Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts suspended a male student who reportedly refused to date a female student after “kissing and touching.”
According to a lawsuit against the private school, the male student was ultimately suspended when the college deans determined that he had committed sexual misconduct by being “culturally insensitive” to the female student’s needs.
This bizarre decision regarding personal romantic encounters between two of its students made Williams College under fire.
Both are foreign students, the unnamed Hispanic student “John Doe” and his accuser “Sally Smith”. She accused him of sexual misconduct not because he acted without her consent, John claims, but because he was “culturally insensitive” after their amorous encounters…John asked for Sally’s permission to kiss her and she agreed.
Then, the kissing escalated to “consensual touching” while fully clothed. Two days later she sent him a message saying “I’ve liked you quite a lot” and calling their amorous encounter “amazing.” She apologized for “being so weird and awkward the entire time.”
She even wrote, “I’ve not been this happy ever since I started college.”
But later on…Sally “expressed anger about what she saw as Doe’s cultural insensitivity around their prior interaction” – failing to seek a romantic relationship with her after showing physical affection.
And then three months later Sally filed a formal Title IX complaint against John alleging both November and January encounters were nonconsensual.
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Sally filed a Title IX complaint with the college over John’s “culturally insensitive” behavior, which launched an internal investigation. Associate Dean of International Student Services Ninah Pretto contacted John, warning him that his actions could be considered sexual harassment. Soon after, Dean of the College Marlene Sandstrom barred him from reaching out to potential witnesses for his defense or offering any evidence to support his case.
The school hired former lawyer Allyson Kurker to conduct the investigation. However, Kurker also violated the school’s policy by denying John the chance to suggest witnesses for questioning as well as withholding crucial details about testimony by Sally’s witnesses. The school even refused to review evidence that Sally has a history of making “repeated accusations of cultural insensitivity.”
Ultimately, John was suspended. However, he wasn’t giving up. Soon after, he filed a lawsuit against Williams College and its administrators, claiming that he was wrongfully punished by a “flawed disciplinary process” in which gender bias was a “motivating factor.” U.S. District Judge Mark Mastroianni granted John approval to pursue his litigation.
Subsequently, John was allowed to present evidence that Sally made threats of physical violence toward him as well as telling him that she “had lots of people ready to hurt him.” The threats allegedly came in an effort to force John to enter a relationship with her.
The lawsuit claimed the panel that ruled on his suspension made its decision based on a set of stereotypical and discriminatory instructions taken from a 90-page training manual.
“These training materials contain anti-male bias and encourage panelists to stereotype men as sexually aggressive and more likely to commit sexual assault,” while also suggesting that panelists can ignore the “intent” of the accused student.
John claimed that the college allowed Sally to slander him across the campus. Title IX Coordinator Toya Camacho argued that stepping in would stop Sally and other women from “speaking out about their experiences.”
John’s education and future career were halted and possibly permanently damaged by the college’s decision. Fortunately, he finally got to expose his evidence in what was formerly a one-sided process.