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Doe v. University of Kentucky

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

January 18, 2019

JANE DOE, Plaintiff,
UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY, et al., Defendants.


          Joseph M. Hood, Senior U.S. District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court upon Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [DE 13] or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. Plaintiff has filed a Response, under seal [DE 18], and Defendants has filed a Reply, under seal, in further support of their Motion [DE 24]. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' Motion will be granted.


         In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the factual allegations of the Complaint “must be enough” that the right to relief is “above the speculative level” and is “plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). If the complaint pleads facts “merely consistent with” liability, it “stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.” Id. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.

         Because certain items from the University's disciplinary proceeding and investigation are presented with respect to some aspects of the request for relief, this motion shall be treated in part as one for summary judgment under Rule 56. See Song v. City of Elyria, 985 F.2d 840, 845 (6th Cir. 1993). A motion for summary judgment should be granted if there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).


         At all relevant times, Plaintiff Jane Doe was an undergraduate student at the University of Kentucky. Plaintiff's Complaint ¶ 15. Plaintiff served as a Resident Advisor (“RA”) for her dormitory and, as a result, had been trained with respect to Title IX and the University policies for reporting and making complaints under Title IX. Compl. ¶ 15.

         Prior to the Fall semester of 2016, Plaintiff participated in two weeks of RA training on campus. John Doe Hearing Trans. at 22. On the night of August 20, 2016, Plaintiff went to dinner with a friend and his father after she had finished training. Id. at 22. After dinner, Plaintiff received a text message inviting her to a fraternity party off-campus that evening. Id. at 22. Plaintiff knew many members of the fraternity and decided to attend the party. Id. at 22. Plaintiff had attended parties hosted by this fraternity before and felt comfortable there. Id. at 23. She saw several friends and accepted a beer that was offered to her. Id. at 24.

         Plaintiff and one of her friends, Michael, wandered around the party for some time as more people arrived. Id. at 25. At some point, the party became crowded and Plaintiff recalled accidentally bumping into the same person a number of times. Id. at 25. Finally, Plaintiff turned to the person and said “I have been bumped into you enough times I think that it merits being on a first name basis.” Id. at 25. The person was John Doe, and the two carried on a conversation, realizing that they had previously met at an entrepreneurship event for startup companies in Lexington. Id. at 25-26.

         After talking for about an hour, John Doe asked if Plaintiff had any plans for the rest of the night. John Doe Hearing Trans. at 28. She informed him that she was an RA, so she had needed to return to the dormitory by the 2:00 a.m. RA curfew but had no other plans for the evening. Id. at 28. John Doe asked her if she would like to walk back to his apartment, which was close to Plaintiff's dorm, and continue their conversation. Id. at 28. Plaintiff agreed and left the party with John Doe. Id. at 28. As Plaintiff and John Doe walked back to John Doe's apartment, they held hands and continued talking. Id. at 29-30. Plaintiff and John Doe kissed in the elevator on the way up to his apartment. Id. at 30. Once they reached the apartment John Doe took Plaintiff out to the balcony of his apartment from which she could see her dorm room. Id. at 31. Plaintiff and John Doe kissed on the balcony of John Doe's apartment and went back inside. Id. at 31.

         The two began to play cards and drink vodka and orange juice. John Doe Hearing Trans. at 32. Plaintiff and John Doe began kissing again and walked towards John Doe's bedroom. Id. at 33. John Doe “gently” guided to Plaintiff toward the bed and closed the door behind him. Id. at 33. Plaintiff did not feel threatened by this. Id. at 32. Plaintiff helped undress herself as they continued kissing and laughing. Id. at 33-34. Plaintiff voluntarily performed oral sex on John Doe. Id. at 34. At some point, Plaintiff stopped performing oral sex and began kissing John Doe again. Id. at 34. Plaintiff then requested that John Doe get a condom. Id. at 34-35. At that point, Plaintiff and John Doe engaged in vaginal sexual intercourse. Id. at 35-36.

