Court Overturns USC|Assault Suspension

     (CN) — The University of Southern California did not provide a fair hearing to a football star after fraternity-party group sex landed him in hot water, a state appeals court ruled.
     Last week’s ruling from the Second Appellate District does not name any of the students involved, and notes that the basic facts of the case “are undisputed.”
     The party occurred in January 2013, at a large, off-campus house in the hills near Los Angeles.
     Jane Doe, a USC student-athlete, had been dancing with football star John Doe and another man. She seemed “happy and excited,” the ruling states, after the trio had sex in a bedroom. When John and Jane found themselves in the bedroom a second time that night, however, several other people were in the room as well, and the encounter took a nonconsensual turn.
     Jane had been undressed, performing oral sex on John, when “she felt her vagina being penetrated intermittently with penises and fingers,” the ruling states.
     The penetration became rough and the chatter “degrading.”
     As one or two of the men began to slap Jane’s buttocks, she started crying, and the encounter ended abruptly.
     John ignored Jane at the next party, and she reported the incident as a sexual assault to the school in August.
     Ruling that John had violated the student conduct code, USC’s office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards ordered a two-year suspension.
     The Student Behavior Appeals Panel reduced John’s suspension to one year, saying he had “encouraged or permitted” Jane to be slapped on the bottom and endangered her by leaving her alone in the bedroom after she started crying and the parties dispersed.
     The panel found insufficient evidence, however, that a sexual assault had occurred.
     Though a Los Angeles Superior Court judge overturned the endangerment violation, the appeals court reversed the judgment in its entirety last week, saying USC denied him a fair hearing.
     “John was not provided any information about the factual basis of the charges against him, he was not allowed to access any evidence used to support those accusations unless he actively sought it through a written request, and he was not provided with any opportunity to appear directly before the decision-making panel to rebut the evidence presented against him,” Justice Audrey Collins wrote for a three-judge panel.

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