A male student attending Rosalind Franklin University (RFU), a private school in North Chicago, Illinois, was expelled following accusations of sexual assault and a campus disciplinary process that favored his accuser.
When the student, whom The Daily Wire will refer to as John Doe, filed a lawsuit against the university alleging bias in the process, as hundreds of other students have had to do, a judge sided with the school.
Before receiving a full scholarship to RFU, John obtained a Bachelor’s degree in global health and worked with the Peace Corps in Peru, where he fought to reduce the rates of childhood anemia. He wrote in his lawsuit, reviewed by The Daily Wire, that he was awarded a National Health Service Corps scholarship, which paid his tuition and provided a living stipend of $1,200 a month. John had a guaranteed job after graduation since part of the scholarship acceptance required him to work two years in a low-income area.
But his dreams of becoming a physician’s assistant were dashed in the fall of 2021 after he was accused of sexually assaulting a woman while he was blacked out from alcohol. Other universities have sided with female accusers who claim to be so drunk they couldn’t remember the encounter, thus making it sexual assault. But in John’s case, the university sided with his accuser, who wasn’t as drunk and remembered everything.
On November 20, 2021, John went to the off-campus residence of a female student, referred to in court documents as Jane Roe, even though a judge would later deny anonymity to John. While at her residence, John and his friends engaged in a drinking game, which he said resulted in him consuming three rum and Cokes in about an hour. The friends, including John and Jane, left the residence and were driven to a bar by a designated driver. At the bar, John continued drinking, and said Jane also bought him another rum and Coke.
Witnesses reportedly described John as very drunk, with the designated driver claiming that John appeared a lot more intoxicated than Jane. Another witness, a female student, also said she had never seen John so drunk. This same witness also later – during John’s hearing – that she had given him a marijuana edible that he consumed.
This witness, however, didn’t tell the school’s investigators about the edible, but did talk about it during his hearing, saying she didn’t originally think it was relevant. But it was relevant, John’s attorneys argued, because John didn’t normally mix alcohol and marijuana and didn’t normally consume edibles.
John said in his lawsuit that about 30-45 minutes later, he blacked out and doesn’t remember anything else about the evening. Blacking out does not mean passing out, but it does occur when a person is no longer retaining short-term memories. In some instances, the blacked out person appears completely normal to those around them and is able to walk and hold a conversation without anyone thinking something is wrong.
John doesn’t remember the rest of the night, but Jane would later say that the designated driver offered to drive them both home, but that Jane insisted on calling an Uber and taking John back to her apartment.
Jane said that she didn’t ask for John’s address to have the Uber driver take him home, did not ask John to order his own Uber, and didn’t contact John’s roommates or his girlfriend to have them help get him home, even though she had their contact information.
Jane said she told John to sleep on the couch because she knew about his girlfriend, and that he agreed. Jane then claimed that when she went to her bedroom, John insisted on going with her and then initiated sexual contact.
John’s lawsuit noted that Jane had to have consented to the sexual activity she described, since the pair performed oral sex on each other simultaneously, with Jane on top of John. After this, John went to the bathroom, but Jane didn’t lock her door or seek help from her roommates about needing any help. Further, Jane was a trained member of the U.S. Army, yet she didn’t show any signs of fighting back during the alleged assault.
Jane also said she never raised her voice before or during the alleged sexual encounter, and her roommate did not hear John in Jane’s room. The roommate didn’t even know John slept in their apartment until Jane mentioned it the next day.
Jane also stated that she texted John the next morning after he left to make sure that he was okay. She never claimed to have suffered any injuries during this alleged assault, either.
Six days later, Jane asked to meet with John so they could talk. The next day, she told him that he did not verbally ask her if she wanted to have sex or continue their sexual activity, thereby accusing him of sexual assault. Consent allows for nonverbal communication; people don’t have to specifically stop and ask for every escalation.
Jane’s allegations troubled John, and he decided to finish his semester online rather than coming to campus.
