Title IX

Lawsuit: Male Student Accused of Sexual Harassment for Rejecting Gay Advances Commits Suicide After Title IX Verdict

The University of Texas at Arlington's sexual misconduct investigation resembles the Salem witch trials.


Derek Kay

"You should consider killing yourself."

That's what Thomas Klocke, a straight male student at the University of Texas at Arlington, allegedly told a gay male classmate after finding out about his sexuality during class on May 19, 2016. The classmate filed a Title IX complaint with the university.

The problem? Klocke denied ever having made such a comment. In his version of the story, the classmate came on to him during class, calling him beautiful. Klocke felt uncomfortable, told the classmate he was straight, and moved to a different seat after the classmate wouldn't stop looking at him.

The classmate might have been worried Klocke would accuse him of sexual harassment, Klocke later guessed, because he immediately filed his own sexual harassment complaint against Klocke. The accuser told university officials that Klocke had called him a "faggot" and threatened to kill him.

Klocke maintained that he did no such thing, but the university sided with the accuser.

Days after discovering that a finding of responsibility could prevent him from getting in to grad school, Klocke committed suicide.

That's according to Watchdog.org's Ashe Schow, who writes that "if every other egregious example of a male student denied due process after being accused of sexual misconduct gets ignored—this one should not be." I suggest reading the full story here.

We will never know who was telling the truth and who was lying, though it's worth noting that in Klocke's version, he's the victim of something approaching harassment—at least according to the Education Department's broad definition of harassment under its revised Title IX guidance. And, as Title IX activists frequently remind the public, we must always believe the victims.

The investigation was biased against Klocke from the start, owing to the unfortunate fact that his accuser was on friendly terms with Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Heather Snow, who assisted the accuser in filing his complaint. Snow did not follow proper procedure, according to a lawsuit filed against the college by Klocke's family: she failed to contact the university's Title IX coordinator, and took charge of the investigation herself. Note the blatant unfairness:

Snow took control of the disciplinary procedure that involved a complaint she wrote herself. She enlisted the help of UTA's associate director of academic integrity, Daniel Moore, and had him tell Klocke he was immediately prohibited from attending the class where the incident was alleged to have occurred. Klocke was completing the course as part of a short, pre-summer semester in order to graduate that summer.

When Klocke was informed that an accusation had been lodged against him, he was not told the name of his accuser. Klocke was also informed that he could not contact anyone in the class, directly or indirectly, effectively denying him any ability to find witnesses to corroborate his story.

His accuser was able to remain in the class and find witnesses. He found only one, who didn't corroborate his account but did say he overheard someone say "you should leave." This could have been said by either Klocke or his accuser in either of their stories.

Klocke received no hearing, even though the university's Title IX policy explicitly mandates hearings for students in danger of being expelled. He was simply charged with making physical threats against a student and engaging in harassment, in violation of Title IX.

Snow conferred with Associate Director of Academic Integrity Daniel Moore, who conceded that there wasn't enough evidence against Klocke, according to the lawsuit. The administrators found him responsible for harassment anyway and placed him on disciplinary probation.

On June 2, 2016, Klocke killed himself. His family is now suing the university for, among other things, violating his Title IX rights.

How much longer must this madness continue? Students accused of sexual misconduct deserve competent legal representation, fair hearings, and the opportunity to confront their accusers. If it cannot be reasonably shown that the accused is likely guilty, he should not be punished.

The original purpose of Title IX was to ensure equality between the sexes in education. In its present day iteration, Title IX is little more than a tool for irate students to exact vengeance on people who offended them. The investigations have now begun to resemble the Salem witch trials in their contempt for principles of basic justice, capacity to destroy innocent lives, and deference to hysteria.

It's long past time for President Trump to appoint a new assistant secretary to head OCR and reverse the previous administration's Title IX guidance. For more on that subject, read Stuart Taylor Jr. in The Wall Street Journal.