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Judith Grossman, mother, feminist, attorney slams, Title IX, VAWA, and the DOE

April 19, 2013


kangaroo court 2NCFM NOTE: And herein lies the problem, mothers who not only failed to protect their sons, but self-serving ideologically driven mothers who worked overtime to put them at risk…

Judith Grossman: A Mother, a Feminist, Aghast

Unsubstantiated accusations against my son by a former girlfriend landed him before a nightmarish college tribunal.


I am a feminist. I have marched at the barricades, subscribed to Ms. magazine, and knocked on many a door in support of progressive candidates committed to women’s rights. Until a month ago, I would have expressed unqualified support for Title IX and for the Violence Against Women Act.

But that was before my son, a senior at a small liberal-arts college in New England, was charged—by an ex-girlfriend—with alleged acts of “nonconsensual sex” that supposedly occurred during the course of their relationship a few years earlier.

What followed was a nightmare—a fall through Alice’s looking-glass into a world that I could not possibly have believed existed, least of all behind the ivy-covered walls thought to protect an ostensible dedication to enlightenment and intellectual betterment.

It began with a text of desperation. “CALL ME. URGENT. NOW.”

That was how my son informed me that not only had charges been brought against him but that he was ordered to appear to answer these allegations in a matter of days. There was no preliminary inquiry on the part of anyone at the school into these accusations about behavior alleged to have taken place a few years earlier, no consideration of the possibility that jealousy or revenge might be motivating a spurned young ex-lover to lash out. Worst of all, my son would not be afforded a presumption of innocence.

In fact, Title IX, that so-called guarantor of equality between the sexes on college campuses, and as applied by a recent directive from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, has obliterated the presumption of innocence that is so foundational to our traditions of justice. On today’s college campuses, neither “beyond a reasonable doubt,” nor even the lesser “by clear and convincing evidence” standard of proof is required to establish guilt of sexual misconduct.

These safeguards of due process have, by order of the federal government, been replaced by what is known as “a preponderance of the evidence.” What this means, in plain English, is that all my son’s accuser needed to establish before a campus tribunal is that the allegations were “more likely than not” to have occurred by a margin of proof that can be as slim as 50.1% to 49.9%.

How does this campus tribunal proceed to evaluate the accusations? Upon what evidence is it able to make a judgment?

The frightening answer is that like the proverbial 800-pound gorilla, the tribunal does pretty much whatever it wants, showing scant regard for fundamental fairness, due process of law, and the well-established rules and procedures that have evolved under the Constitution for citizens’ protection. Who knew that American college students are required to surrender the Bill of Rights at the campus gates?

My son was given written notice of the charges against him, in the form of a letter from the campus Title IX officer. But instead of affording him the right to be fully informed, the separately listed allegations were a barrage of vague statements, rendering any defense virtually impossible. The letter lacked even the most basic information about the acts alleged to have happened years before. Nor were the allegations supported by any evidence other than the word of the ex-girlfriend.

The hearing itself was a two-hour ordeal of unabated grilling by the school’s committee, during which, my son later reported, he was expressly denied his request to be represented by counsel or even to have an attorney outside the door of the room. The questioning, he said, ran far afield even from the vaguely stated allegations contained in the so-called notice. Questions from the distant past, even about unrelated matters, were flung at him with no opportunity for him to give thoughtful answers.

The many pages of written documentation that my son had put together—which were directly on point about his relationship with his accuser during the time period of his alleged wrongful conduct—were dismissed as somehow not relevant. What was relevant, however, according to the committee, was the unsworn testimony of “witnesses” deemed to have observable knowledge about the long-ago relationship between my son and his accuser.

That the recollections of these young people (made under intense peer pressure and with none of the safeguards consistent with fundamental fairness) were relevant—while records of the accuser’s email and social media postings were not—made a mockery of the very term. While my son was instructed by the committee not to “discuss this matter” with any potential witnesses, these witnesses against him were not identified to him, nor was he allowed to confront or question either them or his accuser.

Thankfully, I happen to be an attorney and had the resources to provide the necessary professional assistance to my son. The charges against him were ultimately dismissed but not before he and our family had to suffer through this ordeal. I am of course relieved and most grateful for this outcome. Yet I am also keenly aware not only of how easily this all could have gone the other way—with life-altering consequences—but how all too often it does.

