Student suing University following sexual assault allegations

Brandon Arcari, Breaking News Assistant Editor

An unnamed sophomore is suing the University over a one-semester suspension following allegations that he groped a female student.

The student’s lawyers are arguing that the University chose to make an example out of the accused and claim there was no evidence to support the defendant’s claims in the lawsuit.

The sophomore, only referred to as John Doe in the suit, was accused of grabbing a female student referred to as Jane Doe at a rugby party April 28. The defendant said the accuser’s allegations were false.

John Doe’s lawsuit asks for unnamed damages and lists the University and several staff members as defendants.

“The University is confident it has acted legally and appropriately. Not surprisingly, the plaintiff’s claim, appearing in various news outlets, provides only one part of the story,” Enrique Corredera, director of University communications, said in an email Nov. 28.

“The University looks forward to its opportunity to present the facts and the relevant law governing this case in a public court of law. As of Tuesday, Nov. 28 in the afternoon the University has not been given official notice, or required service of notice, regarding the complaint,” Corredera said.

“Jane Doe’s false accusations against John Doe were accepted as fact and upheld by Defendants using a Kafkaesque process that denied John Doe due process of law in violation of due process,” the lawsuit stated.

UVM’s sanctioning procedures involve a 3-person panel from the University community, one of whom from the Center for Student Conduct. The panel is required to be impartial with both panel members and parties to the sanctioning committee able to request removal from the committee.

The lawsuit alleges that UVM violated the 1972 Title IX rules with “anti-male discriminatory bias afflicting UVM’s sexual misconduct policy and procedures,” according to a Nov. 27 Burlington Free Press story.

The lawsuit states the bias was related to the U.S. Department of Education’s 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, which established newer guidelines on sexual violence victim advocacy and rights on college campuses, which were rescinded by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, according to the Free Press.

The filing cited multiple statements made by DeVos including her Sept. 7 statement that “every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined,” according to the Free Press.

The Title IX office declined to comment. Vice Provost for Student Affairs Annie Stevens has not responded to request for comment.