Two former University of Houston students are suing the school claiming they were denied due process after being expelled following an investigation in connection with an alleged sexual assault on campus.
In November 2011, Ryan McConnell's girlfriend Natalie Plummer recorded video of him cheating on her with another female student. Both McConnell and the other student were heavily intoxicated. Plummer led the student to an elevator, where she was later found by other students, at which point campus police were called. UH police and prosecutors initially determined there wasn't enough evidence of a crime. Three months later, the student filed a complaint with the university, believing she was a victim of a sexual assault, triggering an investigation which ultimately led to McConnell and Plummer's expulsion. As the Houston Chronicle's Benjamin Wermund has been reporting this week, the suit alleges university administration denied the two the opportunity to cross examine witnesses, or call witnesses of their own, and that they didn't have access to some evidence used by the university.
The events in question took place during a period commonly referred to as the "red zone" – the period between Labor Day and Thanksgiving when colleges see an increase in the number of sexual assaults. We discuss why sexual assaults seem to be more prevalent during this time of the year, and what Houston-area colleges are doing to curb the trend. We welcome your questions for Renee Gilespy, Manager of Violence Prevention and Community Education for the Houston Area Women's Center.