Metro, University News

Brown requests dismissal of gender bias hearing

Judge to decide on dismissal of hearing for student suspended for sexual misconduct

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, December 3, 2015

The University asked a judge to dismiss a hearing brought by a former member of the class of 2017 who believes he was discriminated against due to his gender in a sexual misconduct case heard by the Student Conduct Board in fall 2014, according to a University press release Tuesday.

The University argued that the plaintiff, identified only as John Doe in court documents, could not provide any specific allegations that showed the University acted with anti-male bias, according to the Office of General Counsel in the University press release.

“There’s no smoking gun that we’re out to get men,” said University lawyer Steven Richard in Tuesday’s court proceedings, the Providence Journal reported. “The plaintiff has to show something more than just speculation and … innuendo.” 

But John Doe’s complaint states that the University violated its “educational contract” by failing to provide him with procedural rights guaranteed by the Student Code of Conduct during the hearing. In his complaint to the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island filed in April, Doe claims his accuser’s advisor ordered him to prematurely terminate his testimony just seconds after it had begun.

Most cases like Doe’s have been dismissed by courts nationwide due to the plaintiff’s failure to provide specific facts demonstrating how a school’s actions were motivated by a gender bias, the press release said.

“In the small minority of cases where courts have allowed such Title IX discrimination cases to proceed, there has usually been some allegation of a specific statement by a school official involved in the disciplinary process that shows not just sympathy for the alleged victim of a sexual assault, but an actual bias against males in general,” the release said.

Doe is represented by Andrew Miltenberg, a lawyer who has become known for bringing universities to court over similar cases in the past.

Besides the University, Doe is also suing his complainant, referred to as Jane Doe, for slandering him by falsely accusing him of sexual misconduct, leading to his suspension.

District Court Chief Judge William Smith said he would come to a decision in the next several weeks, the Journal reported.

The University would not comment while the matter is pending in court, said Acting Director of News and Communications Mark Nickel.