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Campus “consent” wars: Expelled male student sues Cornell Univ.

Campus “consent” wars: Expelled male student sues Cornell Univ.

Was found “responsible” by campus tribunal for sexual relations he says were consensual.

We have previously focused on the rising number of lawsuits by male students against universities over alleged mistreatment in response to claims of sexual assault:

Now Cornell University has been sued, as The Ithaca Voice reports:

A new lawsuit filed Thursday against Cornell claims the university wrongly expelled a male student for what was “clearly consensual” sex.

The former student, a senior at Cornell, was found guilty of sexual misconduct by the university’s judicial system after an encounter with a female student in December 2013, according to the lawsuit. There is no indication criminal charges were ever pursued.

The male student is referred to throughout the lawsuit under the pseudonym “John Doe.” He was expelled in May 2014, shortly before his graduation, and has had his diploma withheld and his reputation “tarnished” as a result, according to the lawsuit.

In a 53-page complaint, the student’s attorneys launch a wide-ranging critique of both Cornell’s handling of the specific case and the overall framework of the university’s judicial system.

The lawsuit also assails the university’s decision in 2013 to lower the burden of proof for sexual assault cases from a “clear and convincing” standard of evidence to the much-lower “preponderance” standard of evidence.

But Cornell failed to administer even this lower standard of evidence fairly, the lawsuit contends.

The Complaint and Motion to Proceed Under Pseudonym are embedded at the bottom of this post.

The Motion has a concise summary of the factual allegations regarding the encounter:

Plaintiff, Jane Doe and Witnesses L.T., M.N., M.V. and V.P. remained in Jane Doe’s apartment for approximately twenty five minutes. They engaged in conversation in Jane Doe’s kitchen, discussing various topics such as their previous sexual experiences. The Witnesses indicated that no member of the group appeared overly intoxicated, to the point of being incapacitated.

At some point during the conversation, Jane Doe removed her bra from under her shirt, in front of the whole group. As she did this, she motioned toward Plaintiff and moved closer to him….

Due to the cold weather and the distance to Plaintiff’s apartment, Jane Doe agreed to let Plaintiff spend the night at her apartment. Jane Doe did not have a couch so it was understood that Plaintiff would sleep in her bed with her. She attributed this hospitality to her German family’s alleged “sailboat community ideals.”

After M.N., M.V., L.T. and V.P. departed, Plaintiff informed Jane Doe that he was interested in her. Plaintiff and Jane Doe began to kiss while standing up. The kissing continued as they moved towards the bed….

Plaintiff and Jane Doe engaged in sexual activity for approximately one hour. Both Plaintiff and Jane Doe were awake and coherent at all times during the sexual activity, communicating non-verbally by touching, stroking and kissing each other.

Jane Doe demonstrated her consent through both words and actions, by actively participating in the sexual activity, stating her willingness to engage in sexual activities up to a certain point, manually manipulating Plaintiff’s penis, removing her own clothing and underwear and continuing to kiss and touch Plaintiff throughout the sexual encounter.

Plaintiff and Jane Doe fell asleep together in Jane Doe’s bed and woke up later that morning around 8:30 a.m. when an alarm clock went off….

The relationship between Plaintiff and Jane Doe did not change after the Incident, as they continued to attend the same classes, sit nearby each other and complete their finals for the winter semester.

On February 18, 2014, more than two (2) months after the sexual encounter, Jane Doe filed a complaint against Plaintiff, alleging that Plaintiff raped Jane Doe on December 14, 2013, while she was incapacitated. A temporary no contact order was put in place on February 24, 2014 and an investigation commenced.

