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PR: Alyssa Reid’s Lawsuit Against JMU Reveals Catherine Lhamon’s Unfitness for High Office

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Rebecca Stewart: 513-479-3335


Alyssa Reid’s Lawsuit Against JMU Reveals Catherine Lhamon’s Unfitness for High Office

WASHINGTON / July 19, 2021 – Alyssa Reid was a faculty member at James Madison University. nationally recognized debater, and a passionate advocate for helping students to find their own voices. On May 3, 2021, Reid filed a strongly worded Title IX lawsuit against JMU, alleging her basic due process rights had been violated by a Kangaroo Court-style campus proceeding (1).

The lawsuit arose from the break-up of a romantic same-sex relationship between Alyssa Reid and Kathryn Lese. In 2018, Lese lodged a Title IX complaint against Reid alleging a so-called “non-consensual relationship.” Over the ensuing months, the JMU Title IX coordinator colluded with Lese, thus depriving Reid of her due process rights. Reid was eventually found “responsible” and forced to resign from her university teaching post.

Ten weeks after Reid filed her 114-page lawsuit, the Senate HELP Committee convened a hearing on Catherine Lhamon, nominated to become the director of the Office for Civil Rights. A comparison of Reid’s allegations, shown below in italics, with the July 13 statements of Catherine Lhamon, reveals troubling contrasts (2):

REID ALLEGATION #1: JMU did not provide a written summary of its investigation to the parties. When Lhamon was questioned by the HELP Committee if she thought an accused student should have the right to see all the evidence, she would only commit to saying, “The current Title IX regulation, which is operational now, gives students that right.”

REID ALLEGATION #2: JMU prevented Reid from cross-examining Kathyrn Lese or her witnesses.  Asked if she believed an accused student should have a right to cross-examination, Lhamon side-stepped the question: “The current regulation affords, in the hearing process, a right of cross-examination,” she replied.

REID ALLEGATION #3: JMU presumed Alyssa Reid’s guilt by placing the burden of proof on Reid to prove her innocence. When asked whether she would support keeping the presumption of innocence in the current Title IX regulation, Lhamon falsely replied, “There isn’t a presumption of innocence in the existing Title IX regulation.”

Reflecting on the allegation, Reid later averred that an accusation of sexual misconduct is “fundamentally different, something that critiques the nature of who you are to your core, that sticks with you forever.” (3) If Alyssa Reid had watched the HELP Committee hearing, surely she would have been infuriated by Lhamon’s well-studied non-answers.

A generation ago, persons laughed at the story of the Queen of Hearts who haughtily declared, “Sentence first—verdict afterwards.” On July 13, Catherine Lhamon, nominated to become an Assistant Secretary for “Civil Rights,” refused to answer simple questions about whether she “believes” in due process, and denied the existence of a crown-jewel regulatory provision guaranteeing to the accused the presumption of innocence.