Saint Scholastica Student Accused of Sexual Assault Files Countersuit  

Claims He was Discriminated Against Due to Gender

Heidi Voigt
hvoigt@css.edu

Just as classes were set to begin at the College of Saint Scholastica, the college came under national scrutiny as a student alleged his sexual assault case was mishandled. The suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota, identifies the plaintiff as John Doe. The case filed against the college asks for $75,000 for, in the wording of the suit, “mental anguish, severe emotional distress, serious mental injury, injury to reputation, past and future economic loss, deprivations of due process, loss of educational opportunities, loss of future career prospects, and other injuries.” The suit lists counts of Title IX Violation of Due Process, Erroneous Outcome, Retaliation and Selective Enforcement, Common Law Duty of Fair Treatment, Negligence and Breach of Contract.

In the litigation, Doe claims he was unfairly suspended as the result of sexual assault accusations. In October 2016, Doe and his roommates held a house party at their residence. The next day, Doe stood accused of drugging and raping one of his classmates, according to KBJR6 executive producer Billy Wagness and reporter Ramona Marozas.

Court documents show that the accuser posted anonymously on Doe’s website accusing him of rape. Four months later, the student filed a formal complaint with the college. The college found Doe at fault and sentenced him to suspension for a minimum of two years.

Doe’s suit holds that various attendees at the party describe the accuser as fully functional, and Doe insists that he asked for and received verbal consent prior to sexual activity. The lawsuit also includes information showing that the two had multiple classes in common and had been electronically communicating for weeks prior to the alleged assault. During the investigation, the litigation claims, Doe was not aware of his right to a formal hearing. He says he would have exercised that right had CSS officials informed him of his ability to do so.

Doe also claims that his rights under college policies and Title IX were violated. Under Saint Scholastica’s Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Policy, any report involving sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking, will be assigned to one or two investigators who are tasked with collecting witness statements and/or other evidence. Upon completion of evidence collection, the findings–excluding any sensitive or confidential information–are shared with the complainant and respondent who then are able to write written responses to the information and rebuttals to these responses. This is all shared with the Title IX coordinator and adjudicator who jointly decide the sanctions and remedies. At any point in these proceedings, either party may ask for a formal hearing.
Title IX, which is also named in Doe’s countersuit, is a federal law which prevents discrimination on the basis of sex and instructs colleges on the handling of sexual harassment. Doe’s complaint states that he was unfairly discriminated against due to his gender.

When contacted for a comment, Robert Ashenmacher, the College of Saint Scholastica’s spokesperson replied, “The College does not comment on pending litigation.