A University of Texas student accused of sexual assault is suing UT ahead of a hearing to determine whether and how to punish him.
The unnamed student is accused of sexually assaulting a female student after meeting her at a party on April 28. The university hearing could result in the student’s suspension.
The students, who were both 19 at the time, were drinking that night, left the party together and had sex afterward at the woman’s apartment, the lawsuit says. The next day, the woman told her friends she had blacked out at the party and didn’t remember anything until just before she and the man finished having sex.
The lawsuit, filed this week, argues that the accused student will not have a fair chance to defend himself because UT officials amended their report less than two weeks before the Feb. 7 hearing.
A sentence in the report stated that, before the two students had sex, a witness noticed the woman “was showing signs of incapacitation by acting less physically and socially inhibited than they are normally.” UT officials replaced the word “incapacitation” with “intoxication,” according to the lawsuit.
“How is one supposed to prepare for a hearing when the definitions to be used are constantly changing only weeks before the hearing?” the lawsuit asks.
The lawsuit is asking a federal judge to stop the disciplinary action against the student and requesting that UT award him damages. The lawsuit requests a jury trial.
UT officials declined to comment, citing their policy not to comment on ongoing litigation.
University investigators found that the man was responsible for sexual assault, the lawsuit says.
The student “is substantially likely to lose at this hearing and be suspended for two years,” the lawsuit says, using a pseudonym for the student. “He is substantially likely to lose because the hearing officer will be required to apply UT’s vague definition of incapacitation to the facts of this case.”
Attorney Brian Roark is representing the student. Roark has represented other male UT students who faced similar allegations, one of whom was suspended for five semesters.
That student was reinstated in November through a negotiated settlement in which the school agreed to dismiss his case and not pursue further punishment.