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Univ. of Michigan Sued For Booting Student Over Dubious ‘Nonconsensual Sex’ Claim

ANN ARBOR – The University of Michigan has been sued for suspending a student who allegedly had “nonconsensual sex” with one of his female friends in his dorm room, despite the fact that the “victim” refused to press criminal charges and expressed “uncertainty” over her allegation, according to the lawsuit.

Drew Sterrett, the 21-year-old engineering major who filed the lawsuit late last month, claims campus administrators refused to fully consider any of the evidence which he says proves his innocence, nor allow him to fight the accusation in a court of law.

“My client has been completely railroaded; there’s just no doubt in my mind about it,” Sterrett’s attorney, Deborah Gordon, said Friday in an interview with The College Fix.

The lawsuit, filed April 23, states the university denied Sterrett of his constitutional right to free speech and due process, and not only demands that the campus clear his record and reinstate him, but also seeks punitive damages, as currently Sterrett is not in school nor working because of the ill-standing the university left him in. He has requested a trial by jury.

The lawsuit centers around an incident that took place the night of March 16, 2012, in the coed Mosher-Jordan Residence Hall.

According to court documents, Sterrett and his accuser had been hanging out with friends, and as they all went their separate ways for the night, she told him she didn’t want to go back to her room because her roommate had “company.”

Sterrett’s male roommate went to bed on the top bunk the two shared, and Sterrett and his female friend started to kiss on the bottom bunk, the lawsuit alleges. It adds that she asked him to get a condom, and that when he asked her if she wanted to have sex, she said “yes.”

“Complainant asked Plaintiff to put on a condom; he retrieved one from a drawer and did so,” the lawsuit states. “Complainant never said ‘no’ and never pushed or attempted to push Plaintiff away.”

Their lovemaking was so boisterous, the lawsuit alleges, that Sterrett’s roommate even sent them a grumpy text about it at 3:19 a.m. EST which stated: “Dude, you and [complainant] are being abnoxtiously(sic) loud and inconsiderate, so expect to pay back in full tomorrow. I only don’t say anything now so I don’t embarrass you all, but I’m rightfully pissed. Yours Truly.”

The young woman spent the whole night in the room, leaving the following morning.

After their encounter, they regretted that having sex made their friendship feel awkward, but there was never a change in their demeanor, and both Sterrett and the female student finished out their freshman year without incident, the lawsuit states.

Things took a turn for the worse over the summer of 2012, the suit alleges, when the complainant’s mother read her daughter’s diary, which detailed the young woman’s sexual encounters at college.

It was that discovery, Sterrett’s lawsuit alleges, that prompted the young woman to decide that she had been coerced into having sex and prompted the complaint to campus administrators. To prove his innocence, Sterrett even secured testimony from a friend of the accuser who shares his version of events.

But campus administrators were unswayed.

In particular, Gordon said her client was persecuted largely by one overzealous campus administrator, Heather Cowan, while the other nine administrators named in the lawsuit are largely accomplices.

“He was convicted by the University of Michigan by one person, her name is Heather Cowan…who took the complaint, investigated the complaint, and made the findings that Drew essentially assaulted this person,” she said.

Cowan had led the investigation from the start. She had called him out of the blue during the summer of 2012 to interview him about the allegation, refused to allow him to involve the police, attorneys, or the courts, and convinced her superiors to suspend him based on one unsubstantiated verbal complaint, the suit alleges.

The young girl who lodged the complaint even stalled the probe during the fall of 2012, saying she felt “uncertain” about the whole thing, the lawsuit adds. But the damage had already been done.

Sterrett was kicked out of his dorm and told to stay away from Mosher-Jordan Residence Hall, he was denied a chance to become a peer leader and hang out with his friends, and in February 2013, he was suspended from the university until he admitted he was guilty of sexual misconduct, the suit alleges.

Gordon said this case represents an example of a campus tribunal with no standards or rule of law. She added this case has broader implications, noting many universities handle sexual assault cases on their own terms despite being unqualified to do so.

“It’s just a really egregious example of what’s going on on some campuses,” Gordon said, adding universities have taken criminal matters into their own hands and they’re very ill equipped to do so.

In a statement to the Detroit Free Press, U-M said: “The university is reviewing the complaints and plans to defend them vigorously. What we can say now is that our student sexual misconduct policy and practices meet or exceed due process requirements.”

Read the lawsuit.

College Fix contributor Derek Draplin is a student at the University of Michigan.