Four months later, on March 15, 2022, Jane filed a formal complaint against John, alleging sexual assault. John was notified about her complaint six days after Jane filed it, but John was not told any details about her allegations or what specific RFU policies he allegedly violated, contrary to Title IX policy. At this time, John and Jane were given a No Contact and No Retaliation Order, meaning neither could have direct or indirect contact with each other.
It wasn’t until April 6 that John learned the details of Jane’s allegations, in which she claimed that John “engaged in unwanted verbal and physical conduct and touching, aggressive pushing, holding down, moving around, and unconsensual [sic] sex with her more than once.”
Jane was interviewed before John was informed of the details, but he wasn’t interviewed until a month after he received the details – on May 5. This was now two months after Jane filed her complaint.
Just one week after John was interviewed, RFU issued its investigative report summarizing the case in under six pages. The report contained errors such as accidentally including the names of witnesses other than Jane and John, and also incorrectly stated Jane filed the complaint on December 21, 2021, instead of March 2022. To John, this showed a carelessness on the part of the investigator.
After the report was issued, John initiated the process to withdraw from RFU and obtained approval from his program. The withdrawal notice would then be sent to the dean of the public health college for another approval.
On May 18, an administrator asked John if he still planned to participate in the Title IX hearing since he was withdrawing from the university. On May 19, he received notice from the registrar’s office that his withdrawal was approved. On May 20, he had an exit interview with RFU’s director of financial aid.
The withdrawal should have renderer the Title IX process void, since RFU’s policy states that if the status of a student changes, “such that the person is no longer employed by or enrolled at the University, then the case shall no longer be subject to the Title IX Regulatory Investigation Policy or Title IX Regulatory Hearing Policy.”
That same day, John responded to the administrator saying he had withdrawn from the university and would not be participating in the Title IX process and asked her to confirm these details.
Four days later, he again emailed this administrator for confirmation that the school was planning to honor its policy and end the Title IX process.
On May 31, the administrator emailed him back to say: “It seems your withdrawal status has not been approved and a hold has been placed on your account and registration, making you a current student at RFU. As you are still a student at RFU, the Title IX hearing will proceed.”
John and his attorneys believe that the Title IX office interfered with his withdrawal in order to continue the process against him.
A hearing to determine John’s responsibility was held on June 14, during which, he said in his lawsuit, the university violated its own policies and conducted a biased hearing. These violations included allowing Jane’s advisor to cross-examine witnesses but not allowing John’s advisor to do the same. In fact, the hearing panel didn’t even allow John or his advisor to even hear the testimony from Jane’s witnesses. RFU also allowed irrelevant character testimony to be admitted that supported Jane.
John also tried to point out bias from the investigator, who sent an email with the heading “[Jane filed a Title IX complaint because she was sexually assault,” which to John demonstrated a presumption of guilt on his part.
John also alleged that the university had no jurisdiction over Jane’s claim, since it did not occur in any RFU-owned business or at any school-related event.
As is often the case, John was found responsible. He appealed, but it was dismissed, so he sued the university.
On September 11, 2023, Judge Elaine Bucklo, who was appointed to the bench in 1994 by then-President Bill Clinton, sided with RFU. Her main reasoning behind allowing the school and the individual administrators to sue John is that RFU didn’t show discrimination against male students, but that, even if the allegations were erroneous, they were “no more suggestive of sex discrimination than they are of lawful alternative explanations, including incompetence, impatience, or pro-complainant bias.”
As history professor and author K.C. Johnson noted, Bucklo used an out-of-circuit opinion to make this claim. When Bucklo did cite an in-circuit opinion, she left out a very important line in the ruling that said that in some circumstances, “procedural irregularities may support a finding of sex bias under Title IX.”
It wasn’t just John’s anti-male discrimination claims that Bucklo dismissed, she also insisted that John had no right to assume the university was negligent because it didn’t offer him an impartial process, nor could he claim the university breached its contract.
She granted RFU’s motion to dismiss the case.
John’s fight may not be over. One of his attorneys, Andrew Miltenberg of Nesenoff & Miltenberg, a prominent law firm that handles Title IX complaints, said he and the other attorneys must discuss with John what he plans to do next.