Williams sued by former student over alleged gender discrimination

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By Scott Stafford

sstafford@berkshireeagle.com

WILLIAMSTOWN — A lawsuit against Williams College alleges gender discrimination over the school's handling of a series of complaints by a former student and his former girlfriend, who later went on to work for the college, that were filed against each other.

The Title IX suit, filed Nov. 23 in U.S. District Court in Springfield, challenges a disciplinary finding by the school that the student had engaged in "nonconsensual sex" with his former girlfriend. And it claims that countercomplaints by the student against the girlfriend, including an alleged assault, were not pursued.

The suit further alleges the girlfriend had a close relationship with a college dean who displayed a hostile disposition toward the student, referred to as John Doe, and men in general.

As a result of the college's finding, Doe was expelled and not allowed to receive his degree, despite having earned enough credits to graduate, the suit alleges. He had been scheduled to receive his diploma last May.

He is seeking to receive his bachelor's degree and to have his school disciplinary record expunged.

A spokesperson for the school, Angela Schaeffer, said college officials do not comment on pending litigation. The college has until Dec. 22 to file a response in the case.

Doe's attorney, Stacey Elin Rossi, said the finding by Williams College against her client was questionable, and the evidence conflicted.

"My client should receive his degree," Rossi said. "He earned it and deserves it and any damages the jury finds are warranted."

Doe and the woman were in a dating relationship between fall 2013 and the spring of 2016. The woman graduated in 2015 and got a job in the school's alumni offices.

During the flurry of complaints filed against each other in the spring of 2016, the woman alleged that Doe engaged in "nonconsensual sex" with her in September 2014.

Doe claims that the lawsuit was retaliation for a complaint that he filed alleging that the woman, as an employee of the school, violated policy by going to a student party, where she got into an argument with Doe. The complaint alleges that the woman slapped Doe and took his phone, violating school policy against an employee assaulting a student.

Doe's complaint, the lawsuit notes, was not acted on during the school's disciplinary process.


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