Department of Education Rebukes Wesley College for Sham Title IX Hearing in Sex Tape Case

By Jillian Kay Melchior | 1:51 pm, October 13, 2016

The Department of Education has rebuked Wesley College, saying the university violated the Title IX rights of a male student accused of sexual misconduct.

It marks the first time the DOE’s Office of Civil Rights has found a college out of compliance with Title IX because of discriminatory treatment against students accused of sexual misconduct, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

A growing number of men have claimed universities treated them unfairly during sexual misconduct investigations. Just last week, a U.S. District Court ruled that Brown University had egregiously mishandled a Title IX hearing, treating an accused male student unfairly. Title IX bars discrimination based on gender in any educational realm.

The Wesley College case began after administrators learned of a sex tape, live-streamed in March 2015 without the female student’s permission. The college notified four male fraternity members—including the man taped having sex—that they would face charges for sexual misconduct.

Both of the students filmed said the sex was consensual. The male student, whose name has been withheld, also told administrators he had not been involved in the taping, and the female student backed him up.

Nonetheless, days before the male student was set to graduate, Wesley expelled him, along with the other three frat brothers who allegedly made the recording.

After the college denied the male student an appeal, he filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights, claiming the private Dover, Del., school had not even fully investigated the allegations.

The Office of Civil Rights agreed, saying Wednesday that Wesley College had repeatedly failed to follow its own procedures for investigating sexual misconduct. Among other mistakes, the university had neither heard the accused male student’s side of the story nor given him a fair chance to defend himself.

In doing so, the Department of Education concluded, Wesley violated Title IX because it engaged in gender-based discrimination against the male student.

The Department of Education also raised concerns about how Wesley has conducted other sexual misconduct cases. “For the 2013-2015 case files reviewed, OCR determined that college violated Title IX in failing to provide procedural safeguards and equitable investigations for other accused students, including several incidents in which the college provided no evidence that accused students were interviewed before receiving interim suspensions, some on the same day,” the Department of Education said in a news release.

Though Wesley College did not admit wrongdoing, it settled with the Office of Civil Rights and agreed to reinvestigate several other Title IX cases it heard between 2013 and 2015.

— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.