An autistic man attending classes at a local college has been kicked out of school and accused of sexual assault after mistakenly hugging and kissing a woman he did not know.
Brian Ferguson, 20, was attending special needs classes at the Waxahachie, Texas campus of Navarro College when he spotted a woman he thought he recognized. He walked up behind her and gave her a hug and kiss on the head.
According to his mother, Staci Martin, that’s simply how Ferguson greets friends.
“He’s 6’5″, so when he gives hugs, he’ll give you a big hug and kiss you right here on the top of your scalp,” she told a Dallas NBC affiliate.
Nonetheless, the female student reported the incident to school officials, who responded by banning Ferguson from campus.
“He cried the whole next day,” Martin said. “He got up for school, waited for the bus. I told him it wasn’t coming.”
Not only was Ferguson banned, but his mother says that school officials accused him of sexual assault.
“They labeled it ‘sexual assault’ because of the kissing,” said Martin. “They said a kiss is considered an assault.”
Navarro College has said little about the case thus far, issuing only a short statement saying that enrollment in its special needs programs is determined by local school districts. It has said nothing about Ferguson’s individual case.
Hans Bader, a senior attorney at the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, said the reaction is a sign of a broader campus hysteria over sexual assault. Recently, the Obama administration investigated dozens of schools for allegedly violating Title IX by insufficiently responding to sexual assault. Activists have pushed for aggressive “affirmative consent” standards that require explicit prior permission any sexual act, including touching and kissing.
“[This illustrates] how the ever-expanding definition of “sexual assault” on some college campus apparently reaches well-meaning conduct that is not sexually-motivated at all and does not even involve intimate areas of the body, much less sex,” said Bader. “Sexual assault policies and laws should protect people from violence and unwanted intimate invasions, not relatively harmless activities that simply lack advance authorization.”
Martin says her son is now taking classes back at Waxahachie High School, but wants to return to college someday.
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