Letter to the Editor: John Doe v. W&L

I write to clarify several matters from your Sept. 14, 2015, article, “John Doe v. W&L trial date postponed.”

Your writer states that Judge Moon denied the dismissal of John Doe’s Title IX claim “by ruling that W&L’s proceedings seem inaccurate.” That is not what the judge’s ruling said. Nor was it accurate to say, as your story did, that the judge “established a causal link from the alleged flaws in the proceedings, statements from university officials such as [Title IX Director Lauren] Kozak, and the pressure from the [Rolling Stone] article and the government.”

To this point, the judge’s ruling was a preliminary decision that relied entirely on unproven and untested allegations by John Doe. The judge’s ruling simply permitted the case to move forward to a fact-finding stage, so that those allegations by the plaintiff could be tested in what is referred to as the “discovery” phase of a lawsuit.  But none of the allegations has been proven, and the University will be able to show in discovery that a number of those allegations are incorrect and misleading.     

It is especially important to note that the allegations John Doe made with regard to our Title IX coordinator, Lauren Kozak, are in direct contradiction to Ms. Kozak’s sworn affidavit filed in the case. She explained under oath that she did not attend a meeting at which she was alleged to have made a presentation about the concept that “regret equals rape,” and that she does not agree with that concept. In addition, she has never written or published any article on that subject as has been erroneously reported.

At Washington and Lee, we are committed to protecting the safety, security and legal rights of every student. We devote considerable resources to educating students about their responsibilities and rights as members of the W&L community — a community based on trust and mutual respect. In the past several years, the university has worked hard to develop what we believe to be a thoughtful and comprehensive set of policies and procedures consistent with federal standards and state laws. We believe our policies address these difficult and often complex issues in a manner fair to all parties.