The Santa Barbara Superior Court found the University of California Regents in contempt of court on Friday, stating that a student accused of stalking and sexual violence had been denied due process on two separate occasions and thus would be allowed to return to UC Santa Barbara.
Judge Donna D. Geck ruled the UC Regents failed to provide a fair hearing for the accused student, known in court documents as John Doe, in a Title IX investigation. UCSB expelled Doe in November 2016 after a student filed a Title IX complaint against him that June.
The student who filed the complaint, referred to as Jane Roe in court documents, said Doe stalked her on a daily basis after the two engaged in a sexual encounter in November 2015 and briefly dated.
UCSB Title IX investigator Brian Quillen determined the stalking offense, among others, “more likely than not did occur,” according to court documents.
Following his expulsion, Doe attempted twice to appeal the decision: once with the Interpersonal Violence Appeal Review Committee (IPVARC) at UCSB in December 2016 and then again with the California Superior Court in December 2017, contending that the initial investigation had not been fair.
While the IPVARC did not find issues with the procedures of the Title IX case, Geck found issues with the IPVARC’s review. Namely, she agreed with Doe’s argument that UCSB’s internal policies were “Confusing, Internally Inconsistent, and Unfair,” and she lifted his expulsion and ordered his case be reconsidered.
The IPVARC panel reconvened in February 2018 and mirrored its original decision, once again expelling Doe.
Doe returned to court in June to contend that his case had not been seriously reconsidered by the IPVARC, citing the language of the original and new decision to show they were almost exactly the same, minus one introductory sentence in the latter to address the court’s complaint.
On Friday, Geck ruled the new decision was “merely a poorly rewritten decision that appears to be a justification for the earlier result,” finding UCSB in contempt of the court and annulling the panel’s decision.
Doe now has the option to return to the UC system beginning Fall Quarter 2018.
Prior to filing the Title IX complaint, Roe filed a harassment report with the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office (SBSO) in May 2016. After the SBSO investigation determined there was no evidence of Doe’s alleged misconduct, she then filed the Title IX complaint.
Roe stated Doe, following the initial encounter, had:
- followed her “to and from her classes for nearly an entire academic year on a daily basis”;
- “had an unidentified third-party call Roe three times… threatened to kill her, rape her”;
- “waited outside of Roe’s apartment building for her”;
- and “deliberately maintained close proximity to Jane Roe and her boyfriend and engaged in conduct directed at her and her boyfriend” while at a sorority event.
Additionally, Roe alleged she said “no” multiple times during the November 2015 encounter, while Doe stated Roe provided “affirmative consent” throughout.
Doe cited text messages sent between Doe’s former roommate and Roe to prove to the court that the encounter had been consensual. One of the text messages, sent by Roe the night of the Nov. encounter, read: “The truth is, if I had been waxed and more prepared, it would have gone further.”
Roe later stated these messages were sent in an attempt to cope with the alleged assault.
In his statement to the court, Doe denied Roe’s allegations and alleged that she had aggressively pursued him after their initial sexual encounter in Nov., offering anecdotal evidence to demonstrate he had initially been reluctant to enter into a relationship with her.
He alleged Roe, following the initial encounter, had:
- “started frequently appearing in Doe’s room unannounced and uninvited”;
- “frequently stayed in the lounge of [his] residence hall, in his room, or outside his door for long periods of time” to the extent that he “no longer felt safe in his residence hall”;
- would “come to John Doe’s residence hall to party and drink alcohol”;
- “put up posters around John Doe’s residence hall and all over campus containing a diatribe against her alleged ‘sexual offender,’ with the objective of intimidating and harassing [him].”;
- and told him she would “file a restraining order against him” if he did not agree to meet with a mediator of her choice.
Doe initially made a formal complaint to UCSB about the “harassment and stalking” by Jane Roe in December 2015. Doe said he left the school temporarily before the quarter ended to “escape the stressful situation,” alleging his grades suffered due to Roe’s harassment.
Once he returned to UCSB, he requested a room change and was then allowed to move out of his residence hall.
However, Doe argued in his court case that none of his allegations were taken seriously by Title IX investigator Quillen. Instead, he argued Quillen was biased in the investigation and failed to provide him with the resources he was entitled to in order to defend himself adequately.
The University of California Office of the President is considering potential amendments to its system-wide policy following a federal investigation that revealed UC Berkeley violated Title IX policies.
If approved, several changes would aim to address concerns similar to those brought up by Doe in his case.
The amendments would include clarifying the types of evidence to be included in an investigation, outlining the contents of a formal notice of charges, providing students with the option to question the other party through the investigator and mandating consistent training for the appeal board.