Laurel Attorneys from Clark and Steinhorn, LLC, led by lead counsel Robert V. Clark, filed a Five Million Dollar lawsuit against the University of Maryland College Park alleging violations of a student's civil rights. The "John Doe-Jane Roe" lawsuit (anonymity to protect the name of the parties involved) alleges the university wrongfully expelled John Doe after another student, Jane Roe, claimed "John Doe" had consensual intimate relations with her after a she fell asleep in a bedroom after a party. The Complaint alleges the complaining student told police she fell asleep with another student, and that later that night she had relations in the bedroom with a person she thought was that student, but was instead John Doe.
John Doe claimed he had gone into the bedroom to sleep, and that Jane Roe and he began kissing which progresed further. When Jane Roe realized the person she was involved with was not who she thought he was, she told John Doe to stop, which he immediately did.
Jane Roe then went to the police who investigated the incident. The Prince George's County State's Attorneys office reviewed the evidence and determined no crime had occurred. No charges were ever filed against John Doe.
The University of Maryland nonetheless took action to expel John Doe. The university notified John Doe that a hearing to expel him would be held in 24 hours. Doe, who could not retain legal counsel in such a short period of time and who could not attend the hearing, asked for a postponement. The university denied the request for postponement, conducted the hearing without John Doe, and then expelled him. At the time, John Doe was three credits shy of graduation.
Mr. Clark, interviewed by the school newpaper The Diamondback, advised the press that the University failed to adhere to its own guidelines and failed to give John Doe the due process rights afforded him by both the Maryland Constitution and the United States Constitution. The school's actions irreparably harmed John Doe, without giving him his constituionally protected due process rights.
Recently, sexual assaults on campus have received much publicity accross the United States, perhaps in part due to the Rolling Stone article about the University of Virginia that turned out to be false. There is no question that sexual assaults on college campuses must be investigated, and if found to have occured, the wrongdoer must be harshly punished. The question in this case is whether the expelled student was given a fair hearing and whether the university's actions are supported by the facts. Before the university takes actions that can permanently ruin a student's life, there must be due process so that all facts come out. The days of the Star Chamber ended centuries ago.