FAYETTEVILLE -- A judge's order Monday allows a lawsuit filed by "John Doe" to continue without using the name of the former student alleging the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville wrongly sanctioned him for sexual misconduct and violated his right to due process.
The student had earlier filed a motion to proceed under a pseudonym, stating that using his name "would result in the public association of John Doe's name with false allegations of sexual conduct," which would be "causing or exacerbating the severe reputational harm that the suit seeks to avoid."
U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes III in his order stated that the university did not object to the use of "John Doe." The use of a pseudonym is allowable "in limited circumstances," Holmes wrote in the order, stating that courts "have consistently held that litigation involving pleadings and supporting documents detailing private sexual acts between two young college students are 'truly intimate matters.'"
The university has asked to have the case dismissed for other reasons, with no order yet issued by a judge in response to their motion. The lawsuit was filed in September in U.S. District Court in Fayetteville.
"John Doe" claims that UA did not follow its Title IX policy and "conducted the subsequent investigation to achieve a predetermined false and unsupported result with deliberate disregard of the consequences to John Doe."
He was sanctioned with "Title IX training, ten hours of community service and an online sexual violence accountability course," the lawsuit states.
Title IX is the federal law prohibiting sex-based discrimination at schools that receive federal funding. Federal authorities have said schools must react promptly and effectively to address sexual harassment and sexual violence.
Erin Buzuvis, a law professor at Massachusetts' Western New England University School of Law who writes frequently about Title IX, said in an email that it is "pretty common these days" for pseudonyms to be used in Title IX cases filed by students who received sanctions for misconduct.
"Use of pseudonym conveys to the court 'this is so serious I can't even use my real name' which I think helps bolster their argument that a severe reputational injury is at stake," Buzuvis said.
NW News on 12/18/2018
Print Headline: Judge OKs 'John Doe' suit