Education

Michigan State Student Sues School After Sexual Misconduct Suspension

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Rob Shimshock Education Reporter

A Michigan State University (MSU) student sued his school Tuesday after officials suspended him for violating its sexual misconduct policy with another man.

The student, labeled only by his student identification number in the lawsuit, alleges the university denied him due process in litigation that resulted in his year-and-a-half suspension from the school, according to the Lansing State Journal.

The accused student alleges that the Michigan university ignored important facts verifying his story, interviewees did not provide testimony under oath, and that he did not receive notes from the investigator.

A school sanction panel originally gave the accused student a four-year suspension. After the student appealed, Denise Maybank, MSU’s vice president for student affairs and services, reduced the suspension to 18 months.

“After careful review of [the Office of Institutional Equity]’s report, your appeal, and OIE’s response to your appeal, I find that while certain decisions made by OIE in the course of their investigation may be questionable, I cannot find that any of the alleged errors constitute a procedural error that materially impacted the finding,” said Maybank in the appeal letter.

The accused student obtained a temporary restraining order in June, which will allow him to finish his coursework.

“Our investigators obviously take their investigative role very seriously,” Jason Cody, an MSU spokesman, said to the Lansing State Journal. “They listen to both sides of any case, gather all the information they can, review it carefully, weight it and make a finding.”

The accused student allegedly took off the complainant’s clothes and touched him sexually in bed after drinking and tailgating for a school game in October 2016. The accused student argues, however, the other man took off his own clothes and that kissing constituted the only contact between the two.

Debra Martinez, an senior investigator for the university, asserts that text messages in which the complainant student said “hep,” “I’m drunk,” and “I’m really scared” to a friend that “supports [the] claimant’s statement of intoxication to the point of vomit and/or unwanted physical contact.”

At least four MSU students have sued the school for violating due process in sexual misconduct cases since 2014. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos gave a September speech about the importance of due process for both the accused and complainant party in campus sexual misconduct cases. (RELATED: Here’s Why DeVos Has A Point About Due Process)

The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to Michigan State University, as well as Mary Chartier, the accused student’s attorney, but received no comment in time for publication.

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