Preliminary injunction denied for student expelled for rape

Photo by Tyler Meuter

Recent skepticism from the student body about the Office of Student Integrity’s (OSI) investigation process has brought to light the case of “John Doe B,” a student who was recently expelled. Doe was found responsible for non-consensual sexual contact, two counts of non-consensual sexual intercourse and two counts of coercion; these charges refer to two separate incidents with two separate female students: “Jane Roe” and “Jane Poe.”

Doe appealed for a preliminary injunction and a trial by jury on Nov. 23, 2015, but his request was denied by the Atlanta Division of the U.S. District Court on December 16, 2015. Although the judge determined that Doe did not meet the high threshold of irreparable harm needed for an preliminary injunction, he expressed concern regarding the investigation, stating “Mr Paquette’s testimony … about the course of the investigation and the manner in which he made certain investigatory decision was very far from an ideal representation of due process.” Doe’s sentence has been upheld, and litigation is ongoing.

Doe was a member of the Chi Phi Fraternity. On Oct. 10, 2013, Doe and Roe attended a party at the fraternity together. Roe claims that Doe repeatedly poured her wine, despite her insisting that she had enough, while Doe claims in his statement that Roe “poured herself a great deal of wine.”

Afterwards, the two went upstairs to Doe’s room, where Roe claims that Doe made sexual advances on her without her consent. Doe, however, denies that any sexual contact occurred. Roe then began vomiting and left the party with a friend.

Another student, Poe, also claims to have been assaulted by Doe. According to her statement, Poe had been drinking alcohol and had used a narcotic and consented to have sexual intercourse with Doe but soon declined to continue. However, she claims, Doe continued, and she ran out of the room. Doe initially insisted that no sexual contact had occurred but later changed his statement, agreeing that he and Poe had sexual intercourse but claiming that the act stopped when she wanted it to stop.

Approximately four months after the incident, Poe began to believe that Doe had sexually assaulted her. On Feb. 17, 2015, over year after her realization, Roe filed a complaint with OSI.

Peter Paquette, the assistant dean of students and the director of OSI, contacted Doe and informed him of the charges against him on Feb. 27, 2015. Paquette began collecting statements from Doe and Roe, and, after a few weeks of investigation, learned about Poe’s claim and obtained her statement as well.

On April 3, 2015, Paquette held a final interview with Doe. “After this interview, I made the finding that it was more likely than not that [Doe] engaged in non-consensual sexual intercourse with both [Roe] and [Poe]; that he engaged in non-consensual sexual contact with [Roe]; and that he had isolated both women as a coercive act,” Paquette said in a written statement.

Doe appealed his case to the Sexual Misconduct Appeals Committee, to President Peterson, and to the Georgia Board of Regents (BOR). All three bodies affirmed the verdict of expulsion, but the BOR reversed all charges related to Poe, citing insufficient evidence to support the charges. Doe’s appeal for a preliminary injunction was based on his belief that his trial was unfair and that Paquette had been biased against his case.

“Mr. Paquette … conducted an investigation that made a mockery of the due process of a state school,” said Chris Giovinazzo, Doe’s attorney.

Paquette did not reveal any witnesses’ names, transcripts of their statements or the questions they were asked until 30 minutes before Doe’s final interview. He also did not interview five of the six witnesses Doe provided. One of these witnesses was the sole witness who saw Roe immediately after the incident on Oct. 10, 2013. Doe also noted that, despite Tech’s Code of Conduct requiring that complaints be made within 30 days after the discovery of the incident, “[Roe] was allowed to make her complaint more than 16 months later.” Tech’s Sexual Misconduct Policy does not have a statute of limitations.

Doe also claims that his sentencing was part of a pattern of discrimination against male students. Ultimately, however, the BOR concluded that Doe’s allegations of bias were unfounded. The BOR also noted that Doe was often unresponsive and failed to meet deadlines for statements and meeting arrangements.