Occidental College, in Los Angeles, California, has expelled a student who was accused of sexual assault despite evidence that the sex may have been consensual.
According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), the student (who is referred to only as John Doe), was punished by his school despite police dropping charges against him and text message evidence in which the accuser indicated the consensual nature of the act by coordinating a place to meet and asking whether he had a condom.
With the help of FIRE, Doe has filed a lawsuit against Occidental College in an attempt to prove he was unjustly expelled from school.
The accusations took place last September, when the accuser filed charges both with the school and with Los Angeles Police Department. The city’s law enforcement officials ultimately dismissed the case after discovering that both parties were intoxicated and had coordinated the meeting.
Sexual assault is difficult to prosecute, especially in cases where both individuals involved are intoxicated and the situation may seem consensual. It is also a difficult charge to escape for individuals who have been accused, regardless of whether they are guilty or not. It is also difficult for governing bodies such as Occidental to side with a particular individual in cases such as this, with an accuser and the accused relaying different stories.
According to FIRE, however, the school’s logic that only Doe should be punished for the incident does not make sense.
Due to the drunken nature of the encounter, “both parties would be guilty of sexually assaulting one another,” said FIRE Vice President Robert Shibley, according to Reason.com.
Some speculate that Occidental reacted so harshly to this incident due to the Title IX complaint the Federal Department of Education filed against the school, which, according to Buzzfeed, requires them to “respond promptly and effectively to sexual violence and harassment, prevent recurrence and address its effects.”
Doe’s initial appeal to Occidental was denied, which prompted a lawsuit claiming his due process rights were violated.