The 22-year-old man, who goes by the pseudonym John Doe, was kicked out of Amherst College in Massachusetts, US, after the disciplinary board had concluded that he forced a female student to perform oral sex on him in February 2012.
Doe has always maintained that he had in fact blacked out after drinking heavily and received the sex act without any knowledge of it.
Two years later, he was accused of sexual assault and found guilty.
But now, his lawyer has helped uncover powerful new evidence which proves his innocence – yet the college is not re-opening its case.
The accuser was the room mate of the woman Doe was dating at the time.
A text message sent from her to a friend immediately after the alleged rape read: ‘It’s pretty obvi I wasn’t an innocent bystander.’
Then she send another message reading: ‘Oh my God I just did something stupid.’
Later that evening she invited another male student back to her place for sex.
This man has since testified that she seemed ‘friendly, flirtatious, and spirited’ and not in any way ‘anxious, stressed, depressed, or otherwise in distress’.
Late last month, Doe’s lawyer, Max D. Stern, filed a lawsuit in US District Court in Springfield, arguing that the college is guilty of a miscarriage of justice against his client.
The lawyer of an Amherst College student expelled in 2013 following a disciplinary board’s conclusion that he had raped a female student in 2012 filed a lawsuit in Springfield District Court Friday, claiming a miscarriage of justice against his client.
The student, who goes by the ” in the lawsuit, brought new evidence to the college last April, including text messages sent by the accuser suggesting that the encounter was consensual and even inviting another male student to her room to “entertain” her later that night.
In the Dec. 13, 2013, letter Amherst sent notifying Doe of his expulsion, it was noted that he could appeal the decision within a week, on the basis of a material procedural error, bias by chair or member of the board or new, relevant and substantive evidence.
The lawsuit states the college has done nothing to revisit its expulsion decision. Amherst College spokesperson Pete Mackey told the Boston Globe, “‘We are confident that the process the college followed was appropriate and that the court will conclude that the College’s process was fair.’”
Doe was found responsible on a “preponderance of the evidence,” which, according to the Globe, means it was determined it was more likely than not that Doe was responsible. In the past, there was a greater burden of proof on the college, the Globe article stated.
The lawsuit also claims that a stricter climate for sexual assault discipline has been present since former student Angie Epifano published an account in the Amherst College newspaper about the college’s response her to report of sexual assault. Epifano wrote that she was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility when she refused to forget about an alleged rape and to forgive the alleged assailant in 2012.
Moreover, the lawsuit alleges that Amherst College’s new policies have solely targeted male students of color. Doe is Asian American.
The disputed sexual encounter occurred Feb. 5, 2012, between Doe and a woman going by the pseudonym “Sandra Jones,” the roommate of a woman Doe had been dating. That night, Doe consumed alcohol to the point where he “blacked out” and had no memory of the encounter. The two went to her room and Jones performed oral sex on Doe.
The Amherst College Sexual Misconduct Policy states, “Being intoxicated or impaired by drugs or alcohol is never an excuse for sexual misconduct and does not excuse one from the responsibility to obtain consent.”
According to Jones’ initial written complaint, the entire encounter was nonconsensual. In an interview with an investigator a few weeks later, the lawsuit states, “Sandra Jones admitted that she had begun to perform oral sex willingly on the plaintiff, and that it only became nonconsensual ‘on a break’ during the sex act.”
In a series of text messages with a residential counselor later that evening, Jones said that, to her roommate, it would be “pretty (obvious) that I wasn’t an innocent bystander” during the encounter, according to the lawsuit. The counselor suggested that she “put all the blame on (Doe).”
After Jones’ encounter with Doe that evening, another male student arrived at her dorm room after being invited over. That student testified that she appeared “‘friendly, flirtatious, and spirited” when he arrived and did not appear ‘anxious, stressed, depressed, or otherwise in distress.’”
Text messages between Jones and the counselor regarding the sexual encounter with the male student who came over later that evening indicate that Jones was “anything but terrified and traumatized,” according to the lawsuit.
Doe’s lawyer claims in the lawsuit that there is a “substantial likelihood” that the disciplinary board would have reached a different conclusion if it had been able to use the text messages in its decision.
The Daily Collegian could not reach Mackey for comment Sunday.
A former Amherst College student expelled in 2013 after being found responsible for sexual assault is suing the college, arguing that a “deeply flawed” investigation failed to consider key evidence that proved his innocence.
This is the second federal lawsuit against the college this year related to its sexual assault discipline practices. An earlier case involving a student who was expelled after being found responsible for a sexual assault was settled out of court in January.
The new plaintiff, identified only as “John Doe” in court documents, said he was unjustly accused and then found responsible in 2013 for raping a female student nearly two years earlier, according to a complaint filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Springfield.
The Boston lawyers representing the man, Max D. Stern and Hillary A. Lehmann, argue the college was under “intense pressure” at the time to take action on reports of sexual assault. In 2013, a student’s criticism of how the college handled her rape report made national news.
They claim the college gave unfair treatment to the man’s accuser because she is female and allege that the college’s pursuit of sexual assault perpetrators unfairly targeted men of color. The man is of Asian descent.
The suit names Amherst College, its president, Carolyn “Biddy” Martin, and four other administrators as defendants.
A spokesperson for the school told In this instance, the hearing board concluded that the individual violated the college’s policies on sexual misconduct and respect for other persons. The college is confident that the hearing board followed the College’s process in making its decision.”
An Amherst College student blacked out, accompanied a fellow student back to her dorm room after drinking in February 2012. While he was blacked out, she performed oral sex on him.
Nearly two years later, she would accuse him of sexual assault. And under Amherst’s guilty-until-proven-innocent (and even then, as we’ll see, still guilty) hearing standards, the accused student was expelled.
The accused student — using the pseudonym John Doe — is suing the university for denying him due process. His lawyer had discovered text messages that prove the accused student did not initiate the encounter and in no way sexually assaulted the accuser. Despite this evidence, the university refused to reopen Doe’s case.
K.C. Johnson, co-author of the book about the Duke lacrosse rape hoax, obtained Doe’s lawsuit as well as transcripts from the hearing that found him guilty. Johnson first describes Amherst’s Kafkaesque sexual assault rules, which stated goal is to “empower victims” during hearings rather than determine the truth.
Johnson notes that the school has adopted the “yes means yes” definition of consent — meaning someone has to ask before performing any sexual act on another person and receive an affirmative response. But the standard provides no way for accused students to prove they obtained such consent. (For that matter, given that the sexual act was performed on the accused student, was there any evidence he provided affirmative consent?)
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