Student alleges 'anti-male discrimination' in college sexual assault investigation

A Rollins College lacrosse player who was suspended over allegations of sexual assault is suing the school, claiming that the investigative process was so "anti-male" that he never had a chance to prove his innocence.

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The student, identified only as John Doe in the lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court, was a freshman at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, during the 2015-16 school year.

He claims a female classmate sexually assaulted him during an encounter on Jan. 18, but she claims it was him who assaulted her, according to the lawsuit. Both made reports to Rollins College, but Doe claims the school ignored his report and fully prosecuted hers.

Doe says that the person in charge of investigating the allegation was also among those who determined his punishment. He claims the person investigating the case wasn't properly trained, misrepresented witness statements and "excluded critical evidence favorable to John Doe," the lawsuit said.

By doing that, she was "effectively directing the hearing board to reach the foregone conclusion that John Doe was responsible for the misconduct alleged," the suit said.

Doe claims that he was forced by the system to prove his innocence instead of the school being forced to prove his guilt, based solely on the fact that he is male.

"Rollins demonstrated a presumption of guilt against John Doe as the male accused when it overlooked potentially exculpatory evidence, accepted complainant's contradictory and inconsistent statements and made baseless assessments of credibility," the lawsuit said. "Rollins' legitimate goal of preventing sexual assault is not the issue in, nor is it the basis for, this complaint. Rather, this complaint addresses Rollins' unlawful and/or gender-biased treatment of innocent male students like John Doe via sexual misconduct proceedings that afford females unconstitutional preferential treatment."

As of Thursday, Rollins College had not filed a response to Doe's lawsuit. School officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment and the school's administrative offices are closed until Jan. 2.

Doe is seeking monetary damages, reversal and expungement of the school's decision and reinstatement of his enrollment, among other demands.

Other allegations of gender bias listed in the lawsuit include:

  • Doe not being notified of the specific allegations against him until less than 24 hours before he was to be interviewed.
  • Ignoring claims by witnesses on both sides that the investigative report "mischaracterized" their statements to show Doe in a negative light.
  • Not allowing him to submit a list of witnesses to be interviewed.
  • Not including in the final report that Doe had passed a lie detector test.
  • A school official repeatedly accusing Doe of rape during what was supposed to be an "informational interview to explain the student conduct process."
  • Administrators ignoring requests for information pertinent to Doe's ability to defend himself.
  • School officials encouraging Doe to continue attending class and then negating his grades by retroactively suspending him for the spring semester.