A former Purdue University student was accused of sexual assault by his ex-girlfriend. Purdue, using procedures that provide little to no ability for accused students to defend themselves, found the male accused student responsible and suspended him for one year. He was expelled from the school’s Navy ROTC program, lost his ROTC scholarship, and was forced to give up his dream of joining the Navy.
The student, referred to in court documents reviewed by The Daily Wire as John Doe, sued Purdue. His lawsuit was dismissed by a magistrate judge. John appealed, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit agreed that his lawsuit should not have been dismissed. The opinion was written by none other than Judge Amy Coney Barrett, long rumored to be a potential future Supreme Court nominee should President Donald Trump get to make another nomination.
John alleged in his lawsuit that he and his ex-girlfriend, referred to only as Jane Doe, began dating in the fall of 2015. Like most couples, the two had sex. Sometimes, John would awaken his girlfriend in the night for sex. Sometimes they fought. As John told it, Jane became erratic over the fall semester and eventually attempted suicide in front of him. They continued dating, but in January 2016, he reported her suicide attempt to two resident assistants and an advisor, according to court documents. Jane, upset by John’s report, left him. She then began dating someone else.
Months later, Purdue hosted events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which led to five students reporting alleged sexual assaults to the school, including Jane. She claimed that while sleeping next to John in November 2015 — while they were dating — she awoke to him groping her without her consent. She claimed he admitted he had digitally penetrated her while she slept previously. She also claimed he went through her underwear drawer without her permission, chased her down a hallway joking that he would taser her, gone to her room after they broke up, and even lost his temper in front of her.
Jane didn’t file a formal complaint, but Purdue investigated John anyway. John denied the allegations, saying he never groped her while she slept but once touched her knee while she slept on a futon and he was on the floor. He also denied the other allegations, and presented text messages from Jane that he thought proved she didn’t feel harassed or assaulted during the relationship, as she spoke with him during the holiday break and sent his family cookies. She also invited him to her room when they returned to campus in January, despite his alleged behavior. John also presented evidence that Jane was emotionally unstable, thinking this would help explain why she would lie about him.
John was called to testify before a hearing panel but was not provided the investigation report against him or its details beforehand. When he finally received the report, he discovered it claimed he had confessed to Jane’s accusations. John was not allowed to call witnesses, including his roommate that was in the room when Jane claims to have been assaulted. The roommate said it never happened.
Jane’s account was listed as credible even though Katherine Sermersheim, Purdue’s Dean of Students and a Title IX coordinator, never spoke to her. Jane didn’t even submit a statement to the committee determining John’s guilt.
Barrett included a quote from the Second Circuit’s decision against Columbia University, which found that a “covered university that adopts, even temporarily, a policy of bias favoring one sex over the other in a disciplinary dispute, doing so in order to avoid liability or bad publicity, has practiced sex discrimination, notwithstanding that the motive for the discrimination did not come from ingrained or permanent bias against that particular sex.”
John’s case will now return to the district court to proceed as the Seventh Circuit has ruled.