Judge Dismisses Challenge to USC Student Sexual Misconduct Policy


University of Southern California campus, Los Angeles, California, USA

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A judge today dismissed a lawsuit filed against USC by a student who sought to have the university's student sexual misconduct policy declared unenforceable.

The plaintiff, identified in the lawsuit only as John Doe, is accused of engaging in sexual misconduct with a woman in his dormitory room in 2016. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michelle Williams Court said the lawsuit was premature because the plaintiff's case was still under review by the university.

``Here, the initial administrative process has not been completed,'' the judge wrote in her ruling. ``There is no evidence that the process will not be completed. To intervene in the administrative process at this point would not respect the expertise and autonomy of the Title IX office.''

Title IX requires every college and university that receives federal funds to establish policies and procedures to address sexual assault and harassment.

Mark Hathaway, a lawyer for John Doe, maintained in his court papers that the university's procedure, which should have been wrapped up in 60 days, had gone on for nine months and was still unresolved. He maintained the process was being unreasonably delayed.

USC lawyers maintained in their court papers that Doe must use all his internal options within the university and then, if he is not satisfied with the outcome, seek a court order in his favor.

Doe filed the suit Feb. 21. According to his court papers, he was notified in September 2018 by USC's Title IX office that they had received a report accusing him of attempted sexual assault and non-consensual sexual contact in his USC dormitory room with a woman in October 2016. He and the woman, who attended another university, met in high school and had dated for a while, but ended all contact in January 2017, his suit states.

The USC Policy and Procedures on Student Sexual, Interpersonal and Protected Class Misconduct was adopted Feb. 15 and replaced a prior policy adopted in August 2018. Doe sought a declaration that the current USC policy, which outlines the procedure for investigating sexual assault allegations, failed to comply with requirements set forth in various California appellate court decisions. He also sought a order enjoining USC from enforcing the adjudication procedures in its misconduct policy against Doe or any other student.

Doe alleged the USC policy does not provide for the disclosure of all evidence before findings are made. He further alleged the guidelines do not provide opportunities for the accused to question the complainant or for the two sides to appear before an impartial adjudicator.


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