Last December, James Clark* was finishing his first semester as a sophomore at a prestigious New England liberal-arts college when he received an email saying the dean wanted to speak with him. On the phone, the dean informed him that a female classmate had reported Clark for sexual misconduct. An official process began. School investigators began conducting an inquiry into the incident, and a no-contact order was issued, requiring Clark to keep his distance from the accuser while dates for future interviews with the dean were scheduled. Clark was shocked — he’d thought what happened that night was consensual. As a transfer student, he was new on campus, but had made a few friends. They were supportive, but after that phone call, he was essentially alone. Just as their classmates were finishing finals and embarking on winter break, Clark and his accuser were caught in a narrative that would alter the course of their lives forever. From then on, they would be weighted down by the same albatross: She would be the woman who believes she was sexually assaulted, and he would be the man who believes he was falsely accused of assaulting her. [The Cut was unable to reach Clark’s accuser for comment.]
Clark immediately called his parents, and they were distraught. What do you do when your 18-year-old son is the accused in a campus sexual-assault case? The accuser had not reported to the police, so the case was being handled through the school’s system, which involved an investigation, a hearing, and, if found guilty, an academic punishment. James’s mother, Susan*, thought he needed a lawyer anyway. She began frantically reaching out to attorneys, desperate to find someone to represent Clark in his school’s sexual-misconduct hearing. Most lawyers the Clarks contacted weren’t interested in defending James — this wasn’t technically a legal case, and what would be the benefit to them, especially given the debates about campus sexual assault raging? But after several phone calls, they found their man: Andrew T. Miltenberg, a New York–based business litigation attorney who had begun to make a name for himself defending young men whom some consider indefensible.
“I remember it was New Year’s Eve. He called us back and we talked about it and he said, ‘I think I can help you,’” Susan tells me. “I said to my husband, ‘I think this man is going to work very hard for our son.’”
Miltenberg is an advocate and resource for some of the thousands of male students who are accused of sexual misconduct on college campuses every year. The process at most schools involves a hearing or hearings where both the accused and the accuser are allowed to have an advocate attend to make sure their best interests are served. Miltenberg has acted as an adviser for over 60 students in college hearings, and he’s currently representing male students in a number of civil lawsuits filed against universities where they feel they were mistreated.