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Former UMass student claims discrimination after expulsion on sexual misconduct charge

AMHERST — A former University of Massachusetts student claims he was unfairly expelled after consensual sex with a fellow student last year was deemed a violation of the school’s code of conduct.

A spokesman for the university wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the case, but said the review of the incident was handled according to school policy.

According to a copy of the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Springfield, Thursday, the male student, from Bristol, Conn. — identified only as John Doe in court files — met a female student at a party on Sept. 13, 2013.

The female student — identified as Jane Doe in court papers — and John Doe flirted back and forth for about four hours and Jane Doe made arrangements to have her roommate out of the room so she could be alone with John Doe.

According to the suit, John Doe asked for consent throughout and Jane Doe responded clearly and verbally each time with a “yes.”

John Doe texted Jane Doe the next day, according to the suit, and was “crushed” to learn that the previous evening was only going to be a “one-night-stand.”

The suit claims that Jane Doe told friends of hers that she didn’t clearly remember the evening and they urged her to report it to the school.

As a result, John Doe was found responsible for three violations of the code of conduct; sexual misconduct, sexual harassment and community living standard violations and expelled him.

According to the suit, in the formal written complaint from Jane Doe did not classify the incident as “harassment,” “assault,” or “rape.”

UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said Monday the campus does not comment on specific cases in litigation.

“The university does take allegations of sexual assault seriously and conducts reviews through a detailed procedure specified in the Code of Student Conduct,” Blaguszewski said in a statement. “All members of the university’s Conduct Hearing Board undergo a thorough, mandatory training process, including specialized training in sexual assault and bias-related incidents.”

“Due process for all parties involved is a central aspect of the code,” part of the statement read.

In the suit, one of John Doe’s attorneys, Andrew T. Miltenberg, of New York City, said Doe was not advised of all the campus resources available to him, was denied the assistance of an advisor and was discriminated against because he is a male. A message left with Miltenberg at his office was not immediately returned.

Information about John Doe’s case was not made readily available to him and he was, “met with overall hostility, dismissal and pre-judgement as ‘guilty’ before the decision was even rendered,” according to the suit.

A three-and-a-half hour hearing was held on Nov. 5, 2013, according to the suit and the hearing board made its decision about the violations on Nov. 7.

John Doe appealed the decision on Nov. 18 and UMass denied that appeal on Dec. 4, according to the suit.

This is the second recent federal suit filed by students of area universities who claim they were unfairly punished for their alleged roles in sexual encounters on campus.

In June, a male Amherst College student filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court after claiming that school unfairly withheld his degree after re-opening an investigation into a 2009 sexual assault on its campus.

Bob Dunn can be reached at: bdunn@gazettenet.com.

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