‘Huffington Post’ Schooled By FIRE After It Says FIRE Exposed Rape Witnesses

Jul 28, 2014 by

Reporter used vulgarity for female anatomy in apparent attempt to bait FIRE into inflammatory response

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is hitting back at The Huffington Post for implying it exposed witnesses to harassment in a lawsuit related to an alleged sexual assault.

Last week’s story said four out of nine witnesses to the alleged assault were harassed online by anonymous people after FIRE posted documents that included witness names relating to the lawsuit against Occidental College.

As previously reported by The College Fix, Occidental is fighting a student accused of sexual assault, and then expelled, who said the university’s investigation of him was handled unfairly. The university attempted to seal the documents relating to the case, but the judge refused Occidental’s motion, saying administrators knew the documents had been publicly available online since February.

According to the Post, one female witness received an email from a Missouri sender whose least crude criticism of her was: “It’s bitches and whores like you who give women a bad name.”

The Post said that harasser “presumably” got the female’s name “through a confidential investigator’s report that FIRE had posted online, along with its announcement supporting” the accused male student.

A male witness, Aidan Dougherty, told the Post that FIRE “nullified everyone’s privacy” by naming the witnesses. The Post quoted Robert Shibley, senior vice president of FIRE, as saying that “the public interest lies in transparency” and that FIRE “is in no way responsible for such activity and neither encourages nor facilitates such activity.”

FIRE punched back at the Post in a press release Wednesday, saying the documents it posted were never confidential and, as a matter of public record, were always available to be read.

Shibley wrote: “The names of the accusing and accused students were redacted by attorneys when the exhibits were filed in February. In May, the accused student’s attorney and the presiding judge agreed to further redactions at the request of the accusing student’s attorney,” and that new version is what FIRE posted.

Shibley also posted his correspondence with the Post reporter, Tyler Kingkade, who asked Shibley why FIRE “elected to disclose all the witnesses who participated in the adjudication?” Kingkade also included a vulgar reference to the female anatomy in quoting one of the harasser’s remarks to Shibley: “Any comment there?”

Not taking Kingkade’s bait, Shibley responded that the posted documents are public records: “The names of the accused and the accuser were redacted by the attorneys in the case and, so far as I know, have not become public.”

“It is very telling that the investigation report has apparently become an issue only after Occidental’s inexcusable contempt for due process in this case came under fire in the media, and particularly only hours after the operator of the Occidental Sexual Assault Coalition’s Twitter account tweeted at a large number of people yesterday (including you) in an obvious attempt to pressure the [Los Angeles] Times and reporter Teresa Watanabe not to publish a follow-up story on the case,” Shibley told Kingkade.

Watanabe’s June 7 story on male students accused of rape suing their schools for fair-hearing violations included an extensive recounting of the situation at Occidental.

Shibley also asked Kingkade to bring his readers “up to speed on what is happening and why,” since he hadn’t yet reported on the Occidental lawsuit. “I confess this omission surprised me, as you generally do a thorough job of reporting on campus sexual assault cases,” Shibley said.

Kingkade’s story was last updated on Wednesday at 10:59 p.m. It now includes a correction at the bottom: “Due to an editing error, this story previously suggested the confidential investigator’s report was submitted to the court after FIRE’s publication. It was submitted to the court, and then published on FIRE’s website.”

via ‘Huffington Post’ Schooled By FIRE After It Says FIRE Exposed Rape Witnesses.

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