The University of Texas at Austin reached a settlement with “John Doe,” the male student who sued campus President Greg Fenves for overturning an arbitrator’s decision that cleared Doe of sexual assault charges stemming from a 2016 case. Fenves also suspended the student for roughly two years.
Breitbart Texas reported that on August 7, 2017, Doe filed a lawsuit that raised serious concerns over due process and conflicts of interest. It suggested bias, asserting that Fenves took a “tough-on-sexual assault” stance to protect his reputation and the university in a “misguided attempt to ensure that UT does not suffer the same public relations disaster” that happened at Baylor when they did not take an “accuser’s allegations seriously.” It questioned why Fenves was allowed to reverse the arbitrator’s decision or step on existing campus policy definitions of “intoxicated” and “incapacitated.”
On April 16, 2016, UT sophomores Doe and his accuser, “Jane Roe,” purportedly had consensual sex more than four hours after the female student ingested any alcoholic beverages. Days later, she rescinded her verbal consent retroactively, asserting her judgment was impaired. Roe alleged Doe raped her.
According to the lawsuit, Roe invited Doe to a sorority formal as her date. The twosome first attended an afternoon boat party where Roe admitted to consuming five cups of sangria after which she said she did not ingest any more alcoholic beverages. They later took a bus back to the sorority house, one to the formal, and a final return ride to the sorority house where they ate. Then, Doe asked Roe if she wanted to go to his apartment. Both parties believed they were intoxicated on the walk over. Once inside Doe’s bedroom, he asked Roe if she wanted to have sex. She said yes.
The petition said the two had consensual sex, describing Roe as “conscious and participating” with no force or physical violence involved. She spent the night. Subsequently, Roe changed her mind, deciding she was too drunk to make a good decision about having sex with Doe and went to the UT’s Title IX office where she accused Doe of rape. The Title IX office sought to determine whether or not Roe’s verbal consent was void because she had been “incapacitated” by alcohol.
In early 2017, an impartial officer arbitrated the case, hearing both sides. Ultimately, he cleared Doe of any wrongdoing. Roe appealed the decision. Then, Fenves intervened and overruled the arbitrator’s decision, concluding that Doe likely raped Roe “while she was too intoxicated” to consent to sex. In an April 12 letter, Fenves suspended Doe for five semesters which translates into approximately two years.
Doe wanted to be reinstated to complete his college studies. The complaint argued that Fenves and UT-Austin caused the student “actual damages,” noting his future career opportunities and personal reputation as “imminently threatened with harm that has no remedy at law.”
In the largely closed door courtroom hearing Monday, the matter concluded with the university dropping its planned third party review of the case. It also permanently reinstated Doe. He will be able to enroll in classes for the spring semester.
This followed last week’s actions by UT-Austin attorneys who filed a court document lifting Doe’s suspension temporarily. It stated the university intended to have an unnamed third party review the alleged sexual misconduct case, according to The Daily Texan. UT-Austin argued that since they lifted the suspension, Doe’s lawsuit became moot. However, Brian Roark, Doe’s attorney, called the move a “sham” and an “attempt to avoid having Fenves answer questions under oath.”
Fenves appeared in court Monday but did not testify. After the hearing, he only told reporters, “There’s been a settlement.” He had no additional comments.
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