Boston College has paid a former student over $100,000 after a federal jury sided with him on his claim that the school mishandled sexual assault allegations against him.
The suit deals with an incident that occurred seven years ago when the defendant, named John Doe in court documents, was a senior at Boston College, according to an account from Inside Higher Education. It was the first sex assault suit to reach a jury trial since the Obama administration implemented new rules in 2011 for how institutions of higher education should handle sexual misconduct allegations,
Doe was covering an event on a cruise ship for his college newspaper when he was accused of approaching a females student, referred to as AB in the suit, on the dance floor and penetrating her anally with his fingers.
A friend of Doe’s, known as JK in court filings, who was walking in front of Doe just before the female student began yelling, turned around and said to Doe, “Sorry, dude, that was my bad.”
Several minutes later, security guards took Doe into custody, and after the ship docked Massachusetts State Police arrested him and detained him overnight. He was charged with indecent assault and battery.
Later, a Boston College Police Department officer filed an error-riddled report describing those events, stating falsely that Doe was dancing with AB when the assault occurred and that she saw and recognized her assaulter. That was the version of the story passed among university officials.
Doe’s complaint states that he suspects JK committed the assault. During a recorded phone call between the two after the incident, Doe described the allegations to JK, who reportedly responded, “What a bitch. What kind of girl goes to a dance floor like that and doesn’t expect to get touched or grabbed?”
The college began an internal investigation of Doe before the criminal investigation was completed and opted to suspend Doe for over a year. He eventually graduated in 2014. The criminal charges against him were dropped after none of the victim’s DNA was found on his hands and the cruise ship’s security footage showed him several feet away from AB during the probable moment of the assault.
Since then, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled last year that Boston College likely broke state law by breaching its contract with Doe as well as denying him “basic fairness.”
Doe has won a total of $102,400 from his alma mater.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has since rolled back the Obama administration’s stricter rules dealing with sexual misconduct at universities.