News and Commentary

Autistic Student Punished For Fist Bump And Selfie Will Get His Day In Court
Marcus Knight, who has autism and cerebral palsy, was accused of sexual harassment for asking a female student for a "fist bump."
Aurora Knight via GoFundMe

In 2018, Saddleback College student Marcus Knight was suspended after he gave a female student a “fist bump” and took a “selfie” with another.

Knight, who is autistic and has cerebral palsy, often attempts to make friends with his classmates by taking selfies with them or offering fist bumps. His attempts at friendship are usually accepted, but in two cases, he was reported for Title IX violations. One of the women who reported Knight said he took 300 photos of her, but that was due to him pressing the “burst” option when taking the selfie. The student also claimed Knight “forcefully placed [his] hand on her shoulder while taking a selfie with her.”

Knight, due to his disabilities, has limited ability to recognize and understand social cues. His mother, Aurora Knight, started a GoFundMe account in an attempt to raise money for legal fees to fight Marcus’ suspension. The suspension ended up being overturned, but the negative marks still appear on his transcript.

As Aurora has said, Marcus never received a fair hearing. The investigator in his case had no formal training (though Title IX training is designed to find students responsible, so formal training likely would not have helped Marcus). No one testified against Marcus, yet he was found responsible.

Now, prolific Title IX attorney Mark Hathaway has taken Knight’s case. Toni Airaksinen, writing for The Post Millennial, reported that a hearing regarding Knight’s lawsuit will take place on November 18.

“We believe that Saddleback College failed to comply with the law and their own policy in improperly disciplining Marcus Knight and no sanctions should ever have been imposed against him,” Hathaway told Airaksinen.

The Daily Wire has spoken with Aurora Knight multiple times, and she always tears up when talking about what has happened to her son.

“Marcus is an amazing person! He has never ever been inappropriate with anyone. All he desires is to make friends and be treated like everyone else. He works so hard to keep up in a normal classroom setting. He works so hard to overcome his social obstacles. And the administration is throwing him on the cross to simply make him go away,” Aurora wrote on the GoFundMe page. “With his special needs, many people have tried to put him down over the years. He has fought for his right to have friends and an education. His one dream is to have a college degree and they are trying to take that from him unjustly.”

She told the Millennial that Marcus had “been robbed of two first years in college” and that Marcus’ “dreams have crashed.”

Marcus has resumed classes but must be accompanied by an assistant at all times. As Airaksinen reported, Marcus is taking four classes this semester and needs another six more to complete his associate’s degree. He eventually wants a Bachelor of Arts in Musical Theater. He currently sings at his local church group and with the school choir, but ever since the Title IX allegations against him, he has been nervous around other people.

“He was just trying to make a friend … and now he is so lonely,” Aurora told me earlier this year.

Aurora on Wednesday told me that the damage done to her son from the situation “is so deep,” yet she hopes their fight will help other disabled students who may face a similar situation given today’s environment.

“We hope that what we are doing now will open the door to others,” Aurora said.