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Student Sues UVM After Suspension for Alleged Sexual Harassment

The lawsuit says it is the ‘perfect example’ of a failed system of campus sexual assault enforcement emphasized by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Student Sues UVM After Suspension for Alleged Sexual Harassment

A female student says the man groped her at an off-campus party.

A University of Vermont student has sued the school after he was suspended for allegedly groping a female student at an off-campus party in April.

The male student claims he did not grope the student and the school’s disciplinary system is biased against men, reports the NY Post.

The lawsuit refers to the involved parties as Jane and John Doe and says the case is a ‘perfect example’ of the failed campus sexual assault system emphasized by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

“In the face of Jane Doe’s criticism that UVM was not doing enough for female students, the University’s administrators chose to make an example of John Doe, even though there was no evidence to support it, or corroborate, Jane Doe’s false allegations against him,” says the lawsuit.

In September, the Trump administration announced its discontinuation of Obama-era guidance on investigating campus sexual assaults by allowing universities to require “clear and convincing evidence” when handling sexual assault complaints.

“This interim guidance will help schools as they work to combat sexual misconduct and will treat all students fairly,” said DeVos. “Schools must continue to confront these horrific crimes and behaviors head-on. There will be no more sweeping them under the rug. But the process also must be fair and impartial, giving everyone more confidence in its outcomes.”

Many have criticized the rollback, saying it hinders women from reporting sexual assaults for fear of not being believed.

The lawsuit says John Doe was denied due process, a claim that the Burlington school disputes.

“The University is committed to eliminating, preventing, and addressing the effects of sexual harassment and misconduct, and to providing a fair and impartial process for investigation and adjudication of reported incidents as outlined in the University’s Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Policy,” said a statement from the school.

The lawsuit also claims violation of Title IX protections, breach of contract and gross negligence, according to NBC.

John Doe says he lost a scholarship and a highly competitive teaching assistant position due to the allegations. He also says his accuser’s statements were accepted as fact and his responsibility was determined by a single Title IX coordinator who “clearly had a conflict of interest”.

The lawsuit against the school isn’t the first of its kind. The general counsel for Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., says 75 men have sued the school since 2013 claiming reverse discrimination and unfair disciplinary proceedings.

In 2015, a former Colgate University student who was expelled after three female students alleged he sexually assaulted them sued the Hamilton, N.Y., school. The suit claimed the school was in violation of Title IX and was bias towards women due to student activism on campus.

The suit was dropped by the judge in October.

About the Author

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Amy Rock is the Campus Safety Web Editor. She graduated from UMass Amherst with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a minor in Education.

She has worked in the publishing industry since 2011, in both events and digital marketing.

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