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Jack Montague, who was captain of Yale's basketball team before being expelling for having non-consensual sex with another student, is now suing the school, alleging that he was unfairly targeted for punishment and would not have been prosecuted had he not been a man. It's a reversal of most Title IX lawsuits following campus sexual misconduct cases, this time with the accused claiming the school did not properly protect his rights.
Montague's lawsuit isn't the first of its kind, but does it have a chance of winning?
Discrimination of a Different Stripe
Montague's claims center around a previous investigation by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, one that determined Yale was "deficient in a number of areas" when it came to responding to and investigating complaints of sexual harassment and assault. The lawsuit claims the university "was under enormous pressure to show it took seriously female students' complaints" and was therefore "tough on men who 'victimize' female students."
Montague, who was expelled in February of this year, has maintained the incident in October 2014 was consensual, and his lawsuit claims that the victim, referred to as Jane Roe, only wanted him to receive counseling, but Yale's Title IX department pressured her into filing a formal complaint. The ex-Eli was only months from graduation and is seeking full reinstatement, expungement of his record, and damages from the school.
The Learning Process
So does his theory hold water? Obviously, Yale doesn't think so. A spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal the lawsuit was "factually inaccurate and legally baseless." And similar claims made by similarly accused college students have been unsuccessful, most recently a Columbia student's lawsuit against the school over allegations made by Emma Sulkowicz, who became famous for continually carrying a mattress around campus as part of her senior art thesis.
Schools are generally given significant leeway when it comes to policing their own students, but many colleges and universities are struggling with the requirements of Title IX when it comes to investigating and prosecuting allegations of sexual misconduct. Lawsuits like Montague's are the seemingly unavoidable growing pains of institutions of higher learning morphing into investigatory bodies.