College Sued by Student Expelled for Sexual Assault

By Claire Abbadi

On Jul. 24, 2015, a student was expelled from the College for an alleged sexual assault charge against a non-Middlebury student. The incident allegedly took place in the fall 2014 semester while the student was studying abroad through the School for International Training (SIT). The College is now being sued by the student — who is filing suit anonymously as John Doe — to reverse the expulsion.

Doe claims the expulsion was unjust and unlawful, as SIT conducted the initial investigation and found him not responsible for the charge. The decision was communicated to College administrators, who, according to Doe’s complaint, relied “on SIT’s determination to permit [Doe] to return to Middlebury for the spring semester.”

However, after the alleged victim notified the College that she believed SIT had not properly investigated the case, the College conducted its own separate investigation and found Doe guilty of the charge. The process took over five months, and Doe was formally expelled this past summer.

The student submitted two appeals to reverse the decision to Vice President for Academic Affairs Andrea Lloyd and Presi- dent of the College Laurie Pat- ton. Both requests were denied.

Doe was expected to graduate in the summer of 2016. His complaint states the expulsion will cost him a position with a company he was to join upon graduation that offered him a $10,000 signing bonus, $5,000 in relocation fees, and a starting salary of $85,000.

Middlebury College’s response to the lawsuit stated the following:

A Middlebury College undergraduate student who was recently expelled from the College following a finding that he committed a sexual assault has filed suit against the College in the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont. As the complaint states, the student was expelled in August following a finding that he sexually assaulted a non-Middlebury student in November 2014 while both were attending a non-Middlebury study abroad program.

As stated in the complaint, the finding and the sanction of expulsion were upheld on appeal through the Middlebury process.

We regret that the student and his family have chosen to file suit against Middlebury College. We are confident in the policies and practices we have in place when dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct, and believe that they were properly followed in this case.

We will respond to the lawsuit and associated motions in due course, but we have no further comment at this time.

A motion hearing was held on Tuesday, Sep. 15, 2015. Details of the outcome, if any, are currently unavailable.

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