John Doe v. University of the Sciences, No. 19-358 (E.D. Pa. July 29, 2019)
09/23/2019Plaintiff John Doe (“Doe”) filed suit against Defendant University of Sciences (“the University”) after two separate accusations of sexual misconduct led to his inability to graduate. The University moved to dismiss his causes of action for Title IX, breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
On August 24, 2018, Jane Roe 1 (“Roe 1”) filed a report with the University that Doe engaged in sexual
intercourse with her in November 2017. Six days later, her sorority sister, Jane Roe 2 (“Roe 2”) also reported Doe for non-consensual sexual intercourse after she was encouraged by Roe 1 to file a report. The University began simultaneously investigating both reports less than a week later. The University Title IX Coordinator completed her investigation and found Doe in violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy. Without a hearing, an administrative panel convened to determine sanctions for Doe. Two days after the panel’s decision, the University Title IX Coordinator informed him of his sanctions: expulsion, with a notation on his academic transcript; campus restriction; and a no contact order with respect to Roe 1 and Roe 2. He then submitted a written appeal, which was rejected by the University. Doe attempted to obtain injunctive relief and a temporary restraining order, but the Court denied his request because Doe failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success on his claims. As a result, he did not finish his senior year.
Central to Doe’s dispute is the University’s alleged violation of its Sexual Misconduct Policy and Student Handbook by failing to provide “fundamental fairness.” The University used a single investigator to review two independent incidents filed by two separate complainants, both occurring a year apart from each other. Still, it was not obvious to the Court why the University’s use of a single investigator, on its own, could create articulable doubt in the University’s investigation of the case.
Specific to his Title IX claim, Doe argued that gender was a motivating factor in the University’s punishment that resulted in his failure to graduate. He also felt that the University’s investigation was flawed, stating that “University administrators acted from the beginning as someone who believed the complainants without conducting any investigation.” However, the Court found this statement conclusory because he did not cite specific examples of bias.
The Court deemed that Doe did not adequately satisfy his burden to state a claim that the University engaged in gender bias. Accordingly, the Court dismissed Doe’s Amended Complaint.CATEGORY: Discrimination