This might be one of the most egregious examples of bias against an accused male student among numerous egregious examples.
The male-accused student at the University of Illinois had text messages, Snapchats, photographs, witnesses, class attendance records, and more all backing up his side of the story. Even the female accuser’s own witnesses contradicted her claims, yet still the male student, referred to only as John Doe in court documents, was expelled.
The female student, referred to in court documents as Jane Roe, didn’t even claim that the sexual encounter was nonconsensual, just that she did not consent to one particular position during the encounter, though she admitted to a friend that she never informed John that she didn’t want to do that particular position.
John and Jane met in September 2019 during a class they shared. The two were assigned to work a group project and exchanged Snapchat messages. Throughout October, according to John’s lawsuit, the two started flirting through social media messages. Jane apparently told her friends she thought John was “attractive” and “nice.” After messaging each other for some time and talking in person, Jane invited John back to her dorm. They eventually started to kiss, and Jane texted her friends, referred to only as U.Z.: “when r u coming back… [John] is tryna lmaooooooooooo.”
To John and his attorneys, this meant Jane was trying to figure out when her roommate would come back so that she and John wouldn’t be disturbed while they had sex. When Jane learned U.Z. wouldn’t come back until 3 p.m., John and Jane engaged in sexual activity. John says in his lawsuit that he asked for Jane’s consent every step of the way: To undress, to have sex, to use protection, etc. John says Jane “enthusiastically consented.” Jane never disputed this during the hearing against John, telling the hearing panel “there was clearly consent.”
During the sexual encounter, John asked Jane if she wanted to change positions to vaginal sex from behind. John says Jane agreed to the position, but Jane has given different accounts, at one point saying she told John “no… definitely more than once directly to his face.” Another time, she claimed she laughed “in a light manner” and told John “I don’t do that.” The two switched to a different position and finished their encounter.
The two talked after the encounter, during which time John asked Jane about her semicolon tattoo. Jane said it related to her mental health struggles and thoughts of suicide, something that made John uncomfortable. He worried that being with someone who struggled with mental health would be too much for him to handle as a freshmen in college, and so even though he had previously thought Jane might be a romantic partner, he told her he had to leave. The two kissed before he left her dorm room.
After he left, Jane texted U.Z.: “I can’t believe our suitemates heard.” As far as John knows and what was presented during the hearing, this is the only text Jane sent immediately after the encounter and relating to it.
Six months later, Jane claimed John sexually assaulted her. She claimed the incident occurred on October 18, 2019, but it was later determined to have occurred on October 25, 2019. This was not held against Jane, but when John incorrectly thought the date must have been the 19th since he had lunch with his cousin on the 18th, his statement was taken as him being contradictory.
On July 28, 2019, University of Illinois investigators issued a report that included a section titled, “Additional conflicted statements.” Three of the four statements included were from Jane and all of them were about things central to her claims, whereas the one conflicting statement from John referred to an interaction he had at a bar with one of Jane’s friends at some point after their sexual encounter.
Jane claimed that she told U.Z. that John sexually assaulted her, but U.Z. said that never happened and that Jane was “more focused on the potential of their suitemates being able to hear the sexual activities through an adjoined bathroom and that [Jane] did not speak about the interaction with [John] negatively until” months after it occurred. Jane never told investigators that she had texted U.Z. to make sure she wouldn’t return to the dorm for a while. Investigators only learned about the texts Jane sent when U.Z. provided them to the investigators.
Jane also mentioned her friend – S.A. in court documents – as a witness, but S.A. told investigators that she saw Jane a few hours after the alleged assault and that Jane was “really excited” about the prospect of John asking her “to go to semi with him.” S.A. told investigators that Jane’s “attitude about the incident had shifted” only after John stopped talking to her. Even then, according to court documents, Jane didn’t claim she was sexually assaulted, only that one position made her uncomfortable, but added that she “didn’t say no or tell him to stop.”
Jane’s third conflicting statement was her claim that she had never, ever considered a relationship with John. Investigators never seemed to believe her on that point.
“[Jane] has made several statements discovered throughout the investigation which indicate a desire for long term relationship with [John],” the investigators wrote in their report. “These statements conflicted with [Jane’s] follow-up interview and response to the evidence packet. When further contact did not happen after the 25th, [Jane] was not happy for being ‘ghosted.’”
Another contradiction – which wasn’t included in the named section – from Jane was her claims that she had talked to John’s friend T.W. about John and that T.W. said John says derogatory things about women and claimed Jane was a one-time hookup. When investigators read to T.W. what Jane had said, he said he didn’t “talk like that” and he never warned Jane about John. Further, he always thought John was a “nice guy.” In fact, T.W. didn’t even know John and Jane had hooked up, contrary to Jane’s claim that John had bragged about the encounter to his fraternity brothers.
Jane told investigators different versions of her encounter with John. She at one point said she didn’t know how her clothes were removed and that she never wanted to have sex with him. Another time she said she consented to kissing, undressing, and sex. Yet another time, she claimed she merely didn’t object and that is why John would have thought she had consented.
She initially told investigators that after the sexual encounter, John immediately left her dorm room. During a second interview, she claimed she “ran to the bathroom to get dressed and allow him time to leave the room.”
Investigators also had a copy of a Snapchat Jane sent to John months after the encounter, in which she said:
i did not appreciate your lack of communication with me afterwards, especially when you told me you wanted to invite me to delts events and asked to come to my semi. After what had happened I clearly was in a state of shock, seeing as how you completely used me.
Another of Jane’s friends testified that Jane never mentioned sexual assault after the encounter, but that she grew upset when John stopped responding to her messages. A fourth friend, referred to as M.M., told investigators that Jane “stopped going to class for a couple weeks,” and wouldn’t go out with her friends because she was distraught over the incident, but social media posts showed her going out during that time and an attendance sheet for the class she shared with John proved she never missed that class.
Despite this mountain of evidence showing Jane not only wasn’t sexually assaulted, but had made up a false claim about being sexually assaulted after John didn’t pursue a relationship with her.
The University of Illinois, according to John’s lawsuit, engaged in a pattern of discriminatory behavior against him due to his gender. For starters, the school arbitrarily set a date for the hearing and then refused to change that date when informed John’s adviser would be unavailable for the originally scheduled hearing. John was forced to bring his father as his adviser because he couldn’t get anyone else with actual legal training (his father had none, nor had he known the evidence prior to the hearing).
At the start of the hearing, the student panelist asked why John wasn’t facing additional charges of harassment, indicating he had already made up his mind that John was guilty and should be facing even more consequences.
Jane’s testimony also differed from the evidence and what she had previously told investigators, yet no one on the panel asked her about these contradictions or inconsistencies. Also, despite previously claiming she hadn’t consented to sexual activity with John, Jane suddenly admitted she had, yet the panel didn’t seem to count this as evidence John was innocent.
John was found responsible and suspended from the University of Illinois for two years. He appealed and lost, with the appeals board ignoring the same evidence as the hearing panel with no justification.
John filed a lawsuit against the university on September 25, 2020, and the University of Illinois failed to get the case dismissed. On December 24, 2021, the school and John filed a notice of voluntary dismissal, indicating a settlement had been reached, though the details have not been disclosed.
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