Court Says Purdue May Have Discriminated Against Male Student Accused Of Sexual Assault
by Evan Gerstmann
July 15, 2019
A federal appellate court has ruled that a male student can continue his lawsuit against Purdue University. The school suspended him for an alleged sexual assault and he claims that this resulted in his expulsion from the Naval ROTC and the end of his planned naval career.
The student, “John Doe,” is accused of sexually assaulting his former girlfriend, “Jane Doe.” John claimed that Jane had become unstable and was angry at him for reporting her attempted suicide. John also alleges that the panel that decided against him never actually spoke to Jane or even read any statement written by her. In fact, the school proceeded against John even though Jane decided not to file a formal complaint. All the evidence against John was summarized by an investigator’s report to which the school did not give John access. Nevertheless, the panel concluded that Jane’s testimony was more credible than John’s.
The appellate court held, among other things, that John’s allegations could support a claim that Purdue discriminated again him on the basis of his gender. The court ruled that if the panel never spoke to Jane or read any statement written by her, it would be reasonable to conclude that the panel sided with Jane, at least in part, because of her gender. Purdue’s case wasn’t helped by the fact that during the same month that John was disciplined, its Center for Advocacy, Response, and Education posted on its Facebook page an article from The Washington Post titled “Alcohol isn’t the cause of campus sexual assault. Men are.”