A male student who is a junior at the Madison school has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against two classmates for falsely accusing him of sexual assault and against the university for Title IX violations and for not following its own policies during the investigation.
The university declined to specifically address the lawsuit, but released a brief statement this week through a spokeswoman, Elizabeth Moore.
"Federal student privacy laws generally prohibit institutions of higher education from disclosing confidential student information," Moore said. "In accord with the letter and spirit of those laws, it is the University’s practice to refrain from public comment concerning student conduct matters, including any related litigation, and to respond only in the judicial forum."
Sexual assault claim
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff and one of the defendants had consensual sex in his dorm room on the morning of Sept. 24, 2013. The plaintiff and the female student knew each other since their freshman year, according to the complaint.
The female student and her former boyfriend then notified Drew University's Public Safety department the night of the incident that the sexual encounter between the plaintiff and the woman was non-consensual, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit claims the female student told her ex-boyfriend the encounter with the plaintiff was non-consensual out of fear he would not get back together with her.
According to the lawsuit, the female student confided in a friend shortly after the encounter with the plaintiff and told her the sex was consensual but later asked her to lie about the conversation to school investigators. The female student's mother also contacted the friend in an effort to coerce her, according to the lawsuit.
A Drew resident assistant informed the plaintiff on Sept. 25, 2013 he was banned pending the resolution of the complaint from all campus buildings except for the cafeteria and the buildings where he had classes, according to the lawsuit. The plaintiff was also ordered to have no contact with the female student or her former boyfriend.
The lawsuit claims the female student violated her no-contact order and called the plaintiff to apologize for "ruining his life." The lawsuit alleges the university did not reprimand the female student for contacting the plaintiff and did not investigate his claims she filed a false sexual assault complaint against him.
Call to Madison Police
The former boyfriend then called the Madison Police Department, alleging the female student had been raped, according to the lawsuit.
The university then suspended its own investigation while the police looked into the allegations, but maintained the plaintiff's ban from most campus buildings, the lawsuit said.
The university, the female student and the former boyfriend all "refused to cooperate" with the police and no formal complaint was ever filed, according to the lawsuit.
Madison Police ultimately dropped its investigation into the allegations, according to the lawsuit. Madison Police Detective/Lt. Dennis Lam said this week "the case is closed."
Drew resumed its investigation in late November and concluded its fact-finding procedure without interviewing the friend who was asked to lie for the female student, according to the lawsuit.
A private investigator interviewed the friend, who said the female student initially told her the sex was consensual and later told her to lie about their conversation, according to the lawsuit.
About a week after this information was relayed to the university, the plaintiff received an email on Dec. 17, 2013 informing him he was "not responsible" for the allegations made by the two students, according to the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, the university failed to complete its fact-finding procedure within 15 days, banned the plaintiff from most campus buildings "without cause to do so" for nearly three months and did not investigate claims the plaintiff made against the two students who filed the sexual assault complaint.
As a result, "male respondents in sexual misconduct cases at Defendant Drew are discriminated against solely on the basis of sex. They are invariably subjected to discipline without the benefit of due process," according to the lawsuit.
"Drew University Regulations are set up to disproportionately affect the male student population of the Drew University community as a result of the higher incidence of female complainants of sexual misconduct vs. male complainants of sexual misconduct," the lawsuit reads.
Impact of the ordeal
The plaintiff, who graduated Hunterdon Central Regional High School in Flemington, remains enrolled but on an academic leave from Drew, according to his father.
The university's handling of the investigation caused him to "sleep on the filthy floor of a kitchen in a nearby apartment," further aggravated a preexisting digestive disorder and caused him to be hospitalized for exhaustion and dehydration, according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiff has been "forced to attend counseling," his grades have dipped and his "entire academic career is ruined and, without a college education, his overall economic future is completely compromised," according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiff is seeking damages to be determined at a civil trial in addition to attorney fees and other costs.