HOUSTON (CN) – A Texas A&M University student claims the school suspended him over a female student’s bogus sexual-assault claims and finished its investigation without letting him defend himself, as he was hospitalized with depression from the ordeal.
John Doe sued Texas A&M University and several school officials on Tuesday in Houston federal court.
He says in the lawsuit he comes from a religious family and excelled in high school. He was on the student council, was elected by his peers to be the school band’s president during his senior year, and graduated with a 4.58 GPA.
“His childhood goal had been to become a lawyer and later become the first African-American president of the United States of America,” the complaint states.
He also flourished at Texas A&M during his freshman year, he says, joining the Aggie marching band and Corps of Cadets and becoming a leader of a freshman orientation program. The Corps of Cadets is a student military organization whose members stand throughout Texas A&M’s home football games in College Station, wearing gray uniforms.
John Doe says he met Jane Doe at the university in August 2013 during their freshman year and she was also in the school marching band.
“Both were also members of the Corps of Cadets and were later part of a small group of friends who would meet to play the role-playing game ‘Dungeons and Dragons.’ Over the next few years, John Doe and Jane Doe grew to be close friends,” the lawsuit states.
John says their relationship became physical in January 2016 when they left a house party and had oral sex in Jane’s car.
They had sexual intercourse several times over the next six months, he says, and became each other’s confidantes, with Jane telling him about her unabashed promiscuity and him revealing his history of depression.
John says they had sex for the last time in June 2016, a week after Jane sent him pictures of her in her Wonder Woman panties. They drifted apart, John says, because Jane took offense at him telling her not to show up uninvited at their friend’s wedding.
But John says they were still on good terms and she had a friendly conversation with him and his family at an on-campus ceremony in November 2016.
John claims his mental health unraveled after the school emailed him a letter in February.
“John Doe received a no-contact letter through email from the university, informing him that he is ‘restricted from making in-person, telephone, or any form of electronic contact’ with Jane Doe,” the complaint states. “As John Doe and Jane Doe were part of many of the same activities and organizations, this meant that John Doe would have to remove himself from practically all extracurricular activities the last few months prior to graduation.”
He alleges he became suicidal and was hospitalized in March, then transferred to a 45-day inpatient program at a psychiatric hospital. Meanwhile, John says, school officials moved forward with their investigation of Jane’s sexual-misconduct allegations without interviewing him, in violation of school policy.
John says school officials contacted him while he was still undergoing treatment at the psych hospital on May 9 of this year, informing him that it was suspending him from May 1 to Aug. 10, 2018, and dismissing him from the Corps of Cadets.
“The University found him ‘Responsible’ for all four charges: (1) Sexual Contact; (2) Sexual Abuse; (3) Dating Violence; and (4) Violation of the Standard: Conduct Unbecoming a Cadet,” the lawsuit states.
He claims that while the university was investigating Jane’s claims against him, their mutual friend R.P. reported to school officials that Jane had performed sex acts on him over his objections while he was extremely drunk and unable to control his body.
“R.P. also sent the university screen shots of the text messages he sent Jane Doe after the alleged assault, telling her that he was upset because he had not consented, and she agreed with him,” the complaint states.
John says despite R.P.’s detailed allegations against Jane, the school found her and R.P. equally responsible for the sex and did not discipline her at all.
He claims Texas A&M University’s handling of the allegations against him and Jane show it is biased against male students.
He attributes the double standard to a crackdown on campus sexual assault led by former President Barack Obama’s administration, which sent colleges a “Dear Colleague Letter” in April 2011 advising them that to comply with Title IX, they had to promptly investigate and resolve sexual-misconduct claims.
Title IX is a federal law prohibiting gender discrimination in federally funded school programs and athletics.
The letter also mandated that schools “adopt a relatively low burden of proof—‘more likely than not’—in cases involving sexual misconduct,” lower than the “clear and convincing” and “beyond a reasonable doubt” standards that several colleges had been using, according to the complaint.
John says his expulsion also came while Texas universities’ handling of sexual assault claims was under heavy scrutiny due to a scandal at Baylor University.
The former student seeks damages for claims of 14th Amendment due process and IX violations, breach of contract and infliction of emotional distress.
He is represented by Michelle Simpson Tuegel with Hunt Tuegel in Waco, Texas, and by Andrew Miltenberg with Nesenoff Miltenberg in New York City.
A Texas A&M spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit.
John filed the complaint just eight days after a University of Texas-Austin student made similar claims against UT in his own federal lawsuit, which he also filed anonymously.
The UT student claims that a female student accused him of having sex with her while she was incapacitated, but a hearing officer dismissed the charges, on the basis that she had made rational decisions before and after the intercourse.
But the UT student says school president Dr. Gregory Fenves reversed that decision, determining the student had raped his accuser because she was drunk when she consented to sex. The student was suspended for two years.
The student says Fenves stepped in because his accuser is the daughter of a wealthy UT donor.