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About the Author
This article was written by Derek Draplin.

Add to the Discussion

  • Edward Smot

    My impression is that Michigan and other universities are responding to a long and stringent set of rules regarding sexual misconduct imposed upon them by . . . you guessed it .. . the Federal Government. Unsurprising commonsense is on a vacation in Mexico.

    • Not so

      You’re blaming the Mexican’s again.

  • Tammy

    All allegations must be pursued by the POLICE to have any validity. All these “college courts” are not legal, and are not neutral. Most of the respectable Colleges have gotten out of trying to be judge/jury due to the obvious conflict of interest. If you get drunk, go to a mans room and don’t say stop, then you are at fault. It is no different than leaving thousands of dollars on the street and expecting no one to pick them up.

  • Jones4

    Another miscue by that college up north.

  • andrewwhitehead

    Sounds like U-M is taking legal advice from the Obama DOJ. Sterrett is lucky a drone strike wasn’t called in…or has it?

    • Andrejovich Dietrich

      I’m surprised their isn’t drone footage of the incident. So are men now supposed to film the woman declaring herself of sound mind, and giving her consent? Sort of like a modern version of the “Sex Contract” seen on Dave Chappelle?

      • ForTheLulz

        It’s called a well-placed GoPro. Video footage has ended a few false rape accusations quite well.

        • corruptintenz

          Video footage is a recorded conversation and typically is inadmissible unless the person has been informed of the recording prior to its taking place.

          The twelve states listed below require, under most circumstances, the consent of all parties to the conversation before taping is allowed. If the court determines that the statement was obtained in violation of state law, it will not qualify as generally admissible evidence.

          California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington.

          • ForTheLulz

            Yep, I don’t live in one of those.

          • corruptintenz

            The student in the article does.

  • interestedobserver2

    That’s total BS — no campus I’ve ever been on has, in any way, permitted due process, the right to confront one’s accusers, or any sort of “innocent until proven guilty” standards in their handling of any sort of situation. They determine guilt or innocence based solely on their own, unsubstantiated, opinions and don’t permit the accused to introduce any evidence or testimony whatsoever in their own defense. Frankly, university and college administrators should be at risk of serious jail time for denying due process and equal protection to their students.

    • Andrejovich Dietrich

      I guess College is in fact training our young men for their future. You don’t get due process in the court system under VAWA either.

      Gotta love Ex Parte and emergency orders. Judgement rendered without the man even being made aware of the fact he has been accused of anything.

  • Murphy’s Mom

    Bad sex and poor decision making, regardless of the cause, does not equal rape. Women are still looking for a ‘one way ticket’ while men would prefer a ‘bus pass.’

  • TioDon

    why is the girls name not being used? His is….

    • Andrejovich Dietrich

      Well the victim, err perpetrator is in a protected class. I am curious how Title 9 keeps being bandied about. If you are a White Heterosexual Male under the age of 45. Title 9 does nothing for you.

  • Carla B

    If anyone reports a rape, the appropriate course of action is to immediately report it to the police. If there is no evidence, there will be no charges. Trying to “Take Care” of this with administrators is a big mistake. The rationale for the use of administrators, is to make the stats look better and the appearance that you are doing something.

  • Walt Kay

    Fascism is alive and well on American University campuses, this is just another example of way to many cases of outright Fascism. Herr Hitler and Gobbles would be proud.

  • Andrejovich Dietrich

    And buyers regret becomes rape. What victim requests the rapist wear a condom? And what rapist actually does what the victim asks? And what godawful anti male hatred do these University faculty harbor? Those who played God with this young mans future should be saddled with the same fate they set for him. Why isn’t this type of behavior on Campuses considered a “hostile environment”? It clearly is, and certainly explains the declining male population in College.

  • jabuchan08

    Now this is equality! Both male and female students who feel that their rape or alleged rape cases have been either improperly pursued or ignored by U. officials can (and should) have legal recourse outside of the academic setting.

  • That is fantastic news as those Leftists Unis and colleges are a law unto themselves. Hopefully they will be sued for millions more by other male students before they grudgingly admit that there are actually laws they have to follow.

  • Better still, sue every single individual involved in those kangaroo courts, those STAR Chambers..

  • Masculist Man

    It’s the dear colleague directive from the department of education’s civil rights division being enforced on colleges and universities all across America. Part of the feminist plan to rid higher education of men and to cement female supremacy.