The number of lawsuits by men wrongly accused of sexual assault on campus is increasing almost by the day.

Most remain silent, preferring to go the “John Doe” route to avoid further reputational damage. Slowly, however, some men are going public, often where there names were already published anyway in high profile cases. One example is the suit against Columbia University by Jean-Paul Nungesser after Emma Sulkowicz drew attention to the allegations by carrying a mattress around campus.

Here is one story playing out at San Diego State University, in which the charges were plastered all over campus and the news, only to be dropped once police investigated.

Where does someone wrongly accused go to get his reputation back?

It started with the arrest of Francisco Paiva Sousa, SDSU sex assault suspect out on bail:

A day after being arrested on suspicion of a sexual assault near campus, an SDSU student is out on bail.

CBS News 8 cameras were there when 20-year-old Francisco Paiva Sousa was released from jail Wednesday. He was taken into custody Tuesday in connection with the alleged assault Sunday. Sousa said nothing as our cameras caught up with him after he made bail.

The SDSU sophomore is accused of forcing a female student to perform oral sex while at a party off campus, according to campus police. Detectives say it happened at a duplex on College Avenue sometime Saturday night or Sunday morning….

“It’s kind of scary to read about. It could have been me, SDSU student Bailey Fuimaono said.

Unlike, the other string of alleged sexual assault cases at SDSU, this female victim came forward. It’s something Fuimaono says should be noted.

“It’s really inspiring. It’s scary to identify them. It’s empowering because if she can do it, anyone can. It’s nice to know someone stepped up and did it,” she said.

Here is some of the news video of the arrest and release on bail:

CBS News 8 – San Diego, CA News Station – KFMB Channel 8

The news coverage was looking for an angle, in this case a reporter pursuing Sousa while commenting on his “preppy” attire:

After investigation, the District Attorney’s office dropped the charges, No charges for student in SDSU sex assault report:

Francisco Paiva Sousa was expected to be arraigned Dec. 18, a little more than a week after he was arrested and posted bail. The arraignment was canceled, but the case remained under investigation, authorities said.

The District Attorney’s Office rejected the case Jan. 28.

Spokeswoman Tanya Sierra said in an email that the office does not give details on why cases are rejected. She added: “… we can only file charges when we believe we can prove them beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Gained even more attention when a local TV Station used Obama’s photo in reporting the story:

That took the story, and Sousa’s name, national.

Now Sousa has taken the preliminary steps to file suit against the university, and is speaking out.

SDSU student previously accused of sexual assault speaks out:

The San Diego State University student who was accused of sexually assaulting another SDSU student last year spoke exclusively to CBS News 8 on Friday.
The District Attorney dropped the charges against Francisco Sousa, but he remains suspended.

Francisco Sousa said he did not file the lawsuit against SDSU for financial gain, but instead to change the way SDSU handles sexual assault cases.

In his case and in his own words, “Giving an accused student due process and the opportunity to defend himself before being very publicly accused,” he said.

“It feels unreal. It feels completely unreal,” said Sousa.

CBS News 8 – San Diego, CA News Station – KFMB Channel 8

I don’t know if Sousa was guilty but there wasn’t enough evidence, or if he was wrongly accused. And there will be others like me who will Google his name, and wonder the same thing. And that’s the problem.


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