Database: Lawsuits Against Colleges and Universities Alleging Due Process and Other Violations in Adjudicating Sexual Assault

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On April 4, 2011 the Department of Education issued its disastrous “Dear Colleague” letter to colleges and universities across the United States, requiring administrators who had neither the investigative nor prosecutorial prowess of the criminal justice system to determine the guilt and innocence of students accused of felony sexual assault, and to reach their conclusions independent of whatever the police and courts decide.

Worse – the Department of Education demanded these schools determine guilt via a radically low standard of evidence for sex-assault cases: the “preponderance of evidence” standard. Under this model if an administrator feels that there might be a 50.01% chance that the alleged crime occurred, he/she must find the student guilty (“responsible”) for sexual assault. This is further complicated by the lack of numerous other procedural safeguards and methods of evidentiary examination.

Predictably, a wave of lawsuits soon erupted as young men wrongly accused of sex crimes found themselves hustled through a vague and misshapen adjudication process with slipshod checks and balances and Kafkaesque standards of evidence. This page is dedicated to cataloging their legal challenges against schools which – they allege – have violated their rights to due process, unjustly destroyed their names, deprived them of educational opportunities, and committed various other injustices against them in the name of “just following orders.”

This database exists as a public service to victims, their families, attorneys, advocates, journalists, scholars, and concerned citizens. It maintains records of due process and similar violations concerning sexual assault cases in particular, not sexual misconduct in general. Thus sexual harassment cases will not be included in the database at this time. AVFMS is maintaining unpublished records of such cases, however, in the event that the database will be expanded.

Note: this database is sorted alphabetically by state, but can be resorted by clicking on the column headers. Feel free to also use the search bar on the right. Click previous/next at the bottom to move between pages.
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The Database: 63 Cases, Updated 3/20/15

StateSchoolDate FiledPlaintiffPlaintiff's Attorney(s)Legal File(s)Case SummaryOutcome
StateSchoolDate FiledPlaintiffPlaintiff's Attorney(s)Legal File(s)Case SummaryOutcome
CaliforniaOccidental College2014-2-19John DoeThe Law Firm of J. Werksman & Associates.
Attorneys: Mark Werksman, Mark Hathaway
(1) Complaint, part I; (2) Complaint, part II (includes screenshots of text messages between accuser / accused)

Order granting stay of administrative sanctions

Petitioner's reply to Occidental College's response to the Court's OSC re contempt
Story at Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).Pending
CaliforniaOccidental College2014-8-20John DoeAlec Rose, PCPetition for writ of administrative mandate; verification; exhibitsPending.
CaliforniaUniversity of Southern California2014 (early year)John DoeScheper Kim & Harris, LLP
Attorneys: David Scheper, Marc Harris, Amos Lowder
Petition for writ of mandate; immediate stay requested of respondent's March 24, 2014 decision and all sanctions imposed against petitionerPending.
CaliforniaUniversity of Southern California2014 (late year)John DoeThe Law Firm of J. Werksman & Associates.
Attorneys: Mark Werksman, Mark Hathaway
Ex parte application for stay of administrative sanctions; memorandum; declaration re notice; declaration of John Doe; exhibits

Petition for writ of administrative mandate; verification; exhibits
ColoradoUniversity of Colorado-Boulder2014-11-7John DoeNesenoff & Miltenberg, LLP.
Attorney: Andrew T. Miltenberg
ComplaintStory in The Albuquerque JournalCase settled; read more in The Chronicle of Higher Education
ColoradoWestern State Colorado University2013-10-8Keifer JohnsonStross Legal.
Attorney: Gregory Robert Stross
See documents at Justia.comRead the case summary by Cynthia Garrett at NCFM-CarolinasPending
ConnecticutWesleyan University2014-11-20John DoeNesenoff & Miltenberg, LLP.
Attorney: Andrew T. Miltenberg
DelawareDelaware State University2013Andre L. HenryThe Norman Law Firm.

