MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Rhodes College is facing allegations of gender discrimination during a Title IX sexual assault investigation in a newly filed federal lawsuit.
A former Rhodes football player and fraternity member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon is suing the Memphis college after the school expelled him and another student following a Title IX investigation.
The man, known as John Doe in the lawsuit, filed the lawsuit last week, claiming Rhodes singled out male students during its investigation.
A sexual assault reportedly happened at a formal on Valentine’s Day at SAE, according to a search warrant issued the day after by Memphis police.
The victim “remembers a male white giving her alcoholic beverages throughout the night,” according to the search warrant.
Later, the victim “went upstairs to the loft of the house with approximately seven others present. During the course of being in the loft, [the victim] remembers not feeling well and began to vomit.”
She was reportedly sexually assaulted after.
Memphis police issued the search warrant on Feb. 15 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.
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“My client voluntarily and very quickly provided a DNA sample when cooperating with the investigation. Those aren’t the actions of somebody who is guilty does, takes,” said Brice Timmons.
Timmons, the attorney for Doe, said Rhodes College’s Title IX investigation was flawed from the onset.
“My client believes that Rhodes was under pressure to find male students to punish, not just anybody,” said Timmons.
Doe claimed there was more evidence against a female student than against him, according to the lawsuit.
"Despite the much more substantial allegations against (redacted) a female student who C.S. more clearly accused of sexual misconduct, Rhodes elected to charge only male students,” the lawsuit reads. "[...] Rhodes decision not to so much as inquire into (redacted) involvement had the obvious effect of rendering the Title IX process fundamentally flawed and is facially discriminatory."
“Everything that we said in that document, we believe we can prove at trial,” said Timmons.
A Rhodes College spokesperson said he could not comment on specifics alleged in the lawsuit.
A lengthy statement was sent in its place:
“Rhodes College is committed to the well-being of all its students, upholding the law, and ensuring a safe learning environment that supports all members of the Rhodes community.
Rhodes is legally obligated to investigate all reports of sexual assault. The college’s Title IX Office has thorough policies and procedures that govern these campus proceedings.
The lawsuit complaint contains inaccuracies, and college’s attorneys will be responding to it through normal legal process. The College intends to vigorously defend itself.”
Timmons said he is asking the judge to issue a permanent injunction to stop Rhodes from enforcing its expulsion of his client and erase any reference of its sexual misconduct finding from his client’s academic record.
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