WINTER PARK, Fla. - A Rollins College lacrosse player who was suspended over allegations of sexual assault has sued the school, claiming that the investigative process was so “anti-male” that he never had a chance to prove his innocence.
The student, identified only as John Doe in the lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court, was a freshman at Rollins College during the 2015-16 school year.
The student claims a female classmate sexually assaulted him during a Jan. 18 encounter, but she claims it was him who assaulted her, the lawsuit said.
Both made reports to Rollins College but Doe claims the school ignored his report and fully prosecuted hers, the lawsuit said.
Doe also claims that the person in charge of the investigation was also part of the group that determined his punishment, and the person investigating the allegations against him wasn’t properly trained, misrepresented witness statements and “excluded critical evidence favorable to John Doe,” the lawsuit said.
By doing that, she was “effectively directing the hearing board to reach the foregone conclusion that John Doe was responsible for the misconduct alleged,” the suit said.
Doe’s lawsuit claims that the system was set up so that he had to prove his innocence instead of the school proving his guilt.
“Rollins demonstrated a presumption of guilt against John Doe as the male accused when it overlooked potentially exculpatory evidence, accepted complainant’s contradictory and inconsistent statements and made baseless assessments of credibility,” the lawsuit said.
“Rollins’ legitimate goal of preventing sexual assault is not the issue in, nor is it the basis for, this complaint,” the lawsuit said. “Rather, this complaint addresses Rollins’ unlawful and/or gender-biased treatment of innocent male students like John Doe via sexual misconduct proceedings that afford females unconstitutional preferential treatment.”
Rollins College released this statement to Channel 9: "The College feels confident that all parties in this case were treated fairly and appropriately."
Doe is seeking monetary damages, reversal and expungement of the school’s decision and reinstatement of his enrollment, among other demands.
Other allegations of gender bias listed in the lawsuit include:
- Doe not being notified of the specific allegations against him until less than 24 hours before he was to be interviewed.
- Ignoring claims by witnesses on both sides that the investigative report “mischaracterized” their statements to show Doe in a negative light.
- Not allowing him to submit a list of witnesses to be interviewed.
- Not including in the final report that Doe had passed a lie detector test.
- A school official repeatedly accusing Doe of rape during what was supposed to be an “informational interview to explain the student conduct process.”
- Administrators ignoring requests for information pertinent to Doe’s ability to defend himself.
- School officials encouraging Doe to continue attending class and then negating his grades by retroactively suspending him for the spring semester.
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