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Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Reply brief claims GW uses wrong standard to evaluate sexual misconduct appeals

A male student suing the University for allegedly wrongly ruling that he had committed sexual assault claimed in a reply brief last week that officials have been consistently using the wrong standard to evaluate sexual misconduct appeals and misread evidence GW had procured in efforts to dismiss the case.

An unnamed male senior, called John Doe in the suit, filed a lawsuit against the University in March, alleging that the University violated federal Title IX laws and the D.C. Human Rights Act in 2015 when a University panel ruled Doe sexually assaulted an intoxicated woman after meeting her at a party and taking her back to his residence hall room. The panel’s findings prevented Doe from graduating this spring.

In a motion to dismiss the lawsuit without a trial last month, GW cited phone records from the woman claiming that three phone calls were made while she and Doe were in an Uber back to his residence hall. During Doe’s initial hearing, the University claimed that because Doe was in such close proximity to the woman during the drive and heard her slurring on the phone, he was aware that she was too intoxicated to consent to sex.

But GW misread the Uber records, and two of the three phone calls actually happened after the car was called but before Doe and the woman entered, according to the reply brief, which was filed June 6. The phone records also showed that a phone call between the woman and a key witness, who was the only person to testify to the University hearing board that she was too intoxicated to consent, did not occur, the brief states.

“John Doe has a right to defend himself fully, with all of the available evidence, against what it is now clearer than ever is a false rape charge that relied on false testimony to convict him,” the reply reads.

The survivor of the alleged assault was unnamed in the suit but identified herself to The Hatchet as Gillian Chandler, a rising senior, in March.

The phone records from Chandler’s cell phone that night allegedly prove she was “coherent enough” to make three calls after she ordered the Uber to leave the party, including a two-minute call with her roommate, and therefore could have consented to the sexual encounter, according to the reply.

“Ms. Roe’s phone records confirm in stunning detail everything that Mr. Doe has said from the beginning and erase whatever residual doubt there might be about whether Ms. Roe was incapacitated and whether she has told the truth about that night,” the reply brief states.

GW also did not ask for the phone records during Doe’s hearing and only used them after Doe filed suit, according to the brief.

The reply also states that GW wrongly dismissed Doe’s appeal because, although the prosecution provided new evidence that could assist in Doe’s case, the evidence wasn’t “newly discovered.” The plaintiffs state that since the student code of conduct requires “new” evidence and not “newly available” evidence, the University should not have rejected his appeal, according to the reply.

But the new evidence could have significantly altered the findings of fact and “therefore ought to be enough by itself to warrant removal of the finding against Mr. Doe or, at a minimum, a new hearing,” according to the reply.

“GW’s desperation here is palpable,” the brief states. “No school produces a declaration affirming that it has processed six years’ worth of appeals contrary to a federal judge’s reading of its code, or goes hunting for phone records that undermine the accuser in the process it is defending, unless it has no other choice.”

A University spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and the lawyers representing John Doe said they would not comment on pending litigation.

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