Just weeks after a judge refused to allow a New Jersey college’s attempt to dismiss a lawsuit against it, the school settled with the student who brought the lawsuit.
John Doe, as he is referred to in court documents, brought the lawsuit after he was expelled from Rider University for allegedly sexually assaulting a female student. John met Jane Roe, as she is referred to in court documents, in the early morning hours of October 18, 2015. John and his friend, referred to as Joe Doe, returned from an off-campus party with three other friends. John was the designated driver and “not intoxicated.” Joe began talking to two women (Jane and her friend, referred to as Jane Roe 2) and John joined them.
John claims the two women had been drinking, but neither were incapacitated. “Both were able to carry on a conversation, were coherent, were not slurring their words or in need of assistance to stand, and were otherwise in full command of their faculties,” John’s lawsuit states.
After talking to the women for several minutes, the two men asked them to return to their dorm room. The women “readily agreed,” John claimed. Joe and Jane 2 went to one bed, while John and Jane went to his bed. The room was dark, and Joe and Jane 2 began “consensual kissing and light toughing for approximately 10 minutes until Joe Doe passed out from his alcohol intake, and Jane Roe 2 left the dormitory room.”
Jane remained behind with John, and after her friend left, she removed her own blouse and bra. The two were kissing and touching, consensually, according to John’s lawsuit. John says he remained fully clothed throughout the entire encounter. After she removed her shirt, John touched Jane’s breasts and gave her a hickey on her neck. He says Jane rubbed his genitals over his pants and that “for most of the encounter, Jane Roe was on top of John.”
John says the encounter lasted 20 minutes before someone began banging on the door and several people shouted for “Jane.” Jane put her clothes back on and left.
Two hours later, school Public Safety Officers contacted John to say they were investigating a sexual assault. Though he was not told the specifics of the allegations, he provided a written statement that said, in part, that one of the girls was “completely intoxicated” and wasn’t sure “really what was going on.” Joe provided a written statement consistent with John’s.
Before the two men were interviewed, Jane spoke to Public Safety officers. Jane initially told the officers “she did not believe that the acts performed [between her and John] involved either her, or [Plaintiff’s] genitals.” After John was interviewed, she was asked what she meant when she said “things got sexual.”
“There was kissing and touching involved. John began to unzip my pants[,] and I stopped him several times [when] this occurred. It wasn’t until the RA threat that he completely stopped,” Jane told Public Safety officers. At this same time, she also said she “insisted on staying” with John after her friend left and that even though she did not give “100% consent to the situation,” she “did not fully deny it” either.
Jane 2 claimed the dorm room was “very dark” yet she witnessed John “violent[ly] touching” Jane.
Jane and Jane 2 then spoke with Rider dean Anthony Campbell and reported the incident to Lawrence Township Police. The versions they told the police were “dramatically different from those they had twice shared with Public Safety just hours earlier and before they had time to speak with one another, their parents, or Dean Campbell,” according to the lawsuit.
Now Jane claimed that John “forcibly push[ed] her head down and plac[ed] his penis in her mouth.”
Jane 2 now also claimed she was sexually assaulted — that Joe digitally penetrated her and rubbed her breast — and that she had to force her way out of the dorm room. She now also claimed she saw John “pushing Jane Roe’s head into his groin area.”
The prosecutor’s office declined to prosecute since the stories were so inconsistent and lacked any evidence.
That didn’t stop Rider from immediately suspending John. Dean Campbell had his hands all over the investigation, even though John says Campbell admitted he was “going against” him. John says the school ignored the contradicting statements from the women and expelled him.
So, John sued. Rider tried to get the case dismissed, but U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti denied most of the school’s claims.
John amended his complaint to try and get his Title IX claim (that the school discriminated against him because he is a male) back in, and the judge denied Rider’s motion to dismiss this claim.
A few weeks after Martinotti refused to dismiss John’s gender-discrimination claim, the two parties filed a motion suggesting they had reached a settlement. The details are unknown at this time, but it is telling that the settlement came just after the school suffered a loss in court.