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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Professor Claims Male Bias in School’s Assault Investigation

A former college dean who was fired after a student accused him of sexual assault says the student was the perpetrator, not the victim, and that he woke up after a night out in Italy to discover the pupil naked and mounting him against his will.

MIAMI – A former college dean who was fired after a student accused him of sexual assault says the student was the perpetrator, not the victim, and that he woke up after a night out in Italy to discover the pupil naked and mounting him against his will.

In his defamation and wrongful termination lawsuit filed in Miami federal court, former Florida International University dean of architecture Adam Drisin says he was "an esteemed tenured professor" before the graduate student brought a "fabricated and frivolous" sexual assault claim against him that led to his firing.

The incident occurred when Drisin joined a group of graduate students in Genoa during their semester abroad program in 2014. After a night out – Drisin’s first night in Genoa – three female students returned to Drisin's rented apartment with him to use the bathroom.

That's where the narratives diverge.

According to a sexual assault lawsuit filed against Drisin by his accuser – who filed as Jane Doe – the professor poured Bailey's liqueur for the students.

"Then Jane Doe recalls becoming drowsy. However, before either falling asleep naturally or becoming cataleptic (until approximately 9:00 a.m.) as result of a foreign substance being put in her Bailey’s, Jane Doe witnessed Dean Drisin caressing Student 1, who was on the bed," Doe said in her lawsuit.

Doe said the next thing she remembered was waking up the next morning in Drisin's bed, "totally naked.” She claimed she was "unaware of what had happened to her" until another student that was present told her: "I saw you fucking Adam Drisin."

Drisin sent her an email "seeking forgiveness," Doe said.

“This is very difficult for me to write because I feel terrible right now,” she claimed Drisin wrote. “I know this is not easy, but I’m asking you to please indulge me."

Doe voluntarily dismissed her lawsuit against Drisin earlier this year.

In his lawsuit, filed Nov. 28, Drisin paints a very different version of that December night in Genoa. He also names his accuser, but Courthouse News has chosen to identify her only as Jane Doe because she is not a party to Drisin's lawsuit.

Drisin says Doe had taken off her clothes and hopped on top of him while he was in a deep sleep.

“Drisin woke up groggily to find [Doe] naked on top of him, as [Doe] was telling him, ‘I want to fuck you and I want you to fuck me,’” Drisin says in his complaint.

“At the very instant that Drisin became fully cognizant that he was subjected to [Doe's] act of non-consensual sexual aggression, he resolutely pushed [Doe] off him and told her, ‘You can’t be doing this. We can’t be doing this,’” Drisin continues.

Drisin says he did not know Doe before the incident, having met her for the first time in Genoa. He also says he’s not sure whether Doe succeeded in having sex with him because of his sleep-induced haze, and that the other student in the room at the time has said in sworn testimony that she’s not sure either.

In her lawsuit, Doe claimed Drisin had a pattern of engaging inappropriately with students and had carried on an affair with the student who was also in the room at the time. But Drisin says in his complaint that Doe bragged frequently to her friends about previous sexual relationships – including an affair with a different dean of architecture while she was an undergraduate – and they knew Doe’s actions toward him “were consistent with an entrenched pattern of sexually predatory behavior.”

According to Drisin, Doe dropped her lawsuit against him because of the sworn testimony of her friend. But he adds that by the time she did, his life was already in shambles: Defendant Florida International University had fired him, he can’t get another job in his field, and his wife left him.

"Three universities abruptly discontinued final negotiations with Drisin for senior dean positions when they learned of [Florida International University's] findings against Drisin," he says in his lawsuit.

His claims include gender discrimination, violations of constitutional rights and defamation against Florida International University and several of top brass, including its president Mark Rosenberg and Shirlyon McWhorter, the director of the college's Office of Equal Opportunity Programs and Diversity.

Drisin likened the university’s investigation of Doe’s claims to “a veritable witch hunt" based on the assumption that because he is a man, he was the sexual aggressor.

McWhorter, who handled the investigation for the university, "maliciously crusaded to eviscerate Drisin’s reputation in order to justify and bolster her predetermined findings of sexual misconduct," Drisin says – adding that McWhorter also told his colleagues details of what should have been a confidential investigation.

He also seeks damages over a story in a student newspaper that he says was “deliberately and maliciously fashioned to create a misimpression that Drisin was charged with a felony, and distorts the allegations of the Doe lawsuit.”

Florida International University declined to comment on the case.

Attorney Omar Malone, who represented Doe in her dropped lawsuit, has not responded to an interview request.

Drisin is represented by Howard Levine of Miami Beach, Florida.

Categories / Education, Employment

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