A Los Angeles judge overturned the expulsion of a student accused of sexual assault, forcing the school to take another look at the student’s case Tuesday.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant ruled that California State University, Chico did not give a student identified as “John Doe” the chance to refute allegations made against him, according to The College Fix. But since Chalfant also rejected Doe’s assertion that the university’s verdict was “not supported by substantial evidence,” the student is still embroiled in the case.
Cal State asserted that it had followed California legal precedent by allowing Doe to question “Jane Roe,” the accuser, and witnesses who allegedly heard a recording of the sexual assault Roe made and subsequently deleted, but Chalfant called this claim “wrong.”
Doe, an athletic trainer on campus, claimed he and freshman athlete Roe met at a party in February 2015 and had consensual sex, whereas Roe alleged that she lost consciousness after consuming a spiked drink, only to wake up to Doe having sex with her. She said he ignored her cries to stop and made her engage in oral sex with him.
Doe attempted to appeal his sexual assault verdict, but Cal State asserted his appeal was not timely on the basis of the date it was received. While Executive Order 1097 factored in the receipt date of the appeal, Doe’s alleged rape of “Jane Roe” occurred before the implementation of the policy.
Cal State recruited Chico lawyer Tahj Gomes to serve as a hearing officer for Doe’s sanctioning. While Doe told Gomes several times that he “only needed three online units to graduate and would not be on campus” apart from two exam days, Gomes mistook Doe’s case for another student’s case, erroneously claimed that Doe would need a year and a half to obtain his degree, and argued that the defendant would possibly or likely encounter Roe on campus during this time. The hearing officer used this reasoning when he elected to expel Doe.
The school’s lengthy investigation into Doe resulted in what Chalfant termed a “de facto one-year suspension” for the student. Doe claimed that the extended proceeding inhibited him from accepting “numerous job offers from prominent sports teams” because he had not obtained his degree.
“These mistakes ultimately were corrected, but they made the disciplinary hearing process more complicated,” the judge said. (RELATED: Here’s Why DeVos Has A Point About Due Process)
But Chalfant said Cal State “must identify the specific rules that the student is alleged to have violated, and must also provide factual basis for the accusation.” The school’s investigator told Doe that he violated the “harassment/violence” section of EO 1097, but did not identify a precise provision of the policy. The investigator told Doe 12 days later that the “complaint alleges you [sic] sex that night, didn’t fully consent [sic] is reporting.”
Doe must still face a third hearing to determine his guilt, as the judge said there was “substantial evidence” for the university’s verdict, citing Doe’s denial that he had sex with another woman athlete at the school until “confronted with evidence.”
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