Students’ BDSM Affair Ends Unhappily

RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – George Mason University expelled a student after his ex-girlfriend complained of their consensual BDSM relationship, the student claims in court.
     John Doe sued the university and two of its student deans, on Feb. 18, in Federal Court.
     Doe claims that his girlfriend, who did not attend George Mason, initiated the BDSM practices (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism).
     He says they dated November 2012 until January 2014, and that she requested, and received, acts such as “choking, biting, slapping, spanking, whipping, and restraining her.”
     They used the safe word “red” to prevent injuries, but doe claims that she told him “that if she said ‘stop’ during sex, he was not to stop because that was part of the game. However, if she used the safe word, their agreement was that John Doe should stop the sexual activity.”
     Doe claims that he and Jane Roe often had highly explicit Facebook chats before and after their sexual encounters, discussing what they did and what they wanted to try next. He claims that she often set the tone for their sexual encounters.
     After they broke up in January 2014, Doe says, he texted her a few times to ask if she wanted to play video games or see how she was doing. When she did not respond, Doe texted her in March 2014 and told her “that he would shoot himself if she did not contact him by the following day to let him know she was still alive,” according to the lawsuit. It continues: “At no point did John Doe threaten Jane Roe.”
     Doe says that Roe reported the text message to police and to Doe’s mother.
     A month later, Doe says, Roe reported an October 2013 incident of alleged sexual misconduct to campus police at the school she attended. Her school did not pursue charges, Doe says, and in May she reported the incident to George Mason University police.
     He claims that the incident at issue, of Oct. 27, 2013, “Because of their dominant-submissive relationship, John Doe continued the sexual activity because Jane Roe never said ‘red.'”
     But Roe told George Mason police that the sex was unwilling. She filed for a permanent protective order in the summer of 2014, and a two-year order was granted.
     Doe says that in August 2014 he was informed that he was accused of violating George Mason’s sexual misconduct policy on charges of inflicting physical harm to any person including himself; deliberate touching or penetration of another person without consent; conduct of a sexual nature; and communication that may cause injury, distress, or emotional or physical discomfort.
     During a 10-hour hearing before a three-person staff and faculty panel, Roe testified that she tried to push him away the night of Oct. 27, 2013, and he disregarded her wishes, and that when she said “I don’t know,” in response to his question of whether she wanted him to stop, that did not constitute consent.
     Doe says in the complaint: “He did not contest that she had pushed him away, or that she had said she ‘didn’t know’ if she wanted to continue with the sexual activity.
     John Doe did, however, explain that this encounter, like many others in their relationship, was part of a consensual BDSM sexual encounter. John Doe testified about their use of a safe word and that Jane Roe did not use the safe word on October 27, 2013. John Doe told the panel that he believed Jane Roe filed these allegations against him because she became upset with him when he revealed past infidelities as a part of their break up.”
     Doe says he also presented screen shots of conversations that demonstrated his ex-girlfriend was a willing participant in their BDSM sex. He says the panel found that he not responsible, as the two had mutually entered a BDSM relationship.
     Roe appealed on grounds of “procedural irregularity,” claiming that Doe had confessed to each of the charges during the hearing. She claimed that the panel did not use the standard of a preponderance of the evidence.
     Defendant Brent Ericson, director of the office of student conduct and one of the employees who coordinated the misconduct hearing, was assigned the appeal. Ericson found Doe guilty of deliberately touching or penetrating a person without consent and communication that may cause distress. Doe’s appeal was denied, and he was expelled in December 2014, according to the complaint.
     Doe claims he was not given a full record of the claims Roe asserted in her appeal, preventing him from being able to properly argue his defense and denying him due process.
     As the panel had heard all the evidence and made a reasonable ruling, Ericson’s ruling shows clear gender bias, Doe says in the lawsuit.
     “The only explanation for such a rash, unreasoned, and unsupported decision is Mr. Ericson’s desire to help a complaining female when the system had found a respondent male not responsible,” according to the complaint. “If Jane Roe were not a female complaining of sexual assault, her testimony would not have been credited over John Doe’s, given the evidence corroborating John Doe’s explanation of their BDSM relationship and the material concessions Jane Roe made at the hearing.”
     Doe seeks $1 million in compensatory damages, $2 million in punitive damages, and wants his expulsion expunged.
     He is represented by Allison Lansell, with Kaiser, LeGrand & Dillon, of Washington, D.C.

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