• Rhodes College levies second sexual assault allegation against former student

    By: Kody Leibowitz

    Updated:

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A second sexual assault allegation levied by Rhodes College lawyers against a former student suing over Title IX gender discrimination was revealed late Thursday night, according to new federal documents.  

    Rhodes College filed an objection to the former student’s lawsuit on Thursday after a scheduled hearing. 

    PREVIOUS STORY: New lawsuit accuses Rhodes College of gender discrimination during sex assault investigation

    In that latest document, lawyers for the Memphis-based private liberal arts college claimed a new sexual assault allegation it would inquire on if a federal judge allowed the student to return to school.

    “A second student later alleged that Plaintiff sexually assaulted her one week prior to the sexual assault of the victim in this case,” attorneys for Rhodes College wrote in their filing. “The other report was investigated (with Plaintiff’s participation) but otherwise placed on hold, since the first case was proceeding towards an on-campus hearing. 

    “If [John Doe] were re-admitted to campus, [Rhodes College] would have an obligation to complete that second case as well. The public interest would absolutely not be served by allowing Plaintiff to prematurely re-enroll only to have a second sexual assault case pending against him.”

    Brice Timmons, the attorney for John Doe, has not returned a call to comment on this new allegation. 


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    The former student goes by the pseudonym John Doe in court filings. In his initial lawsuit, Doe was described as a former fraternity member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and former football player for Rhodes College.

    Rhodes, through its lawyers, also wrote in its objection that a reversal of its Title IX decision would harm other victims of misconduct. 

    James Haltom, a Nashville-based attorney for Rhodes College, wrote that a quick reversal of Rhodes’ ruling “would likely reduce the number of misconduct reports […] [t]his, in turn, would make victims of sexual misconduct less safe on campus.”

    Rhodes College commented on two hearings in its latest filing that took place in April before the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board. 

    The Board purportedly determined on April 17th that John Doe “was responsible for non-consensual sexual [assault] by a preponderance of evidence, which is the widely-accepted standard for academic proceedings.”

    An appeal happened on April 29, according to Rhodes’ federal filing.

    Haltom and Rhodes lawyers wrote that “[a] nurse examiner at the rape crisis center noted physical evidence consistent with an assault, the victim identified him as a person who assaulted her, and Plaintiff admitted to being alone with the victim around the time of the alleged assault, among other factors.”

    “Every single bystander who were interviewed – and there were quite a few of them – could not corroborated any sexual assault took place or any sexual contact of any kind,” Timmons said in an interview Monday with FOX13 Investigates.

    Timmons contends his client has participated fully in Rhodes’ investigation and the criminal investigation.

    “He’s provided a DNA sample. A rape kit has been done. There have been no criminal charges brought against anyone. Umm, we think that should speak pretty loudly,” said Timmons on Monday.

    FOX13 Investigates reported Monday that an unnamed former Rhodes College student was expelled in Spring 2019 and filed a Title IX lawsuit claiming gender bias over false sexual assault claims. 

    FOX13 Investigates reported details of that lawsuit and what purportedly happened at SAE fraternity on the night of a Valentine’s Day formal.

    Memphis police issued the search warrant on Feb. 15, which FOX13 Investigates obtained, and looked for “photos, sheets, bedding, towels and/or any other items possibly related to a rape containing DNA.”

    A spokesperson for MPD said on Monday the Feb. 2019 alleged sexual assault at Rhodes College is still under investigation.

    Rhodes College filed a separate protective order on Thursday to quash John Doe from releasing student’s personal information. 

    “[…] Plaintiff has included numerous factual details in his Complaint which would enable an outside person to ascertain those student’ identities,” attorneys for Rhodes College wrote. “These factual allegations are based on confidential information that [John Doe] only received during the course of a student disciplinary proceeding and which he was prohibited from disclosing under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.”

    The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, also known as FERPA, is a federal law that aims to protect the privacy of student educational records.

    Timmons sent a statement to FOX13 Investigates Thursday night saying an agreement was reached in this protective order.

    “We reached an agreement to protect the privacy of all students. My client has no interest in anything but vindicating his reputation and graduating,” wrote Timmons.

    A spokesperson for Rhodes College has yet to return calls for comment on this new filing and new allegations levied.

    A ruling on the injunction is expected within a week. 

    An evidentiary hearing in this case is tentatively scheduled for July 10. 

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