Last month, Patricia Hamill filed a lawsuit against the University of Notre Dame on behalf of “John Doe” alleging that Notre Dame unfairly expelled him just a few weeks before he was slated to take his last two finals and graduate. After filing his suit, Doe moved for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction permitting him to take his last two finals. Doe’s efforts were successful, and the court granted his preliminary injunction. Last week, Judge Simon ordered Notre Dame to administer Doe’s last two finals, minimizing the disruption to Doe’s education should his suit succeed. While Doe raised several claims in his complaint, the opinion only discusses Doe’s breach of contract claim. While the entire opinion is worth a read, particularly for due process litigators, I’d like to focus on two particular issues: the right to active counsel and a plaintiff’s choice of remedies.
thefire.org By Brynne Madway
Due Process Rights
Articles relating to due process rights for our College boys
Two Michigan State University students ‘Nathan and Melanie’ began a consensual sexual tryst in the backseat of a car in 2014. A passerby interrupted them, and Melanie revealed that the incident brought up unpleasant memories of a previous abusive relationship. Later that night Nathan tried to resume the encounter, but stopped after she rejected him. Sixteen months later, Melanie who now identifies as a man – made a formal complaint to MSU officials for the “one-time, non-consensual touching.” Melanie cited being transgender as a key reason for coming forward, and claimed to fear encountering her ex-lover in the male bathrooms…“The so-called sexual harassment is not really sexual harassment. The breast touch occurred in the summer, off campus, the school was not in session, it had nothing to do with the school – Title IX does not require you to take cases when they don’t involve the school.” Deborah Gordon, Nathan’s attorney
foxnews.com By Hollie McKay
A former student is suing Vanderbilt university alleging he was wrongfully expelled three days before his planned graduation a year ago. The plaintiff “Z.J.” alleges that Vanderbilt officials violated his rights of due process and equal protection after he was accused of sexual assault by a female student. The university’s investigation found Z.J. at fault and expelled him; an internal appeals board upheld the findings and expulsion. ZJ’s lawsuit claims the investigation was biased, that the alleged victim’s testimony was inconsistent, and that the spotlight on the administration following the much-publicized rape trials might have affected the university’s decision to expel him. ZJ is seeking $10 million in damages, in addition to an expungement of the assault, an admission of fault by the school and a conferring of the plaintiff’s degree.
nashvillescene.com By Cari Wade Gervin
He’s innocent…Following a day long trial, a jury took thirty minutes to acquit Zimbabwean student Ezra Zigarwi who had been accused of rape and aggravated sexual battery by a fellow female student. The following month, Zigarwi also was cleared at an on-campus sexual misconduct hearing and he has since re-enrolled at the school. That same month he filed suit against the female who wrongly accused him. Zigarwi’s suit alleges that after his acquittal, his accuser intentionally published false statements about him on social media and in an online petition. He also seeks to restrict the defendant from making statements about her allegations, and asks that she be forced to remove any online statements or posts about it. In an amended complaint filed Tuesday Zigarwi’s suit claims defamation and negligence and asks for $500,000 in damages.
roanoke.com By Neil Harvey
A former Indiana University of Pennsylvania student who was acquitted in separate trials last year of rape, alleged in a federal lawsuit that his expulsion by the school’s disciplinary board violated his constitutional right to due process. Jose Aponte, 24, of Philadelphia seeks unspecified civil damages against the university and IUP officials. The lawsuit alleges that Aponte’s Hispanic heritage contributed to his treatment and resulted in a “smear campaign” against him. “Aponte was deemed guilty from the moment of his arrest, and the stories of his accusers were taken as gospel because of their sex and prevailing stereotypes, even though the accusations made against Aponte were not true. The (disciplinary) hearing was simply a formality…by virtue of this suspension, Aponte was barred from finishing his finals and attending graduation.” He is asking the court to order IUP to confer upon him a Bachelor of Science in criminology.
triblive.com By Paul Pierce
College settlements with the wrongly accused take place more than you know. But 95% of the time settlement terms demand confidentiality, and insist that counsel remain silent. Luckily this is not the situation with Lynn… Lynn University decided not to take its chances with a jury after a federal judge gave the green light to a lawsuit against it by a student accused of rape. One day ahead of a scheduled hearing on Lynn’s motion for summary judgment, the university reached a confidential settlement with Doe according to his lawyer Angel Castillo.
thecollegefix.com By Kaitlynn Critchfield
In recent years, critics of the Obama administration’s approach to sexual assault reporting have charged that colleges are denying the rights of the accused. Two lawsuits – one involving Thomas Klocke an accused student who committed suicide, and another about a Cornell student’s attempt – have added fire to the continued debate over how colleges handle complaints of sexual assault. These two cases have been held up as examples of a flawed system that some say should require colleges to rely on a higher standard of evidence in investigating and punishing students for sexual assault.
insidehighered.com By Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
The results of Doe’s polygraph test, in which he truthfully answered as follows: Did [Roe] take her own pants off for sex? Yes. Did you in any way force [Roe] to have sex of any kind? No. Did [Roe] in any way object to engaging in any sex act with you? No…Athletic Trainers such as Roe were prohibited by Dayton from engaging in sexual contact with student athletes. Roe discussed this rule with Doe and explained how she did not honor Dayton’s rule prohibiting Athletic Trainers from engaging in sexual contact with student athletes because she believed she could “hook up with whoever [she] want[ed] to.” Roe had legitimate concerns that she might lose her job as a Dayton trainer because she had violated Dayton’s rule by engaging in [consensual] sexual intercourse with a male student athlete…Dayton and Swinton ignored overwhelming evidence of Doe’s innocence in favor of conducting a gender-biased investigation in violation of Dayton Policies to establish Dayton’s pre-determined goal of finding male students like Doe guilty of misconduct.
Since 2011 more than 150 lawsuits have been filed against colleges and universities involving claims of due-process violations during the course of Title IX investigations and proceedings related to sex-assault allegations. For the young men who file the suits, the civil courts offer a last chance for justice and an opportunity to clear their names. “One day all of your dreams are in front of you and you’re on a path and a trajectory for you to achieve those dreams – only then for it to be yanked from you, totally out of your control,” Grant Neal said. “Basically, every day is a struggle to continue to go on and go forward,” but Neal said he is resolved to continue. “I’m willing to fight to the end and do whatever it takes to seek justice,” he said. “I have nothing to hide. I have no shame.”
washingtonpost.com By T. Rees Shapiro Innocent Accused Grant Neal’s Lawsuit Against DoED
San Diego State University has agreed to pay $10,000 and take other steps to settle a lawsuit filed by a former student who said he was suspended and wrongly accused of sexual assault. Besides the monetary award, the settlement states three employees would be sent to a Civil Rights Investigator Training and Certification course. Attorney Lombardo, who represented Sousa in his first lawsuit against SDSU, said the request for training was an attempt to prevent others from being wrongly accused. “If they’re going to identify an offender, they need to do it in a measured, thoughtful and methodical way,” he said. Sousa said he did not seek a large monetary settlement because he did not want taxpayers burdened with the cost. “No amount of money can compensate for what I went through,” he said. “My main objective was to vindicate my name.”