UT student’s sexual misconduct case settled; Fenves does not testify


10 a.m. UPDATE: A settlement reached after about 45 minutes of closed-door negotiations has spared University of Texas President Gregory L. Fenves from having to testify about the school’s sexual misconduct policy, and it also effectively cleared a male student who had been accused of such misconduct.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks said simply that the student’s lawsuit against UT and its president had been “concluded by settlement.”

Brian Roark, a lawyer for the student, told reporters that the student’s reinstatement last week by the university will remain in effect and that there will be no further review of the matter by the school. UT agreed to drop its plan to turn the matter over to an unnamed third party.

“There’s been a settlement,” Fenves told reporters. “I have no other comments to make. That’s all I can say at this time.”

EARLIER:

After failing to resolve a lawsuit over the sexual assault policy at the University of Texas, university officials will be in a federal courtroom Monday morning in Austin to defend their handling of a disciplinary review that led to the suspension of a male student.

University President Gregory L. Fenves could be called to testify at the hearing and explain his decision from February to reverse a hearing examiner’s finding that cleared the student of sexual misconduct. Brian Roark, the lawyer representing that student, said he hoped to question Fenves but wasn’t sure what U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks planned.

The school had tried to get out of the hearing, announcing last week in a court filing that it had lifted the suspension and was preparing to appoint an unnamed third party to review Fenves’ decision. But Sparks never took action on that proposal, meaning the case stays in his court and does not go back to UT for review.

READ: Federal judge questions Fenves’ ruling in UT sex assault case

Roark called the third-party review a “sham gesture” and a “desperate attempt to avoid having Fenves answer questions under oath.” He asked that Sparks make the ruling.

The student, who is referred to as John Doe in court documents, had consensual sex with a female student after the two left a sorority party in the spring of 2016. But the woman came forward days later and made a complaint against the man, saying she was too drunk to give proper consent.

The hearing examiner disagreed, determining the woman had made rational decisions throughout the course of the evening.

READ: UT report finds 15 percent of undergraduate women have been raped 

But Fenves, citing witnesses who described the woman as stumbling and slurring words, reversed the decision and found that the man had violated the school’s sexual misconduct policy. He suspended the student for five continuous semesters.

This is a developing story; check back for details.



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