In recent years, the media have been reporting often about the problem of sexual abuse on college campuses. Everyone seems to agree that it’s a problem, but everyone — college administrators, police, government agencies and media reporters — seems to have a hard time figuring out what to do about it. In all the confusion, some people accused of rape and other sex crimes are going without real punishment and others are being wrongfully punished.

One way that college administrators have tried to tackle the problem is through education on consent. At least one state has gone so far as to require that high school students learn about consent, and that a person who is unconscious or drunk cannot legally consent to sexual activity. Some colleges have gone so far as to require affirmative consent before touching or kissing, meaning that a partner must state his or her permission before each new act.

These policies have their advantages, but they can also lead to confusion and injustice. One student at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga was expelled last year after a woman accused him of sexual assault. Administrators said he could not prove that he had obtained affirmative consent from the woman. The student took that decision to court, where a judge ruled that the administration’s decision was unfair and arbitrary.

In this heated atmosphere, it’s important to remember that college students who are accused of rape and other sex crimes must be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Everyone accused of a crime deserves a defense. An experienced defense attorney can help protect the accused from the excesses of aggressive prosecution.

Source: New York Times, “Sex Ed Lesson: ‘Yes Means Yes,’ but It’s Tricky,” Jennifer Medina, Oct. 14, 2015