A former member of the class of 2017 has filed a lawsuit against the University for violation of due process and gender-based discrimination in a sexual misconduct hearing, according to documents from the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island.
The accused was removed from campus before the University conducted an investigation, according to an Oct. 9, 2015 court document. A University hearing then took place in November 2014 and resulted in his suspension from the University for two-and-a-half years.
The man, referred to in the documents as John Doe, was found responsible for non-consensual sexual misconduct, sexual misconduct involving penetration, violent physical force or injury and illegal possession or use of alcohol following a party at Barbour Hall on Oct. 11, 2014.
The man is being represented by Andrew Miltenberg, a litigator who has already represented students from Columbia, Vassar College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Drew University in sexual misconduct cases involving similar allegations of Title IX discrimination against men.
Title IX prohibits gender-based discrimination in education programs receiving federal funding, and it is typically used to protect women’s rights.
Miltenberg is representing a man called John Doe in two separate cases, one filed in April 2015 against the University and the other filed in October 2015 against the woman, Jane Doe of California.
In the latter case, John Doe of Texas — who attended an “elite” university in Providence — is suing Jane Doe of California for spreading false reports of sexual misconduct that have allegedly damaged his reputation and educational opportunities.
Miltenberg has so far refused to confirm that the plaintiffs in both cases are the same John Doe. But the allegations in both cases center on an Oct. 11, 2014 party in an on-campus dormitory and the details of the cases align closely.
“We feel that the complaint relates a very compelling set of facts against Brown,” Miltenberg told the Providence Journal, declining to comment further.
During the party, John Doe and Jane Doe began a friendly conversation and later started kissing, according to the Oct. 9, 2015 court document. They then went to John’s dormitory in Marcy Hall, where they had physical relations, including biting and penetration by finger. About two hours later, Jane Doe left the room and told John Doe she would see him at a party the following day.
John alleges that Jane was angry at him for not acknowledging her at the party and therefore claimed that the encounter was nonconsensual, according to the October court document.
On Oct. 18, 2014, administrators called John Doe to tell him that the University had “issued a no-contact order against him with respect to Jane Doe” due to her allegation of sexual misconduct, the Oct. 9, 2015 document reads.
John Doe was made to leave campus prior to a University investigation, according to the documents.
According to the University’s Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment, Sexual Violence, Relationship and Interpersonal Violence and Stalking Policy, the University may take remedial and protective measures, “which may be temporary or permanent” and may include no-contact and no-communication orders, academic schedule modification, escort, a voluntary leave of absence, interim suspension, restrictions to on-campus activities, work-schedule modifications and “other remedies as reasonable and appropriate.”
The University’s complaint process states that if a respondent is found responsible and the sanction includes separation, the respondent “will be immediately removed from campus residentially and (depending on circumstances) either severely restricted in their movements on campus … or barred completely during the entirety of the appeal process.”
In his charges and throughout his hearing process, John Doe voiced concerns that he had faced discrimination due to his gender.
While both John and Jane Doe had been consuming alcohol as minors, only John Doe was charged with the offense, the documents read. The April document cites this fact as evidence of gender-based discrimination.
At his University hearing, John Doe was interrupted a few seconds into his statement midpoint by Jane Doe's advisor, who requested that John Doe be "shut down" but did not provide "any justifying reason," the April document reads.
The University declined to comment on the court documents when contacted by both the Providence Journal and The Herald.
Peter Cerilli, a lawyer who provides consultation to students at the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center, also declined to comment for this story. Title IX Program Officer Amanda Walsh could not be reached by press time.
A previous version of this article misstated that John Doe was interrupted by his advisor at his University disciplinary hearing. In fact, he was interrupted by Jane Doe's advisor. The Herald regrets the error.