WILLIAMSPORT – Penn State has been sued for the third time by a student who challenges the method the university uses to judge complaints of sexual misconduct.
The basis of the lawsuit filed on Tuesday in the US Middle District Court UU It is the suspension of a student who had non-consensual sex with a student on the Altoona campus in 2016. The suspended student is identified as John Doe.
It is a practice of the university not to discuss the pending litigation, said Penn State spokeswoman Lisa M. Powers.
Judge Matthew W. Brann, who was assigned the new case, commented in one of the other lawsuits that the method used to judge complaints of sexual misconduct raises constitutional issues. But the judge did not order a change
Like the two previous lawsuits, this lawsuit questions the use of the research model by the university to determine if a student violated the Code of Conduct. An investigator compiles the facts and prepares a draft report that is presented to the parties for review and comments.
The final report is forwarded to a case manager who determines whether he reasonably supports a violation. If charges are issued, the parties have the right to meet with the case manager and send a written response.
If the defendant contests the charges, the matter is referred to a Title IX panel for a hearing that could result in sanctions ranging from suspension to expulsion.
In this case, a panel on April 20 suspended Doe during the semester next spring and banned it on the University Park campus until he completes an evaluation and any further recommended treatment provides a favorable evaluation.
His appeal was denied in May, but the University Park campus ban was replaced by several restraining orders
In the lawsuit, Penn State is accused of violating Doe's due process rights, since its policies limit the right of an accused student to be heard in disciplinary proceedings.
The lawsuit also states that the evidence did not support a finding of non-consensual sex.
Doe requests a court order to annul the finding of violation of the Code of Conduct, which exceeds its registration and reinstates it in good standing along with unspecified monetary damages.
The plaintiffs in all three cases claim that their due process rights have been violated because they are not allowed to confront their accuser and call witnesses.
Doe also argues that the panel that decides whether an infraction occurred must be independent of the Office of Student Conduct.
He was a 19-year-old student on the Altoona campus when the incident occurred, but was later transferred to University Park, where he was studying electrical engineering.
According to the lawsuit, the student and the woman, identified as Jane Roe, became friends in Altoona in the fall of 2015. The friendship became a sexual relationship in 2016, the lawsuit states.
The incident that led to Doe's suspension occurred on the night of November 12, 2016, in his apartment. The court's lawsuit gives Doe's version:
The student went to John Doe's room, where they had consensual sex, after which she states that he partially penetrated her anus against her wishes. Doe denies having anal sex.
The female student did not file a complaint with the Office of Student Conduct until September 12, 2017, 10 months later, although they had several text contacts in between, notes Doe.
The lawsuit accuses the investigator, Christopher Harris, of reopening his report in January after having submitted it to the Office of Student Conduct to make it more favorable to the student
The edited version removes information about the fact that the Woman has not answered Harris' questions, but includes her explanation of the discrepancies in the original, says Doe.
He was not given the opportunity to respond to the edited report or to send additional information, notes the court document.
A Title IX panel concluded that Doe violated the Code of Conduct by having non-consensual sex and by restricting the student for sexual purposes, but discovered that vaginal intercourse was consensual.
Doe notes that he was allowed to make a statement before the panel, but was not allowed to confront Roe or question witnesses.
Be First to Comment