Thursday, June 12, 2014

How can a student prove consent to sexual activity under California's proposed "affirmative consent" law? The bill's co-author says: "Your guess is as good as mine."

California’s Senate Bill 967 would codify the use of the low “preponderance of the evidence” standard (50.01% likelihood) in sexual assault cases on campus and mandate “affirmative consent” at every step of a sexual encounter.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) says the proposed law is "a confusing and legally unworkable standard for consent to sexual activity." Under this bill, a student can be found responsible for sexual assault even if there was actual consent, simply because he could not prove he obtained consent in the prescribed manner.

FIRE sums it up: "Under this mandate, a student could be found guilty of sexual assault and deemed a rapist simply by being unable to prove she or he obtained explicit verbal consent to every sexual activity throughout a sexual encounter."

The law is about to become a guessing game for young men on California campuses. If you think that's an exaggeration, read what the co-author of the bill in the Assembly, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, said when she was asked how an innocent person is supposed to prove consent: “Your guess is as good as mine. I think it’s a legal issue. Like any legal issue, that goes to court.”

And that about sums it up. SB 967 threatens to turn innocent young men into pariahs who will be expelled from college and have their goods names blackened simply for failing to meet a confusing and unworkable legal standard.