Jack Montague, the former captain of the Yale men’s basketball team, has sued the university following his February expulsion for sexual misconduct.
According to Montague’s lawsuit, the university pressured his accuser to pursue a formal complaint despite her reluctance to do so. Montague claims the university was under pressure to change the way it handled sexual assault and harassment claims following a 2011 notice from the Department of Education.
Montague was accused of assaulting a woman, referred to as Jane Roe, in October 2014. According to Roe, she had consensual sex with Montague prior to the date in question, but allegedly told him during the October incident that she did not want to have sex and attempted to push him away. Montague denied this and claimed that the sex was consensual.
Yale then began an official investigation into the allegations pursuant to federal Title IX procedures. In his lawsuit, Montague claims that he himself was a victim of Title IX because he was not allowed to participate in the investigation or to adequately defend himself against the allegations. He also claims that the school did not have sufficient evidence to find him guilty of sexual assault and that the dean’s decision to expel him was inconsistent with previous sanctions in sexual assault cases.
Montague’s suit argues that due to outside pressure, the university was forced into a position where it needed to appear that it was taking sexual assault on campus seriously. He contends that this pressure led to a biased and one-sided investigation which ultimately resulted in his expulsion from the university.
His suit claims that he endured due process violations, defamation, and that he was denied a fair hearing by the university. He is seeking reinstatement as a student as well as financial damages from Yale.
This is just one of many lawsuits being filed against universities since the enactment of Title IX. The federal statute imposes enormous financial penalties against schools who it views as failing to adequately prosecute sexual abuse claims on campus. In many cases, it has resulted in an overreaction by universities and the imposition of harsh punishments against many students who were likely innocent of any wrongdoing. The procedures that universities have put in place to govern Title IX proceedings lack many of the basic due process rights that individuals in this country would expect to have when faced with such an accusation. Students in these cases do not have the right to an attorney, and in many instances they are forbidden to have one.
Hopefully, high profile cases such as the one here at Yale will shine a light on the obvious shortcomings of Title IX and lead to much needed changes in how universities conduct these disciplinary proceedings.
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