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UPDATED: List of Lawsuits Against Colleges and Universities Alleging Due Process Violations in Adjudicating Sexual Assault

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:

  1. This list is sorted alphabetically by state, then by school, then by accuser.
  2. Blank cells refer to information not yet obtained or determined, rather than information left out through error.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

State
School
Plaintiff
Plaintiff’s Attorney
Key Documents / Summary
Outcome
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.

 

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 avoiceformalestudents.com.

11 comments

  1. Um, the latest information I could find on Edwin Bleiler was from 2013 where there is a court order from a Judge dismissing ALL of his ‘State’ claims. She did say that the original federal injunction (presumably from 2 years earlier) was granted. If you have some information saying he was re-instated could you post it here? I’d hate for this list to be inaccurate as it is such a good tool.

    Thank you.

  2. This is why we need a strong, big, and powerful MHRM. These individuals should not have to fight alone. And there are many, many more who do not have their resources to fight this. How would a poor student on a scholarship fight this? Can’t. The universities would be loath to take on a large organization, but are fine with bullying lone students.

  3. John, this is good work. The University system is becoming a feminist police state where the rights of the average man are simply trampled on.
    If they were really interested in equality then the gender of the student would not matter. They would care about what actually happened in any given incident.

  4. David R. Graham

    Not so lawyerly, but also compendious (and partly overlapping) is this parallel list titled “The Do Not Attend / Do Not Support List Of American Colleges And Universities”:

    http://theological-geography.net/?p=4283

  5. When I read some of these cases I am reminded of the horrible lack of rights and the oppression many women face in other countries. In some countries women can be stoned based on a charge of infidelity or shot for going to school. As Americans we abhor this type of behavior, yet we are willing to allow young men to be stigmatized and have their lives ruined based on accusations and a preponderance standard without due process on college campuses. Our form of stoning.

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