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Male student says University of Chicago's sexual assault policies created 'hostile environme

A University of Chicago student has sued the school, arguing its sexual assault investigation system has created a "hostile environment against males," which has violated his constitutional rights and potentially those of other male students.

The student, identified only as John Doe, a student from Somers, N.Y., filed his complaint Aug. 24 in federal court in Chicago, arguing the university’s protocol violated his Title IX rights in multiple ways related to complaints two female students, identified as Jane Roe and Jane Doe, filed against him — claims the school later determined were “meritless.”

Doe alleged five infringements against the university, saying the school removed him from a physics lab in which Jane Doe was enrolled after the complaint was found meritless; rejected his May 5, 216 Title IX complaint regarding allegations Doe’s friend, Roe, leveled in violation of the school’s anti-retaliation provisions; adjudicated Jane Roe’s June 2016 Title IX complaint against him, “even though Jane Doe’s own public writings, which UC possesses, prove Jane Doe’s allegations against John Doe are undeniably false”; refused to acknowledge that Jane Doe’s complaint violated the anti-retaliation provisions; and violated Title IX provisions against “selective enforcement” by subjecting him to proceedings based on his gender.

Further, John Doe argued the university is considering Jane Doe’s June 2016 Title IX complaint despite the fact the allegations involve conduct from 2013 that was not addressed in the student manual covering that school year.

“It was impossible for John Doe to know whether his consensual physical encounters with Jane Doe in 2013 might violate subsequently created stringent mandates in UC’s 2015 Manual,” the lawsuit said.

John Doe further said the University “is utilizing the 2015 Manual because it contains provisions less favorable to male students.”

He said he was not allowed to file a Title IX complaint against Jane Doe for harassment and retaliation, but the school allowed her to file one against him after he sought legal assistance outside the university to stop her “from publishing false statements about him.”

As “Jane Doe initiated and consented to all contact with John Doe,” he alleged her “sole motivation for filing the sexual assault allegation was retaliation.”

John Doe accused the university of creating “a gender biased, hostile environment against males, like John Doe, based in part on UC’s pattern and practice of investigating and disciplining male students who accept physical contact initiated by female students, retaliating against male students, and providing female students preferential treatment under its Title IX policies.”

Roe is not a defendant in this action, but John Doe identified Roe as a “personal friend of Jane Doe” and said her “conduct is essential to understanding the nature of the allegations and the specifications.”

A key component of the situation, John Doe said, is a 2011 letter from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Right regarding Title IX compliance while dealing with sexual misconduct complaints. The letter, Doe asserted, spells out how schools are “to provide females preferential treatment” and “imposed numerous mandates to make it more difficult for males accused of sexual misconduct to defend themselves.”

Further, John Doe argued the university’s conduct is linked to a February 2014 conference at which Assistant Secretary of Education Catherine E. Lhamon told schools “radical” change was needed in this arena, as well as a June 2013 OCR investigation of the University of Chicago “because of its handling of sexual assault and harassment complaints,” scrutiny John Doe said intensified in February when the Department of Education opened two more investigations of Title IX violations.

John Doe leveled 11 formal counts. The first two are defamation counts against Jane Doe, for which he seeks actual, special and compensatory damages, including legal and medical fees, of at least $75,000, plus punitive damages of at least $100,000. Eight counts are alleged against the university only — the Title IX allegations, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and requests for declaratory judgment, promissory estoppel. The final count is negligent infliction of emotional distress against Jane Doe and the university.

John Doe requested a jury trial.

John Doe is represented in the action by attorneys with the firms of Rosenberg & Ball Co., of Granville, Ohio, and Saper Law Offices, of Chicago.

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