UT student files lawsuit after sexual assault allegations lead to suspension

AUSTIN - A University of Texas at Austin student has filed a lawsuit claiming that the school's president misapplied the school's sexual assault policy and suspended him for five semesters despite the fact that he said he received consent from the other student in 2016.

The student -- identified as "John Doe" in the lawsuit that was filed Monday in the United States District Court in Austin -- went with another student identified in the lawsuit as "Jane Roe" to her sorority's formal party in April 2016. Afterward, the two walked to his apartment. The lawsuit claims that Doe asked for verbal consent to have sex, to which the lawsuit said she replied, "Yes." 

According to court documents, Roe told him the next day that he had taken advantage of how intoxicated she was. She said after she left he immediately texted her to tell her he was sorry for his actions and that "it would never happen again." She said she made the decision to report the incident to the school because "I'm always looking out or nervous to bump into him, and I just realized I don't feel safe."

The lawsuit claims that a university hearing officer determined there had been no assault, but UT President Greg Fenves overruled that on April 12. The lawsuit said Fenves chose to suspend the student for five semesters. Fenves cited testimony from a witness who attended the formal and said in a letter, "While parties may disagree as to whether intoxication and incapacitation are synonymous, certainly, someone described as: ‘incredibly intoxicated, no longer coherent, at a point where she needed to be taken home away from the event because she couldn’t form sentences,’ meets the definition of incapacitated," according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit said that Fenves' stance on the incident is "contrary to the law and common sense" and is "inconsistent with UT's prior policy stance that, 'Yes Means Yes.'"

The lawsuit claims that the policy shift "effectively outlaws a large percentage of the sexual activity that occurs" at UT and, "if applied discriminately, it would result in the suspension of thousands of young men and women" who attend the school.

The lawsuit also said Fenves has a possible conflict of interest because the father of the woman is a university donor who gave money before her allegations.

J.B. Bird, the director of media relations with UT, told KVUE the university "generally does not comment on pending litigation, and due to federal privacy laws, the university does not comment on student disciplinary measures."

"Our policies and procedures in such cases are followed and applied with care and diligence at all levels, including appeals to the president during which he makes decisions only based upon the record in the case," Bird's statement said.

He also said the university's sexual assault policy can be found here.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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