Student Sues Ga. Tech After Expulsion for Sexual Misconduct

November 25, 2015

By Kathleen Foody at Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia Tech student expelled in April after a sexual misconduct investigation has filed a lawsuit alleging that the review was unfair and violated his rights.

The lawsuit said the university’s Office of Student Integrity found the student, identified as “John Doe” in the suit, responsible for non-consensual sexual and intercourse and coercion against a female student at an October 2013 event where they had been drinking. Doe received little information about witnesses’ statements and couldn’t defend himself, the lawsuit said.

The male student wants a judge to allow him to take spring classes and complete his degree on Georgia Tech’s Atlanta campus while the suit is argued. The suit seeks unspecified punitive and compensatory damages and a jury trial.

The suit names the school’s president, the dean of students and Director of the Office of Student Integrity Peter Paquette as defendants along with a board that oversees public colleges in Georgia.

University System of Georgia spokesman Charlie Sutlive and Attorney General Sam Olens’ spokesman Nick Genesi on Wednesday declined to comment on pending litigation.

According to the lawsuit, Doe invited a female student identified only as “Jane Roe” to an event on Oct. 10, 2013 at his fraternity house. The two drank and socialized on the main floor and later went into a room to join others playing drinking games.

Doe said the woman followed him into his bedroom where she almost immediately felt sick and began vomiting. Doe says he went to get a sober member of the fraternity, who came back upstairs, and both men helped the woman downstairs to meet two friends picking her up.

The woman filed a complaint in February with the Office of Student Integrity, later telling staff that she tried to forget what happened until she participated in a sexual assault awareness campaign during the spring semester in 2014.

According to Paquette’s investigative report included in court documents, the woman said Doe turned off the lights when they were in his bedroom and began kissing her. The woman said she stopped him “and stated that she wanted to get to know him better.” She said Doe then touched her genitals without consent, and shortly after, she vomited and he stopped.

Paquette found Doe responsible for non-consensual sexual contact, non-consensual sexual intercourse and coercion and expelled him on April 3. Doe’s attorney said he wasn’t charged criminally.

The lawsuit said that Paquette didn’t interview most fraternity members suggested by Doe because they were present at the 2013 event during his investigation. Doe knew little about the witnesses until 30 minutes before a final interview with Paquette, the suit says, which gave little time to prepare or investigate. It says he wasn’t allowed to question witnesses and only had summaries of their conversations with Paquette.

“Mr. Doe was entitled to process commensurate with the seriousness of the allegations and the potential discipline, sanctions, and repercussions he was facing,” the suit said. “The allegations in this case resulted in the harshest sanction available at the University, will have lifelong ramifications for Mr. Doe, and are quasi-criminal in nature.”

Georgia Tech updated its policy on student sexual misconduct in 2014, which the school called part of a national effort to address sexual violence on college campuses. The changes eliminated a student panel that previously heard sexual misconduct cases and transferred that responsibility to trained administrative staff in the Office of Student Integrity. The updates also added expulsion as a punishment for non-consensual sexual intercourse.

Students expelled or otherwise punished by schools after sexual assault allegations have filed similar lawsuits around the country, often arguing that their right to due process was violated. One count by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education found more than 50 suits.

Schools: Georgia Institute of Technology