Two Colleges Buy Their Way Out Of Litigation From Accused Student, Prof

November 21, 2014

By Greg Piper at The College Fix

Apparently wary that a public-relations disaster awaited if their behavior became known in court, two colleges settled claims this week that they unfairly targeted a professor and student for violating sexual-conduct policies.

Swarthmore College settled with a student who sued the school for re-opening his sexual-assault case after he was cleared of the charges, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education reports. The re-opened case came “after an unrelated Title IX complaint brought significant negative publicity about the college’s handling of sexual misconduct,” FIRE says.

The student’s claims were pretty damning, FIRE says:

  • modifying the charges against him two days prior to his hearing,
  • failure to give him access to evidence,
  • providing as his advisor the very person who selected the charges to be brought against him, and
  • allowing the Title IX coordinator to support and testify on behalf of the complainant after telling Doe that the Title IX coordinator could not be his supporter because it would be “inappropriate.”

Faced with a hostile federal court that had allowed cases by accused students against their schools to proceed, Swarthmore settled.

The terms weren’t disclosed, though it’s hard to imagine the student won’t get financial compensation of some kind. The joint notice for dismissal says “both parties” became concerned “about the impartiality of the College Judiciary Committee Panel,” which was enough to “warrant vacating the Panel’s finding and sanction.”

FIRE opines:

If John Doe lacked the resources to file this lawsuit (as many students undoubtedly do), would he have ever received this acknowledgement? Or would Swarthmore have been free to loudly (and falsely) proclaim to the world that it takes both sexual misconduct and its students’ rights seriously?

In an update on the University of Colorado-Boulder’s clumsy attempts to root out alleged “sexism” in its philosophy department, the school has agreed to pay a professor $185,000 to quit.

The Daily Camera reports that the school has been investigating Brad Monton for allegedly violating the school’s “amorous relationship policy with students,” though it won’t detail the accusations against him. Monton was defended by the state and local chapters of the American Association of University Professors:

The groups criticized CU for forcing Monton to resign from the Boulder Faculty Assembly, a campus faculty group.

The AAUP also claimed that Monton was banned from participating in university committees and service responsibilities after he made comments critical of the CU administration during a private meeting about the philosophy department.

Monton told colleagues in his farewell email “he felt the department was inclusive, collegial and academically strong,” according to the Daily. While there’s no mention of litigation in the story, thesettlement agreement says each party will pay its own attorney’s fees and costs.

The sexism charges came from a philosophy association group, but were found wanting by a fellow professor.

Two other philosophy professors are separately suing the school for $2 million each.

David Barnett, accused of “retaliating” against a sexual-assault victim and now subject to termination proceedings, sued for defamation. Dan Kaufman, “banished” from campus “for a joke he made about suicide,” is suing for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, defamation, slander and intentional infliction of emotional distress, the paper said.

Schools: University of Colorado at Boulder Swarthmore College