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Lawsuit against Dartmouth may be settled

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/6/2021 5:45:03 PM

CONCORD – A Black Dartmouth College football player who sued the school alleging racial discrimination after he was suspended following a sex assault investigation has agreed to drop the lawsuit. 

In documents filed in federal court in Concord Thursday, attorneys for the student — who is only referred to by the pseudonym John Doe — and the college jointly agreed to dismiss the suit with prejudice, meaning the student cannot file a suit with similar claims against the school in the future. 

The agreement, which suggests there has been a settlement in the case, comes less than a month after U.S. District Court Judge Joseph DiClerico said the case could proceed and that the student had raised a “plausible claim” that the college investigated and punished several Black players in the past 15 years but did not take similar action against white players.

Messages to attorneys for both sides were not returned Thursday afternoon. Dartmouth College spokeswoman Diana Lawrence declined to comment on the news in an email Thursday.

Doe brought the case against Dartmouth in January, alleging that school officials were negligent and discriminatory against him during a 2020 investigation into claims he sexually assaulted a female student. 

The female student, who is also not named in the lawsuit, told officials that she called Doe, a friend of hers, for help getting back to her dorm because she was intoxicated after a party in February 2020, according to the lawsuit.  She asserted that he assaulted her in her dorm room when she was too intoxicated to consent, according to his lawsuit.

However, Doe claimed that the woman agreed to sexual intercourse after they returned to the room, according to court documents. She later went to the Hanover Police Department but ultimately decided not to pursue an investigation against Doe, the lawsuit said.

Dartmouth College officials launched a Title IX investigation into the woman’s claim, found evidence of wrongdoing in a final report and suspended Doe from campus for two years. Title IX is the federal civil rights law intended to protect people from sex-based discrimination in education programs and activities.

In his January lawsuit, Doe argued that Dartmouth officials repeatedly discriminated against him. Among his arguments, the student claimed the Title IX investigator, a white woman from New England, exhibited “implicit racial and sex-based bias;” the school did not include a Black person on the panel that determined his suspension; and that the school has faced recent pressure to “crack down” on sex assault cases, which meant officials favored the accounts of women who reported sexual misconduct. 

He also asserted that the college investigated and punished several Black players following Title IX investigations in the past 15 years but did not take similar action against white players.

In his July decision, DiClerico dismissed two of the student’s original six claims against the college, including claims the school was negligent during their investigation and that they were biased against him because he’s a man. 

However, DiClerico allowed the remaining claims to continue, writing that the student raised a  “plausible claim” regarding the number of Black players who have been disciplined in the last 15 years. 

Anna Merriman can be reached at amerriman@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.

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