Editor's note: This article has been updated to include a reference to a letter cited in an amended complaint, which John Doe's alleged accuser purportedly wrote under a settlement agreement.
A University of Chicago student suing the school over anti-male bias built into its sexual assault investigation system is continuing his lawsuit against the school, in which he is demanding $1.35 million, even though the school purportedly dropped its disciplinary action against him, and after he settled with a female student who allegedly triggered the disciplinary action by accusing him of sexual assault.
The student, identified only as John Doe, from Somers, N.Y., filed his initial complaint Aug. 24 in federal court in Chicago, arguing the university’s protocol violated his legal rights under Title IX of the Civil Rights Act after two female students, identified as Jane Roe and Jane Doe, filed complaints against him — claims he asserts the school later determined were “meritless.”
U.S. District Judge Edmond E. Chang had denied John Doe’s motion for a preliminary injunction to halt UC’s proceedings against him regarding consensual physical encounters with Jane Doe in 2013. The opinion denying the preliminary injunction had been filed under seal on Sept. 22, and was kept under seal until the judge released it March 2.
In that opinion, Chang explained his belief Doe would likely not succeed in his case based on the arguments advanced at that stage, namely over an allegation he was the subject of university retaliation because he’d engaged in legally “protected activities” regarding his complaints.
However, on Nov. 24, the school dropped proceedings against John Doe, more than six months after rejecting his May Title IX complaint against Jane Doe. On Feb. 8, John Doe amended his complaint to drop Jane Doe from the federal action. He’d originally leveled two defamation counts against Jane Doe, for which he sought actual, special and compensatory damages, including legal and medical fees, of at least $75,000, plus punitive damages of at least $100,000, and included her in a negligent infliction of emotional distress count he also brought against the university.
Chang signed off on a settlement agreement between the Does on March 3. The settlement terms were not disclosed in the motion for settlement.
However, in Doe's amended complaint, John Doe cited a letter written by Jane Doe "in conjunction with the settlement," in which Jane Doe purportedly stated John Doe's " conduct did not violate any of the University of Chicago’s policies or the laws of the State of Illinois relating to sexual relations involving me or any other persons.”
In his initial complaint, John Doe said he had not been 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.”
Remaining now in the amended complaint are six counts against the university, the sole defendant: Three counts of Title IX violations, one count of promissory estoppel and allegations of both negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress. In addition to a jury trial, Doe is requesting compensatory damages of at least $350,000 and punitive damages of at least $1 million.
In the amended complaint, Doe retained his allegation the university created a “gender-biased, hostile environment against males like John Doe and UC’s pattern and practice of subjecting male students who engage in consensual physical contact with female students to disciplinary procedures; retaliating against male students who exercise their rights under Title IX; and providing female students preferential treatment under UC’s Title IX policies so as to prevent UC from rendering a fair and appropriate remedy at the University level.”
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.”
John Doe is represented by attorneys from Saper Law Offices LLC, of Chicago; and Rosenberg & Ball Co. LPA, of Granville, Ohio.
Jane Doe’s attorneys are from Cassiday Schade, of Chicago.
The University of Chicago is represented by the firm of Franczek Radelet, of Chicago.