A female student at the University of Michigan who accused a male student of sexual assault backed out of her claims after a judge ruled the accused student would be allowed to cross-examine his accuser.
The College Fix reported that the development came after the judge ordered UM to provide the accused student, referred to in court documents as John Doe, a “live hearing” and the ability to cross-examine his accuser, referred to as “Claimant” (The Daily Wire will refer to her as Jane Roe). UM appealed the ruling to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but the accused student’s attorney, Deborah Gordon, filed a motion on Monday saying the appeal was moot because UM dropped the Title IX charges against her client.
University policy allowed the school to continue investigating and adjudicating an accused student even if the accuser refuses to participate, but UM took the opportunity to close the case after the accuser said she “no longer wants to proceed or participate in the investigative resolution process.”
An earlier court ruling found UM violated John’s Title IX rights during its investigation of Jane’s claims.
The Fix reported that UM scheduled John’s original hearing for April 22 – the week before final exams. John couldn’t attend the hearing in person as he had returned to California because the school had closed due to the coronavirus. John and Jane were both supposed to graduate in May. When John tried to get the hearing rescheduled until after his exams, the school made “several false representations” for why it couldn’t postpone, Gordon claimed in a court filing. “A day ahead of a court hearing on John’s emergency motion to postpone his Title IX proceeding, the university ‘revealed the true reason’ for the rush: It wanted to hold his degree,” the Fix reported.
Less than an hour before UM had to file its brief in court, the school notified Gordon that it was closing the case against John without finding the student responsible or not responsible. Despite dropping its case against John, UM refused to drop its appeal to the 6th Circuit. Gordon said the university’s “position is legally unsupportable and may be sanctionable.”
Professor and author K.C. Johnson speculated on Twitter that UM was refusing to drop its appeal in an effort to avoid paying John’s legal fees, as records show the university has already spent $1.2 million fighting just this one case.
The accusation arises from a sexual encounter on November 11, 2017. Jane had texted John that night asking if she could go to his dorm room, because earlier in the day the two had discussed meeting up and John suggested hanging out in his room. The two “watched movies and engaged in sexual intercourse,” according to court documents. Jane would later tell her roommate about having sex with John, and his lawsuit states that Jane “did not say it was without consent” at that time. Unlike most allegations of sexual assault on college campuses, this one didn’t involve alcohol or drugs.
Following their encounter, Jane continued to message John and “chatted pleasantly” with him in the school’s dining hall after she asked to have dinner with him. John suspected that Jane decided to accuse him of sexual assault after he declined to have sex with her again or a relationship. Jane had texted John asking to have sex with him again in his room, but he said no.
“In another one of Claimant’s texts to Plaintiff she asked him what it meant to their relationship now that they had engaged in sex. Plaintiff responded that all he could offer was friendship,” John’s lawsuit said.
Jane wouldn’t make her accusation until months later, and UM wouldn’t notify John that a complaint had been filed against him un April 2, 2018. John said in his lawsuit that when he was interviewed by UM Title IX investigators on April 3, he was not given the details of the allegation against him or provide him a summary of any witness statements who were interviewed at later dates.
A no-contact order was also placed against only John, forbidding him to have even “incidental” contact with Jane. Jane would later falsely accuse John of violating the order, though John, luckily, was able to use his university card-swipe data to prove he was not in the dining hall when Jane claimed he broke the order. UM, however, took no action against Jane and it is unclear whether that lie would have been used to determine her credibility and whether it would have made a difference in the case against John.
John sued the university, for withholding his degree and transcript, as he had already been accepted into the university’s College of Engineering master’s degree program but was now barred from registering for classes or getting a job.
Months after John sued UM for putting an “indefinite hold” on his transcript and degree without finishing the proceedings, a decision in a different lawsuit against the university demanded the school provide cross-examination.
Cross-examination had been discouraged by activists and the Obama administration, who claimed it would “re-traumatize” accusers by forcing them to provide evidence of their claims and potentially be challenged by the men they were accusing. Suddenly, one of the tenets of the American justice system was demonized – but just in cases of sexual assault.
UM tried to claim in court that John was responsible for the case’s ongoing adjudication, saying the accuser had waited two years while John “and the district court prevent the University from completing its investigation into her allegations of rape and from conducting a hearing,” and tried to claim that Jane dropping out of the “fitful process” should serve as a reason for courts to stay out of “an ongoing process.”
Gordon, John’s attorney, responded by saying UM was “solely responsible for the trajectory of these events,” and that John was the victim here, having his life disrupted and continuing to live with a “significant cloud over him.”
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