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College settles anti-male bias lawsuit rather than face a jury

Former Iowa Supreme Court justice adjudicated the Title IX proceeding

One of the longest-running Title IX lawsuits stemming from the Obama administration’s “Dear Colleague” sexual-misconduct guidance has settled.

A federal judge ruled last month that a jury would decide whether Grinnell College violated an accused male student’s Title IX rights and breached his contract by treating him differently than his female accusers.

That apparently prompted the Iowa liberal arts college to settle with “John Doe.” A joint notice of settlement published Friday says they plan to file a stipulation of dismissal next week, preempting the jury trial scheduled to start Sept. 16.

The actions of Grinnell officials were called into question by U.S. District Judge Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger in the July ruling.

One of them is former chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, Marsha Ternus, now a lawyer in private practice who specializes in student conduct adjudications.

She apparently refused to consider evidence that one of Doe’s female accusers consented to sexual activity with him. Ternus also may have relied on gender stereotypes about women and birth control to determine that Doe lacked consent, and appeared to go easier on a female student found responsible for sexual misconduct in a different case.

Ebinger scrutinized the actions of other officials. Andrea Conner, assistant vice president for student affairs, invited Ternus to possibly violate a policy she oversaw, while Title IX Coordinator Angela Voos invented a policy requirement in her deposition.

The judge even called out Grinnell’s legal team for falsely characterizing its adjudication policy in her court. The policy does not provide for either party to “submit questions for the external adjudicator to ask during the individual meetings.”

MORE: Jury to decide whether Grinnell showed gender bias in Title IX trials

IMAGE: ggw/Shutterstock

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg Piper served as associate editor of The College Fix from 2014 to 2021.