Yale disputes claim it expelled hoops player to set example
By Evan Lips | October 4, 2016, 12:32 EST
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Yale University is showing no signs of backing away from its decision to expel the former captain of its men’s basketball team over a sexual assault allegation, an action the student athlete’s attorney has labeled as “wrong, unfairly determined, arbitrary, and excessive by any rational measure.”
In its answer to former student Jack Montague’s federal lawsuit, the prestigious Ivy League school repeatedly denied allegations made by Montague’s attorney, including claims that Yale “engaged in a battle to establish itself as an institution that takes accusations of sexual misconduct seriously.”
Montague’s attorney, Max Stern of Boston-based Todd & Weld LLP, has held that he “cannot help but think” that the school’s decision to expel Montague was related to a report from the Association of American Universities that criticized Yale’s handling of sexual assault allegations.
“From what appears, Jack has been pilloried as a ‘whipping boy’ for a campus problem that has galvanized national attention,” Stern wrote in a March press release.
Yale in its filing did not deny the allegations made in the AAU report, but repeatedly denied all claims that Montague’s case did not warrant his expulsion.
Montague was expelled last February after a panel of the University Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct determined he had non-consensual sex in October 2014 with a female student who is currently a senior at the school.
Montague’s attorney has argued that the two were engaged in a relationship and that “she made this claim despite calling Montague shortly after the encounter, voluntarily rejoining him the same evening, flirting with him on the way back to his bedroom, and spending the remainder of the night in his bed with him.”
Attorneys representing Yale, however, deny that the school “served as a poster boy for tough enforcement of the sexual misconduct policies.”
“The defendant admits that some Yale students and some alumni raised concerns about how Yale responded to complaints of sexual misconduct,” the answer stated. “The defendant denies that it had to show that it was willing to take a hard line against male students accused of sexual assault in order to dispel the notion that Yale’s campus was an unfriendly and unsafe environment for women.”
Court documents indicate that the formal accusation against Montague was actually filed by a school Title IX coordinator. The coordinator apparently made the charge after speaking to the alleged victim, who waited a year to report the allegation. Yale and New Haven police were not involved in the matter.
Yale, under an edict from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, adopted ‘preponderance of the evidence’ standards for adjudicating sexual assault claims, effectively replacing due process. The process involving Montague featured a secret vote from the school sexual assault committee’s five-member panel.
According to school policy, the “panel will reach its conclusions by a majority vote and by secret ballot, with no abstentions allowed.”
Yale defines sexual assault as “any kind of nonconsensual sexual contact, including rape, groping and any other non-consensual sexual touching.” It defines consent as a “positive, unambiguous and voluntary agreement” that “cannot be inferred from the absence of a ‘no’” and “cannot be obtained from someone who is asleep or otherwise mentally or physically incapacitated, whether due to alcohol, drugs or some other condition.”
Yale in its answer also denied “the implication that the formal complaint was filed without the participation” of Montague’s accuser.
“The defendant denies that the female student was affirmatively misled by the defendants into participating in a formal complaint process initiated by Yale,” the answer states.
Court documents indicate that amended pleadings are due by January.
Read Yale’s answer: