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Former IU student accused of rape sues school, accuser for defamation

A former Indiana University student is suing the university, saying it gave preferential treatment to a female student who accused him of rape and makes "numerous mandates to make it more difficult for males accused of sexual misconduct to defend themselves."

Aaron Farrer, a 21-year-old from Lafayette, was accused of rape in September 2015 after a female student said Farrer took advantage of her drunken state. The woman showed police a text message she received from Farrer the next day apologizing for the incident. Farrer told police the woman consented to sex, and initiated the act.

That November, Farrer was expelled from school, according to court documents. The case against him was dismissed in September 2016 in Monroe Superior Court because of insufficient evidence.

This week, Farrer filed the federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, saying he was defamed and was a victim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. He also alleges his constitutional rights were violated.

"IU engaged in a gender-biased investigation of Farrer, which culminated in Farrer’s unlawful expulsion from IU," his complaint states, adding that he was not afforded due process.

Named defendants include his accuser, Indiana University, the school's assistant director, associate dean of students, deputy Title IX director, Title IX deputy investigator and other school staff.

IndyStar typically does not name people who are or may have been victims of sexual assault. Farrer and his accuser were not immediately available for comment.

The 76-page complaint states that the defendants violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 "by creating a gender biased, hostile environment against males, like Farrer, based in part on IU’s pattern and practice of disciplining male students who accept physical contact initiated by female students, but failing to discipline female students who engage in the same conduct."

He alleges that male students are not provided due process in sexual assault investigations. He said the rape allegations against him were taken as truth from the outset, adding that the university didn't want to embarrass the accuser or receive negative publicity.

“While Indiana University cannot comment on pending litigation or, due to federal privacy laws, specific student disciplinary cases, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy provides for a fair, impartial and robust investigation and adjudication process when responding to reports of alleged sexual assault," said Margie Smith-Simmons, a spokeswoman for the school.

"Indiana University is strongly committed to providing a safe and secure environment for all members of its community, and assuring that its processes are fair and afford due process protections,” she said.

Farrer's case is similar to one filed in April 2015, when a male student at University of California, San Diego filed suit against the school for expelling him after a female student accused him of rape. According to the complaint, the student, Francisco Sousa, was not allowed to provide text messages and other evidence that he said proved his innocence. After filing suit, his expulsion has since been reversed.

Sexual assault investigations are a growing issue on many college campuses and several have taken unorthodox steps to prevent sexual assault from occurring. For example, in August, Stanford University announced a ban on hard liquor from undergraduate parties on campus. The announcement followed a high-profile sexual assault case against former student Brock Turner, who was convicted on three felony counts of sexual assault and sentenced in June to six months in jail.

Most sexual assaults — an estimated 63 percent — are never reported to the police, according to a 2012 report from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. A review of research finds that the prevalence of false reporting is between 2 and 10 percent, according to the study.

Farrer demands a jury trial. He seeks damages in excess of $75,000 and an order requiring IU to reinstate Farrer as a student and expunge his IU files of all information related to his interactions with his accuser.

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