Attorney: Daniel C. Herr
Story in Delaware Online.Pending
FloridaMiami University2014-9-3Matthew SahmRichard Vande Ryt
Attorney: Richard Vande Ryt

Fox & Scott, PLLC
Attorney: Bradley Fox

Order granting in part and denying in part motion to dismiss, filed 2015-1-7.
Refer to legal documents for story.2015-1: Nearly all of the plaintiff's claims were dismissed, with leave to replead the Title IX claim.
GeorgiaAgnes Scott CollegeAmanda HartleyBell Law Firm.
Attorney: Lloyd Bell
Appellant brief for Supreme Court of Georgia.See appellant brief for case summary.Supreme Court ruled campus police officers are not state employees and are therefore not entitled to immunity. SC granted certiorari; case pending.
IllinoisNorthwestern University2014Peter LudlowOpinion and orderStory in The Daily NorthwesternDefamation and Title IX case dismissed 2015-2-5; plaintiff may file amended
IndianaDePauw University2014-3-17Benjamin KingComplaint (fee required)Story in the university newspaper (page 1 and page 3).Confidential settlement.
IowaIowa State University2014Bubu PaloStory in Ames TribunePending
LouisiannaTulane University1992Sean AhlumRuling by Louisianna Court of AppealsSee court ruling for case summary.District court ordered new campus administrative hearing.
LouisianaTulane University2010-10-25I.F.Lowe Stein.
Attorneys: Michael R. Allweiss, Melanie Lockett
Order Reversing I.F.'s Dismissal from Tulane UniversityDownload the case summary, written by Cindy GarrettCourt ordered Tulane University to reverse I.F.'s dismissal on 2014-12-23
MaineColby College2003Kevin MillienFull text of the ruling.Story in Bangor Daily NewsMaine Supreme Court affirmed trial court’s ruling that the school did not breach its contract.
MaineUniversity of Maine2003Stefan Gomes, Paris MinorRichardson, Whitman, Large, and Badger.Opinion of the courtStory in Bangor Daily NewsRuled in favor of university on all counts, 2005-4-8
MarylandSalisbury University2014Austin Morales, Patrick O'HaraRosenberg & Ball.
Attorney: Eric Rosenberg
Cockey, Brennan, & Maloney
MassachusettsAmherst College2014-3-18John DoeSasson, Turnbull, Ryan, & Hoose.
Attorneys: Luke Ryan, David P. Hoose
ComplaintStory in Massachusetts LiveConfidential settlement. Read the story in MassLive.
MassachusettsBoston College2015-3-11John Doe, Mary Doe, James DoeDLA Piper
Attorneys: Charles Wayne, Matthew Iverson
Complaint Story in The Boston GlobePending.
MassachusettsCollege of the Holy Cross2011-9-13Edwin BleilerNicole Colby Longton, Attorney at Law.
Attorney: Nicole Colby Longton
Complaint; the school’s answer

Memorandum and Order
Story by Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)The district court ruled in favor of the College's decision. Bleiler filed a notice of appeal to the First Circuit on October 3, 2013, which is still pending.
MassachusettsBrandeis University1996David SchaerFull text of case outcome.See case materials at FIRE.School found in breach of contract.
MassachusettsWilliams College2013-7-19John DoeComplaint (fee required).

