Duluth's College of St. Scholastica is being sued in federal court by a student who was suspended after a rape accusation last year.
Identified in court documents only as "John Doe," the student says the school denied him due process because of his gender, and thus violated federal Title IX rules.
It's the second time this year that St. Scholastica's been accused of violating the federal law (which prohibits sexual discrimination at colleges that receive federal funds) in relation to the way it handled a sex assault case (but more on that later).
John Doe's case
According to Doe's lawsuit filed last week in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota, he was suspended in May following an accusation from a fellow student that he had drugged and raped her at a party in October.
The lawsuit asserts that Doe had asked the alleged victim for consent to sex both "before and during sexual activity," and received verbal consent from the victim.
Additionally, the suit says a medical test performed the next day "showed no evidence of Rohypnol, or any other sedative, tranquilizer, or 'date-rape drug'" in the woman's body, despite claims that she had been "roofied."
But it's not the alleged victim that John Doe is suing – it's St. Scholastica, on the grounds that the way it handled the case violated Title IX rules in multiple ways.
That includes violating Doe's rights to due process by denying him information about the accusations against him, and failing to let Doe "defend himself in an in-person hearing consistent with" the school's own policies.
These and other actions, the lawsuit says, constitute "illegal selective enforcement" of Title IX rules based on Doe's gender.
Not the school's first Title IX controversy
Last month, the U.S. Department of Education found St. Scholastica "non-compliant" with Title IX laws over a rape that allegedly happened on a study-abroad trip to Ireland in 2015, the Duluth News Tribune reported.
In that case, the student who reported the assault had complained that the school failed to "quickly and appropriately respond to her report," and "later 'retaliated' against her for wanting to talk about what happened with other students traveling to Ireland," the Tribune noted.
For its part, St. Scholastica issued a statement in the wake of the report, casting serious doubt on the accuracy of "local media" coverage.
In a statement received by GoMN in an email last month, Scholastica President Colette Geary said that, "to our knowledge," the Title IX investigation has not yet "yielded formal results or findings" about the 2015 case.