Publisher’s note: this list was originally published on 6/10/14. It was last updated on 7/28/14, adding 14 lawsuits for a total of 33. Please also see SAVE’s latest list for more.
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 crimes against them in the process of “just following orders.”
A few things to note:
- This list is sorted alphabetically by state, then by school, then by accuser.
- Blank cells refer to information not yet obtained or determined, rather than information left out through error.
- This list will be periodically updated. If you know of any cases that are not covered here, please inform this site in the comments section at the bottom, or via the contact form.
- Thanks to Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE) and National Coalition for Men-Carolinas for sending me their lists. What follows is a combination and moderate revision of their lists.
List of Lawsuits Against Colleges and Universities Alleging Due Process and Other Violations in Adjudicating Sexual Assault
|California||Occidental College||John Doe||Mark Werksman,Mark Hathaway||(1) Official complaint, part I, (2) official complaint, part II (includes screenshots of text messages between accuser / accused), (3) article by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)||Pending.|
|Delaware||Delaware State University||Andre L. Henry||Daniel C. Herr||Story from Inside Higher Ed.||Pending.|
|Illinois||Northwestern University||Peter Ludlow||Media account of Ludlow’s counter-suit.||Pending|
|Indiana||DePauw University||Benjamin King||Story in the university newspaper (page 1 and page 3).||Pending.|
|Iowa||Iowa State University||Bubu Palo||Media account here.||Pending.|
|Louisianna||Tulane University||Sean Ahlum||Read the full complaint here.||District court ordered new campus administrative hearing.|
|Maine||Colby College||Kevin Millien||Full text of the ruling.||Maine Supreme Court affirmed trial court’s ruling that the school did not breach its contract|
|Massachusetts||College of the Holy Cross||Edwin Bleiler||Nicole Collby Longton||(1) Official complaint, (2) the school’s answer, (3) article by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).||Bleiler was acquitted, the school’s “finding” (judgment) against him was overturned, and he was reinstated.|
|Massachusetts||Brandeis University||David Shaer||Full text of case outcome.||School found in breach of contract.|
|Massachusetts||Williams College||John Doe||Official complaint (fee required).||Pending.|
|Michigan||University of Michigan – Ann Arbor||Drew Sterrett||Deborah Gordon||Official complaint.||Pending.|
|Minnesota||University of Minnesota||Noah Berge||See the court’s ruling here.||Judge ordered a new campus administrative hearing for Berge, on grounds that the previous one was “arbitrary and capricious.”|
|New Jersey||Drew University||Kevin Parisi||Solomon Rubin||Story in NJ.com.||Pending.|
|New York||Columbia University||John Doe||Andrew T. Miltenberg||Official complaint.||Pending.|
|New York||Vassar College||Peter Yu||Andrew Miltenberg||(1) Official complaint, (2) Vassar College’s answer.||Pending.|
|North Carolina||Duke University||Lewis McLeod||Rachel B. Hitch||(1) Official complaint, (2) article in the Wall Street Journal, (3) order granting injunction to prevent expulsion.||Pending.|
|North Carolina||Duke University||Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, David Evans||(1) Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 2007, (2) Durham-in-Wonderland.||Players declared innocent, received settlement; 2007.|
|Ohio||Denison University||Joseph Galano||Accusers: Naomi Musac and Emily Bucher. Amended complaint.||Confidential settlement.|
|Ohio||Denison University||Lucas Gorton||Full text of complaint.||Confidential settlement.|
|Ohio||Denison University||Zackary Hunt||Eric Rosenberg||Article in The Denisonian (Denison U Student Newspaper).||Confidential settlement; 2014|
|Ohio||Kenyon College||Stephen Zingarelli||Gregory O’Brien, Eric Weiss||Article in The Collegian (Kenyon College student newspaper).||Pending.|
|Ohio||University of Cincinnati||Ethan Peloe||Amended complaint.||Pending.|
|Ohio||Xavier University||Dezmine Wells||Peter Ginsberg||Official complaint.||Confidential settlement; 2014.|
|Pennsylvania||Bucknell University||Reed Dempsey||Stephen Becker||Memorandum of court.||Charges against the university dismissed. Charges against police department pending.|
|Pennsylvania||Philadelphia University||Anthony Villar||Story in Philadelphia magazine.||Pending.|
|Pennsylvania||Saint Joseph’s University||Brian Harris||Kenneth Dubrow||Official complaint.||Pending.|
|Pennsylvania||Swarthmore College||John Doe||Patricia Hamill||Official complaint.||Pending.|
|Rhode Island||Brown University||Adam Lack||Story in the Brown Daily Herald.||Confidential settlement; 1998|
|Rhode Island||Brown University||William McCormick||J. Scott Kilpatrick||Story in the Brown Spectator||Confidential settlement; 2011|
|Tennessee||Sewanee, The University of the South||John Doe||Charles Wayne, Elisha King||Doe v. Univ. of the S., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35166 (E.D. Tenn. 2011)||University found negligent; plaintiff awarded $26k; 2011|
|Vermont||Middlebury College||Ethan Fellheimer||Accuser: Vanessa Huth. Complaint:
Fellheimer v. Middlebury Coll., 869 F. Supp. 238, 247 (D. Vt. 1994). Text of ruling here.
|District court ruled in favor of Fellheimer regarding breach of contract; regarding intentional infliction of emotional distress, it ruled in favor of the college.|
|Vermont||Vermont Law School||Joshua Vaughan||Order of Court. Complaint: Vaughan v. Vt. Law Sch., Inc., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86429 (D.Vt. 2011). Media account here.||District Court denied all of plaintiff’s motions; Court of Appeals affirmed.|
|Washington||Gonzaga University||John Doe||Complaint: Doe v. Gonzaga University, 24 P.3d 390, 393-404 (Wash. 2001). The Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of John Doe.||State Supreme Court ruled in John Doe’s favor regarding defamation, invasion of privacy, violation of FERPA rights, and breach of contract.|