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Campus Department of Education Due Process Office for Civil Rights Sexual Assault Sexual Harassment Title IX

Penn State the Worst Offender Among Pennsylvania ‘Kangaroo Courts’

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Contact: Rebecca Stewart

Telephone: 513-479-3335


Penn State the Worst Offender Among Pennsylvania ‘Kangaroo Courts’

WASHINGTON / December 21, 2021 – Five Pennsylvania universities have been on the losing end of a growing number of judicial decisions for campus sexual harassment cases. The cases involved a broad range of due process and other procedural failings, including a presumption of guilt, lack of timely notification of allegations, guilt-presuming investigations, overly biased hearings, and sex discrimination against male students.

The school with the largest number of adverse rulings is Pennsylvania State University, with four decisions against the institution to date. In Doe v. Pennsylvania State University, for example, Judge Matthew Brann highlighted the school’s failure to adhere to fundamental cross-examination procedures:

“Penn State’s failure to ask the questions submitted by Doe may contribute to a violation of Doe’s right to due process as a ‘significant and unfair deviation’ from its procedures [regarding cross examination].”

This adjudicative failure suggests a “Queen of Hearts” mentality. In Lewis Carroll’s classic novel, Alice in Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts announced to her surprised retinue, “Sentence first—verdict afterwards.”

In addition to Penn State, four other Pennsylvania schools have been found by judges to have violated basic due process, fundamental fairness, Title IX, and/or contractual obligations:

  • St. Joseph’s University – 2 judicial decisions
  • Drexel University – 1
  • University of Pennsylvania – 1
  • University of Sciences – 1

The Oxford Dictionary defines Kangaroo Court as an unofficial court held “in order to try someone regarded, especially without good evidence, as guilty of a crime or misdemeanor.” More information about these and other judicial decisions is available in SAVE’s Analysis of Judicial Decisions Affirming the 2020 Title IX Regulations:


Case Citations

Name of College No. of Decisions Case Citation
Pennsylvania State University 4 Doe v. Pennsylvania State University, 336 F. Supp. 3d 441 (M.D. Pa. Aug. 21, 2018)                                                                                             Doe v. Pennsylvania State University, No. 4:17-CV-01315, 2018 WL 317934 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 8, 2018)                                                                   Doe v. Pennsylvania State University, 276 F. Supp. 3d 300, at 313  (M.D. Pa. Aug. 18, 2017)                                                                              Doe II v. The Pennsylvania State University, No. 4:15-CV-02108 (M.D. Pa. Nov. 6, 2015)
St. Joseph’s University 2 Powell v. St. Joseph’s University, et al., No. 17-4438 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 16, 2018)                                                                                                        Harris v. St. Joseph University, No. CIV.A. 13-3937, 2014 WL 1910242 (E.D. Pa. May 13, 2014)
Drexel University 1 Saravanan v. Drexel University, No. CV 17-3409, 2017 WL 5659821(E.D. Pa. Nov. 24, 2017)
University of Pennsylvania 1 Doe v. The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, 270 F. Supp. 3d 799 (E.D. Pa. Sep. 13, 2017)
University of Sciences 1 Doe v. University of Sciences, 961 F.3d 203 (3d Cir. May 29, 2020)