Court Finds It Plausible Universities Discriminate Against Males in Sex Assault Cases

The ruling supports students found responsible for sexual assaults claiming gender bias.

The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is allowing a case to go forward in which the plaintiff is arguing Columbia University practiced gender bias against him in a sexual assault review hearing.

The July 29 ruling reverses a district court’s earlier decision and opens the door for males to bring lawsuits against schools if they feel they’ve been discriminated against because of their sex.

The ruling does not pertain to the plaintiff, an unnamed former athlete at the university, but it legitimizes his claims to allow the lawsuit to continue in court, reports the Washington Post.

Before the plaintiff was accused of sexual assault in 2013, Columbia had faced widespread criticism for what some students felt was inadequate punishment for male students found responsible for sexual assault.

Columbia eventually suspended the plaintiff in a hearing after finding him responsible for the sexual assault, which he claimed was consensual sex.

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The plaintiff argues in his lawsuit that the university’s hearings favored the accuser and claims university officials were hostile toward him during the investigation. He also accused university investigators of ignoring certain witnesses and failing to tell him that he was entitled to assistance in his defense, among other things.

Judge Pierre N. Leval wrote that the plaintiff’s complaint “pleads specific facts giving at least the necessary minimal support to a plausible inference of sex discrimination.”

The ruling could have a major impact on several other high-profile cases in court in which male students punished for sexual assault are suing the universities.

A Columbia University spokesman declined to comment on the case.

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