A Rollins College student in Orlando, Florida, has been expelled after a campus administrator allowed erroneous and irrelevant hearsay evidence into an investigation of campus sexual assault. The accuser also received generous accommodations that kept her from getting “another C” in a class and losing her scholarship. The accused student was not told about this potentially relevant information.
The accused student, John Doe as he is listed in court documents, was friends with his accuser, listed as Jane Roe, and spoke daily in the months before the alleged incident. John invited Jane to a Valentine’s Day-themed party at his fraternity on February 14, 2017. Both students consumed alcohol at the party and went to a local bar after, and that’s where their stories split.
Jane claimed that John touched her leg at the bar. John claims he did not touch her leg and did not flirt with her. The pair eventually went back to John’s room. John says he and Jane held hands on the way home; Jane claimed she was holding John’s hand for balance. John, in his lawsuit, says the two began kissing and that Jane “actively participated.” The activity escalated and he began touching her body while they kissed. He says she consented by continuing to kiss him and unbuckling his pants and fondling him. Jane told investigators that John forced her to do this.
John claims that Jane didn’t tell him “no” or ask to stop during this time. John says he even asked Jane if everything was “OK,” because he was worried about complicating their friendship. His lawsuit states Jane replied that everything was “fine.” John then penetrated Jane with his fingers while they continued to kiss. At this point, according to the lawsuit, Jane told John “I think we should stop.” John says he immediately stopped and finished watching a movie with Jane before walking her out of his room.
The next morning, Jane texted John and said she didn’t “want to be leading” him on. She said she was drunk the night before and “did things I didn’t actually feel comfortable doing at all.” She said she knew John sensed she was uncomfortable because he kept asking her what was wrong. She said she was too drunk to “properly communicate,” but added that she knew John was drunk as well.
John replied by telling her, in part: “We were both just drunk and one thing led to another.” He apologized for her feeling uncomfortable and hoped they could “just look past it.” Jane would later tell an investigator that this message was sent so she could craft her narrative. She also said that “at Rollins, you can’t just come out and say to someone that they raped you without the entire campus knowing.”
Jane then texted her friend, identified as W1 (witness 1) in court documents. Jane said she was “traumatized but ok” and that she “hooked up with [John].” She then claimed she was “drunk and didn’t want to.” W1 asked if Jane was forced or “too drunk to resist” and Jane said she told John she didn’t want to do anything, but reciprocated by touching his genitals “cuz [sic] I was drunk and didn’t know what I was doing.” She then said: “And then I immediately regretted it and wanted to leave.”
She also told her friend that she “was too drunk to say no.” When her friend realized Jane didn’t have sex with John, she replied: “You scared me though I thought you sexed for a second.” Jane then said she “woke up crying and having panic attack” and that she had “never hooked up with someone I didn’t want to hook up with.”
Four days later, on February 22, 2017, Jane spoke to the Rollins Title IX coordinator Oriana Jimenez. At that time, Jane said she did not want to participate in an investigation, and was given generous accommodations, according to John’s lawsuit. Jane was allowed to take a class as “credit/no credit” to avoid getting a bad grade. Jane told Jimenez that if she received “another C” she would lose her scholarship.
John was not told about this accommodation, so when he was asked why Jane would lie about what happened, he could only say: “I couldn’t tell you, it’s all a big surprise to me”
Nearly nine months went by without incident. Then, in early November 2017, someone “with a name similar to” John Doe’s real name was accused of sexually assaulting three women. The tip came from an anonymous caller to Rollins’ Title IX office, which is responsible for investigating accusations of sex-based discrimination, which has over the previous decades come to include sexual assault.
Because of this irrelevant anonymous tip, Jimenez contacted Jane and asked if she knew anything about the allegation. Jane said she didn’t, but then claimed “there was another female who had been potentially sexually assaulted by [John Doe].” She added that she “had since heard from other friends about the possibility of a third female, who had since graduated, who was also potentially sexually assaulted” by John.
Now Jane wanted to participate in a Title IX investigation against John, saying she “had nothing to lose” and alleging some of her friendships had changed because of her allegations.
On November 20, 2017, nine months after the encounter, John was informed that he was under investigation for sexual assault. Rollins hired outside investigator D.B. Wallace to conduct the investigation.
Jane told Wallace that she was “falling over” when she held John’s hand on the way back to his room. She claimed John was “not as intoxicated as she was” and that she was “in and out of sleep” during the encounter. She also now claimed she kept telling John “no, no, I don’t want to” and “I don’t want to be here, I want to go to my room.” She said John just told her they didn’t have to have sex and continued to touch her.
Jane was interviewed at least four more times, including one phone call to refute John’s claims that “his actions were reciprocal to hers.”
John says in his lawsuit that he was ambushed by Wallace and asked about unrelated allegations of sexual misconduct. He was told that if he didn’t answer their questions, “his position would not be able to be taken into consideration regarding potentially critical evidence.”
Those other allegations included one of Jane’s friends claiming John said mean things about her, leading to her feeling “like she is having a panic attack” if she sees him. Another friend of Jane’s said she was drinking at a party with John and woke up naked in his bed the next morning, assuming they had sex.
No one interviewed had any direct knowledge of the incident between John and Jane. Most of those interviewed were Jane’s friends who talked about Jane telling them about the incident. At least three of Jane’s friends and sorority sisters said Jane was an attention seeker. One said she “threw around the term ‘rape’” and was “miscommunicating what actually happened.”
Another said Jane “freaked out” when she did not take Jane’s side, and said Jane was “attention seeking.” A third witness and sorority sister of Jane’s (and friend of John’s) said she thought Jane was jealous that she was spending time at the party with John.
Multiple other witnesses could not say that Jane was drunk, had no information to give to Wallace, or were asked about incidents that did not involve Jane. Several witnesses simply relayed rumors they had heard about John.
Wallace’s report contained editorial comments regarding John’s testimony, but not Jane’s, and accused John’s fraternity brother of being “influenced” by the accused student, but didn’t say the same of Jane’s sorority sisters. Further, Jane’s behavior — diminishing her original claims, “making strong eye contact” and her “confidence” — all led Wallace to conclude she was credible. Conversely, John’s fear and nervousness about being accused of sexual assault was used to claim he was not credible.
Despite similar evidence that John himself may have been too intoxicated to consent, his potential sexual assault was never investigated. John reported that he was harassed by some of Jane’s friends, but this retaliation was never investigated. At one point after the investigation, John was assaulted by the boyfriend of one of Jane’s friends, while multiple friends watched.
As one can imagine, Wallace’s report found John responsible and he was expelled, without a hearing and without the ability to cross-examine his accuser and witnesses. His appeal was denied, so he is now suing. His attorney, Joshua Engel of Engel & Martin, LLC, told The Daily Wire that the investigation against John was biased from the beginning.
“Rollins assumed that John Doe was guilty, and that the Complainant was a ‘victim’ from the very beginning of the process,” Engel wrote in an email. “The school relied on rumor and innuendo instead of having a full and fair hearing where the accused would have been able to present evidence that the Complainant was not credible.”