HARTFORD — Yale University has settled a lawsuit by a former student who says he was wrongly and unfairly expelled over a false sexual assault allegation in 2012 — the school’s latest move amid criticism over the way it handles sexual misconduct cases.
A federal judge in Hartford signed off on the settlement last week, according to court documents. Terms were undisclosed, but a Yale spokesman said the agreement did not include any payment to the former student or any change in the discipline.
The settlement comes as former Yale basketball team captain Jack Montague sues the Ivy League school over his 2016 expulsion for what he calls false sexual misconduct allegations. Yale’s lawyers said the school and its officials acted appropriately in Montague’s case.
The former student who recently settled the lawsuit is identified only as John Doe in court documents. He says he and another student, who are both Native Americans, had consensual sex in January 2012 and she filed bogus sexual assault allegations in a strange plot to take control of Yale’s Native American Cultural Center.
The lawsuit says Doe and the center’s former director both identify as Lakota Sioux, while the accuser and her friends identify as Navajo. The accuser and others wanted to oust the director and Doe and take control of the center to benefit Navajo students on campus, the lawsuit says. Yale later removed the director based on the request of the accuser because of the director’s support of Doe, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit accused Yale of wrongly suspending Doe and later expelling him during an unfair disciplinary process. Doe also accused the university of discriminating against Native American students.
Doe was arrested on felony sexual assault and unlawful restraint charges. He said he pleaded no contest to a reduced misdemeanor unlawful restraint charge only because of legal costs and assurances by a Yale official that he could return to school. Yale later decided to expel him.
Doe’s lawsuit says he was the “whipping boy” Yale needed to demonstrate a new zero-tolerance sexual misconduct policy.
His misconduct case, the lawsuit says, was the first Yale handled after another sexual misconduct case involving former Yale football team quarterback Patrick Witt.
Witt made headlines in 2011 for giving up an opportunity for a Rhodes Scholarship so he could play against archrival Harvard. He denied later reports that the sexual misconduct case already had derailed the scholarship. Witt’s lawyer said the woman who initially approached Yale officials with the sexual misconduct allegations decided not to pursue it through formal university channels or police.
When asked about Doe’s allegations, Yale spokesman Thomas Conroy said in an email that “Yale is committed to policies that effectively address sexual misconduct and to processes that are fair to all.”