Student found in violation of sexual harassment policy to resume classes
A student found in violation of MSU’s sexual harassment policy and later “permanently dismissed” from the university will be back on campus and attending classes because of a court order.
Ingham County Circuit Court judge Clinton Canady III approved an order to reinstate the student while his attorneys bring a civil case against MSU. They allege procedures in the university’s investigation violated multiple aspects of Michigan’s constitution in a brief comparing MSU’s investigation to criminal trial.
According to court documents, the student alleges the university “violated his right to due process by demonizing him without any substantial competent evidence.”
The victim in the alleged assault, who spoke to The State News on the condition of anonymity, said the lawsuit has left her feeling powerless.
“I’m literally just the school’s puppet right now,” she said.
She believes the suit is an opportunity for the judge to scrutinize MSU’s procedures for addressing complaints of sexual assault, procedures made in an attempt to comply with the federal law Title IX.
“He (the judge) wants to make MSU’s process an example, it’s not about the victim at all at this point,” she said.
The accusations come amid a federal investigation into MSU's handling of sexual assault cases.
The investigation conducted by MSU’s Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, or I3, included statements from several witnesses who were with both parties the night of the alleged assault. The student’s attorney alleges in court documents that much of the information gathered during the investigation was “rank hearsay” and “irrelevant.”
They also allege the student and his advisors, who are paid attorneys, should have been allowed to cross-examine the university’s investigator.
According to the I3 investigation, the victim alleged she felt “paralyzed” after taking three shots supplied to her by the respondent on the night of August 23, 2013, and did not remember engaging in sex with him the next morning.
The victim also provided email which indicated MSU police have yet to finish their criminal investigation into her case, more than eight months after it began.
I3 is mandated by Title IX to investigate and address all complaints of sexual assault. But the office is not held to the same burden of proof that criminal cases receive — they are only required to determine if it is more likely than not that sexual assault occurred, rather than prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
MSU spokesman Jason Cody said the university would defend against the lawsuit and said its conduct is “fair and proper and follows the guidance,” from the federal government.
According to documents from I3’s investigation, the student refused to speak with university officials about the case under advisement from his attorneys. Instead, he submitted a polygraph test he underwent, which concluded he was truthful when claiming he had consensual sex with the victim.
George M. Brookover, who is listed as one of the respondent’s attorneys in court documents, declined to comment when contacted by The State News.
After a university hearing, the student was notified of his dismissal in January. He appealed to the University Student Appeals Board and was denied in mid-February. He sent a final appeal to a senior MSU official, who upheld the decision to dismiss him.
City Editor Katie Abdilla contributed to this report.