Jack Montague, the former captain of the highly successful 2015-2016 Yale Mens Basketball team, has officially filed a complaint against Yale University. In February, Jack was expelled from Yale after having been found guilty by a university committee of raping a fellow student. Both sides are taking firm stands. The public relations firm representing Jack in this case has stated that he was simply being used as a “ticket to restoring [Yale’s] tarnished image” with regards to Title IX compliance, and the university has responded by promising a “vigorous defense” of their actions and by stating that Jack’s complaint is “factually inaccurate and legally baseless.” Only time will tell whether Jack or Yale will prevail in the court room, but, based upon the evidence already available, it should be clear that Jack ought to win in the court of public opinion.
Yale has a dark history of targeting high-publicity student-athletes, and this case does not, at first glance, appear to be much different. Almost a year after the disputed rape, the roommate of the alleged victim reported the “bad incident” to a Yale director; upon the suggestion of the director, the alleged victim decided to go through the informal complaint process, after she made clear that she was “not interested in having Mr. Montague punished.” Several weeks later, the university itself decided to take Jack up on formal charges and, according to Jack’s complaint, mislead the alleged victim into believing that she could not keep her identity unknown, and that Montague had a prior history of sexual misconduct allegations. As a result, the alleged victim stated that, after hearing of Jack’s previous history, her “hands were tied; [she] could not, in good conscience, say no to participating in the investigation.”
So what were Jack’s previous, deplorable acts? During his freshman year, Jack was placed on probation for rolling “up a paper plate from the pizza parlor and put[ing] it down the front of [a graduating senior’s] tank top.” Disregarding these shady means of pressing charges, the way in which Yale determined Jack’s guilt, as KC Johnson points out, was also highly questionable:
“Montague had to give an interview with the Yale investigator without being informed of the specifics of the charges against him. The accuser appears to have been prompted to prepare an opening statement at the ‘hearing’ Yale permits; Montague wasn’t told before the hearing he could do so. He couldn’t directly cross-examine his accuser; was represented by his coach (who couldn’t speak); and had no right to exculpatory evidence. The panel—specially ‘trained,’ but with training material the university has never revealed—found him guilty. Yale then expelled him. The panel kept no audio or visual record of its ‘hearing.'”
It should go without saying that sexual assault is a disgusting violation of the law. Nevertheless, Yale’s witch-hunt like mentality, which the school has repeatedly employed against students accused of such conduct, is a gross violation of Title IX’s requirement for “equitable” disciplinary procedures. Based on the available evidence, if the impending court opinion disagrees, then due process is ultimately lost at Yale; if our public opinion disagrees, then due process is ultimately lost as a whole.