Yale University must release the materials it uses to train administrators investigating claims of campus sexual assault after an expelled student requested them in his lawsuit against his former school.
In court documents obtained by The Daily Wire, U.S. District Judge Alfred V. Covello ordered the university to release the materials “because the documents at issue are relevant and responsible to the earlier request served in 2016.”
Two years ago, former Yale basketball star Jack Montague’s attorneys served the Ivy League school requests for “[a]ll documents provided to any agents or employees of Yale or anyone appointed to serve on a [University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct (UWC)] Hearing Panel concerning the operation, interpretations, or application and/or training on UWC disciplinary proceedings from July 1, 2011, to the present.”
Covello has now granted that request, but denied Montague’s other request for communications between Yale and his accuser’s attorney. Covello wrote that he wouldn’t grant this request because the communications “contain information relating to the defendants’ defense strategy” and are thus protected by attorney-client privilege.
But in denying this request, Covello has opened up a can of worms that Yale cannot be considered an impartial adjudicator because “the defendants and [Montague’s accuser] have a common interest in seeing Montague’s expulsion upheld…” This might not be good for Yale, as attorney John A. Boudet argued on Twitter.
“At least the privilege ruling does away with the pretense that the university can be an impartial adjudicator,” Boudet wrote. “They have now successfully claimed an identity of interest with the accuser. How can school ever objectively adjudicate on remand after taking this position?”
Montague sought these communications because his accuser (referred to as Jane Roe in court documents) changed her story drastically after the former basketball captain sued the university — and her story changed in such a way that would clear Yale of violating the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) which prohibits schools from releasing information about students.
As I previously reported, a Yale administrator told Montague’s accuser that he had been accused before, but left out the details that he had not been accused of sexual assault previously. Yale’s actual investigation report mentions this exchange. Montague had previously been reprimanded for rolling up a paper plate and stuffing it down a woman’s shirt during an argument. She didn’t say there was anything sexual about the incident and it in no way resembled Roe’s allegations of Montague actions.
After coming to believe Montague had sexually assaulted another woman, Roe decided to move forward with her accusation (she had previously wanted no action taken).
But when Roe was deposed as Montague’s lawsuit moved forward, she claimed that no one told her about Montague’s previous discipline and didn’t know why it was included in the investigator’s report. As included in previous court documents presented by Montague and his attorney’s, Roe’s new version of events (which absolved Yale of violating the law) occurred after multiple conversations between her attorney and Yale counsel.
For her part, the investigator that made the notes about Roe’s change of heart to make a formal complaint about Montague claimed in November 2017 that: “What I’m concerned about now is that as I look back at my notes, there really isn’t anything in my notes about what [Jane Roe] told me there and so it’s – I just don’t know what [Jane Roe] told me, what her other friends told me, whether I got that right or whether I may have…”
This should make one wonder about the reliability of the investigation, if the investigator doesn’t even know if she got the facts of the case right.
This all comes after Montague was accused of raping a woman with whom he had a previous sexual history. The woman left his room after the incident, but returned to sleep with him in his bed later that night. Montague says there was nothing different about this encounter than the previous three, which even his accuser acknowledges were consensual. A year later she would claim this one encounter was not consensual and Montague would be expelled.
At least the judge ordered Yale to release its training documents, which follows a similar demand from a judge against the University of Mississippi.