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2 Appeals Courts Uphold Prior Sexual Assault Rulings | Inside Higher Ed


Two different federal appeals courts largely upheld lower court rulings related to college sexual assault cases this week.

The Columbus Dispatch reported Wednesday that the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejected a request from Ohio State University that was a last-ditch effort to have lawsuits filed by the sexual abuse victims of Richard Strauss, a former OSU doctor, thrown out. In September, a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit revived lawsuits that had previously been dismissed by a federal judge who determined that the statute of limitations had passed. The university appealed the September decision, requesting an en banc review, in which all members of a court—not just a three-judge panel—review the case. This week’s ruling denied that request, propelling the lawsuits forward to trial.

Also Wednesday, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld a federal court judge’s decision in a Title IX lawsuit against Stonehill College, a private Roman Catholic institution in Easton, Mass., dismissing a total of six claims against the institution. The plaintiff, identified as John Doe, alleged he had been discriminated against during an investigation in which he had been accused of sexually assaulting a female student in her dorm room. He was subsequently expelled from the college.

The Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s decision to dismiss Doe’s complaint of breach-of-contract against Stonehill, in which he claimed the college breached its agreement to “conduct a fair and thorough investigation,” as evidenced by the court’s discovery of four flaws in the investigation process.



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