Engel & Martin, LLC has brought a new Title IX lawsuit against Bellarmine University.
This is another case arising amidst a growing national controversy stemming from the Federal Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights’ (“OCR”) threats to withhold federal education funds to compel colleges and universities to address “sexual violence” on their campuses.
The plaintiff, identified only at “John Doe” was suspended from Bellarmine for events that allegedly occurred on the evening of December 31, 2016 during a winter break trip to Europe.
John Doe was accused of inappropriately touching one or more female students on the trip. One of the faculty advisors on the trip referred to the whole matter as a “witch hunt.” But, after consulting with the Executive Director, the faculty advisors decided to remove John Doe from the program. He was asked to leave the hotel and told that he would have to find his own way back to the United States. Essentially, he was abandoned on the streets of a foreign country.
Bellarmine later conducted an investigation and suspended John Doe. The investigative report is replete with hearsay and contained numerous statements from witnesses who did not actually witness anything. Typical is an interview with a student who told the investigators that he was not present for the Incident, but “just heard after.”
John Doe as denied the right — as guaranteed by the Clery Act — to have an attorney present when interviewed and at an initial hearing. He was given a second hearing, but this as nothing more than a rushed Kangaroo Court.
The student’s attorney, Joshua Engel, said in an interview Tuesday that “without any hearing or semblance of process, he was kicked off the trip and thrown out his hotel. The student’s parents then had to arrange for a hotel room and transportation back to the United States.”
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Engel said in the interview Tuesday that “even if you believe the worst of the allegations, the punishment John Doe received is greatly disproportionate to the offense.”
John Doe is asking the court for a preliminary injunction. If the suspension stands, a suspension will damage his academic and professional reputations, and may affect his ability to enroll at other institutions of higher education and to pursue a career.
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