Andrew Miltenberg’s complaint on behalf of a pseudonymous black male student against Texas A&M University is by no means brief. And yet, after reading it, I was forced to ask Andrew the obvious question: Do you have any idea what “Jane Doe” alleged your client did? Even now, the answer was no, not a clue. Not only does the plaintiff not know what the allegations against him are, but no clue why his one-time dear friend and occasional hook-up over a period of years decided to destroy his life.
And make no mistake, she did some serious damage. And then TAMU heaped on a bunch more.
After receiving a report from a female student, Jane Doe, concerning sexual contact she had with John Doe approximately one year earlier, TAMU failed to conduct an adequate, reliable, and impartial investigation and hearing.
Upon being notified of John Doe’s hospitalization and subsequent admittance to a mental health treatment facility, TAMU proceeded with the investigation and adjudication process without John Doe’s participation altogether, depriving John Doe of his right to defend himself against false allegations. TAMU reached the erroneous conclusion that John Doe had engaged in misconduct, despite a lack of evidence or witness testimony to support Jane Doe’s claims.
John was a smart, hard-working student. A member of the Corps of Cadets and the marching band at TAMU, he was the guy everyone knew would make something of himself.
He also held a number of leadership positions and won many awards. He was a member of the Student Council, served as the head of Public Relations, was a leader in and given an award by RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award), attended and awarded with recognitions by the Southwest Youth Leadership Conference at Trinity University, received Salutes award from the North Texas Council on Youth Leadership for high scholastic achievements, was the Youth Representative at his Church Council, and was voted by his peers to be the Band President during his senior year. He graduated high school with a 4.58 GPA and in the top 9% of his graduating class. His childhood goal had been to become a lawyer and later become the first African American President of the United States of America.
Maybe too late to be the first African-American president, but second? Not now. Except there was one additional challenge to overcome: depression. After the shock of being accused of rape by someone with whom he had engaged in mutually consensual sex numerous times, John Doe required hospitalization for intensive mental health treatment.
This meant that he needed to adjourn the campus hearing. It wasn’t as if this posed any risk to Jane, as he had already been thrown out of his dorm, out of the Corps of Cadets, off the TAMU marching band. After all, they can’t have an accused male rapist stalking the campus.
But TAMU refused because . . . reasons.
Despite being informed that John Doe would be in the hospital for a 45-day intensive treatment program, Ms. Ford emailed Attorney Tuegel on April 11, 2017 to inform her that John Doe’s Information Session had been scheduled for two days later on April 13, 2017, and his Panel had been scheduled to proceed on April 20, 2017.
After all, if John didn’t feel like showing, that was his choice. The hearing must go on. The hearing into what? Well, that’s a pretty good question, even though Jane had been busy running around campus telling their mutual friends what a rape-y sort of guy John was.
John Doe received an email from Ms. Shuglie, providing him with a document titled “Resources, Rights, and Options for Individuals Accused of Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Stalking, Domestic Violence or Dating Violence.” It was from reading that document that John Doe was informed of the nature of the allegations against him. However, as he still had not received any information regarding the specific allegations being claimed against him, John Doe informed Ms. Shuglie that he could not provide any information or statements at that time and would like to be advised as to the next step in the process.
As every young prosecutor knows, there’s no need in giving away the specifics since the perp is guilty and knows exactly what he did anyway. Unless he’s not, but why would TAMU’s Title IX
prosecutor investigator not believe the victim?
And the hearing was held, and Doe found responsible. He might have appealed, but for the fact that he was informed of his guilt by email while he had no access to email in the hospital, so his tiny window was closed by the time he found out. And TAMU neglected to inform anyone else of the outcome, despite his providing FERPA authorization. Then again, since he still had no clue what he was alleged to have done, an appeal would have been a curious exercise in disproving the unknown. So TAMU suspended him until Jane Doe graduated, plus a series of other demands and punishments, subject to his applying for and being readmitted after Jane completed her college experience.
But then comes an even more unusual kicker, turning the case from merely outrageously unfair to John Doe to a flagrant demonstration of anti-male bias in the execution of Title IX.
Around the time that Jane Doe’s allegations against John Doe were being adjudicated, a fellow TAMU student “R.P.” filed a sexual misconduct complaint against Jane Doe. In fact, R.P.’s claim was made directly to TAMU when he was called in to speak as a witness to Jane Doe’s claims. It is then that R.P. reported to TAMU that Jane Doe had sexually assaulted him the weekend prior to making her report for misconduct against John Doe.
Unlike John Doe, Jane wasn’t treated like a predator and exiled for her misconduct. She went about college as usual. And then a hearing was held:
Despite R.P.’s detailed allegations and text messages between him and Jane Doe, the University found Jane Doe “Not Responsible” for any misconduct. Upon information and belief, the University’s decision was based on a finding of 50/50 responsibility, meaning that the University found both parties held equal responsibility in their sexual conduct and no sanctions were imposed. The University allegedly informed the parties that the decision was based on an alleged lack of evidence.
In John Doe’s case, Jane didn’t show at the hearing, which was more than sufficient to prove him fully responsible, even if he still has no clue what it is he supposedly did. But it’s the second “mystery,” how TAMU could discriminate so obviously against males, that makes this suit remarkable. Rarely do violations of Title IX’s prohibition against sex discrimination appear so flagrant and obvious in a single young man’s case, even if he wants to be the second African-American president of the United States.