A former member of the Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets filed a federal Title IX lawsuit Tuesday against the university, alleging A&M officials violated his due-process rights by showing a male gender bias.
The former student, identified in the 47-page petition as “John Doe,” is seeking unspecified damages from the university and nine university officials named as defendants. The lawsuit was filed in a federal court in Houston by Waco attorney Michelle Tuegel and New York attorney Andrew Miltenberg, who both have represented scores of male students accused of sexual wrongdoing on college campuses.
The suit claims that the student, a native of Akron, Ohio, who grew up in Richmond, Virginia, was wrongfully accused of sexual misconduct by a female member of the Corps of Cadets and that the Title IX investigative process took place while Doe was hospitalized for treatment of depression without giving him an adequate chance to defend himself.
A university spokesman declined comment Tuesday, saying university officials had not seen the lawsuit and generally do not comment on pending litigation.
“After he was falsely accused of sexual misconduct, this young man suffered severe depression and anxiety resulting in his hospitalization and subsequent admittance to a mental facility,” Miltenberg said in a statement. “Yet, the administrators at TAMU — showing callous disregard for his well-being and rights to due process — moved forward with a biased hearing and presumption of guilt, providing him with no opportunity to defend himself from these false claims.”
The lawsuit includes references to the sexual-assault scandal at Baylor University, saying that controversy, which has resulted in six Title IX lawsuits against Baylor involving 16 plaintiffs, “created a chilling effect among other universities, particularly nearby schools.”
Three of the Title IX lawsuits against Baylor have been settled, and three sexual assault victims settled claims with Baylor before lawsuits were filed.
“TAMU, therefore, was reasonably aware that the situation at Baylor had shined a light on other schools for their handling of sexual assault cases and had the potential to produce negative publicity for TAMU,” the lawsuit states.
“In response to pressure from OCR (Office for Civil Rights), DOJ (Department of Justice) and the Obama Administration, educational institutions, like defendant TAMU, which also faced negative publicity in the wake of the Baylor investigation, have limited the procedural protections afforded to male students, like John Doe, in sexual misconduct cases.”
According to the complaint, Doe’s accuser, identified as “Jane Doe,” had been accused before of sexual misconduct by a male student. However, while John Doe was removed from campus housing and extracurricular activities during the disciplinary process, she was able to remain in her dorm and activities while claims against her were being investigated.
The lawsuit contends the sexual contact between John Doe and Jane Doe was initiated by Jane Doe and was consensual. John Doe knew nothing about a complaint until he received a letter ordering him to stay away from her.
John Doe was suspended from A&M for more than a year and dismissed from the Corp of Cadets after being found “responsible” for all four charges, including sexual contact, sexual abuse, dating violence and conduct unbecoming a cadet.
By contrast, TAMU assigned Jane Doe and her accuser “50/50 responsibility,” and Jane Doe received no sanctions, the lawsuit alleges.
The suit claims the university came to its conclusions against John Doe “without a basis, rationale, evidentiary support, or the opportunity to defend himself.”
“The stark difference in the procedures and sanctions implemented in the investigations of John Doe and Jane Doe point to a blatant male gender bias at TAMU,” Tuegel said. “The anti-male discriminatory bias in the TAMU process is a clear violation of Title IX and the 14th Amendment requirement for procedural due process.”