Education

Judge says Duke must reinstate student suspended over alleged date rape

Posted February 15

Ciaran McKenna listens to testimony on Feb. 9, 2017, during a court hearing in his request for an injunction against Duke University's decision to suspend him for an alleged sex assault.
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— A Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday that Duke University must rescind its suspension of a soccer player accused of violating the school's sexual misconduct policy.

Ciaran McKenna filed suit last month against Duke and Associate Dean of Students Stephen Bryan, who heads the Office of Student Conduct, alleging breach of contract, violation of his due process rights and negligence.

The case began with a Nov. 14, 2015, encounter between McKenna and a female student, who met and danced at a Durham nightclub before going back to their dorm for sex, which he claims was consensual. Several months later, the suit says, she filed a complaint with OSC, alleging that she hadn't consented to sex.

During a first hearing last July, a disciplinary panel wasn't convinced the female student had verbally denied consent, but the panel found that her actions didn't constitute consent, according to the lawsuit. McKenna appealed the second part of the ruling, arguing that it wasn't supported by evidence.

An appeals board determined the disciplinary panel didn't view the female student's nonverbal actions under the standard of a "reasonable person," as called for in Duke's policy, so the board sent the case back to the panel to correct the error, according to the lawsuit. Instead, Bryan set up a new panel to hear the whole case again in November. That second panel determined that the female student had verbally denied consent and that her actions didn't constitute consent.

Duke then suspended McKenna for six semesters, which he said in the lawsuit would result in the loss of his student visa – he is from the U.K. – and financial losses for his family, as well as dealing a blow to his goal of playing soccer professionally.

McKenna, who hasn't been charged criminally in the case, contends that Bryan violated Duke policy by setting up the second panel after the player had been partially cleared of wrongdoing by the first one.

Bryan and other Duke administrators testified during a five-day hearing for a preliminary injunction that the school's policies and procedures were followed and denied that McKenna was treated unfairly.

Judge Orlando Hudson said Duke must allow McKenna to enroll in classes until a trial is held on his lawsuit.

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  • James Grimes Jr. Feb 15, 10:26 p.m.
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    https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201104.html

  • James Grimes Jr. Feb 15, 10:07 p.m.
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    View quoted thread


    A directive from the President Obama administration.

  • Thomas Williams Feb 15, 7:34 p.m.
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    What happened to innocent until PROVEN guilty? Our country is more concerned with political correctness than they are honoring our long standing Bill of Rights, etc., which has worked for us over the years. Very sad indeed.