A federal judge has made a temporary rule in favor of a University of Connecticut student who claims he was unfairly suspended for a sexual assault allegation.
The male student, referred to in the case by the name John Doe, states that the university did not provide him due process after an allegation was made against him and did not give a chance to provide a proper defense of himself. Among other punishments, the student has been banned from campus for the past two years.
This case began when a female student identified as Jane Roe claimed that the male student engaged in non-consensual sex with her in her dorm in April of last year. Doe argues that the encounter was consensual and that the female student initiated it. He also claims he was not informed of the complaint that followed the encounter for five months.
After a UConn investigator had dismissed his account of the event after a single interview, the male student, about to enter his final semester when the incident came to light, was blocked from enrolling in classes. Additionally, according to the lawsuit, Doe was denied the specifics of the complaint and was not allowed to question Roe’s witnesses or bring forward his own.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Michael Shea said that UConn’s investigative procedures prevented Doe from presenting a meaningful defense of his side of the events. Judge Shea’s ruling to reinstate the student will remain in effect until Feb. 11 when there will be an extended hearing.
Doe’s lawyer Michael Thad Allen said he feels this case reflects systemic issues of credibility that UConn must address.
“A lack of due process harms complainants and accused students alike. Complainants don’t want a world in which administrators can arbitrarily exclude their witnesses, and they don’t benefit from the arbitrary exclusion of accused students’ witnesses, either,” Allen said. “Everyone benefits from a process aimed at finding the truth and believing the evidence.”
When asked for a comment, Stephanie Reitz, university spokesperson, said, “UConn doesn’t comment on pending litigation.”
Thomas Alvarez is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.