The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today reinstated a portion of a suit against the University of Arkansas by a John Doe plaintiff who contends he was unfairly disciplined for sexual assault because he was a male.
A lower court had dismissed the case.
The University disciplinary panel concluded in favor of a woman’s complaint that Doe had intercourse with her when she was too intoxicated to consent. Doe contended she was sober and had consented. He argued that a review of the case didn’t turn up evidence that disputed his account. He also argued that he was disciplined because he was male and the University had been receiving media attention and was under a federal investigation for alleged inadequate responses to women’s claims of sexual misconduct. He was allowed to graduate, where an allegation of the sort he faced normally would bring expulsion, he said.
The 8th Circuit said: “These circumstances, taken together, are sufficient to support a plausible claim that the University discriminated against Doe on the basis of sex.”
But it added: “Our conclusion is limited to resolving the motion to dismiss. The present record includes only Doe’s version of events as set forth in his complaint. The University has not responded at this stage to Doe’s factual allegations, and the record does not even include the hearing panel’s complete decision. We decide only that the case may proceed to discovery and further factual development on this claim.”
The court upheld the lower court’s dismissal of claims against university officials for due process violations in the handling of the disciplinary proceeding. The case was remanded only for consideration of the claim of a violation of Title IX, discrimination on account of sex.