The motion then describes what plaintiff alleges were procedural violations in the handling of the complaint:

A non-exhaustive list of Cornell’s wrongful actions throughout Plaintiff’s disciplinary process include the following: (i) Cornell failed to conduct a timely investigation of the allegations and failed to timely bring the case to a close within sixty (60) days while requiring Plaintiff’s compliance with same; (ii) Cornell failed to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation; (iii) Cornell employed a single-investigator model which resulted in a lack of due process for Plaintiff; (iv) Cornell purported to perform a Blood Alcohol Content analysis to form conclusions that were unsupported and highly prejudicial; (v) Cornell engaged in an investigation biased against the male accused; (vi) Cornell wholly adopted Jane Doe’s unsupportable theory of “sailboat community values” as evidence; (vii) Cornell relied on an investigation consisting of a skewed rendition of the facts, cherry-picked witness statements and ignored important qualifying statements; (viii) Cornell made assessments of credibility and evidentiary weight with respect to each fact witness without any ascertainable rationale or logic; (ix) Cornell failed to afford Plaintiff the requisite presumption of innocence required by a disproportionate in light of the circumstances, all of which demonstrated substantial procedural errors in violation of Title IX.

Ultimately, on May 20, 2014, the hearing panel issued a decision, in which they found Plaintiff responsible for the charges brought by Jane Doe (the “Decision”).

As Plaintiff’s sanction, Cornell initially determined that expulsion was appropriate, and, upon reconsideration, modified Plaintiff’s sanction to withhold his diploma for two (2) years, provided that he meets certain enumerated conditions (the “Sanction”).

We’ll track this case, and keep you informed.


Doe v. Cornell – Complaint

Doe v. Cornell – Motion to Proceed Under Pseudonym


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legacyrepublican | March 20, 2015 at 7:24 pm

Eventually, Title IX is going to have to apply to men too.

With campus enrollments increasingly becoming more female than male, men are becoming the victims of emboldened and sanctioned female “micro” aggression.

Good! This “rape crisis” BS has got to be put to bed (so to speak).

The only way that’ll happen is if institutions and individuals pay for their hysterical excesses and predations on the rights of men.

    Olinser in reply to Ragspierre. | March 20, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    The only way it is going to end is if individuals responsible for these bullshit and life-changing verdicts against men are held PERSONALLY LIABLE for their assault against men.

    The reason things like this happen is that university bean counters sat in a room and determined that the money they spend paying off innocent men is less than the federal money they would lose by not conforming to the administration’s PC bullshit about rape.

    Until the investigators and the President/Dean of the university are held PERSONALLY LIABLE, this bullshit isn’t going to end.

    Rape is a CRIME.

    What do you think the response would be if you walked into a police station and told them you had been robbed 3 months ago and give them your unsubstantiated word you know who did it? They’d laugh at you.

    This bullshit coddling of women that want to tell their stories months later with no proof has to end – it detracts from the VERY REAL FACT that if you have ACTUALLY been raped, if you don’t report it within 24 hours (when there is still physical evidence to be collected), the chance of actually convicting a rapist drops to near zero.

    A university’s rape procedures should consist of exactly 2 steps:

    Step 1: Call the police
    Step 2: Get out of the way

    The universities have invented their own system to harass and slander men against whom a criminal conviction IS NOT POSSIBLE.

      Ragspierre in reply to Olinser. | March 20, 2015 at 9:44 pm


      Like I said.

      healthguyfsu in reply to Olinser. | March 21, 2015 at 12:44 am

      Funny you lay blame at the feet of administrators (who I hate BTW) but fail to talk about holding the vindictive, scorned women liable.

      Let’s call this what it is…girls playing at being women and getting emotionally burned for trying to do so with boys playing at being men.

      Then, reverting to girl level maturity, lashing out and using whatever sympathetic leverage they can garner from those that will listen to punish others.

      I agree with you about what should happen, but let’s not act like Title IX has left universities in a great place. Hell the number of schools investigated for title IX violations due to rape cases, many like these, will be in the triple digits by end of this year.

        Olinser in reply to healthguyfsu. | March 21, 2015 at 2:24 pm

        On the contrary, I favor extremely heavy penalties against people that file false charges.

        HOWEVER, in this case, as with many cases, there isn’t sufficient evidence to PROVE that the woman has filed a false report. Certainly the circumstances are suspicious, but that isn’t enough to convict her of anything.

        In this case, there isn’t sufficient evidence to prove anything in either direction.

        Due process and reasonable doubt works both ways.

Does anyone have a clue what “sailboat community values” means?

