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Lawsuit forces Georgia Tech to reverse expulsion of student accused of sexual assault

Image via irp.gatech.edu

Image via irp.gatech.edu

An expelled Georgia Tech student accused of sexual assault has now been reinstated. But, the decision for the Board of Regents to reverse the expulsion comes as the student was seeking an injunction to force them to do so. The situation is thus still troubling.

As the Washington Examiner reported, the student, known as John Doe, was reinstated after the reversal, resulting in the lawyers for Georgia Tech to argue an injunction would be moot. The lawsuit likely forced the Board of Regents to act quickly, as their decision wasn’t expected for months, hence why the injunction was requested.

But the problems and confusion of the situation go much deeper. Aspects of the school’s policy are not only troubling, but the policy was not even followed when investigating and expelling the student.

For instance, Doe was not accused until a year after the incident. The investigation still proceeded despite the Examiner noting that the school has a 30 day reporting policy. The timing may be convenient for the accuser, for it is also noted that “Doe alleges the encounter was consensual and that the accusation came because he rebuffed the advances of his accuser in the year between the encounter and the accusation.”

A problematic issue with the policy itself is the use of a single investigator to investigate and decide the culpability. The accuser was interviewed twice and able to respond to requests, who was the one to provide witnesses, though they were not taped or transcribed. Doe was then given just one hour to review a 13-page, single-spaced summary of the investigation.

As if that’s not bad enough, the investigator decided Doe was responsible. But then, as the Examiner reported:

…The investigator wrote in his summary that “both the victim and the respondent provide accounts that are reasonable to believe” and that, given the nonverbal actions of the accuser during the sexual encounter, Doe reasonably believed “he had consent.”

The messy process continued then. Fortunately, the Appellate Committee overturned the decision. But then the accuser’s parents filed an appeal to the school’s president, even though the accuser must be the one to file according to the policy, and did so after the deadline. Despite this, the president upheld the initial finding.

The Examiner explains more of the confusing back and forth:

As if this weren’t even more confusing, Doe then appealed to the school’s Board of Regents, which vacated the president’s decision, saying he misstated school policy and didn’t review the investigative material. The Board of Regents returned the case to the Appellate Committee that initially overturned the finding of responsibility, only this time, the committee found Doe responsible after the school’s president directed them to do so.

It is written that the Regents “inexplicably… met much sooner than planned and reinstated Doe,” though as mentioned a lawsuit may have something to do with it.

Doe’s attorney, Andrew Miltenberg, e-mailed the Examiner that they were “very pleased” with the decision, which involved the “immediate, critical concern was that our client be able to start the semester on January 11, 2016, and enroll in the specific classes he needs to pursue his degree.” Nevertheless, they “remain extremely disappointed” it took so long.

A press release was also sent out by the group Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), which argued the situation “marks a growing wave of popular concern over the erosion of due process protections and free speech rights on college campuses.”


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