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A Male Student Was Suspended for Groping. He Says Another Guy Confessed, But Boston College Didn't Care.

An appeals court rules in favor of the accused, says college officials appeared to violate "basic fairness."

BostonJohn PhelanBoston College suspended a male student for a year after he allegedly reached his hand up a girl's skirt at a dance. The student claims not just that he didn't do it but that another male student admitted his guilt.

The suspended student, "John Doe," highlighted that argument in a lawsuit filed against the college. Doe achieved a partial victory in court on Friday, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit vacated a lower court's ruling against Doe. His claim that the college violated his contractual rights, as well as basic fairness, should proceed, according to Circuit Judge Juan Torruella.

That decision makes sense, given Boston College's egregious handling of the matter. Not only did the school ignore Doe's evidence that he was not responsible and that another man had committed the assault, but a dean actively encouraged reluctant adjudicators who were considering a "no finding" verdict to rule against Doe anyway.

It has taken years to litigate the case, which stems from an incident on October 20, 2012. Doe was moving across the dance floor of a cruise ship when a female student, "A.B.," screamed at him and accused him of sticking a hand up her dress and inserting two fingers into her anus. Security took Doe into custody and handed him over to the police after the ship docked.

Doe claims that A.B. had simply identified the wrong person. Another man was walking right in front of Doe; according to Doe, this man, "J.K.," turned to Doe after A.B. confronted him and said, "Sorry, dude, that was my bad." The following day, J.K. texted Doe's friends to inquire whether he had gotten into trouble.

A swab of Doe's hands failed to produce forensic evidence that he had assaulted A.B., and he eventually produced video surveillance footage that led the prosecutor to drop the criminal case. But Boston College's sexual misconduct investigation—conducted under the auspices of the Title IX, the federal statute interpreted by federal Education Department officials to require such procedures—was another matter.

Sexual misconduct charges against Doe were adjudicated by a committee of Boston College professors, administrators, and students. J.K. was forced to answer questions at the hearing, but college officials assured him that he wasn't under suspicion. He denied having admitted any responsibility, and the adjudicators never reviewed the text messages.

At the time of the hearing, the police had not yet obtained the results of the forensics examination. Doe asked the college to delay taking any action until the forensic report was released, arguing that this was important evidence that would exonerate him. College officials rejected this request and pressed on.

Then something remarkable happened: One member of the adjudicating committee told an associate dean of students, Carole Hughes, that they were having trouble reaching a decision and were considering a "no finding" determination—i.e., that there simply wasn't sufficient evidence to find Doe responsible. Hughes informed the dean of students, Paul Chebator, and Chebator "discouraged" the adjudicators from taking this course of action.

Doe was ultimately found responsible for indecent assault and battery and suspended for one year. He appealed the finding but was rejected. He returned to Boston College a year later and eventually graduated. After the criminal case collapsed, Doe implored Boston College to revisit the matter. But the administration determined that "the new evidence...an enhanced analysis of the surveillance video from the ship, the results of the forensic tests, and the results of a polygraph test—did not justify reconsideration of Doe's case."

The court disagreed. In his ruling, Torruella specifically cited the dean's decision to influence the adjudicators and officials' favorable treatment of J.K. as grounds for Doe's lawsuit to proceed. These aspects of the case violated "the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealings imposed on every contract by Massachusetts law," according to the court.

The decision was not a total victory for Doe. The judges rejected his claim that Boston College's Title IX procedures discriminate against men, saying that this was mere conjecture on his part. They also declined to hold the Department of Education itself accountable for encouraging colleges to adopt sexual misconduct policies that violate due process rights.

Now the case will return to the lower court, which will rule on the basic fairness and breach-of-contract claims. Doe is seeking $3 million in damages.

[Hat tip: The College Fix.]

Photo Credit: John Phelan

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Hughes informed the dean of students, Paul Chebator, and Chebator "discouraged" the adjudicators from taking this course of action.

    At some point universities will realize whatever value they get out of social justice warring is not greater than the monetary costs.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    I wouldn't bet on that.

  • Longtobefree||

    Why do you think tuition is rising so fast? Greed by liberals?

  • Livia991||

    And colleges such as Evergreen are fast finding that a deserting student body is forcing them to close. Though to be fair, this isn't such a bad thing, colleges are just dross for the most part and there are too many.

