Claiming Notre Dame discriminates against male students, an expelled senior has sued the university after he was kicked out just three weeks before graduation for “dating violence.”
The student, who is unnamed and goes by “John Doe” in the lawsuit, says he never physically hurt or threatened his ex-girlfriend. It also claims his accuser was caught on camera saying she wanted to “f*ck up his reputation” with the Title IX case.
Amid a messy year-long relationship and breakup, the lawsuit says, John Doe suffered from depression “including suicidal ideation.” He repeatedly text messaged his ex-girlfriend, listed in the lawsuit as Jane Roe, for support, and she complained to the Title IX office, saying he was harassing her.
“Once the University learned that John had never once threatened Jane, and that John was in fact in danger of harming himself, its primary concern should have been to stabilize and protect John at the same time it took steps to assist Jane,” the lawsuit says, citing the Americans with Disabilities Act. “Instead, the University unleashed its prosecutorial Title IX apparatus, labeled John’s conduct ‘sexual harassment,’ and thrust him into a disciplinary proceeding that placed his entire academic career on trial at the very moment he was struggling with thoughts of suicide and depression.”
In the last month alone, three lawsuits (including the Notre Dame case) have focused on how Title IX processes not only discriminated against men but also imperiled the mental health of suicidal or depressed male students.
A father is suing the University of Texas at Arlington, claiming its biased sexual misconduct hearing caused “severe mental anguish and pain” that “casually led” to his son’s suicide on June 2, 2016. Another male student is suing Cornell, saying he attempted suicide after the university improperly suspended him for sexual assault; he claims his accuser wanted to have sex with him, and when he turned her down, she punched him in the testicles and told Title IX officers he had choked and raped her.
According to the new lawsuit filed against Notre Dame, administrators repeatedly failed to protect John Doe’s rights. Not only did administrators fail to inform him of the accusations or give him the resources to defend himself—they also ignored or precluded exculpatory evidence, the lawsuit says.
For instance, the lawsuit claims the university “unreasonably ignored” cell phone video, taken Feb. 11, 2017, that reportedly shows Jane Doe saying: “I want to f*ck up his reputation; I want to make sure he never has a girlfriend here or anywhere… and I want him never to be able to have a social life.”
It also says John Doe had several witnesses who wanted to testify on his behalf “but were dissuaded from doing so based on false representations and coercion from Jane and her friends.” John Doe tried to submit several sworn statements detailing the witness tampering, the lawsuit says, but “the University deemed this deeply troubling new evidence irrelevant.”
The lawsuit also says that when John Doe’s psychologist, who worked for Notre Dame’s counseling center, tried to submit evidence on his behalf, the university “made it clear that the University Counseling Center was never again to advocate for a male student accused of sexual misconduct.”
On April 18, 2017, the university told John’s psychologist to stop treating him, citing a conflict of interest—a move that “effectively stripped John of one of the few resources he was provided,” the lawsuit says.
Ultimately, Title IX officials determined that John Doe’s text messages were “stalking,” “dating violence” “harassment” and “willful damage to the psychological being of another.” Notre Dame kicked him out, just three weeks before graduation—putting at risk not just John Doe’s degree but also a job he was supposed to start in June.
That decision was “purely punitive and motivated by a gender bias,” the lawsuit claims.
In an email, the University of Notre Dam declined Heat Street’s request for comment.
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.