    Dejectedhead in reply to starride. | March 20, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    Apparently it means you can change your opinion of things depending on how the wind is blowing at any given time.

      healthguyfsu in reply to Dejectedhead. | March 21, 2015 at 12:45 am

      I think it means you vacation in the Hamptons and Daddy can either make trouble for your little community or donate money towards a new building.

    blow whom you want when you want them blame him?

    Valerie in reply to starride. | March 20, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    boat “bunnies.”

    Jonathan Silber in reply to starride. | March 21, 2015 at 10:53 am

    “Sailboat community values”: sex enjoyable only when lovers are three sheets to the wind.

    Phillep Harding in reply to starride. | March 23, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    As a live aboard, I’m also a bit puzzled. Boats, and not just sailboats, are packed with tiny, one person, bunks. (Harder to roll out of in heavy seas.) Very hard to share a bunk if you don’t plan to have sex, and very hard to sleep together, as a general rule, after sex.

A false report of rape should be a crime as serious as rape. Just as a false accusation of racism should be regarded as an act of racism.

How, in the Name of Satan, could a blood alcohol test be done 2 months after the alleged rape?? time to go after the admin drones personally, attack their houses and their bank accounts.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to raven397. | March 21, 2015 at 3:18 am

    In answer to your, I am sure rhetorical, question, there is no damned way they did a blood alcohol test 2 months later. It got out that this girl bumped pelvises with this dude and she was embarrassed and/or the guy didn’t treat her they way she thought she should be treated afterwards and/or her boyfriend found out so she screams “rape”

      Bruce Hayden in reply to Gremlin1974. | March 22, 2015 at 1:57 pm

      What seems to have happened is that Jane Doe told the investigators that she had drunk maybe 15 drinks that night, and based on the weight that she gave, would have had a BAC of >= .33% at that time. Never mind that she apparently underestimated her weight, and that the actual eye witnesses were pretty uniform in that she grossly overestimated her alcohol consumption that night. And, that if her BAC had been that high, she would have had a hard time walking (esp. in the snow that night), and that if it had been as high as the “expert” claimed it could have been (> .4%), she likely would have had serious problems continuing to breathe.

      So, yes, it was BS.

Bleedin’ amateurs trying a rape case, without procedural or evidentiary safeguards, or skill. This cannot end well.

“the university’s judicial system”

Just the fact that this is something other than a law school seminar is just amazing. The only “judicial system” that should be in a University is the Mock Trial.

    Mannie in reply to Gremlin1974. | March 21, 2015 at 9:53 am

    They do need to have an administrative system to kick out kids who fail classes, do too much minor damage, act too much like a’oles. And criminals. But action on criminal cases should be deferred until after criminal proceedings are complete by the real justice system. After that, the administrative hearing can be completed in 20 minutes, including the time to pour the coffee and eat the donut.

    profshadow in reply to Gremlin1974. | March 22, 2015 at 7:52 am

    No kidding. I think I’ll open a school and set up my own judicial system.

How do we know if the “hearing panel” was sober while reviewing this matter through their own political/pragmatic prism of bias and when issuing their decision? At any time during their ‘adjudicating’ process were they given sobriety tests. And, has anyone on the “hearing panel” ever had consensual sex? What was their experiential definition of consensual?

Sanctioning/suing the “hearing panel” is to “do the right thing” as Prez Imperious likes to opine. The panel did not use legal due process. They did not use the rule of law. A campus is NOT a caliphate creating its own Sharia law.

And, returning to the definition of consensual, I would sequester and depose each member of the panel. I would question their ‘qualifications’ to legally (and morally) judge this plaintiff outside of the law.

He said/she said testimony is usually self-negating and often seeks to work on a hearer’s emotions rather than on the basis of fact and logic. Verifiable facts seize the day in a right world.

The panel, to be sure, used their own personal moral relativity compass, enshrined in high-sounding campus code speak, I would gather, to rule in an ad hoc totalitarian/PC fashion.

Here comes the judge…

I hope the guy is successful in his lawsuit and then files suit against the woman. I have trouble accepting allegations of rape long after the incident. I can “sort of” accept delayed reporting of instances of child abuse/rape but there appears to be no fear of reporting involved here.

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | March 21, 2015 at 10:41 am

It looks to me like John Doe is going for the quick out of court settlement.

