A federal court has dismissed a female plaintiff’s claims against a university in an unusual Title IX case. According to the court’s opinion, a male student, “John Doe,” first alleged the plaintiff, “Jane Doe,” committed sexual assault against him. The plaintiff subsequently alleged he had committed sexual assault against her. Following an investigation and hearing addressing both complaints, the university found the plaintiff sexually assaulted John Doe by having sexual intercourse with him when he was too intoxicated to consent. The university also found that John Doe committed sexual assault against the plaintiff when he choked her during the encounter and that he committed “Sexual Verbal Abuse.” Both students were suspended for a semester.
Jane Doe filed suit against the university, alleging in relevant part that the university’s disciplinary process violated Title IX and its decision was motivated by gender bias. She argued procedural flaws and evidentiary weaknesses led to an erroneous result. She further alleged that these procedural issues were motivated by her gender. The plaintiff also alleged several other claims, including breach of contract and negligence.
The court noted that, as a private university, the defendant did not have the same due process requirements as a public institution.
When a plaintiff alleges discrimination based on erroneous outcome, she must allege facts that raise an “articulable doubt” on the outcome’s accuracy as well “circumstances suggesting that gender bias was a motivating factor” in that outcome. Articulable doubt can be shown through procedural flaws, “inconsistencies or errors in the findings,” or insufficiency or unreliability of the evidence. To show gender bias, the plaintiff must show that she was wrongfully found guilty at least partly due to her gender.