Former student files lawsuit

Lawsuit filed after student claims he was wrongfully kicked out of Washington and Lee for false sexual assault accusations

Cecelia Smith-Schoenwalder

A former Washington and Lee student has filed a federal lawsuit against the school claiming he was wrongly kicked out for false sexual assault accusations.

The lawsuit claims that the student, referred to as John Doe, had consensual sex with another student twice. It claims the first encounter was on Feb. 8, 2014 in his room at the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity house. It also claims that eight months later the other student, referred to as Jane Doe, regretted the experience and reported it to the school as rape.

John Doe claims that Jane Doe reported the incident after seeing a presentation about an article titled “Is it possible that there is something in between consensual sex and rape … and that is happens to almost every girl out there?” led by Title IX Coordinator Lauren Kozak during a SPEAK meeting in October.

However, in W&L’s response to the lawsuit, Kozak claims she was not present at the Oct. 5, 2014, SPEAK meeting and that she has never introduced or presented on the article.

John Doe claims that Kozak made the point that “regret equals rape” during the meeting.

“This is also false,” Kozak claims in W&L’s response to the lawsuit. “I never made any such statement during an Oct. 5, 2014 presentation or at any other time, nor do I believe that statement is true.”

John Doe is seeking monetary compensation, his expulsion to be reversed and his disciplinary record expunged.

W&L has filed a motion to dismiss the case, claiming the plaintiff does not have sufficient facts to support a claim under Title IX.

John Doe claims that W&L has “created an environment where an accused male student is fundamentally denied due process by being prosecuted through the conduct process under a presumption of guilt.”

Brian Eckert, Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs at W&L, says the school followed the proper policies and procedures.

“While the university does not comment on the specifics of any matters under litigation, we are confident that we correctly follow our university policies and procedures that were developed to be consistent with mandates of federal law,” Eckert said. “We are committed to treating all student fairly and maintaining a safe environment on our campus.”

The current policy at W&L requires dismissal if a student is found to have initiated non-consensual sex.