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Male student kills himself after University of Texas officials destroy his reputation for no reason

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Broke its own Title IX investigation rules constantly

Gay student sexually harasses straight student. Gay student reports straight student as the sexual harasser. University repeatedly violates its own rules to find straight student guilty.

Straight student kills himself days after learning his new disciplinary record could keep him out of grad school.

This is the horrifying story told in a Title IX lawsuit against the University of Texas-Arlington by Wayne Klocke, the father of the student who killed himself, Thomas.

As reported by Ashe Schow at Watchdog.org, Thomas Klocke never had a chance of beating the charges, because he was never afforded even the minimal due process that UTA promises students.

It’s all the more outrageous given what Klocke was accused of doing, with no evidence: writing a gay slur on his computer in front of the gay student and allegedly telling him to consider killing himself.

It would be UTA officials that repeatedly broke the university’s own rules – and weren’t even supposed to investigate sexual harassment – who drove Klocke to kill himself instead.

Main witness never interviewed

The student who accused Klocke was actually the harasser, Klocke told investigators:

Klocke said his accuser made unwelcome sexual advances toward him. Klocke rejected the advances, telling his eventual accuser that he was straight. The lawsuit suggests that this rejection led the accuser to make up his story, possibly out of fear that he himself could be accused of sexual misconduct.

One person could have cleared this up, but there’s no evidence he was ever interviewed: the professor in their class. The school simply took the word of the accusing student that the professor could back up his story.

“School” is used here loosely. The accuser went straight to an administration official with whom he was friendly, someone who was not authorized to follow up on the accuser’s allegation, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Heather Snow.

Snow and an allied “academic integrity” official, Daniel Moore, purposely kept UTA’s Title IX coordinator in the dark about the complaint, which meant Klocke never got the hearing he was due under UTA’s rules, the lawsuit says.

Oddly enough, Snow wrote an article about “campus safety” just last week. It starts:

Many in higher education are working to help student victims of rape, sexual assault, harassment, stalking and other forms of interpersonal and relationship violence. These victims are subject to their experiences being doubted and their actions being questioned, and to increasing attention from the news media.

She praised UTA’s “ground-breaking, award-winning initiatives” that preceded the 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

Such initiatives were apparently never used in Klocke’s case, because of choices allegedly made by Snow and Moore.

Kept in the dark, denied witnesses, even denied a hearing

Here’s a list of UTA violations of Klocke’s rights under its own rules, according to the suit:

Not letting him go back to his class or contact anyone in class to find potential witnesses

Never telling him he was under Title IX investigation

Never telling him a student affairs official, who was advising the accuser, was running the investigation

Charging him with “physical abuse” (a claim never made by the accuser) and a “non-specific” harassment violation, without giving him the required hearing and opportunity to present witnesses

Withholding a list of witnesses and describing the accuser’s report as a neutral “statement of evidence”

Refusing to tell Klocke that his father, an attorney, could accompany him in a meeting with Moore if they “waived confidentiality”

Even when both Snow and Moore privately agreed they couldn’t keep Klocke out of his class based on the evidence, Moore told Snow he had “worked it out” to keep Klocke out, the suit claims.

The next day he received a letter stating he had been found responsible for harassment, putting him on disciplinary probation through graduation.

Schow concludes:

Klocke had no prior history of mental health problems, and by all accounts was happy and looking forward to the future after graduation.

Remember his name: Thomas Klocke. He was set to graduate and pursue graduate school, until UTA officials decided to ruin his life, just because they could.

The university later gave a statement to Schow that said it “followed its policies and procedures”:

“This is a tragic situation and we express our deepest condolences to the family for their loss,” the university said in a statement to Watchdog. “The welfare of our students is our highest priority.  Any loss is a heartbreaking one for our entire community.

UPDATE: The university gave a statement to Watchdog.org after its story was published. It has been added to this post.

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” Previously he led media and public relations at Seattle’s Discovery Institute, a free-market think tank. Greg is developing a Web series about a college newspaper, COPY, whose pilot episode was a semifinalist in the TV category for the Scriptapalooza competition in 2012. He graduated in 2001 with a B.A. from Seattle Pacific University, where he co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon.

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