The court upheld the district court’s grant of a preliminary injunction, holding that “Defendants’ failure to provide any form of confrontation of the accuser made the proceeding against [Plaintiff] John Doe fundamentally unfair.”
A female University of Cincinnati student, Jane Roe, filed a complaint with UC’s Title IX office following a sexual encounter that she claimed was nonconsensual but that Plaintiff claimed was consensual. There were no witnesses.
The university’s adjudication procedures allowed for a limited form of cross-examination of witnesses at the hearing by submitting questions to the hearing panel, but did not require witnesses to appear at the hearing. Because Plaintiff’s accuser did not appear at the hearing, he was unable to ask questions of her through the hearing panel. He was found responsible and suspended.
He then sued in district court, seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent enforcement of his suspension. The district court granted his injunction. The case then went before the Court of Appeals.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s holding granting the preliminary injunction. In its opinion, the court held that while cross-examination might not be vital to due process in all cases, it was in this case because the university made a “credibility determination” in what was fundamentally a “he said/she said” case without giving Plaintiff any right to confront his accuser. Doing so in such a circumstance, the court found, was fundamentally unfair.