  • Griffin3||

    $3 million dollar award. Accomplish that for every nonsense case like this, and you'll see SJW colleges figuring out what the problem is, right quick.

    And there'll finally be a good reason to get a college degree again, odds have got to be better than the lottery.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Let me guess what the problem is? Government isn't helping students with tuition enough?

  • IceTrey||

    I believe they are forced by Title IX to have these tribunals.

  • Whorton||

    Personally, I think he should refile and request 100 TRILLION DOLLARS in damages. The totality of administration and anyone remotely connected to the case including the huzzy that leveled the charge should be forced to pay the settlement as indentured servants.

  • Benitacanova||

    How slow was this girl in reacting? I would have grabbed his arm mid probe while simultaneously giving him a swift kick with a high heel. In the cajones.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Maybe she enjoyed it, until she looked and realized that the guy she was looking at was creepy, so guilty.

  • Hail Rataxes||

    Yeah, that's definitely what happened because obviously she was an untrustworthy whore.

  • ||

    Well this depiction makes it seem like, despite presumably being completely caught off guard by the act, she knew the number and nature of objects being inserted into her anus.

    I'm not saying she's an untrustworthy whore. I'm just saying I don't believe this depiction to its fullest effect and, in an extra-legal setting, would understand if someone had to pay to see her perform such a feat. Whether she takes the money or not is her prerogative.

    Of course, there's always the possibility that the untrustworthy whoriness is being metaphorically injected after the fact.

  • Iheartskeet||

    My guess is she was offended by incorrect technique. The shocker uses ONE FINGER in that orifice.

  • ||

    How slow was this girl in reacting?

    She, apparently, took the time to count the number of fingers.

  • Iheartskeet||

    Behold the world we'll be living in if progressives ever get power. You could almost call it a revolution....indeed a Cultural Revolution.

  • lap83||

    "The results of a polygraph test—did not justify reconsideration of Doe's case."

    Plus, he has the brain pan of a stagecoach tilter

  • Longtobefree||

    So why would any employer in the world consider a degree from Boston College as proof of any ability to reason rationally? Clearly those teaching and administrating there cannot think at all.
    Time to suspend all federal funding from any college sued for any Title IX reason at all. Just until a real court says things were OK.

    This line of logic explains why the left was shocked, shocked, that Trump won.

  • Zeb||

    It's not so much that they can't think as that they choose not to in certain situations.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    It amazes me how hard these institutions of 'higher learning' work to destroy their 'brand'. We are already seeing corporations drif away from the idea of a degree as employment permit. And what esle do they have to offer?

    Were I a faculty member of a Liberal Arts colllege, I would be practicing asking "Do you want fries with that?"

  • gaoxiaen||

    I am a faculty member in Taiwan. I teach that as part of ordering food in a restaurant, which, regrettably includes ordering food at McDonald's. Though I recommend In-N-Out's Double Double with Monster Fries, and a chocolate milkshake.

  • Libertymike||

    Palin's Buttplug, this is yet another iteration of what I was describing last week.

    You will recall that you had characterized the problem as isolated and then you revised your characterization of the problem to being limited to three dozen schools and then you further revised your assessment to I knew of what I was writing.

    Lost in all of this, of course, is the proposition that boy grabs feel is not exactly a symptom of the end of western civilization whereas creating star chambers to adjudicate such nothing burgers is.

  • gaoxiaen||

    +1 bacon double cheeseburger. Or just bacon.

  • ||

    found responsible for indecent assault

    Found. responsible. for. indecent. assault... found. responsible... indecent...

  • Eidde||

    Has there been any legal commentary on the following question: Should these be treated as arbitration cases?

    After all, the student and the college have a contract that the student will observe certain standards of behavior. If there's a claim the student violated such standards, then instead of a court adjudicating it, a panel of arbitrators - appointed by the college itself - decides the issue.

    Is there anything wrong with this analysis? If it's an arbitration case, then the same standards of review apply with judicial review as with other arbitrations, where one party is responsible for selecting the arbitrators.

    Surely someone with expertise has cogitated about this?

  • DPICM||

    Arbitration must almost always be voluntary. I doubt most students would agree, and as a parent I sure wouldn't. Anyway, I don't know that spending tens or possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars to reach the same terrible result is preferable to what we already have. That would factor in to my decision to refuse to agree to such a clause.

