Former Brandeis student withdraws Title IX lawsuit, claims ‘vindicated’ by judge’s ruling

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BOSTON — A former Brandeis University student who sued the school in 2015, alleging he had been railroaded by school officials during a sexual assault probe, recently withdrew his lawsuit, saying via his attorneys that he wants to get on with his life and adding he feels “vindicated” by a federal judge’s filing last spring.

The student, who is referenced as John Doe in court filings, issued a brief press release this month through his attorneys. Doe’s lawsuit stemmed from the manner in which Brandeis officials handled a sexual assault complaint lodged against him by a former boyfriend, filed months after Doe broke off the monogamous relationship.

Doe’s withdrawal of his lawsuit, according to his lawyers, does not affect the Title IX complaint he filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. As Doe’s attorney Patricia M. Hamill of Philadelphia pointed out in the release, “Title IX is the federal law that prohibits educational institutions that receive federal funds from discriminating against their students on the basis of sex.”

“The OCR has accepted John Doe’s Title IX complaint and the agency’s investigation of Brandeis ongoing,” Hamill added.

Doe’s filing with OCR is unique in that it represents a “reverse” Title IX complaint, which are typically filed against colleges and universities by accusers.

According to Doe’s attorneys, his accuser acknowledged that he and Doe maintained a long-term relationship but claimed he was once awakened by his then-boyfriend with a kiss and sexual overture and that his partner once patted his groin as the two watched a movie. Brandeis officials took the accusation seriously, and proceeded to launch an investigation, after which Doe claims he was issued a disciplinary warning and ordered to submit to mandatory education training.

Doe also claimed that the school leaked the confidential findings of the investigation, resulting in his dismissal from a prominent internship and the withdrawal of additional job offers.

During a lengthy opinion detailing his reasons for rejecting Brandeis’s motion to dismiss Doe’s lawsuit, U.S. District Court Judge Dennis F. Saylor IV ripped the school for “appear[ing] to have substantially impaired, if not eliminated, an accused student’s right to a fair and impartial process.”

“Because the procedures employed by Brandeis did not afford the accused ‘basic fairness,’ the substantive result reached as a result of that process is open to serious doubt,” Saylor added. However, the complaint also raises serious concerns as to the substantive result, even if one assumes that the process was otherwise procedurally fair.”

In the press release, Hamill noted that Doe’s lawsuit also alleged that the school’s handling of the allegations “breached Brandeis’s own written policies and procedures” and added that the school’s then-new special examiner process “was a deeply flawed and fundamentally unfair process.”

“The lawsuit challenged the Special Examiner’s findings, alleging the evidence did not support the findings and, further, wrongly elevated commonplace, everyday interactions in a nearly two-year romantic relationship into serious sexual transgressions,” Hamill wrote.