GRAND FORKS, ND – Nearly two years have gone by since University of North Dakota student Caleb Warner was accused of rape and expelled by the school, but now he’s attending classes again in Grand Forks. Warner had been expelled by UND after another student accused him of rape, but after an investigation law enforcement officials cleared Warner of wrong doing and charged his accuser instead for making false allegations.
But despite being cleared of the charges Warner was unable to get his expulsion overturned and turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education to represent his case.
“Using a shamefully low standard of evidence, the University of North Dakota branded Caleb Warner a criminal. Meanwhile, based on the very same evidence, law enforcement officials charged Warner’s accuser with lying to them and issued a warrant for her arrest,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff in a statement posted on the group’s website. “Cases like this vividly demonstrate the need for due process and fair procedure on campus, as well as a renewed recognition that fundamental rights are important for both victims and the accused.”
In July of 2010, after an arrest warrant was issued for his accuser, Warner’s attorney sent a letter to UND officials requesting to be reinstated on the university. In August of 2010 UND denied his request. FIRE got involved with the case in March of 2011, and last week UND vacated the expulsion.
“[B]ased on the specific fact of a law enforcement office filing an affadavit of belief that the complainant had provided false information to him” about the sexual assault accusation a “continued finding of a violation of the [UND Student] Code is not substantiated,” stated a ruling issued by UND Provost Paul LeBel dated October 11th.
During his expulsion Warner had been driving a delivery truck to support himself.
“Sexual assault is one of the most serious crimes, and those found guilty carry an enormous stigma,” FIRE’s Senior Vice President Robert Shibley said. “Finding someone guilty of sexual assault should therefore require serious evidence and procedural protections. Otherwise, people will lose confidence in the system, with grave consequences for victims and the accused alike.
“FIRE hopes that Caleb Warner’s case provides a cautionary tale to other colleges to make sure their prosecution procedures are as fair and accurate as possible.”