Jim Shaw’s Inner Demons

On the face of it, Fargo Forum columnist Jim Shaw appears to be accusing Betsy DeVos of the crime of sexual assault by being an accomplice. You judge for yourself. Here is the Forum headline for his column:

“Shaw: If Devos gets her way, more people will get away with sexual assault”

First, her last name is DeVos, not Devos. I assume the Forum is the entity with the spelling problem. I searched high and low on the Internet for mentions of her past sexual assault record. I couldn’t find anything. I again looked for any criminal record she has but she appears to be squeaky clean. She had to win confirmation from the US Senate, which she did, to become the US Education Secretary. No Democrat voted for her.

So, Betsy DeVos is not a criminal. How or why would she want to “get her way” so that more people will get away with sexual assault? The short answer is she doesn’t want that to happen. But one has to combat Jim Shaw’s inner demons in order convince him of that. He has performed the mental gymnastics required of a liberal columnist to say such an evil thing about Secretary DeVos.

Let’s lay it out for everyone to see and evaluate. This is what the troubled Jim Shaw wrote in his horrifying column:

Jim Shaw wrote“What Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wants to do to school sexual misconduct rules is horrifying. What DeVos is proposing would allow accused students to cross-examine their accusers, only allow colleges to be involved if the assault took place on campus, would make it harder to punish the accused, and would narrow the definition of sexual harassment. Simply put, if DeVos gets her way, more people will get away with sexual assault.”

Let’s dissect this. What DeVos is proposing would allow accused students to cross-examine their accusers,” Far from horrifying, this seems to be an all-American right of the accused to confront and question their accusers. In fact, it is a right enshrined by the Sixth Amendment to the Federal Constitution! The Sixth Amendment provides that a person accused of a crime has the right to confront a witness against him or her in a criminal action.  This includes the right to be present at the trial (which is guaranteed by the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 43). As well as the right to cross-examine the prosecution's witnesses. Jim, you can start wiping the egg of your face, you crazed liberal donkey. There’s more.

“What DeVos is proposing …. would only allow colleges to be involved if the assault took place on campus.” I don’t see why a college should be involved in the prosecution of any crime. If this is a criminal prosecution, the proper jurisdictions should be involved. For example, if I commit a crime at the local Dairy Queen, I don’t expect the Dairy Queen to have a separate prosecution of me. If Jim Shaw shoplifts ladies underwear at WalMart I don’t expect that WalMart would haul him in to “Save Money, Shop Smart, Only at Walmart” court.

The burden of proof for prosecuting the accused falls on the local prosecutor. He needs evidence. He needs victims to come forward and be willing to testify. We don’t prosecute, assign guilt and jail or fine people for ‘well, the victim said so.’ What is horrifying is that this happens even in today’s society. Secretary DeVos seems to be saying that we should follow the Sixth Amendment and only allow a college administration to get involved if the alleged crime occurred on campus. Every student, faculty or staff member deserves (1) the assumption of innocence, not guilt, and (2) true American due process which includes the right to confront one’s accuser and question them, i.e. cross-examine them.

Schools have rules, policies and codes which they have the privilege to implement. However, when it comes to crimes, they should report those crimes to the local criminal authorities. No one would argue that crimes within the Catholic Church should be handled internally by the Church. The same goes for universities. If you suspect a crime, report it to the local criminal authorities, e.g. police, city attorney, county attorney, etc.

We are talking and writing about sexual assault, a crime. Report it properly to the local authorities. Let the local authorities handle the criminal prosecution. If you feel inclined to have your own kangaroo court at your university, be warned that people have rights guaranteed under the Constitution. Your university might be risking a large financial judgment or jailing of university officials for violating the rights of students, faculty and staff. And for Heaven’s sake, don’t listen to Jim Shaw’s inner demons.

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