Docket: 1:13-cv-11740-FDS
Settlement on 2014-9-9
MassachusettsUniversity of Massachusetts – Amherst2014-3-18James HaidakSasson, Turnbull, Ryan, & Hoose.
Attorney: Luke Ryan
Bonnie G. Allen Law Offices.
Attorney: Bonnie G. Allen
Story in Boston Business JournalPending
MassachusettsUniversity of Massachusetts – Amherst2014John DoeNesenoff & Miltenberg, LLP.
Attorney: Andrew T. Miltenberg
Story in The Boston GlobePending
MichiganUniversity of Michigan – Ann Arbor2014-4-23Drew SterrettLaw Offices of Deborah L. Gordon.
Attorney: Deborah Gordon
Complaint.Story in Massachusetts LivePending
MinnesotaUniversity of Minnesota2010Noah BergeCourt's rulingStory in Higher Ed MorningJudge ordered a new campus administrative hearing for Berge, on grounds that the previous one was “arbitrary and capricious.”
New JerseyDrew University2014Kevin ParisiLaw Offices of Jan Meyer and Associates.
Attorney: Solomon Rubin
Story in NJ.comPending
New YorkColgate University2014-3-24Abrar FaiazCivil Docket # 5:14-cv-00322-GTS-ATBRead the case summary at SAVE ServicesPending
New YorkColumbia University2014-5-19John DoeNesenoff & Miltenberg, LLP.
Attorney: Andrew T. Miltenberg
ComplaintStory in The Daily PrincetonianPending
New YorkCornell University2015-3-19John DoeNesenoff & Miltenberg, LLP.
Attorney: Andrew T. Miltenberg
ComplaintStory in The Wall Street JournalPending.
New YorkUniversity of Rochester2011-12-25Dylan RouthWicks Law.
Attorney: Jeffery Wicks
Decision and order of the district court judge Charles Siragusa.Refer to the decision and orderAll claims but defamation dismissed; referred to magistrate judge. Pending.
New YorkVassar College2013-6-25Peter YuNesenoff & Miltenberg, LLP.
Attorney: Andrew T. Miltenberg
Complaint; Vassar College’s answerStory at Minding the CampusPending
North CarolinaAppalachian State University2014-11-4Lanston TanyiComplaint
Amended complaint
Docket 5:14-cv-170
Story at Channel 9 WSOCTVPending
North CarolinaDuke University2014-5-2Lewis McLeodSchwartz & Schaw.
Attorney: Rachel B. Hitch
Original complaint

Plaintiff's motion for leave to file amended complaint

Verified amended complaint, part one

Verified amended complaint, part two

Order granting injunction to prevent expulsion
Story at Indy WeekPending
North CarolinaDuke University2007Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, David EvansUntil Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson. York: St. Martin’s Press. 2007, (2)Durham-in-WonderlandPlaintiffs declared innocent in 2007, received settlement.
OhioCleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine & Case Western Reserve University (partners)2014-9-15John DoeFriedman & Gilbert
Attorney: Terry Gilbert
ComplaintStory in
OhioDenison University2010-5Joseph GalanoRosenberg & Ball.
Attorney: Eric Rosenberg
Amended complaint.Story in Newark AdvocateConfidential settlement
OhioDenison University2011-11-28Lucas GortonRosenberg & Ball.
Attorney: Eric Rosenberg
ComplaintRefer to complaintConfidential settlement
OhioDenison University2013-12-10Zackary HuntRosenberg & Ball.
Attorney: Eric Rosenberg
Complaint, with discovery and exhibit

Agreed dismissal entry
Story in The DenisonianConfidential settlement; 2014
OhioDenison University2014-11-5John DoeRosenberg & Ball.
Attorney: Eric Rosenberg

Motion for temporary restraining order against Denison University

Temporary restraining order signed by judge Thomas Marcelain

Certificate of notice for motion of temporary restraining order

Motion for expedited discovery

Motion to seal names of John Doe, John Doe's father, and Defendant
Story in The Newark AdvocateConfidentially resolved, 2015-1.
OhioKenyon College2013-12-5Stephen ZingarelliCavitch, Familio & Durkin.
Attorneys: Gregory O’Brien, Eric Weiss
Article in The Collegian (Kenyon College student newspaper)Pending
OhioUniversity of Cincinnati2014-5-5Ethan PeloeOpinion and orderStory in WCPO Cincinnati2015-2-19: Court dismisses without prejudice (i.e. it can be re-filed later) based on plaintiff's failure to exhaust administrative "appeals" through the university. Refer to opinion and order document.
OhioUniversity of Cincinnati2014-11-18John Doe & John DoeMichael K. Allen & AssociatesComplaint for injunctive reliefPress release at Michael K. Allen & Associates

Story by The Cincinnati Enquirer
OhioXavier University2013-8-20Dezmine WellsPeter R. Ginsberg Law.
Peter Ginsberg
Complaint.Story in My NorthwestConfidential settlement; 2014
PennsylvaniaBucknell University2010Reed DempseyCivil Suit:
Fox Rothschild, LLP - Attorneys at Law.
Attorney: Dennis Boyle

Criminal Case, and Representation During Student Conduct Hearing:
Shapiro & Becker.
Attorney: Stephen Becker
Co-counsel:Theodore “Ted” Simon

Brief in opposition of Bucknell's motion to dismiss

See case documents at Justia
Story by LCW LegalThe Court granted summary judgment for Bucknell, dismissing plaintiff's case in entirety. Relevant: judge is new to the bench.

