A male student at George Washington University who was suspended for allegedly sexually assaulting a female student is suing university officials over the school's disciplinary process, which he claims is rigged against male students.
The unnamed male student filed the lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, accusing university officials of violating Title IX – the federal statute barring gender discrimination at academic institutions that receive federal funding – in how they handle sexual assault allegations, and also of failing to follow the school’s own policies in dealing with his case.
The plaintiff is arguing that students accused of sexual assault or other violations of the school’s Code of Student Conduct are offered limited opportunities to defend themselves and question their accuser, and also that university officials investigate these types of allegations with a bias against the accused student.
Title IX comes into play, according to the complaint (PDF), because “in virtually all cases of campus sexual assault, the accused student is male and the accusing student is female.”
Washington solo practitioners Gregory Smith and Matthew Kaiser are representing the male student. Kaiser and Smith declined to comment on the pending litigation. The university is being represented by Henry Morris Jr. of Washington’s Arent Fox, who referred all questions to the university.
In a written statement, university spokeswoman Candace Smith declined to comment on the specifics of the lawsuit, citing university policy.
“The university takes seriously complaints of sexual assault it receives, and takes appropriate steps to investigate and adjudicate, under the Code of Student Conduct, such complaints in a manner intended to safeguard the interests of the complainant and the respondent,” Smith said.
The plaintiff, a New Jersey resident who entered GWU as a freshman this fall, is asking the court to lift the suspension. He is also requesting $6 million in damages from the university.
The lawsuit stems a sexual encounter the male student had with a female student in his dorm room in October; the female student went to campus police after and made a statement that the sex was nonconsensual. The female student did not give a statement to the Metropolitan Police Department. The male student has denied the sexual assault allegations.
After an investigation and disciplinary hearing, the university’s Office of Student Judicial Services found that the male student had committed sexual assault in violation of the Code of Student Conduct and ordered a one-year suspension. The male student and his family unsuccessfully tried to appeal the decision.