Two former students at the University of Houston are suing the college because they say they were “denied due process in the investigation and administrative hearings” regarding a sexual assault claim — a claim which got them expelled from campus.
The plaintiffs contend they had little knowledge of what was happening with the investigation, and had “little chance to defend themselves.”
The Houston Chronicle reports:
According to the lawsuit, Ryan McConnell, a former UH student, went drinking at the Den, a campus bar, on Nov. 19, 2011. While there, he met a female student, and the two ended up kissing, then going back to McConnell’s room at the Calhoun Lofts together. There the two, heavily intoxicated, according to the lawsuit, had sex and fell asleep naked on the floor.
McConnell’s girlfriend, Natalie Plummer, came home to find the two on the floor. Plummer made a video recording of the two “because she was mad that McConnell was cheating on her and wanted to be able to confront him about his behavior later,” the lawsuit said.
Plummer led the female student into the hallway and to the elevator, where she recorded her again, according to the lawsuit. The female student was found naked in the elevator by other students and UH police were called.
Three months later, the student filed a complaint with the university against McConnell, saying she believed she was a victim of sexual assault. On March 12, 2012, Richard Baker, a UH assistant vice chancellor and vice president, sent McConnell a letter notifying him that the university was opening an investigation. According to the lawsuit, Baker did not let McConnell know he was the target, but rather said he had “been identified as someone who may have information pertinent to the investigation.”
On Sept. 30, Baker sent McConnell and Plummer a letter saying Baker’s office would conduct an investigation, with findings based on “a preponderance of the evidence.”
In February, Baker submitted his findings to the dean of students, who concluded that the video “appeared to capture Mr. McConnell physically touching [the Female UH Student] in a sexual manner and, his girlfriend, Natalie Plummer, striking her,” according to the lawsuit, which disputes those interpretations. The report also concluded that McConnell and Plummer “took abusive sexual advantage” of the student by taking a photograph and the two videos and had created an intimidating or hostile environment for her by “preserving then destroying” and “sharing” the video from the dorm room.
The two former students assert that, in appeals, they were not permitted “to cross examine witnesses or to call witnesses of their own.”
John Foubert, a professor at Oklahoma State University and founder of the group One in Four which combats college sexual assaults (not “One in Five?” Upping the ante further?) says the lawsuit against UH is a “Hail Mary” because it “misunderstands” the nature of sexual assault and “the nature of conduct processes at universities.”
“What’s unfair is there has been rape on college campuses for hundreds of years and nothing has been done about it,” Foubert said.
Read the full article.
h/t to Rhymes With Right.
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