An appeal is pending.
PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia University2014Anthony VillarStory in Philadelphia magazine.Pending
PennsylvaniaSaint Joseph’s University2013-7-8Brian HarrisThe Chartwell Law Offices.
Attorney: Kenneth Dubrow
Complaint.Story in BloombergConfidential settlement. Story at The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
PennsylvaniaShippensburg University2004-10-15Travis RuaneOpinion of the court
871 A.2d 859 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2005)
Decided in Shippensburg University's favor on 2005-2-2
PennsylvaniaSwarthmore College2014-1-23John DoeConrad O'Brien.
Attorney: Patricia Hamill

Joint Motion for Dismissal

Order Granting Joint Motion for Dismissal
Story in Philadelphia MagazineSettled November 2014
PennsylvaniaTemple University2014-8-12John DoeStory in Philly MagazinePending
PennsylvaniaTemple University2013-8John DoePatricia M. Hoban
Attorney: Patricia M. Hoban
Docket: 2:13-cv-05156None currently available.Settled 2014-10
PennsylvaniaTemple University2011-12-9Tyler JohnsonMemorandum of CourtRefer to the Memorandum of Court for case backgroundTBA
Rhode IslandBrown University1998Adam LackStory in the Brown Daily HeraldConfidential settlement; 1998
Rhode IslandBrown University2010William McCormickChisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick (CCK)
Attorney: J. Scott Kilpatrick
Story in the Brown SpectatorConfidential settlement; 2011
TennesseeSewanee, The University of the South2011John DoeDLA Piper
Attorneys: Charles Wayne, Elisha King
Doe v. Univ. of the S., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35166 (E.D. Tenn. 2011)Story in Times Free PressUniversity found negligent; plaintiff awarded $26k; 2011
TexasUniversity of Houston2014-10-17Ryan McConnell, Natalie PlummerMichael K. Allen & AssociatesComplaint

Docket: 4:14-cv-02959
Story in The Houston ChroniclePending
VermontMarlboro College2014-4Luke BenningComplaint

Docket: 2:14cv71
Story in The Brattleboro ReformerSettlement on 2014-9.
VermontMiddlebury College1994Ethan FellheimerComplaint:

Fellheimer v. Middlebury Coll., 869 F. Supp. 238, 247 (D. Vt. 1994). Text of ruling here.
Refer to opinion and order by the district courtDistrict court ruled in favor of Fellheimer regarding breach of contract; regarding intentional infliction of emotional distress, it ruled in favor of the college.
VermontVermont Law School2011Joshua VaughanOrder of Court. Complaint: Vaughan v. Vt. Law Sch., Inc., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86429 (D.Vt. 2011).Story at LCW LegalDistrict Court denied all of plaintiff’s motions; Court of Appeals affirmed.
VirginiaWashington and Lee University2014-12-12John DoeNesenoff & Miltenberg, LLP.
Attorney: Andrew T. Miltenberg

Memorandum to proceed under pseudonym and protective order

Declaration by Kimberly Lau supporting plaintiff's motion to proceed with protective order and pseudonym
Story at The Roanoke TimesPending
WashingtonGonzaga University2001John DoeComplaint: Doe v. Gonzaga University, 24 P.3d 390, 393-404 (Wash. 2001). The Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of John Doe.Refer to Supreme Court ruling documentState Supreme Court ruled in John Doe’s favor regarding defamation, invasion of privacy, violation of FERPA rights, and breach of contract.
Washington, D.C.George Washington University2011-8-4John DoeKaiser, LeGrand & Dillon PLLC
Attorneys: Gregory S. Smith, Matthew G. Kaiser
Full text of complaint, filed 4/8/2011.See post at The Blog of Legal Times.Settlement

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About Jonathan Taylor (TCM)

JT/TCM is an advocate of educational equity for men and boys who believes that the world is in desperate need of more good-natured mischief. He is a former college instructor of composition and argumentation and the founder of