Student protesters are demanding that a long-time USC professor be fired after he said that “accusers sometimes lie” in an email that went campus-wide.
What’s the email all about?
USC professor James Moore, who has been teaching at the university since 1988, expressed his belief that sexual assault accusers sometimes, in fact, do lie.
Moore’s made the statement in a response to an email invitation to a Title IX-related campus event. The event, “Coffee and Title IX,” which was organized by Price Women and Allies, was designed to encourage people to believe all women who say they are survivors of sexual assault, according to the Daily Trojan. The invitation highlighted Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh as an example.
Moore’s response — which went to the entire Price School of Public Policy — read, “If the day comes you are accused of some crime or tort of which you are not guilty, and you find your peers automatically believing your accuser, I expect you find yourself a stronger proponent of due process protections than you are now,” Moore wrote, according to the paper.
“Accusers sometimes lie,” he added.
What about the protesters?
Now students are demanding that the school terminate Moore over the email.
Joelle Montier and Audrey Mechling rallied approximately 30 students on Monday in demand that the university fire Moore. Montier told the gathering of students marching to the school’s Lewis Hall that Moore is a “rape enabler” and needed to be fired immediately.
“To be clear, I take no joy in standing here and sharing my most painful memory with the world, but I refuse to stand by and let another human being go through what I went through,” Montier said. “Rapists must be held accountable for their actions. Rape enablers, like Professor Moore, must be held accountable for their actions.”
Mechling later added that she believed Moore to be a “pitiful excuse of a professor” whose email “broke her.”
Did school officials respond?
The group marched to confront the school’s dean with their demand.
Jack Knott, the dean of Price School of Public Policy, even called Moore’s email “insensitive and incendiary.”
He added that Moore’s email response “is not a question of free speech.”
“The statement made — that accusers lie — in my opinion showed a lack of sensitivity to the current climate, here at the [u]niversity and in communities across the country,” Knott said. “The issue here is not a question of free speech, but a question of respect for the students and other members of the Price School community.”
Knott also met with protesters and promised that he would improve the school’s apparent bias.
“Thank you for making this a very important issue, highlighting this and taking the time,” Knott said, according to the publication. “I’ve had literally hundreds of emails from all kinds of people telling their stories, and I want to hear those stories.”
He added, “I take all of this very seriously.”
Did Moore respond to all of this?
Moore told the outlet that he didn’t think the rally’s aim to have him fired wasn’t very well considered.
“The whole point of a university is that it’s a place for points of view and discourse, and if they happen to disagree, the way to respond is to engage rather than terminate the source of the information that you disagree with,” Moore reasoned.
He added, “My primary objective was protecting the interests of folks who might be falsely accused of misconduct. My goal was protecting students, not traumatizing or bullying them.”
Moore also said, “I’m a little concerned about the direction that our [Title IX] procedures might go. The prospect of automatically believing every accusation just seems to be an untenable way to approach adjudication in these cases.”
It is unclear at the time of this writing whether Moore will face any disciplinary action.