UMich must prove Title IX staff not 'biased against males'
- A federal court ruled Friday that the University of Michigan must grant a live hearing to a male student accused of sexual assault, saying there is a substantial risk that the student has been denied due process.
- The student had filed a lawsuit accusing the school of creating an environment in which Title IX staff members are "explicitly and implicitly biased against males accused of sexual assault."
A federal court has ruled in favor of a student accusing the school of violating his due process rights during an ongoing sexual assault investigation.
According to MLive, the decision means that the university will now have to allow the accused student, identified as “John Doe,” a right to undergo a live hearing.
The lawsuit, filed in early June, alleged that the student was denied any form of hearing or cross-examination after being accused of sexual assault on March 12, arguing that the school "created an environment in which decision-makers at the University are explicitly and implicitly biased against males accused of sexual assault."
According to the report, the university also placed the student’s transcripts and degree on hold due to the sexual assault accusation—a move that the student says is impacting his ability to pursue higher education and employment.
"Defendants essentially ask the Court to sit back and wait for the investigator to issue findings against Plaintiff before intervening in this action," U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Tarnow wrote in the July 6 decision, as reported by MLive.
"But, at this very moment, the University may be denying Plaintiff due process protections to which he is entitled,” the ruling continues. “The Court cannot, and will not, simply stand by as the fruit continues to rot on the tree. This case is ripe for adjudication."
Likewise, the court ruled that “the risk of an erroneous deprivation of Plaintiff's interest in his reputation, education, and employment is significant" without a live hearing, arguing that "additional procedural safeguards would both assist the truth-seeking process and help to ensure the protection of Plaintiff's constitutional rights.”
The ruling does, however, impose some restrictions on the plaintiff’s demands, only allowing the student to partake in cross-examination after questions have been submitted to a university official or student panel.
Despite that requirement, the student’s attorney, Deborah Gordon, told MLive that she and her client are satisfied with the results of the ruling.
"These were life-changing decisions and yet there was no openness at all and so he's very gratified that the courts [made the decision]," she said. "He feels that's obviously more fair, it makes sense and that he's much more likely to get a fair and sensible result then doing it the way they've been doing it."
A university spokesperson told Campus Reform that the school has no statement at this time on the ongoing litigation.
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