In a new lawsuit brought against Williams College a former student, identified in the complaint as “John Doe,” claims his spurned girlfriend, a former Williams employee, falsely accused him of sexual assault when she believed he would jeopardize her position at the university.
As reported by The College Fix, the complaint denounces the private school for having conducted a “deeply flawed,” “unfair,” and “biased” investigation of the alleged rape, in violation of both the male student’s Title IX rights and federal education privacy law.
A former Williams employee, identified as “Susan Smith” in the suit, started working in the Alumni Relations office in the summer of 2015, shortly after she graduated from Williams College.
For more than a year, starting October 2013, she had what is referred to in the lawsuit as an “exclusive romantic relationship” with John Doe. The two dated until winter 2015, a few months before Doe’s graduation.
Things took a turn for the worse one night in December 2015 when Smith, who was not supposed to attend events with students at the time — as it violated the terms of her employment — attended a party where John was.
But Doe was not alone. He was dancing with another female student, much to Smith’s displeasure. When she saw him, she got upset, and she initiated an argument that culminated in her following Doe all the way to his dormitory, grabbing his phone, and hitting him across the face, according to the suit.
Doe threatened to call security and denounced Smith for her wrongdoing and violent behavior, which she believed might lead her to get fired. So after the incident, she called Doe’s sister — who produced evidence of their phone call, and recalls Smith being extremely distressed and frantic.
On the phone, Smith admitted to smacking him: “he’s gonna report me for assault and I’m gonna lose my job!! They’re gonna fire me!!” Smith kept repeating to Doe’s sister that her ” life is over” and that she wanted to kill herself.
Shortly after their conversation, Smith wrote an email to the Dean of the College, Louise Bolton, in which she accused Joe of plagiarism and academic fraud for soliciting her help to write essays in Spanish (both parties are of Hispanic descent).
Despite Smith’s email constituting clear evidence that she had violated Williams policy by having an inappropriate relationship with a student, Bolton did not take disciplinary action against her. She did, however, file disciplinary action against Doe for academic misconduct.
In a statement for Doe’s appeal hearing, his sister defended him against Smith’s accusation saying “She [Smith] wanted to make sure she was not going to be the only one in trouble. If she was getting fired, she would get him expelled.” Following an investigation, Does was cleared of all charges.
One disturbing detail stuck out, however. In perhaps its most disturbing allegation, Doe claims that Dean Bolton had a phone conversation with Smith, during which she assured her that Doe would also certainly be expelled (Doe, incidentally, was in the same room as Smith at the time), even though strict rules prohibit someone in Bolton’s position from discussing a student’s disciplinary proceedings with employees
In April 2016, Doe filed a Title IX complaint against Dean Bolton, the employee, and Williams claiming gender-based discrimination and harassment, after Bolton issued a mutual no-contact order between Smith and Doe and forbid him from attending an on-campus event at Smith’s request. The student also affirms that his ex had begun stalking him, flooding his voicemail with unwanted messages. But according to court documents, the College failed to promptly investigate the matter.
Then one month later, Doe received a notice from the Title IX coordinator informing him that Smith had filed a counter-complaint against him. The charge? “Abusive behavior toward her in the past two years.”
Doe underwent Williams’ College Title IX procedure at the beginning of the exam period and barely a month before graduation. During the investigation, Smith floated new allegations of sexual assault and “relationship abuse,” despite having never hinted to any physical violence or abuse in her numerous emails to Dean Bolton about Doe that year.
Williams College also brushed aside Doe’s attorney’s concern that the employee’s May complaint was a blatant retaliation for Doe filing a Title IX complaint against her the month prior.
Having completed all his requirements, Doe attended his graduation. He was authorized to walk with his class, but was never conferred a degree.
Last week, a panel of three administrators told Doe he had been found guilty of sexual assault, citing an incident from September 2014. The panel’s report cites “unusual sexual position and roughness,” as per Smith’s account, as the only reason for their decision — despite the fact that the first person Smith allegedly told about the incident, “did not recall Smith confiding in her about any episode of sexual contact with John that Smith described as either non-consensual or upsetting.”
As a matter of fact, the lawsuit alleges that not only were there “no actual witnesses and no extrinsic evidence whatsoever,” but “Smith never made any statement to anyone that the sex was rough at all. The Hearing Panel simply made that up.”
Many questions remain unanswered in this case: Why did Williams fail to investigate its employee for violating its policy regarding relationship with students, for one? Others considerations are just as troubling, like the fact that the Title IX investigator in charge of the case refused to acknowledge that Title IX legislation does not protect school employees; and that Doe was judged against a concept, “relationship abuse,” that was not added to Williams’ disciplinary code until October 2015, more than a year after the alleged acts.
Like in many other cases, a single event, corroborated by “witnesses” who can but relay facts that were narrated to them by the victim, and with little consideration for the bigger picture, settled the fate of this college student.
The new case has been assigned to Judge Michael Ponsor.
At the time of writing, Doe still hasn’t been awarded his degree.