  • Eidde||

    My question is aren't college disciplinary cases in effect arbitration already? I ask not rhetorically, but because I don't know.

  • DPICM||

    I think the answer to that is almost certainly no. Arbitration is typically supposed to mimic most of the procedural protections of litigation (know allegations against you, see and oppose evidence, cross examine witnesses, etc...) but also offer a streamlined procedure (less formal rules and motions, etc...). I suppose that it is possible that the university contract contains some kind of provision labeling its kangaroo process "arbitration," but it's not what I would recognize as actual arbitration from one of the many groups that actually offer these services, like the AAA, for example.

    So I don't think they are arbitration already. But, to the extent they are, that creates an even deeper problem with them. In many states, Arbitration results are very difficult, if not impossible to challenge. Basically, many states have laws that make the results of arbitration binding and nearly unreviewable except in extremely narrow circumstances. To have results like the one here be placed beyond the reach of judicial review would be particularly egregious - the accused was given almost none of the protections the judicial system would afford him, and then he would be out of luck in trying to challenge that just because the university called it arbitration.

    I think the better idea would be for schools to refer all cases to police for investigation first, and only act to discipline students if something in that investigation/prosecution warranted it.

  • Longtobefree||

    Well, arbitration has two sides, so no.

  • Barnstormer||

    From the College Fix article: "A.B." testified that "two fingers were forcibly inserted up into [her] anus" while she was on the dance floor at a school event on a cruise ship.

    Did anybody, anywhere ever give this a nanosecond of critical thought? Unless maybe you're David Copperfield, it seems to me this is a complicated act that no one is going to be able accomplish in a public place without it being obvious to everyone in the room.

    Perhaps the accusation was bogus from the very start.

  • Eidde||

    Allegedly some other guy confessed.

  • SchillMcGuffin||

    Clearly the "forcibly inserted up into [her] anus" part was exaggerated, unless the perp had pretty well-lubed fingers. but pushing them at her anus or running them up her crack would seem to be assault enough, and the implied absence of underwear shouldn't be taken as consent.

    Some sort of dense crowd environment and poor lighting would also seem implied.

  • Libertymike||

    The court also held that neither Boston College nor any of the individual administrators owed the young man a duty of care. Accordingly, the First Circuit upheld the District Court's summary judgment in favor of the defendants relative to the plaintiff's negligence claims.

    This is where we need tort reform. It is where we need to extend, not narrow, the duty of care. In my view, both institutions and individual members of such institutions should be liable to the students whose fate they adjudicate given the billions of public money flowing to such institutions and the imperatives of a free society to rid itself of pernicious progressive influences.

  • Ama-Gi Anarchist||

    One of these cases is bound to eventually turn nasty in a violent way. Its only a matter of time before you get "one of those guys" being accused of something he didn't do....

  • Robert||

    Why do you think the college favored J.K. over J.D.? Doesn't look like bias vs. men, but bias vs. a particular man in favor of another.

  • swampwiz||

    College women will self-destruct their own genetic progeny as college men JUST SAY NO.

  • dammad||

    Ah, yes, the good Jebbies strike again. Ignoring evidence in a church that protected and coddled child molesters/rapists for generations should never be a surprise. Does this not only reflect on BC but the RCC? Absolutely. Where is the oversight? Where is the good cardinal holding those in his diocese accountable? He's too busy burying Kennedys, kissing the pope's ring. In other words, avoiding leading the flock unless it's as a Judas goat.

  • Incredulous||

    It's business as usual on college campuses. No evidence of guilt or even a crime? He's still guilty. Because he's a man.

    It's a violation of title IX, his contractual agreement with the college and common decency. He deserves a multimillion dollar judgement due to the one year delay in his career and damage to his reputation. Unfortunately, our civil justice system is a complete %^$%ing joke, so who knows what will happen. I hope Reason has follow up on this case.

  • Incredulous||

    And yeah, "two fingers inserted up her anus?" WTF? How would that even happen if somebody is fully clothed and in public? It's an insane accusation which would require some proof beyond a reasonable doubt such as multiple eyewitnesses and/or video.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    I can't believe this thing went this far. It never even passed the smell test.

  • E. Kline||

    ahh, I see what you did there.

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