Across the country and with increasing frequency, innocent victims of impossible-to-substantiate charges are afforded scant rights to fundamental fairness and find themselves entrapped in a widening web of this latest surge in political correctness. Few have a lawyer for a mother, and many may not know about the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which assisted me in my research.

There are very real and horrifying instances of sexual misconduct and abuse on college campuses and elsewhere. That these offenses should be investigated and prosecuted where appropriate is not open to question. What does remain a question is how we can make the process fair for everyone.

I fear that in the current climate the goal of “women’s rights,” with the compliance of politically motivated government policy and the tacit complicity of college administrators, runs the risk of grounding our most cherished institutions in a veritable snake pit of injustice—not unlike the very injustices the movement itself has for so long sought to correct. Unbridled feminist orthodoxy is no more the answer than are attitudes and policies that victimize the victim.

Ms. Grossman, an attorney and mother, lives in New York City.

A version of this article appeared April 17, 2013, on page A15 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: A Mother, a Feminist, Aghast.


Thank you Judith Grossman!

Thank you Judith Grossman for standing up for your son!

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10 Responses to Judith Grossman, mother, feminist, attorney slams, Title IX, VAWA, and the DOE

  1. Sydney Mcguirt on June 6, 2018 at 9:46 AM

    Good post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be interesting to read content from other authors and practice something from their websites.

  2. micheal gibson on March 15, 2014 at 8:26 PM

    I sincerely hope that each of the feminist have sons and that when those sons grow up they hate their mothers as much as I hate mine. Those that are active in these injustices as well as those who stand by and say, well, I’m not a feminist but I will take the benefits from the injustices and just keep quiet.

  3. FullyAwake on May 7, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    Many a mother will see their son’s lives destroyed by misandric policies. This sort of thing has been happening for decades. Where does the so called ‘shock’ come from? Give me a break.

    • FullyAwake on May 7, 2013 at 3:24 PM

      Oh – Wait – I get it now. Since it was your son, you somehow now have empathy and compassion. Makes total sense. Since it’s now about you, things aren’t fair. You’re not happy now that it happened to your son. Where have I heard that before?

      • FullyAwake on May 7, 2013 at 4:06 PM

        Grossman – Should you one day find your son strung out on drugs and sitting in a dark corner of a room contemplating suicide (or worse yet, in divorce court and/or dead), think about your contributions to his demise. Something tells me you’ll rationalize his death in favor of yourself, so forget I brought it up.

        • FullyAwake on May 7, 2013 at 4:28 PM

          GirlWritesWhat – You are the most amazing women I’ve never met. I have a big crush on you. In my darkest hours, you gave me hope. Thanks for all you do.

  4. Max on April 22, 2013 at 11:55 PM

    So this son of feminist is a rapist. Was the female she raped underage?

    PS. This is just to warn the mother that thanks to her feminist acts against men, a men is never innocent, not even when he is innocent

  5. Doug Spoonwood on April 20, 2013 at 9:30 PM

    I like how this ends with a thank you to Judith Grossman. She did at least stick up for her son, and sticking up for males in general seems the whole point of the MHRM to begin with. That said, I can also understand Paul Elam’s sentiments, because of the ideological feminism which Judith Grossman has helped push for so many years has resulted in the exact problem which she ran into. And it arguably has psychologically messed up a lot of males, and probably all too many females also for a number of years now.

  6. Feminist_Nullificationist on April 20, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    I’d like to point out that she says, “I am a feminist,” NOT “I was a feminist.”

    I’m sorry, I’m having a lot of trouble getting the strings loosened on that bag of compassion I’m holding for all the feminists who’ve supposedly dropped out of that misandrist movement. :-/

  7. Feminist_Nullificationist on April 20, 2013 at 1:12 PM

    Does winning a “Dear Colleague” charge in academia enhance the likelihood of winning a $ Civil $ lawsuit filed along the same lines – even if a criminal filing fails, or is never filed? If so, might it be possible some of these women who are filing these claims in academia are really just plotting the ole “transfer the wealth from Patriarchy,” feminist scam?

    Color me cynical.

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