Duke settles long-running sexual misconduct lawsuit with Lewis McLeod
Duke settled a legal dispute Monday about its student conduct process that's been up in the air for almost four years, the University confirmed.
Lewis McLeod enrolled at Duke as part of the Class of 2014, but was accused of sexually assaulting a female first-year student in November 2013. After meeting at Shooters II Saloon, the female first-year alleged McLeod took her to a fraternity house and sexually assaulted her. In February 2014, an Undergraduate Conduct Board hearing found him responsible for sexual misconduct, and the appellate hearing in April 2014 reached the same conclusion. McLeod was subsequently expelled from the University.
In May 2014, McLeod filed a lawsuit, alleging that Duke violated the student conduct procedures set out in the Duke Community Standard. He alleged, among other issues, that Duke’s investigation was sloppy and that the University erred in conflating intoxication with incapacitation of the female student.
Later in May, Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith III issued a preliminary injunction saying that the University did not have to grant McLeod his degree, but could not officially expel him until a trial occurs. As of Monday, McLeod is listed in the Duke Directory as a member of the Class of 2027.
While the trial was initially scheduled for early 2015, it was then postponed to February 2016 after McLeod filed an amended complaint. In the amended complaint, McLeod named three new defendants. These include Sue Wasiolek, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, Stephen Bryan, director of the Office of Student Conduct, and Celia Irvine, a psychologist Duke hired to conduct an independent investigation of McLeod's case for the student conduct hearing.
McLeod alleged that Irvine was not professionally licensed to practice in North Carolina and conducted a flawed investigation—including not interviewing witnesses or recording the interviews—and that Wasiolek was responsible for hiring Irvine.
In January 2016, the case was postponed yet again with no trial date specified. Now, the University has settled the case, confirmed Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, in an email.
He did not provide details about the settlement, just writing that "the parties have settled their differences.”