A landmark due process case that led to an appeals court ruling that students need to be able to cross-examine their accusers and witnesses against them has come to an end, with the university and the accused student reaching a settlement.
The University of Cincinnati (UC) has agreed to pay a student $47,152 in attorneys’ fees and will end his suspension from the university and drop all disciplinary sanctions, according to WCPO Cincinnati. The outcome of the student’s school disciplinary hearing will not appear on his transcript, and the school will remove the “responsible” finding from his record. UC will also make no public statements about the case. The student, in turn, will not contact his female accuser or publicly disclose her identity.
This appears to be the first time UC has ever settled with an accused student.
The case arises from an incident involving John Doe and Jane Roe, as they are referred to in court documents reviewed by The Daily Wire, that occurred on September 6, 2015. The two UC students met on the dating app Tinder and sent messages back-and-forth for a little over two weeks before meeting in person.
The two talked and flirted for a little bit in John’s room in his apartment off campus before they began to kiss and make out. The encounter “escalated fairly quickly,” according to John’s lawsuit. The two removed their clothing. John took out a condom. Jane, according to the lawsuit, asked John to “hold on” before the evening escalated to intercourse. John obliged, and the two talked a little longer before engaging in sexual intercourse.
After the two had sex, they continued to spend time together in John’s room. Jane, according to the lawsuit, told him she didn’t want their encounter to be a “one-night stand.” John, however, did not call her again and couldn’t contact her through Tinder anymore.
A month later, Jane accused John of sexual assault.
She said the encounter occurred on August 30, 2015, that she met John on Tinder, but had agreed to meet him for dinner. She told a UC interviewer that she was going to study after the dinner, but John suggested she do so at his apartment, to which she agreed. She said she studied while sitting on his bed and drinking a glass of wine, which “lowered her inhibitions” about what she and John talked about. She said they flirted.
Jane said the two started kissing and that John “kept progressing” the physical contact, to which she never said “no.” The two engaged in oral sex and digital penetration. She said the two had sexual intercourse and that John tried to engage in anal sex.
Jane said during this initial interview that John walked her to her car after the sexual encounter.
A week after her initial interview, Jane was asked more specific questions on November 6. She now claimed John was forceful with her during their encounter, and said John made her feel guilty even though she never gave any definitive statements, instead saying she responded “I don’t know” to some of his conversation topics. She also said she flirted with John and kissed him, engaged in sexual intercourse in multiple positions, including her on top, and that she performed oral sex on John. She also said she asked John to walk her to her car.
None of this made UC interviewers question whether an assault actually occurred, as they went forward with this accusation.
More than a month after Jane went to campus officials, she reported the incident to campus police, telling them she went to a house after a date with a man later identified as John.
She told campus police that she and John were kissing and flirting on the bed, but that she “set a line for herself for no sex.” She also told them John was forceful with her, yet police noted that she was able to move about his room freely — texting her friends and using the restroom.
The campus police investigation was sent to the Cincinnati Police Department and closed without charges against John.
John was not informed that he was being accused of sexual assault until February 19, 2016. A week later, on February 24, Jane was interviewed again. This time she said repeatedly that John was “strange” or “creepy.” She now said she sat on his lap while they kissed but described her consent for his removal of her dress as “gray.”
When John was interviewed about the incident, he said everything was consensual. Interview notes for him contain editorial comments from the interviewer. Such comments did not appear in any notes about Jane’s interviews.
UC interviewed several witnesses for Jane, including an ex-boyfriend she told about the alleged sexual assault several days after her encounter with John. Another friend of Jane’s claimed Jane said she told John to stop repeatedly, but that he didn’t, something she never alleged in her own interviews.
Jane didn’t even attend the campus hearing regarding her claims against John, which gave him no opportunity to cross-examine her or question her story. John said in his lawsuit that if he had been able to question Jane, he would have been able to pick out inconsistencies in her statements and show that she received generous accommodations from the school — changes to homework deadlines, grades, class schedules, test schedules, and even receiving job opportunities — which created an incentive for her to claim she was a victim.
John was not able to question any of Jane’s witnesses or even the campus investigators who put together the “Investigation File” for hearing members.
Without being able to question any of the allegations against him, John was found “responsible” by UC and suspended. He appealed and lost, so he sued the school.
What makes this case so important is that it reached the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which created a precedent-setting ruling stating that cross-examination is important, especially when the case boils down to a he said/she said where credibility is at stake. The ruling has been cited multiple times since.
It’s also likely that this September 2017 ruling helped pave the road for the settlement reached in this case.
Josh Engel, one of John’s attorneys, told The Daily Wire in a statement, “We are glad the case has been resolved so my client can get his degree and move on with his career.”