More than a dozen new lawsuits have been filed against universities by students who allege they were discriminated against and denied due process in campus sexual misconduct proceedings, and even more complaints are in the works. There have also been a number of new rulings in the many ongoing accused-student lawsuits. Today, I’ll talk about two of this month’s decisions in which federal judges denied accused students’ requests for preliminary injunctions in their cases.
www.thefire.org By Samantha Harris
Title IX Lawsuits
Falsely accused are fighting back with Title IX and other lawsuits. Some wins, some losses.
For 23 years Tom Rossley was a member of the Drake Board of Trustees. Rossley is now suing Drake after his fellow trustees voted to remove him because of his defense of his son. Rossley’s son, who is identified only as John Doe in court documents, and who appears to be a victim of sexual assault, is also suing Drake for gender discrimination in a separate lawsuit filed late last year. What follows is a campus sexual assault investigation unlike any other, which has so many elements from other outrageous campus kangaroo-court fiascos it could have been written for an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Sadly, for Rossley and his son, this nightmare was not written by Hollywood; it is their current reality.
watchdog By Ashe Schow
There are fundamental deprivations of justice, and then there’s what happened to a male student at Drake University. The student, “John Doe,” was expelled for sexual misconduct-ostensibly because he engaged in nonconsensual sex with a female student, “Jane Doe.” In truth, John was punished for failing to realize quickly enough that he was actually the victim in the encounter. Drake officials still refuse to fix their mistakes.
reason.com By Robby Soave
An amended complaint filed in February against Yale et al, portrays a grim reality. Yale’s disciplinary procedures sanction abuse of power in the adjudication of charges of sexual misconduct. The conventional wisdom is that while public universities, as government actors, must comply with constitutional requirements, private universities operate under no such constraints. This is broadly correct. But under “state action” doctrine …“If government requires or induces a private party to engage in law enforcement, all relevant constitutional restraints apply.” This, Doe contends, is exactly what the Obama administration DoED did in April 2011 when it instructed universities, on pain of losing federal funding, to investigate, adjudicate, and punish all allegations of sexual assault. That is, although the government also demanded that universities shrink due process protections for the accused, by deputizing them to engage in law enforcement in addressing allegations of sexual misconduct, the administration in effect imposed on them an obligation to comply with constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. This lawsuit is very likely the first to test Rubenfield’s (Yale Law Prof. and Doe’s adviser) legal theory of “Privatization, State Action, and Title IX: Do Campus Sexual Assault Hearings Violate Due Process?”
realclearpolitics By Peter Berkowitz
A University of Chicago student suing the school over anti-male bias built into its sexual assault investigation system is continuing his lawsuit against the school, in which he is demanding $1.35 million, even though the school purportedly dropped its disciplinary action against him, and after he settled with a female student who allegedly triggered the disciplinary action by accusing him of sexual assault.
cookcountyrecord By Scott Holland
Drake University in Iowa has fired a trustee board member after expelling his disabled son, who alleged he was the victim of a rape by a female student. Both students filed complaints, but only the male was investigated. The son’s lawsuit alleges that both he and the female were intoxicated, and she initiated oral sex on him. It added that he wasn’t “in a state to be with her” and “not able to give consent that night.” Trustee Tom Rossley, who had been on Drake’s board for 23 years, accused the college of failing to accommodate his son’s “ADHD, anxiety, and language-based learning disabilities” and claimed that the female said “on the record” during a hearing that she indeed has initiated sex without the son’s consent. Rossley was told to stop complaining about the process and eventually was asked to step down from his position.
heatst By Lukas Mikelionis
Of all the campus cases since the Dear Colleague letter, the Amherst case is the worst. This case featured a student (JD) who not only could use his accuser’s own words to prove his innocence, but could demonstrate from the college’s own findings that he was, plausibly, a sexual assault victim—and yet the college culminated a biased process by expressing disinterest in his evidence. If Amherst could get this lawsuit dismissed, it would be hard to imagine any set of facts in which an accused student could be certain of prevailing. On Tuesday, however, Judge Mark Mastroianni, an Obama appointee, allowed the lawsuit to proceed. There’s little reason to believe that Mastroianni was eager to make this decision. This is a judge who didn’t appear ideologically inclined to side with the accused student. (In a case at UMass, he sided with the university, despite ample grounds for doubting UMass’ fairness)
Farrer didn’t want to have sex with her. He had been taught in his ROTC program that “drunk people aren’t supposed to sleep together,” and while he didn’t think either was drunk, he wanted to play it safe. Zerfoss, “seemed fully cognizant,” she wasn’t slurring her words or fumbling, and she was insistent that they have sex. “She kept calling my name,” grabbing his hands and putting them on her body. When Farrer tried to spurn her advances by making small talk she rejected. “Eventually, I gave in.” The following week, Farrer was told that a female student had filed a sexual-assault allegation against him with the Title IX office. In spite of a police investigation that found “inconclusive evidence” and numerous inconsistencies in his accuser’s story, Farrer was still ruled responsible for sexual assault and expelled by Indiana University-Bloomington. “If you’re a male and you’re accused, you’re guilty until proven innocent,” Farrer said.
thecollegefix By Toni Airaksinen
Barbara Snyder, President of Case Western Reserve University is being sued along with The Board of Trustees, and staff for not following the University’s own disciplinary guidelines, for male discrimination and for refusing John Doe to review witness testimony prior to his disciplinary hearing. “Without receiving a notice of investigation, a discussion of his rights and responsibilities or the CWRU policies and procedures, and without an advisor or support person to accompany him, John Doe was blindsided when he arrived to attend a mandatory meeting with the CWRU Title IX investigator,” Doe says from the outset, he was presumed guilty. Case Western Reserve University suspended him for three years and kicked him out of his dorm based on false allegations of sexual assault with his then-girlfriend that were not supported by factual evidence.
courthousenews By Kevin Koeninger
A lawsuit against Williams was delayed until the accused student exhausted his appeals at the college.The result is an amended complaint which raises four new areas of concern with how Williams handled this case: (1) Credibility issues don’t matter, at least when the accuser’s credibility is in question. (2) Playing fast and loose with sexual assault definitions. (3) Limiting information. (4) Reports from a Williams whistleblower don’t inspire confidence.