Lynch has appealed sexual misconduct cases at U of M. Now what? | WVIA

Lynch has appealed sexual misconduct cases at U of M. Now what?

Last Updated by Peter Cox on
Minnesota Gopher basketball player Reggie Lynch has appealed two cases in which internal University of Minnesota investigations found he violated student codes of conduct. One of the reports said Lynch should be expelled, the other that he should be suspended.

Here's are some questions, and answers, about the process so far, and what comes next:

How are campus sexual assaults and sexual misconduct allegations investigated?

Federal guidelines require college campuses to investigate sexual assaults that involve students. At the University of Minnesota, those investigations are handled by investigators with the office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA).

When their investigation is complete, the EOAA makes a conclusion whether the code of conduct was violated and makes a recommendation on discipline.

The accused and accuser are then given the opportunity to accept that decision, or appeal.

If they appeal, a formal hearing will be scheduled in front of the Student Sexual Misconduct Committee.

If they disagree with that committee's decision, they can appeal to an appellate officer, who will deliver a decision within 30 days.

Punishment can include anything from a warning to expulsion.

How do campus investigations differ from criminal investigations?

The burden of proof to come to a conclusion is different for on-campus investigations than it is for criminal investigations.

Criminal courts use the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt. That means that the defendant is guilty if there is no reasonable doubt that they could be innocent.

In on-campus investigations most schools, including the University of Minnesota, use the preponderance of evidence standard, which is also used in civil courts. It means that if it is more likely than not that the crime or allegation occurred, then the defendant is guilty.

In the last year, U.S Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has given schools more flexibility in what standard of evidence is used in Title IX investigations.

The campus investigations use the student code of conduct for definitions of sexual misconduct and consent.

The University's code of student conduct defines sexual assault as "(1) actual or attempted sexual contact without affirmative consent; or (2) a threat to engage in contact that would be, if the threat were carried out, sexual contact without affirmative consent."

Affirmative consent is defined as "freely and affirmatively communicated words or actions given by an informed individual that a sober, reasonable person under the circumstances would believe communicate a willingness to participate in the sexual contact. This definition of consent does not vary based upon an individual's sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression."

• 2017: U football players' sexual conduct tests burdens of proof

Where does Lynch's case stand right now?

In both cases, campus investigators with the EOAA have completed investigations and the office has made recommendations for discipline.

In each case, Lynch is accused of sexual assault.

The first incident happened in early April 2016. In that case a woman says Lynch sexually assaulted her at an off-campus location.

The second incident happened in late April 2016 when a woman says Lynch sexually assaulted her at a U of M dorm.

In that first case which we learned about Tuesday, the EOAA recommended Lynch be expelled. In the second which came out last week, the school recommended Lynch be suspended until August 2020.

Lynch, according to his attorney, has appealed both recommendations. Hearings for each case have not yet been scheduled.

Lynch is still a member of the basketball team and is practicing with the team, but not playing in games and is not allowed to travel with the
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