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Expelled student sues Augustana after rape charge dismissed

A former Augustana University student who was expelled after being charged with rape has filed a federal lawsuit against the school after prosecutors dismissed the case.

Koh Evan Tsuruta filed the lawsuit against the university seeking damages for loss of educational opportunities, emotional injury and future income. No specific amount of damages was listed.

The lawsuit states that the university employees handling his case weren’t properly trained in investigating and adjudicating allegations of rape.

This, he said, resulted in failing to consider factors he claims could have worked in his favor, including interviewing witnesses who could have balanced the account and the alleged victim, who threatened to make a false rape allegation against a former boyfriend.

Tsuruta was charged with second-degree rape, simple assault and false imprisonment after the woman he had been drinking with in July 2015 said he raped her.

The Minnehaha County state’s attorney’s office confirmed the case was dismissed without prejudice, but officials declined to say why, citing confidentiality concerns.

This is the second time Tsuruta has filed a federal lawsuit against the university.

Tsuruta sued the university claiming it was violating his rights by moving to expel him before he had a chance to defend himself in court. He called for the university to suspend its disciplinary hearing until his criminal case was resolved.

The university suspended Tsuruta after he was arrested and began a 60-day disciplinary process that ended with his expulsion.

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education sent a letter to universities ordering them to conduct swift investigations following reports of sexual assault. The letter mandated that a disciplinary hearing take place within 60 days of a report being made. Punishments range from suspensions to expulsions.

The university refused Tsuruta's demand for a delay and said there was no legal standing to force it to wait. Eventually, the lawsuit was dismissed.

A call to Tsuruta’s lawyer was not immediately returned.

Augustana University did not have an immediate comment on the lawsuit.

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