Doe v. Tex. A&M Univ., 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14114, No. H-20-4332 (S.D. Tex. Jan 26, 2021)
02/01/2021Plaintiff John Doe was found responsible for sexually assaulting Jane Roe during a spring break trip to Gruene, Texas. John Doe and Jane Roe, both seniors, had known each other since they were freshmen. It was alleged that after a night of heavy drinking with friends, Doe led Roe to her bedroom, locked the door behind them, and confessed he had a crush on Roe. The two then kissed, and Doe sexually penetrated Roe. Doe claims he does not remember anything from that night beyond drinking and being drunk. Roe claims she has a gap in her memory between Doe kissing her and then her realization that she was lying face down on the edge of the bed, with her jeans and underwear pulled down to her knees and Doe penetrating her from behind. Texas A&M’s (the “University”) Title IX disciplinary proceeding found that Roe was incapacitated and unable to consent. Doe unsuccessfully appealed the University’s decision. He then filed this action, alleging Title IX and due-process violations and seeking a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction preventing his one-year suspension from taking effect.
To succeed on a motion for a preliminary injunction, Plaintiff must show: (1) a likelihood of success on the merits; (2) irreparable harm; (3) the threatened injury will outweigh any harms that will result if the injunction is granted; and (4) the grant of an injunction will not disserve the public interest.
Doe failed to show a likelihood of success on the merits. First, Doe’s due process claim is likely to fail because Texas has not waived federal-court immunity under §1983 actions. Second, Doe’s Title IX erroneous outcome claim is unlikely to succeed because there is no evidence of procedural irregularities or other evidence to cast doubt on the accuracy of the University proceedings. In fact, “the record reflects that Doe received a full and fair hearing, with his counsel present throughout, with his counsel cross-examining witnesses, and with Doe making a closing statement. The record also supports the inference that Doe was the one who had sex with Roe the night of the party.” Doe also tried to argue that he was not the one who assaulted Roe, but Roe clearly identified him based on his voice and physical appearance. Ultimately, there was no evidence to contradict Roe’s account of what happened that night.
Doe’s selective enforcement claim also fails to meet the first prong for a preliminary injunction because Doe failed to show any evidence of gender bias. While Roe filed her complaint against Doe in April 2020, Doe chose to wait until November 2020 to file his complaint against Roe. As a result, Doe’s allegations are still being investigated by the University. Additionally, Doe received the lowest possible sanction for sexual assault, so there is no evidence of an overly severe punishment motivated by gender. Accordingly, Doe failed to show that he is likely to succeed on the merits.
The Court also held that the delay in Doe’s education and any reputational damage he may suffer is compensable and/or speculative. Therefore, Doe failed to show irreparable harm. Likewise, Doe failed to show the injury to him from denying the injunction outweighs the harm to the University and the public interest. The personal harm to Doe did not outweigh the harm an injunction would cause to the University, which had worked hard to craft and follow procedures for resolving student-sexual assault claims that comply with federal statutes and regulation, are fair to both sides, and further the institution's educational mission.
Accordingly, the Court denied John Doe’s motion for a preliminary injunction.CATEGORY: Due Process