A University of Chicago student has sued the school, arguing
its sexual assault investigation system has created a "hostile environment against males," which has violated his constitutional rights and potentially those of other male students.
The student, identified only as John Doe, a student from
Somers, N.Y., filed his complaint Aug. 24 in federal court in Chicago, arguing
the university’s protocol violated his Title IX rights in multiple ways related
to complaints two female students, identified as Jane Roe and Jane Doe, filed
against him — claims the school later determined were “meritless.”
Doe alleged five infringements against the university,
saying the school removed him from a physics lab in which Jane Doe was enrolled
after the complaint was found meritless; rejected his May 5, 216 Title IX
complaint regarding allegations Doe’s friend, Roe, leveled in violation of the
school’s anti-retaliation provisions; adjudicated Jane Roe’s June 2016 Title IX
complaint against him, “even though Jane Doe’s own public writings, which UC
possesses, prove Jane Doe’s allegations against John Doe are undeniably false”;
refused to acknowledge that Jane Doe’s complaint violated the anti-retaliation
provisions; and violated Title IX provisions against “selective enforcement” by
subjecting him to proceedings based on his gender.
Further, John Doe argued the university is considering Jane Doe’s
June 2016 Title IX complaint despite the fact the allegations involve conduct from
2013 that was not addressed in the student manual covering that school year.
“It was impossible for John Doe to know whether his
consensual physical encounters with Jane Doe in 2013 might violate subsequently
created stringent mandates in UC’s 2015 Manual,” the lawsuit said.
John Doe further said the University “is utilizing the 2015
Manual because it contains provisions less favorable to male students.”
He said he was not allowed to file a Title IX complaint against
Jane Doe for harassment and retaliation, but the school allowed her to file one
against him after he sought legal assistance outside the university to stop her
“from publishing false statements about him.”
As “Jane Doe initiated and consented to all contact with
John Doe,” he alleged her “sole motivation for filing the sexual assault
allegation was retaliation.”
John Doe accused the university of creating “a gender
biased, hostile environment against males, like John Doe, based in part on UC’s
pattern and practice of investigating and disciplining male students who accept
physical contact initiated by female students, retaliating against male
students, and providing female students preferential treatment under its Title
Roe is not a defendant in this action, but John Doe identified
Roe as a “personal friend of Jane Doe” and said her “conduct is essential to
understanding the nature of the allegations and the specifications.”
A key component of the situation, John Doe said, is a 2011
letter from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Right regarding
Title IX compliance while dealing with sexual misconduct complaints. The
letter, Doe asserted, spells out how schools are “to provide females
preferential treatment” and “imposed numerous mandates to make it more
difficult for males accused of sexual misconduct to defend themselves.”
Further, John Doe argued the university’s conduct is linked
to a February 2014 conference at which Assistant Secretary of Education
Catherine E. Lhamon told schools “radical” change was needed in this arena, as
well as a June 2013 OCR investigation of the University of Chicago “because of
its handling of sexual assault and harassment complaints,” scrutiny John Doe
said intensified in February when the Department of Education opened two more
investigations of Title IX violations.
John Doe leveled 11 formal counts. The first two are defamation
counts against Jane Doe, for which he seeks actual, special and compensatory damages,
including legal and medical fees, of at least $75,000, plus punitive damages of
at least $100,000. Eight counts are alleged against the university only
— the Title IX allegations, negligence, intentional infliction of
emotional distress and requests for declaratory judgment, promissory estoppel.
The final count is negligent infliction of emotional distress against Jane Doe
and the university.
John Doe requested a jury trial.
John Doe is represented in the action by attorneys with the
firms of Rosenberg & Ball Co., of Granville, Ohio, and Saper Law Offices,