State lawmaker wants hearing on campus rape prosecutions

Students at Agnes Scott College show their support for sexual assault victims in a demonstration last year. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

Students at Agnes Scott College show their support for sexual assault victims in a demonstration last year. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

State Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, says he’ll conduct hearings on how Georgia universities and colleges deal with accusations of rape, with an eye toward prohibiting the secretive, on-campus prosecutions. From the Marietta Daily Journal:

“If somebody commits a crime, that’s the purview of trained professional jurists, district attorneys (and) law enforcement. The universities absolutely don’t need to be in that business, so I want to make sure that they’re not,” Ehrhart said. “They don’t need a secondary system of justice on university campuses. That’s the issue.”

…He said the hearings would potentially happen before the next legislative session in September or October.

Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blogEhrhart, who chairs a House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees university spending, said he was provoked by a recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution article on campus rape trials. Here’s how the piece began:

A three-month AJC investigation into the secretive world of campus tribunals found that Georgia’s largest universities are pursuing cases that prosecutors won’t touch, offering some accountability for a serious category of student misconduct. But the newspaper also found that campus justice comes with steep trade-offs.

Procedures vary widely and are often poorly understood by both the accused and the accuser. Students, and sometimes their parents, expect the strict rules of a court of law, but instead encounter a looser system where cross-examining witnesses is sharply curtailed and the burden of proof is far lower.

Several students, including the UGA freshman, claim the proceedings in place are deeply flawed and violated their rights to due process. While they haven’t gone to jail, an expulsion, or even suspension, can have dire and long-lasting consequences.

Over a five-year period, the AJC found, Georgia’s five largest public universities processed 43 sexual misconduct complaints and held the accused responsible about half the time.

Findings of responsibility varied greatly. The students accused at Georgia Tech were almost always found responsible, while the number was fewer than a third at UGA, the school with the highest number of cases and enrollment.

Most held responsible were suspended from school. Fewer than 10 were expelled, representing about one in five of all the complaints.

Over the same time period, 90 reports of rape and sodomy were recorded at those same five schools; none resulted in a criminal prosecution, according to an AJC analysis published in December.

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In today’s installment of “Not The Onion:” Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle has a side business designing skinny ties.

Casey tieJ.machamilton is a mashup of the names of Cagle’s three sons, according to its website. At this point you can buy a tie with pointer dogs for $49.95 apiece in one of four colors. At right is hunter green.

Some back story, from jmachamilton.com:

My first business was in retail clothing, so fashion has always been a part of our life that we have each enjoyed together. It is fun to explore and create a style that is unique to our personal taste and consistent with the fundamentals of fashion. Sitting around the dinner table one day I said, “Wouldn’t it be awesome to create our own line of clothes that celebrate our southern traditions while being at the forefront of fashion” – so we did. 

We started with a tie collection that is Vintage slim. A tie that has style but also could tell a story of old southern tradition. Our first tie celebrates our love of bird hunting together by using the pointer dog to tell the story. We talked about the many hunts and our passion for the covey rise. Memories created on old southern plantations where the bird dog and handler find a quail covey, and in that moment everything would stop as we prepared for the flush of the bob white quail that leads to what we would call “The South Georgia snow”. It is in the south where you witness the experience of a tradition that is so special and unique in its timeless style, that it makes the world stand completely still leaving you only to want more. Those moments that are worth celebrating.

(Hat tip: Zpolitics.)

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U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Coweta County, serves on the special House committee to investigate the 2012 Benghazi attack that lately has produced all kinds of bad headlines for presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.

And it is far from done. Westmoreland took to the House floor Thursday for a 25-minute speech, mostly detailing all the ways the State Department has stymied the House investigation by delaying or refusing to turn over documents. You can watch it in full here:

Here’s one key passage:

“Here we are, two and a half months after we issued the subpoena and six months after we sent the letter, and the Department has still not produced any of these priority documents. First we moved a foot, then a yard, and now we have moved our position a mile. But the Department hasn’t budged an inch.”

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We had told you that three of Georgia’s U.S. House Democrats had expressed their opposition to giving President Barack Obama fast-track authority for new trade deals — a top White House priority that has fractured the party.

As the deal took a big step in the Senate on Thursday, the fourth Georgia House Democrat, Albany’s Sanford Bishop, sounded like a no himself. Said Bishop as he left the House floor for a long recess week:

“Giving up or delegating my legislative authority to the executive branch is something that just goes across my grain, whether it’s the line item veto or fast track. … So I’m really having some difficulty with that.”

Bishop said the president has not called him yet, but he has heard from two cabinet secretaries and the White House liaison to Congress. “They’re lobbying,” he said. “They’re expressing their interest.”


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