University of Cincinnati student accused of sexual assault sues university

CINCINNATI -- A University of Cincinnati student accused of sexually assaulting a fellow student filed a federal lawsuit against the university Friday.

The male graduate student, identified as John Doe in his lawsuit, alleges the university violated due process and Title IX in the way university officials treated him after a female student accused him of sexually assaulting her.

Title IX states: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Greg Vehr, a university spokesperson, said he could not comment on the specific case due to federal confidentiality requirements, but "our goal, as an educational institution, is what's best for all our students in terms of safety, fairness and support."

"We make every effort to follow all Department of Education requirements and guidelines to resolve sexual assault and other Title IX-related complaints, and to continually monitor and update the processes we use in responding to any incident of sexual misconduct reported to us," Vehr said.

The disputed encounter happened in September 2015, according to the complaint. The students met on Tinder and had sex. Doe said the sex was consensual. The female student, identified as Jane Roe in the lawsuit, later reported it to the university as a sexual assault.

UC's Title IX coordinator questioned both students about the encounter, according to the complaint. After several months of communications, the university held a hearing June 27 and found Doe guilty of violating the Student Code of Conduct. In his lawsuit, Doe alleges the university never gave him a fair chance to defend himself because Roe was not at the hearing for him to question her.

Doe appealed, but the university rejected his appeal and suspended him from UC effective Dec. 10, 2016, according to the complaint. He will be eligible to re-enroll Jan. 2, 2018.

The lawsuit alleges UC presumed Doe was guilty "in order to look good for the Department of Education and advocates."

"UC's decision-makers and its investigator were motivated to favor the accusing female over the accused male, so as to protect themselves and UC from accusations that they had failed to protect female students from sexual assault," the complaint states.

The university has not yet filed a response in court. Vehr said they have never settled a Title IX lawsuit, but other cases have been voluntarily dismissed or are still in court.

Doe's real name was not used in the complaint because releasing his identity "will cause the student irreparable harm as this case involves matters of the utmost personal intimacy," the complaint states.

Because his real name was withheld, it wasn't immediately possible to determine if any criminal charges had been filed in the alleged sexual assault.

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