The Adam Lack Sexual Misconduct Case
A female Brown student went out partying one night and got drunk. Exactly
how drunk, no one knows. At any rate, she ended up in a friend's room at a
fraternity house on Wriston Quad. She felt sick, so she laid down on the
bed. In walks another fraternity member who was returning a CD. He sees
the girl laying on the bed, and he asks her if she wants a glass of water.
She says yes, and he gets one for her. They talk a little longer and
finally he decides to head back to his room. She gets off the bed and
follows him back to his room.
When they get there, she grabs him, kisses him, and starts taking his
clothes off. He doesn't stop her. Soon both are naked and fooling around
on the bed. She asks him to get a condom. He does. They have sex. They
talk for two or three hours afterward, then they fall asleep. They wake up
in the morning and she is a little fuzzy about the previous night. She
asked whether they had used a condom, and he tells her that they had. They
talk a little more, exchange phone numbers, and she goes back to her dorm.
Three weeks later, the man receives word that he is being brought up on
charges before the UDC. According to the girl, she had been too drunk to
give consent, therefore she was charging him with what amounts to date rape.
Despite testimony that she had initiated the sex, that she had been alert
and responsive throughout, that she had willingly exchanged phone numbers
the next morning, the UDC found the male student guilty and placed him on
probation. The case was reviewed by a Dean, who increased the punishment to
one semester suspension. The Provost then reviewed the case, reversed the
conviction, but judged the male student guilty of "flagrant disrespect", an offense
of which he had previously been found innocent.
This case eventually drew national attention. In January, 1997, "20/20" came to Brown University to
film a segment on Adam Lack's case.
This case highlights many problematic areas of our current Code of Student Conduct.
First, the Code of Student Conduct needs a more clear-cut definition of sexual misconduct, and with it, a more
lucid definition of consent. The current Code of Student Conduct insists that that sexual misconduct refers to any "mental
or physical incapacity or impairment of which the offending student was aware or should have been aware."
The phrase "should have been aware" is somewhat troubling, because it assumes that the offending student should have
an almost psychic awareness of another students state of physical incapacitation.
A second problem that was highlighted by this case is the incredible discretionary power given
to the Dean of Student Life. The Dean of Student Life has the power to dramatically increase a student's sentence,
regardless of whatever findings the UDC comes to. The Brown ACLU does not endorse
the Dean of Student Life's power to arbitrarily increase a student's sentence, particularly in situations where such
an increase is not accompanied by dramatic new evidence or a powerful rationale.
Finally, this case is problematics in terms of double jeopardy (i.e., being tried twice for the same offense.) Adam Lack was initially found innocent of flagrant disrespect by the UDC, but was
later found guilty of this offense by the Provost. Although the Office of Student Life insists that it is opposed
to double jeopardy, the findings of this case are inconsistent with that idea.
For more information on this case, please contact John_Snyder@brown.edu