As threatened earlier this year, Jack Montague—Yale’s former basketball captain, who was expelled on sexual misconduct allegations in March—has filed a civil lawsuit against Yale, claiming that the school, intent on “restoring its tarnished image” of being “soft on male sexual assailants,” manipulated the complainant into filing a formal complaint against him.
The complaint, issued by Todd & Weld LLP, the Boston law firm that employs Montague’s lawyer Max Stern, builds on the allegations published by Stern back in March, which, in addition to referring to Montague as a “whipping boy,” included the highly inaccurate proposition that “it defies logic and common sense that a woman would seek to re-connect and get back into bed with a man who she says forced her to have unwanted sex just hours earlier.”
The complaint begins, as they always do, with a reference to the plaintiff’s lost dreams:
On May 23, 2016, Jack Montague would have graduated from Yale University with a degree in American Studies and started his post-college life with excitement, promise, and vigor. Instead, he has filed a civil suit in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut for wrongfully expelling him just three months shy of his graduation date for alleged “sexual misconduct.”
Using a deeply euphemistic term for rape (“nonconsensual sex,” phrasing which likely did not come from the school), the complaint claims that “Jane Roe” initiated the encounter and “voluntarily engaged in passionate foreplay,” adding that “she explicitly told Yale that she did not think Mr. Montague heard her when she purportedly said “no” to the ensuing sexual experience.” The complaint adds that Montague indeed did not hear her, and believed he had her consent.
The complaint claims that Jane Roe did not want to file a formal complaint against Montague, but that the University’s Title IX coordinator “falsely informed” her that Montague had already been the subject of a previous sexual assault complaint, thereby manipulating her into cooperating with what the complaint claims is a PR stunt.
In addition to Yale, the Hartford Courant reports that the lawsuit also lists as defendants two university officials involved in the adjudication process.
Montague’s expulsion garnered media attention when students began protesting—via posters plastered around campus that read “Don’t Support Rapists”—the emphatic support of his Yale basketball teammates, who were seen at games wearing special jerseys bearing Montague’s nickname (“Gucci”).
His teammates eventually released a statement “apologizing for the hurt we have caused,” while a large number of media outlets released somber essays and reports mourning Montague’s lost basketball career.
The number of male students suing their schools over the results of sexual misconduct proceedings has spiked, with Montague the latest in a string of at least 75 similar cases over the past three years. “For a very long time, there was no due process for victims. Victims were told to withdraw from school. Victims were told to take the semester off,” Colby Bruno from the Victim Rights Law Center told Talking Points Memo last month.
“Yes, there are more decisions against perpetrators. Yes, perpetrators are being held accountable. And that is going to bother people.”
In a statement distributed to media outlets, Yale spokesman Tom Conroy dismissed the claims of the complaint, and pointed to a summary of Yale’s sexual misconduct adjudication procedures.
The lawsuit is factually inaccurate and legally baseless, and Yale will offer a vigorous defense.
Yale always respects the privacy and confidentiality of all students involved in a disciplinary process. Yale’s procedures for addressing allegations of sexual misconduct are thorough and fair. Allegations are investigated by an impartial fact finder, heard by five trained members of the Yale community, and decided by the accused student’s dean. Throughout the process, all parties have advisors, which can be legal counsel, and they can appeal a decision.
Where cases involve judgments about the witnesses’ credibility, all of the available corroborating or contradictory information is carefully weighed.
One out of five formal sexual misconduct hearings has ended without a finding against the accused, and, in two out of five cases, the accused student has received a reprimand or probation. Only about one out of 10 cases has ended in expulsion, and the decision to expel a student has been made only after the most careful consideration, based on the facts and, when appropriate, disciplinary history.
Image via Associated Press.