A male student at Princeton University was dating a female student (who now identifies as non-binary) on and off again for years. The relationship wasn’t ideal – he cheated on her and she was “verbally abusive and emotionally manipulative” towards him – and finally ended in early November 2017. Weeks later, the female student began making wildly inconsistent claims to her friends about alleged sexual abuse. Months later, and only after talking to a friend who convinced her she had been sexually assaulted, the woman reported an incident of sexual assault to campus officials.
The male student, referred to as John Doe in court documents, detailed the wildly different allegations that his ex, referred to as Alex Roe, made to her various friends. Alex told some friends that John sexually assaulted her in a single, “confusing and ambiguous” incident. Other friends were told he continually assaulted her throughout their relationship. Some were told John pinned Alex down and “raped” her, using the specific phrase “sex without consent,” while others were told John digitally penetrated her vagina. Some other people were told that Alex and John merely “kissed” after Alex said no to sex, but that she then said yes after John allegedly pressured her. She said she “might as well enjoy it” but told others that John asked her during sexual intercourse if he was assaulting her and she said no.
As John tells it in his lawsuit against Princeton, after he tried to break up with Alex in early November 2017, she said he was being “pathetic,” “petty,” and “sad.” He said Alex then “cajoled him into one last sexual encounter,” where she performed oral sex on him. The two didn’t speak after that except for one conversation where John again informed Alex he didn’t want to date her. It was weeks after this that Alex began making sexual assault claims.
John started dating someone new in February 2018. Shortly after Alex learned about this, she told John that after speaking with her friend, she was now convinced John had sexually assaulted her multiple times throughout their relationship. She demanded John apologize for the alleged assaults, which he refused to do since he never assaulted her.
After he refused, Alex started contacting their mutual friends to say John was “dangerous.” According to John’s lawsuit, Alex later reneged on these claims, saying she meant John was “emotionally” dangerous. After Alex said this to their mutual friends, she filed a complaint with Princeton’s Title IX office, alleging that John assaulted her on November 4, 2017. John was never provided the details of Alex’s initial claim, so he does not know what she first alleged he had done.
It wasn’t until March 19, 2018 that John was informed by Princeton that he was under investigation for sexual assault. All he was told was that he allegedly engaged in non-consensual sexual contact with Alex in his dorm room on November 4.
John says in his lawsuit that he gave two interviews to the panel of three Princeton administrators who were investigating the claim, during which he told a consistent story: That Alex wasn’t even in his room on November 4 and she was only making these allegations because he had broken up with her. Princeton interviewed Alex twice as well, and according to John’s lawsuit, her testimony was contradictory and her story changed throughout those two interviews.
In addition, Princeton interviewed some of Alex’s friends, who each gave different accounts of what Alex told them had happened. None of them saw Alex go into John’s room on the night of the alleged incident, either. Further, Princeton uses proximity cards and checked the logs for the night in question, and the records do not match Alex’s claims. Despite the witness and card record evidence that contradicted Alex’s claims, Princeton didn’t check security footage to determine for certain whether Alex entered John’s room on November 4, nor did school administrators ask John’s neighbors if they had seen her enter the room.
Princeton found John responsible for sexual assault despite all the contradictory evidence, claiming Alex was somehow more credible than John. John appealed and lost, though the appeal board gave no reason for the denial. John’s transcript was withheld for one semester, essentially a one-semester suspension.
John sued, and in February, U.S. District Judge Brian Martinotti upheld John’s charges of due process violations, breach of contract, and others, but dismissed his claims of gender bias. The ruling accepted John’s claims that Princeton didn’t follow its own policies while adjudicating Alex’s allegations. John was also allowed to amend his complaint in an attempt to get the gender bias claims reinstated. On December 16, Martinotti denied Princeton’s motion to dismiss John’s lawsuit. In his ruling, Martinotti repeatedly referenced the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, which made it easier for male students to show their gender contributed to their treatment. The references made John’s attorney, Andrew Miltenberg of Nesenoff & Miltenberg, believe Martinotti was “considering our motion reinstate our Title IX claims,” he told the College Fix’s Greg Piper.
On December 17, the day after Martinotti denied Princeton’s motion to dismiss, the judge reinstated those gender bias claims.
Martinotti’s ruling on December 16 also mentions another of John’s claims – that Alex actually sexually assaulted John during one of their sexual encounters because John was incapacitated due to alcohol. Princeton simply ignored John’s claim, even though it is supposed to investigate claims of sexual assault. Princeton also failed to “sufficiently investigate” allegations that Alex stalked John’s sister. Martinotti’s ruling suggested he believed John was the actual victim of sexual assault and that Princeton ignored this.
“John argued he has a ‘common law fundamental fairness’ claim because of his contract with Princeton, and Martinotti agreed. Though it might duplicate his breach-of-contract claim, the judge said the former has ‘an independent substantive basis,” the Fix reported.
In numerous examples across the country, once a school has lost a motion to dismiss, it quickly settles with the accused student rather than allow the lawsuit to go to trial.
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