A male Fairfield University student was effectively expelled from the school after a female student made conflicting sexual assault claims against him after the two broke up.
The male student, referred to in court documents as John Doe, was a senior at the university when he began a sexual relationship with a female student, referred to as Jane Roe. John was preparing to graduate and go on to a graduate program at another university when he and Jane, whom he had known for a year prior, started a physical relationship. Previously, Jane had invited John to sleep in her bed on three separate occasions, according to John’s lawsuit against Fairfield reviewed by The Daily Wire.
John had not wanted to enter a physical relationship with Jane prior because she had a boyfriend, but once she said the two had broken up, John and Jane engaged in undisputed consensual oral sex in mid-September 2017. On September 29, 2017 the two separately attended the President’s Ball at the university. Jane would later invite John to a local bar with her friend, according to John’s lawsuit.
Jane’s account of the evening would change drastically depending on who she talked to and when, but her initial report to campus officials stated that she only had one or two drinks at this bar. She and John went to his off-campus residence, where they talked and kissed for some time. Eventually, John, says, he invited Jane into his bedroom and she accepted. The two kept kissing and undressed themselves, according to John. His lawsuit then says that he specifically asked Jane if she wanted to have sex and she verbally agreed, as she was already touching his genitals.
Later that night, John’s roommate returned home but waited outside the shared bedroom because he heard the sounds of sex. This roommate would later tell Fairfield’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) that he heard no sounds of distress while he was waiting and that when he eventually entered the room, everything seemed normal. He even had a short conversation with the couple. This roommate also said that after that night, Jane returned to the apartment to have sex with John several more times.
John provided Jane some clothes to sleep in and drove her home the next morning. Afterwards, Jane texted John: “We’re in the clear, everyone was asleep besides [Witness K.P.] and I can handle her. Thanks for the ride and the clothing.”
The two continued to exchange friendly text messages over the next few days, according to the lawsuit. On October 3, 2017, Jane texted John that she would “let him know when [she is] heading over.” Two days later, on October 5, she invited John to join her at the bar again. The two engaged in sexual intercourse again that night; Jane would repeatedly admit that it was consensual that night, according to the lawsuit.
On October 11, 2017, John texted Jane to let her know that he no longer wanted to pursue a relationship with her, sexual or otherwise. Jane, according to the lawsuit, said she understood and that they could remain friends.
Sometime after John and Jane engaged in sexual intercourse, Jane went to the school health clinic for an STD test. At the time, she did not report any sexual misconduct. Months later, after she had accused John of sexual assault, she allegedly returned to the clinic to try and get them to falsify her records by claiming she had reported sexual misconduct at that time, according to John’s lawsuit.
At some point after breaking up with Jane, John began dating one of their mutual friends.
The first sign he received that Jane was rethinking their sexual encounter was on November 28, 2017, when one of her friends verbally attacked John, claiming he “should be in jail for what he did to [Jane Roe],” according to the lawsuit.
A week later, on December 6, 2017, Jane went to DPS and filed a report claiming John sexually assaulted her during their September 29th encounter. Her report was forwarded Karen Donoghue, Fairfield’s associate vice president and dean of students, who then informed John that allegations had been made against him and were being referred to the University Disciplinary Process.
Jane’s claims to DPS differed from what she told in subsequent interviews and to her friends, according to John’s lawsuit. One of her stories claimed that John lifted her onto his bed on the night of September 29, lifted her dress, removed her underwear, and sexually assaulted her. She simultaneously claimed that she took off her own dress to “see fully what was going on” and claiming she went into “survival mode.” She also said she laughed at John and asked, “Are you kidding me?”
Jane presented edited text messages between herself and a friend, referred to in court documents as M.R. The text messages were sent the day after her encounter with John, and the portions she provided to school investigators (she refused to provide the full context of the conversation), appeared to show she was sexually assaulted. In one message, she claimed that John “literally stuck his penis inside of me without any real consent and without a condom and it didn’t feel good.” Another text message called him a “f*** boy,” referring to a person who is only interested in sex.
Jane blacked out some of the messages in the conversation, meaning it is unclear in what context she made these claims. Given the fact that she continued to have a sexual relationship with John after the text messages were sent, it is not unreasonable to assume that they were part of a larger conversation that was not antagonistic toward John.
