Category Archive 'Patrick Witt'

06 Feb 2012

Times’ Sex Smear of Yale Quarterback Provoked Wide Criticism

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An earlier witch trial

K.C. Johnson, at Minding the Campus, devastatingly criticized the New York Times story.

When Times readers learned from Richard Perez-Pena that “a fellow student had accused Witt of sexual assault,” how many of them realized that Yale was actually using an “expansive definition” of this otherwise commonly-understood term? How many readers further realized that Yale had designed the procedure about which Perez-Pena wrote so as to give Witt’s accuser “control over the process,” including limited or no investigation? And how many readers could have dreamed that the procedures guiding the allegation against Witt have produced the extraordinary claim that sexual assault is far, far more common on this Ivy League campus than in the fourth most dangerous city in the country? And since the Times went to print without ever speaking to Witt or (it seems) anyone sympathetic to him in the Athletic Department, didn’t the paper at the very least have an obligation to provide the context that would explain the highly unusual procedures and definitions that Yale features?

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Patrick Witt’s response to the Times’ story.

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Kathleen Parker, in the Washington Post, put the New York Times’s reporting standards on trial.

A  New York Times story on Friday… essentially indicted and convicted a 22-year-old star football player on an alleged sexual assault charge by an anonymous accuser. …

[W]ith throat-clearing authority, the story begins with the young man’s name — Patrick J. Witt, Yale University’s former quarterback — and his announcement last fall that he was withdrawing his Rhodes scholarship application so that he could play against Harvard. The game was scheduled the same day as the scholarship interview.

Next we are told that he actually had withdrawn his application for the scholarship after the Rhodes Trust had learned “through unofficial channels that a fellow student had accused Witt of sexual assault.” And there goes the gavel. Case closed.

But in fact, no one seems to know much of anything, and no one in an official capacity is talking. The only people advancing this devastating and sordid tale are “a half-dozen [anonymous] people with knowledge of all or part of the story.” All or part? Which part? As in, “Heard any good gossip lately?”

A statement Friday afternoon on Witt’s behalf denied any connection between his withdrawal from the Rhodes application process and the alleged assault. Moreover, when Witt requested a formal inquiry into the allegations, he says, the university declined. “No formal complaint was filed, no written statement was taken from anyone involved, and his request . . . for a formal inquiry was denied because, he was told, there was nothing to defend against,” according to the statement.

The Times apparently didn’t know these facts, but shouldn’t it have known them before publishing the story? It’s not until the 11th paragraph that readers even learn about the half-dozen anonymous sources. Not until the 14th paragraph does the Times tell us that “many aspects of the situation remain unknown, including some details of the allegation against Witt; how he responded; how it was resolved; and whether Yale officials who handle Rhodes applications — including Richard C. Levin, the university’s president, who signed Witt’s endorsement letter — knew of the complaint.”

Translation: We don’t know anything, but we’re smearing this guy anyway. …

By anyone’s understanding of fairness, Witt has been unjustly condemned by nameless accusers and a complicit press.

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Reuters pointed out that the Times’ own commenters overwhelmingly condemned the newspaper’s decision to print that story.

The Times has already published a follow-up story that noted “diverging stories,” but only after comments and writers began questioning the Times’ editors and the paper’s editorial process.

The simplest summation of that criticism came from a commenter named ‘mystery shopper’ who posted that running the story was “a horrible editorial decision. Ethics classes in schools of journalism around the country will use this story as an example of an ill-advised story.”

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Instapundit readers also reacted:

Reader John Lucas writes: “A red light violator facing a $50 fine gets more due process than a student at Yale (or most other universities) now.”

Reader Dave Ivers writes: “I’ve wondered what would happen if every male athlete at Yale looked around a classroom and noticed a young woman looking at them and than filed an ‘informal’ complaint. Under the Yale rules that ‘looking’ at well-built athletes could be a sexual crime. Since the athletes don’t know for sure, shouldn’t they file to protect themselves and then get victim status?”

05 Feb 2012

Yale Witch Hunting Gets Covered By the Times

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Patrick Witt

The original story seemed straight out of Owen Johnson or Burt L. Standish‘s school stories: Yale’s record-breaking quarterback forced to choose between the interview that could win him a Rhodes Scholarship and playing for Yale against Harvard in The Game, turns his back on dreams of Oxford and dons his uniform to take the field for dear old Yale.

The denouement in which Harvard proceeded to crush the Bulldogs 45-7 seemed a sufficiently inglorious return to ordinary reality, but the Kindly Ones were not finished with Patrick Witt and Yale.

The New York Slimes, last week, published a story based on information from anonymous sources (apparently from within the administration of Yale itself), flagrantly violating that institution’s confidentiality policies, alleging that Witt’s Rhodes application had been compromised by an “informal” sexual assault charge made against Witt in September by another student. The article went on to detail a couple of minor brushes with the law on the Yale senior’s record, hinting darkly at a pattern of criminality on the part of the Yale senior.

The New York Times’ decision to destroy a college senior’s personal reputation by elevating an anonymous allegation, unsupported by any evidence and purveyed by a secondary layer of anonymous sources, to national news provoked both astonishment from ESPN and well-deserved indignation from the Wall Street Journal.

What the Times’ smear article really represents is a shocking case of toxic spillover from the radical left-wing head of the Obama Administration’s Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR), Russlyn Ali‘s personal campaign to reinvigorate Title IX Anti-Discrimination enforcement on American campuses.

Her approach amounted to nothing less than arm-twisting university administrations to participate in a federally-required witch hunt against “sexual harassment,” with sexual harassment defined in the broadest possible terms to include “verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct” in any fashion connected with sex which is “unwelcome” to someone or anyone, and asserting that harassing conduct in general may create “a hostile environment” anytime the conduct is deemed “sufficiently serious” as to interfere with some student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the school’s program.

Russlyn Ali’s notorious “Dear Colleague” letter of 4 April 2011 essentially mandates new grievance procedures, processes, and tribunals, specifically reduces standards of proof, and threatens “appropriate remedies” for noncompliance including both withdrawal of all forms of federal funding and assistance and lawsuits by the Justice Department.

The Obama Administration’s Education Department mandates on-campus inquisitions into a supposititious pattern of nation-wide victimization of female students by sexual harassment and assault. Patrick Witt, a white male member of Yale’s Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, ideally fits the favored profile stereotype of male harassers and assaulters. These days, a politically incorrect smart remark or an unwelcome date request can be construed as a punishable offense. Who knows who accused Witt of exactly what or why? We can, I think, tell that the charge did not rise to what we usually think of as a crime since no police complaint was made. He hasn’t been arrested or charged with any crime. The assault the Times reported was clearly one of the notional assaults prosecutable only in the kind of jurisdictions, like our university campuses, successfully annexed by the radical left, where justice consists of whatever Russlyn Ali says it is.


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