SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — A San Jose State University student who claims she was a victim of a sexual battery spoke out against the college’s new policy Wednesday that brings sexual misconduct victims face-to-face with their alleged abusers.
Vinka Radich said she was groped by a man in the college’s library more than a year ago then had to decide whether to identify the man from afar or just steps away.
“I was in such shock about it,” Radich said. “I didn’t want to.”
She said the incident continues to haunt her.
Now she’s learning California State University, including San Jose State, has revised its sexual misconduct policy. Students who are accused of sexual misconduct will now have a right to a live hearing, which involves a hearing officer questioning the alleged victim and witnesses in front of the accused attacker.
The hearings would take place in cases where the credibility of the parties is central to the case, San Jose State explained in a campus-wide email Tuesday. Students could opt out of a live hearing and try to resolve the matter with the other party or the hearing could move forward, but without their testimony.
The change in policy comes after a southern California judge ruled earlier this year that students who face expulsion and suspension have a right to cross examine the person accusing him or her.
“There are arguments on both sides of this that have merit; on one side the accused says for once I get due process,” retired Superior Court Judge LaDoris Cordell said. “But on the other side, there is the victim who is saying if we go this route I’m again going to be traumatized.”
A victim advocate from Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse in San Mateo told KPIX 5 in a statement,”It is another example of an attempt to replicate the Criminal Justice System, which inevitably keeps sexual assault and rape victims silent…”
Radich agrees that the policy would likely prevent sexual misconduct victims from coming forward. Although the suspect in her case wasn’t a student, she said even she feared coming face-to-face with him.
“It’s traumatizing and daunting and I can’t imagine if this situation were worse, especially a rape case, having to be face-to-face with that person,” said Radich.
She said although the incident lasted just a few seconds, it’s changed her, possibly forever.
“I always have his image in my head,” she said. “You wouldn’t think that someone grabbing you like that would be such a deal.”
San Jose State officials did not want to comment. The university plans to hold information sessions about the revised policy with students on April 9 and 17.