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Men’s soccer player’s lawsuit gives rare look at how Duke decides sexual misconduct cases

As litigation continues about whether Duke improperly suspended men's soccer player Ciaran McKenna for rape, a superior court judge has allowed him to stay on campus as a student.

After being suspended, McKenna sued Duke and Dean of Student Conduct Stephen Bryan on the grounds that the University violated its own policies during the disciplinary process. Hudson granted a preliminary injunction Wednesday that will allow McKenna—who was previously suspended six semesters—to remain at Duke for the time being.

The injunction does not constitute a final determination that Duke erred, just that McKenna should not be suspended while either the court or a jury further decides the issue.

After convincing the judge to make the complaint available publically, The Chronicle was able to review McKenna’s filing, which included exhibits, two hearing reports and supporting documents. The Chronicle has constructed a timeline and explanation of events based on the documents filed in court by McKenna’s lawyers and by the University.

Those involved in the lawsuit either could not be reached for comment in time for publication or declined to comment.

The alleged sexual assault occurred early in the morning Nov. 14, 2015, after the alleged victim and McKenna—both first-years at the time—met at Shooters II Saloon. According to his filing, McKenna, who was 17 at the time, and the female student agreed they made out while dancing before returning to her dorm room.

The female student invited McKenna back to her room with the intent to only continue making out, according to McKenna’s appeal after the first hearing, but McKenna alleges that she did not object when she saw him pick up a condom from his room before going to hers. McKenna says in his statement of facts in the first panel that they engaged in consensual sexual acts before and after intercourse in her room, and that during sex, his condom kept falling off. According to his statement of facts, the female student told McKenna did not have to wear one.

However, according to the second panel’s report, the female student claimed she did not want to lose her virginity when McKenna reached to grab the condom, pulled away from him before sex and said no during intercourse. When McKenna spoke to the second panel, he said the alleged victim actively consented through her movements.

The alleged victim is not a party to the lawsuit. She declined to comment to The Chronicle.

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