MALONE, N.Y. -- A county jury has found an older male student not guilty of raping a female student on the campus of Paul Smith’s College in northern New York two years ago.
Anthony Chandler, 35, of Saranac Lake, was charged with physically forcing his accuser to have sexual intercourse and oral sex. Chandler denied the accusations, saying the couple had consensual sex.
He was expelled from the small private college in the spring of 2018 on the basis of the woman’s accusations and a prompt inquiry by the school, a process Chandler’s attorney claimed lacked due process.
Both students testified at the three-day trial, which concluded Thursday at 10:30 a.m. An hour later, the jury returned its not guilty verdict.
The charges could have sent Chandler, an Army veteran, to prison for up to 50 years. His female accuser has not been publicly identified under a news media practice that protects the names of persons filing sexual assault complaints.
Greg LaDuke, Chandler’s attorney, said cross-examination of his accuser showed discrepancies in her trial testimony when compared with previous statements about details of the alleged sexual assault.
He also said a medical examination of the woman at the time “came back completely and thoroughly negative for any trauma.”
LaDuke was harshly critical of Smith’s College procedures for investigating sexual conduct, saying they amounted to a star chamber system that disregards the rights of the accused.
“You have no ability to defend yourself,” he said “You are considered not only guilty but evil upon accusation.”
Chief Assistant District Attorney David Hayes, who prosecuted the Chandler case, said he was disappointed with the verdict. But, he added, “it doesn’t change my position or my office’s position that we’ll continue to prosecute allegations of sexual assault arising out of campuses.”
Rising concern over campus sexual assaults in recent years has resulted in colleges speeding up the process for investigating and disciplining accused students.
The federal Education Department, under the administration of former President Barack Obama, issued guidelines providing more protections to accusers but which critics said denied due process rights to the accused.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos last month proposed new rules to rescind Obama-era policies to ensure what she calls a fairer process that requires schools to hold hearings on sexual misconduct complaints, and allows cross-examination of the accuser as well as the accused.
Details for this story were provided by the Plattsburgh, N.Y., Press-Repubican, and the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.