Wolfgang Ballinger '17, a former student and fraternity president at Cornell, was sentenced on Tuesday after pleading guilty to a sex offense.

Wolfgang Ballinger '17, a former student and fraternity president at Cornell, was sentenced on Tuesday after pleading guilty to a sex offense.

May 13, 2016

Ballinger ’17 Files Suit Claiming University Assault Investigations Are ‘Flawed’

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Wolfgang Ballinger ’17 — who was charged with assaulting a female student in his room at the Psi Upsilon fraternity on Jan. 31 — has filed a civil suit against Cornell claiming that the University’s investigations do not comply with state guidelines, according to court documents obtained by The Sun.

The Tompkins County Supreme Court granted Ballinger a temporary restraining order on Monday that prevents Cornell from adjudicating claims until June 30, when the court will review his petition.

Ballinger’s suit alleges that Cornell’s sexual assault investigation processes are currently in violation of New York State Education Law — which requires, among other things, that defendants be able to present evidence and testify at a hearing — the documents say.

Under current policies, an investigator collects evidence from the witnesses, complainant and accused and presents a report to a review panel, according to the court documents.

The University is in the process of revising its policies and an updated version will be put into use on Aug. 31, documents say.

Ballinger, a junior in the School of Hotel Administration and Psi Upsilon’s president, was charged with first-degree attempted rape, first-degree criminal act and first-degree sexual abuse on Feb. 5. He pled not guilty to all counts on Feb. 6.

The University placed the fraternity on interim suspension Feb. 1, in connection with the incident, and has not yet released a statement lifting the suspension.

Cornell’s media relations department has said that the University has no information to share on the case at this time.

Madeline Cohen ’18 contributed reporting to this article.

  • And Justice For All

    It’s about time these kangaroo courts got some push back. Regardless of whether he’s guilty or not (remember, we have zero to go on so far), these cases bear no resemblance to a credible criminal investigation or trial. If we all agree that this stuff is serious or important, why should the university deal with the case instead of the same channels an equivalent case committed by people unaffiliated with the university would go through. All it does is make a mockery of the criminal justice system.

  • Samantha

    You don’t realize how important dry-sounding things like “due process” are until you’re affected by the lack of them! Whether Ballinger himself is guilty or not, once you’re accused at Cornell and other universities, you’re assumed to be guilty. The standard is only 50%, and that’s met by the very fact of being accused.
    So whether Ballinger is guilty or not, he’s absolutely right about the process being flawed.

  • Jo

    Good for him. Its about time men complain. All men are considered guilty and punished with no due process or questioning of the other side.

  • Dan

    Mr. Ballinger has been charged in a court of law and will enjoy full due process with respect to those charges: first-degree attempted rape (C felony?), first-degree criminal sexual act (B felony) and first-degree sexual abuse (D felony) were made by the district attorney and he will be tried in the same court as anyone else in the county accused of these crimes. He is facing years in prison and is in a serious, real court.

    The Cornell process is completely separate and does not involve criminal charges. Cornell is trying to figure out if this fellow’s behavior violated any campus rules and if he should be allowed to remain on campus, etc.. Cornell can’t try people for crimes. Only a court of law can do that and a court downtown is doing just that. Cornell can boot one out for breaking Cornell rules, though.

    The criminal courts have their procedures on these charges pretty well set for now. But, given the number of times Cornell has changed its internal processes in these kind of matters several times in the last few years with uneven success, I’ll bet they are open to suggestions. This might be a good time to send proposals for a new system to Day Hall.

  • Caitlin Osmond

    This whole case strikes me as sketchy, considering the lack of detail (at least the stuff that’s been made public). I am a feminist who went to frat school in the early Oughties, and, as a feminist, young women need to take some responsibility for themselves. I’m not speaking to this case specifically ’cause I know nothing about it (’cause, from what I can tell, very little has been made public), but young women at binge-drinking frat schools should know how to protect themselves from your everyday fratty, feral predator. Don’t get so drunk, without any friends to check up on you, that you pass out at a frat house. Report rapes immediately, and to the proper authorities, and don’t undermine victims of sexual assault by carrying a mattress around New York City and making a porn-not-porn reenactment-not-reenactment of your rape-not-rape (I’m not saying it wasn’t a rape– the title of her “performance art” is “This is Not a Rape”). I went to a school known for sketchy frat-bros and binge-drinking in an era before this Title Whatever stuff was in the news 24/7; I had female friends who were emotionally and/or physically scarred by sexual violent, I knew a girl who was violently gang-raped by multiple members of a sports team, I had female friends who woke up unsure of what had happened, and I had male friends who were falsely accused. People are liars and assault people and lie about it and/or lie about being assaulted all the time… It’s not some dumb crap like “Ohhhh he didn’t wanna go steady so she said it was rape”– it’s, like, people are so intoxicated they don’t remember and sometimes they’re liars and drama kings/queens. Someone once accused me of poisoning her dog, for Pete’s sake; I’m the world’s biggest animal lover and would sooner poison myself. People are totally nuts and trial-by-slander is NOT the answer. I dunno what is, but, as in the Columbia case, the guy spent years of his life and buttloads of money trying to block Emma from her mattress-for-credit thesis, and the school never intervened on his behalf.

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