Ex-student wants Ross degree after sexual misconduct appeal

Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - 5:01pm

John Doe wants University degree after winning appeal in sexual misconduct lawsuit.

John Doe wants University degree after winning appeal in sexual misconduct lawsuit. Buy this photo
File Photo/Daily

A former student who sued the University of Michigan over sexual assault allegations wants the University to give him his bachelor’s degree. 

The student, who is identified only as John Doe, was accused of sexual assault by a female student in an incident at a fraternity house in January 2016. Two days after the incident, the woman filed a sexual misconduct complaint with the University, claiming she was too drunk to consent.

Investgations into the incident by the University's Office of Institutional Equity revealed two competing narratives with female students supporting the woman’s narrative and Doe's fraternity brothers supporting his perspective. Due to the conflicting perspectives the investigator recommended the University rule in Doe’s favor.

However, despite the investigator's recommendation, the University proceeded to the sanctioning phase, leading to Doe's decision to withdraw instead of face the possibility of expulsion.

As a result, Doe's lawyer, Deborah Gordon, filed a lawsuit against the University later that year. She claimed that the University violated Doe’s right to due process, since he was not allowed to cross-examine his accuser or witnesses in a case with competing narratives.

Doe lost initially, but appealed his case to the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals in June and won. The three-panel judge said that Doe’s constitutional rights were violated, and the decision forced the University to change its sexual assault investigation model, requiring the University to to allow students accused of misconduct to cross-examine their accuser. The University appealed this ruling but again lost the suit.

The revised sexual misconduct policy, which includes the opportunity for cross-examination, was released Monday.  

Does was just 13.5 credits short of graduating from the Ross School of Business when he decided to withdraw from the school in April 2016.  In a court filing on Monday, Gordon said Doe spent $30,000 to finish a bachelor’s degree elsewhere, but still wants a degree from the University. The University said the request is the next step in ongoing litigation and will file its response with the court in the next couple weeks.

Gordon said Doe spent thousands of hours studying in order to obtain a degree from the University, only to have it stripped from him in a case that violated his constitutional rights.

“Who wouldn’t want to have a degree, graduate with a 3.95 degree from the Ross School of Business, after spending thousands of hours?” Gordon said.