroying his stellar career path, and taking a huge emotional toll. I included in my blog about him this photo of his hair falling out (alopecia) as a result of the way the university dealt with him.
I've become very fond of this young guy - I'll call him "Marcus" – a wonderfully warm, intelligent, hard-working man, and am just horrified at what this country did to him.
You can read the whole story here but essentially it involved a malicious false accusation by a jealous student who accused Marcus of sexual assault – Marcus is openly gay. Two years later, a jury took 20 minutes to dismiss the case after a two-week trial. Costs were awarded against the Crown, with the judge stating a proper investigation would have revealed that the complainant was "very substantially lacking credit" and the case should never have been commenced.
There was never any proper investigation. As is true in most kangaroo court cases, Marcus was treated abominably by this tertiary institution. After the complaint was made, he was told he had two hours to leave the college. Relevant witnesses were never interviewed, he had no chance to present a proper response to the allegations. He was dumped far from his former college in a dirty room, alone, and desperate.
He spent years working as a waiter, couch surfing with friends or living in a hostel, having spent his savings, with help from his family, defending his criminal case. After he contacted me in late 2020, we did our best to support him, including using immigration lawyers to keep him in the country whilst pursuing action against the university – which finally resulted in a confidential settlement with the university two years later.
That was a real step forward, but you will be pleased to know that since I first wrote about Marcus, this diligent kid put his head down and managed to get through the gruelling entry examinations required to practice as a doctor in this country. We're hopeful that we've found a clinical position in a NSW hospital to get him through the final hurdle. He surely deserves a break.
A year ago, I made a video with "Andrew," a pharmacist who had just graduated from a NSW regional university after we'd helped him through a two-year battle with this dreadful institution. One of the craziest things about this case was the complainant initially said she hadn't been assaulted – nothing had happened – but her friends then persuaded her to make a complaint and Andrew was immediately suspended from college.
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