He and his lawyers will get a few bucks. He gets his transcripts enabling him to take one of those $200,000 per year jobs he’s been offered. And Cornell or its insurance carrier lose a few bucks. Gag orders will prevent John Doe or anyone from talking about it. And maybe they’ll require the Cornell kangaroo court to change its procedures as part of the settlement. Jane Doe lives happily ever after. Justice in America.

I really hope I am wrong. John Doe and Jane Doe ought to unmask and John needs to see this thing through. But I’d bet a cheeseburger that does not happen.

Two months is just enough time for the young lady to find out she was pregnant. While I am sure that she would resist any attempt to find out this “private medical information”, it may well have been a motive for the filing of rape charges. For example, an abortion is easier to obtain in cases of rape and carries far less social stigma.

Video or didn’t happen.

From now on, I’d suggest getting a video camera set up, getting consent on record and moving forward. Perhaps streaming to a server for storage.

But heck, it seems to be the only way to explicitly show consent at each and every grope and fondle.

Of course, the way things are going now, it may be that it will all be stored on government servers anyway.

    ConradCA in reply to profshadow. | March 22, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Seeing how women can claimed they said no at any point during the act you should record the whole event to protect yourself.

Bruce Hayden | March 22, 2015 at 2:29 pm

Thought that it was an interesting complaint. It looks pretty bad for the school, which shouldn’t be surprising. What I really liked was how hard they kept hitting the Title IX violations. Plus, breach of contract, etc.

It looks pretty bad for the school, though we are talking about just the complaint against them, which inevitably portrays things as badly as possible. A bunch of senior chemical engineering majors spent the evening with their profs, TAs, etc. (Which is why Jane Doe’s assertion that she had 15 drinks is somewhat implausible – you just don’t get drunk in that sort of environment). Everyone got a pair of drink tickets, but didn’t really get going until later, when both participants were involved in some beer pong. And, then back to her place with maybe 6 of them, where Jane Doe was sexually coming onto John Doe. Everyone apparently left them to do what comes naturally, which they apparently kinda did (no intercourse – just reciprocal stimulation). Several days later, she mentions the incident to a friend, then ultimately files a complaint. The investigation was apparently highly biased, taking her estimate of her drinking that night as gospel, despite the other 5 with her saying that she wasn’t drunk. Making things worse for the school, deadlines were apparently enforced against John Doe, but not Jane Doe or the investigators, who were able to easily acquire extensions of time (which meant that the investigation took longer than it could according to the regulations, prejudicing John Doe – the standard for extensions was one sided, aimed at benefiting the accuser and the school, and not the accused). The complaint also claims that facts from the witness statements were cherry picked, often in direct opposition to what was actually said and the witnesses’ memory of the facts.

I think that even if some of the facts in the complaint are not as clear cut as portrayed, that this is a pretty strong case, both under Title IX and breach of contract. Which is why I don’t think that it will ever go to trial. The $200k is probably a low end on damages, since it can be argued that the refusal of the school to graduate John Doe on time is likely cumulative throughout his entire career. It isn’t just the two years, but that two years compounded.

A couple notes – the $200k is likely $100k a year for two years, not $200k a year for both years. I would think that $100k is probably on the high end of a BS degree in Chemical Engineering, but that is justified by being Cornell. Secondly, the complaint argues that Title IX is applicable to Cornell since they take federal funding (for research). My kid can validate that, having spent a summer there several years ago in a NSF funded REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates). Probably not surprisingly, all four suite mates are now in STEM PhD programs – REUs are a great way of showing grad schools that you can do and are interested in doing the sort of research required for a PhD.

Char Char Binks | March 24, 2015 at 12:39 pm

Only gay sex is allowed at the Ivies. Soon it will be compulsory.

I think the standard defense for male students charged with this sort of thing in the future should be counter charges of rape. If the female is claiming that she was not in possession of her faculties to an extent that she was incapable of giving consent, how on earth can she reliably testify that the male was not only the aggressor, but even capable of giving consent himself. I think this is the new tack that such defendants MUST take in virtually every rape charge made where the charge is based upon a claim of incapacity to consent.

The value of Cornell University’s endowment is currently $5 billion.