Students at the University of Southern California (USC) are calling for tenured Prof. James Moore to be fired after he wrote, “accusers sometimes lie” in an email to all students in the Price School of Public Policy on Sept. 27, according to USC’s student paper, the Daily Trojan.
“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. “Accusers sometimes lie.”
Moore sent the email after receiving an invitation to “Coffee and Title IX,” an event organized by Price Women and Allies (PWA) that was intended to “inform students on the details of Title IX” and start a discussion about sexual violence on college campuses, according to the Daily Trojan.
The PWA email urged students and faculty to “believe survivors.”
According to PJ Media, Moore’s email led to a chain of “hundreds” of emails “from concerned students and alumni,” and resulted in a rally of “nearly 100 students” on Oct. 1 at the USC Argue Plaza, called “Times Up for James Moore.”
After sharing their stories of sexual assault, students marched to the office of Dean Jack Knott and demanded to speak with him, but were not allowed in the building.
Instead, Knott met the students outside the building to respond to their concerns, denouncing Moore’s words as “extremely inappropriate, hurtful, insensitive.”
“What [Professor Moore] sent was extremely inappropriate, hurtful, insensitive. We are going to try to do everything we can to try to create a better school, to educate the faculty,” Knott said.
According to the Daily Trojan, the rally was organized by students Joelle Montier and Audrey Mechling. Montier referred to Moore as a “rape enabler.”
“Rapists must be held accountable for their actions,” she said in a speech at the rally. “Rape enablers, like Professor Moore, must be held accountable for their actions.”
Moore, who watched the rally, took issue with the students’ request that he be fired, arguing that it undermined the university’s ability to have a “discourse” with different “points of view.”
“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 said.
“My primary objective was protecting the interests of folks who might be falsely accused of misconduct,” he added. “My goal was protecting students, not traumatizing or bullying them.”
The controversy comes on the heels of the contentious Supreme Court confirmation process of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused by California Prof. Christine Blasey Ford of sexual assault and who consistently denied the allegation.
Both Ford and Kavanaugh testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee before the Saturday vote on his confirmation, sparking a heated nationwide debate about sexual assault and whether to automatically believe accusers in the absence of evidence.