Two years ago, a male student at the University of Southern California was accused of sexually assaulting a female classmate. During the investigation, a school official was caught calling the accused student and his attorney “motherf—ers,” giving undeniable proof that the student would not receive a fair and unbiased hearing.
Now Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White has ordered USC to pay the student’s legal fees — a total of $111,965.
The accused student, known only as John Doe in court documents, had a sexual relationship with his accuser in the fall of 2015. Doe explicitly told his future accuser that he did not want an exclusive relationship with her, and she still engaged in sexual activity with him. On October 14, 2015, the two attempted sexual intercourse after several previous failed attempts (the accuser was inexperienced and could not engage in earlier intercourse attempts). The accuser went to Doe’s fraternity house after midnight, where the two kissed and cuddled before removing each other’s clothes.
The sex was too painful for the accuser, and she asked Doe to stop, which he did, according to his lawsuit. The two kissed and cuddled again, leading to another attempt, which was also too painful for the accuser. Doe complied with her request to stop and fell asleep.
The pair continued a sexual relationship and successfully had sexual intercourse weeks after the October 14 encounter. In November 2015, the accuser ended her relationship with Doe because she suspected he was seeing someone else. A month later, in December, she began to threaten Doe, saying she would report him for sexual assault for the October 14 encounter but not for other sexual activity.
In early February 2016, the accuser told Doe’s fraternity president that she would not file a sexual assault report if Doe were kicked out of the fraternity. Doe, fearful of a biased investigation against him, moved out on March 1. Two days later, Doe filed a complaint against his accuser for “harassment, threats, and stalking,” according to his lawsuit.
On March 22, Doe was informed that, rather than looking into his claims of harassment against the female student, USC would be investigating him for sexual assault. When Doe met with the school’s Title IX investigator, Patrick Noonan, he was not given any details about the accusation against him.
Noonan interviewed the female accuser and 18 student witnesses she identified, but did not investigate Doe’s complaint of stalking. While Doe provided 1,000 text messages and 252 pages of Facebook messages between himself and his accuser (which showed her alternating between threats of a sexual assault accusation and asking him to take her back), he was not provided the evidence against him. Noonan said that was USC policy, according to the lawsuit.
Doe’s attorney, Mark Hathaway, attended the meeting but was not allowed to speak or take notes. Noonan’s report contained his summaries of interviews, instead of verbatim transcripts. Based on this limited evidence, Noonan provided a USC panel his investigative report and conclusion that there was “sufficient evidence that Respondent knew or reasonably should have known that Complainant did not consent to the sexual penetration on October 14, 2015.”
Doe was not given a hearing or allowed to question the evidence against him, and was expelled.
Doe and his attorney, as well as an associate attorney participated in a conference call on June 7, 2016 with Noonan and USC’s Title IX Director Gretchen Dahlinger Means to discuss an appeal. When the conversation ended, Means and Noonan forgot to hang up, allowing Doe and his attorneys to overhear Means saying: “Who do those motherf—ers think they are?” She also asked: “Does that college motherf—er know who I am?”