Title IX / College Discipline Practice - Warshaw Burstein LLP | <em >Johnson v. Marian University,</em > Docket No. 20-1165, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 36603 (7th Cir. Nov. 20, 2020)
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  • Johnson v. Marian University, Docket No. 20-1165, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 36603 (7th Cir. Nov. 20, 2020)
    Plaintiff Trevor Johnson and Jane Roe were both drinking at a party one night in September 2017. They then went back to Roe’s room and had sex. The next morning, Roe could not remember having intercourse. A year later, Roe filed a complaint with the University’s Title IX office, and Johnson was suspended from Marian University for two semesters for non-consensual sexual misconduct. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in favor of Defendant.

    The Court held that Johnson failed to prove a connection between his case and the generalized allegations of gender bias at Marian University. Johnson relied upon the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, and an OCR investigation into the University’s handling of sexual assault complaints. Johnson also pointed to statements by the Title IX investigator, Dr. Paul Krikau, to show gender bias affected the disciplinary proceedings against Johnson. This included statements from Dr. Krikau during his initial interview with Jane Roe that certain events as described by Roe amounted to violations of university policy. There were also statements on Dr. Krikau’s personal Twitter account endorsing Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and defending a woman who complained of having to be selective about reporting sexual harassment. However, the Court held that because these statements had nothing to do with Johnson’s case, they did not call into question Dr. Krikau’s ability to review Roe’s allegations objectively. At most, Dr. Krikau’s statements showed a pro-victim bias, but both women and men can be victims of sexual assault. This left only Johnson’s generalized allegations of anti-male bias at the University, which was insufficient to create a triable issue on sex discrimination. Therefore, the Court affirmed summary judgment for Defendant.
    CATEGORY: Discrimination