Jane’s friend, M.R., also claimed in a statement to school investigators that Fairfield would have tried to bury the case if Jane hadn’t persisted. But she also said that both Jane and her roommate, referred to as A.B., were both interested in John and that a rift formed in the household and friendship because of it. M.R. explained in her statement that the housemates sided with A.B., which created a hostile environment for Jane.
John’s lawsuit claims Fairfield did not take this statement into account as a possible motive for Jane to lie.
Another one of Jane’s housemates, K.P., said that Jane didn’t tell her that the sex with John was not consensual until a month after the first encounter, which was also after John broke up with Jane. Yet another witness, S.C., provided a statement to investigators that Jane referred to herself as “The House Whore” when they ran into her at a bar. Jane claimed that John “raped” her. At this time, Jane claimed she drank so much alcohol that night that she blacked out and then passed out on John’s bed and later woke up to him raping her. This version was drastically different from what she had told other people, which the lawsuit notes were also “inconsistent from one another.”
Later, Jane told S.C. that she didn’t have alcohol that night. S.C. said in their statement that they doubted Jane’s story.
It was not until January 23, 2018 that John was informed of the full allegations against him via email. He was told that the Title IX Compliance Investigator, Officer Pat Jacquot, would be completing an investigation.” Not more than five minutes later, John received another email from the same administrator saying she had received Jacquot’s investigation.
John was provided the “investigation report,” which contained only Jane and her witness’ statements.
John Doe attended a hearing for the allegations against him on February 9, 2018. He could not bring an attorney and was only allowed an advisor from the Fairfield community. Still, his advisor, Brian Walker, turned out to decent.
Fairfield, like many other colleges and universities around the country, failed to adhere to its own policies during the hearing, according to John’s lawsuit. During the hearing, several members on the hearing panel had clear conflicts of interest (such as working for the campus Sexual Assault Campus Resource Team or previously working with Jane), but were not removed. Further, Jane was allowed to break Fairfield policy during the hearing, but John was bound to it. For instance, Jane was allowed to directly ask questions of witnesses, even though policy stated questions must be asked through the hearing board chairman. Jane’s advisor was allowed to provide a list of questions to the hearing board chair and directly address the hearing board, but John’s advisor was not allowed to do the same. Jane was also allowed to present witnesses who did not have “direct knowledge or specific information” regarding her allegations. Meanwhile, John was barred from asking questions or even submitting questions for witnesses to ask him.
Further, witnesses were allowed to testify who weren’t on the list given to John prior to the hearing. And John couldn’t cross-examine Jane or any of the witnesses against him.
John’s advisor sent a list of grievances to administrators and John was provided a new hearing, however, the new hearing would follow a new policy for adjudicating campus sexual assault, which had been adopted after John’s encounter with Jane. In addition, John alleges he received conflicting information about this policy. At one point, John said he was provided a sheet of paper with a list “of random phrases without description” according to his lawsuit, and was not published as part of Fairfield policy. Fairfield still failed to adhere to its new policies in re-adjudicating John.
Prior to John’s second hearing, he raised concerns that the time stamps on some of Jane’s submitted emails and text messages between herself and her friends were questionable. John alleged that it appeared Jane had set up the messages by asking her friends to ask her certain questions in an attempt to build evidence against John.
During the second hearing, Jane publicly threatened John by saying, “if my dad knew about this, he would kill you.” Nothing was done about Jane’s threat until John’s parents got involved in the process, the lawsuit stated. John was also called a “rapist” during this hearing and was barred from defending himself from such accusations.
On March 9, 2018, John was found responsible for sexually assaulting Jane, but he was not expelled or suspended. Instead, he was barred from campus but allowed to continue his coursework from home. The school, however, did not inform his professors of this and did not allow John to make accommodations for his ADHD, a disability he was diagnosed with and the school knew about. Further, John was not allowed to enter campus to attend labs that required attendance. Because of Fairfield’s refusal to allow John to actually complete his coursework, he was effectively expelled, as he would end up failing many, if not all, his classes.
John appealed the decision and provided a statement from a new witness, which should have reopened the investigation. Fairfield President Mark Nemec refused John’s appeal without explanation and without interviewing the new witness, claiming in his denial that the “appeal did not provide new evidence or adequate evidence to substantiate an error in the proceedings.”
John sued the school with the help of attorney Andrew Miltenberg. Earlier this month, the case was dismissed after both parties agreed to settle out of court. It is unclear what John received in the settlement, but schools have been increasingly settling by clearing students’ records and providing some monetary benefit.
Miltenberg‘s office confirms the case was settled.