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Lawsuit Against USF Moves Forward, Sending a Message that Schools Must Not Take Short-Cuts on Due Process Protections

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Rebecca Hain: 513-479-3335


Lawsuit Against USF Moves Forward, Sending a Message that Schools Must Not Take Short-Cuts on Due Process Protections

WASHINGTON / October 24, 2022 – Last week U.S. District Judge Scriven issued a ruling in a sexual assault case, denying the University of South Florida its Motion to Dismiss. The decision in favor of former USF student Kevaughn Dingle will allow the case to proceed to discovery and trial, if the university does not opt to settle the case (1).

The complaint arose from a sexual encounter in which the female student was the initiator (2). She entered the dormitory room of Dingle, a Black man, removed his shirt, expressed her sexual excitement, asked the man to text someone for a condom, and performed fellatio on him.

An hour later, she told some friends she “might have been sexually assaulted,” and filed a Title IX complaint.

During the Title IX proceeding, USF restricted Dingle’s review of the file, denied him the right to cross-examine the accuser, and even revoked his right to appeal.

In addition, USF misinterpreted its definition of consent. Specifically, USF’s Title IX Office defined consent as “words and/or actions that clearly indicate a willingness to engage in a specific sexual activity… at some point during the interaction or thereafter.” In contrast, USF’s determination letter faulted the man based on what the school referred to as a lack of “ongoing affirmative consent.”  [emphasis added]

As a consequence, USF found Dingle responsible of sexual assault, expelled him, and stripped him of his football scholarship.

In addition, Dingle was arrested by local police on sexual assault charges, which were eventually dropped (3).

Dingle’s experience is not uncommon. Since the Department of Education issued its “Dear Colleague Letter” in 2011, 814 similar lawsuits have been filed (4). As a consequence, 44 judicial decisions have been issued against colleges finding sex bias against the male student (5).

While Black men make up only about six percent of college undergraduates, they are substantially overrepresented in the Title IX proceedings (6).  Among the 30% of cases in which the race of the accused student was known, black students are four times as likely as white students to file lawsuits alleging due process violations (7).