         At some point during intercourse, Plaintiff began to cry. John Doe Hearing Trans. at 38. John Doe stopped and asked if she was ok. Id. at 38. Plaintiff responded that she was ok. John Doe Hearing Trans. at 38; M. Alexander Investigative Report, attached as Exhibit 1. John Doe reminded Plaintiff that it was almost curfew and they would need to get back to her dorm. John Doe Hearing Trans. at 38. The two got dressed, and Plaintiff put on John Doe's baseball cap backwards and began to play drums on the practice drum set in John Doe's room. Id. at 39. John Doe invited Plaintiff to stay the night if she thought she would not be reprimanded for missing curfew. Id. at 39. Plaintiff declined, and they walked together for the two blocks to her dorm. Id. at 40. John Doe offered to walk Plaintiff to her dorm room door, but Plaintiff declined. Id. at 41. Before Plaintiff entered the dormitory, John Doe asked for her number, kissed her goodnight, and asked her to text him when she got to her room. Id. at 41. Plaintiff texted John Doe when she went to her room at 1:53 a.m. on August 21. Id. at 51-52. The text message stated “[t]hank you for walking me home” and included a text message picture, called an emoji, depicting stars. Text Messages between John Doe and Plaintiff, attached as Exhibit 2.

         After returning to her dorm room, Plaintiff texted Dealla Samadi that something had happened and that she was scared. John Doe Hearing Trans. at 41; Text Messages between Plaintiff and D. Samadi, attached as Exhibit 3. Plaintiff also went to the dorm room of her RA mentor, Angelo Ying, that evening. John Doe Hearing Trans. at 41. When she arrived in Ying's room, Plaintiff was upset and crying. Id. at 42. Plaintiff told Ying that, during the encounter with John Doe, she had told him to stop. Id. at 42. Ying told her that this constituted rape. Id. at 42.

         Plaintiff also reached out to two other friends during the early morning of Sunday, August 21, 2016: Michael, via text message, and Ethan, via voicemail. John Doe Hearing Trans. at 48-49. The next morning, Dealla met with Plaintiff to talk about what happened as they walked to a coffee shop. Id. at 49. Dealla told Plaintiff that “[she] d[id]n't think [John Doe] would ever do this.” Id. at 49.

         Plaintiff saw John Doe at a fraternity event the following Monday. John Doe Hearing Trans. at 52. Plaintiff tried to initiate conversation with John Doe, but he brushed her off. Id. at 52-53. Over the next few weeks Plaintiff sent John Doe a number of text messages asking about his classes and if he would meet her for coffee. Id. at 53; Texts with John Doe, Ex. 2. After receiving brief or no responses to her text messages, Plaintiff sent a long text message to John Doe indicating that she had been a virgin and that they had moved too fast during their encounter. John Doe Hearing Trans. at 53; Texts with John Doe, Ex. 2. Plaintiff also indicated that she had wanted to be “there, ” meaning with him in his apartment, and had chosen to be there that night. John Doe Hearing Trans. at 53; Texts with John Doe, Ex. 2. Plaintiff also told John Doe that, if he was not romantically interested in her, then he should just tell her. John Doe Hearing Trans. at 53; Texts with John Doe, Ex. 2. John Doe indicated that he was not interested in pursuing anything further with Plaintiff. John Doe Hearing Trans. at 53; Texts with John Doe, Ex. 2. Plaintiff replied “I appreciate the honesty [John Doe]. Thats [sic] all I needed to know:)”. Texts with John Doe, Texts with John Doe, Ex. 2. Plaintiff later explained that she was in denial about the situation when she sent these messages. John Doe Hearing Trans. at 54.

         Plaintiff chose not to report the incident to the University at that time because she was worried about her friends in the fraternity knowing what had happened. John Doe Hearing Trans. at 50-51. At the hearing on this incident, Plaintiff stated that initially her “first concern” with reporting the incident was the effect it would have on her social life because all of her male friends were in this fraternity and all her female friends frequently attended the fraternity's events. Id. at 55-56. Angelo Ying ultimately reported the incident to university officials on September 13, 2016. Compl. ¶ 18; John Doe Hearing Trans. at 51. Ying reported that John Doe had “[e]ngaged in vaginal sexual intercourse with the Plaintiff without her consent.” Compl. ¶ 18. Upon receiving this report, Deputy Title IX Coordinator Martha Alexander met with the Plaintiff at the University's Violence Intervention and Prevention Center (“VIP”) on September 15, 2016. Compl. ¶ 18. Plaintiff told Alexander that she did not want to pursue a formal investigation or hearing process then. M. Alexander Report, Ex. 1. Weeks passed, and Plaintiff requested the issuance of a No. Contact order against John Doe on October 6, 2016. Compl. ¶ 18.

         Then, on November 9, 2016, Plaintiff indicated to the Title IX office that she wished to pursue a formal investigation against John Doe. Compl. ¶ 19. Alexander began a formal investigation into the matter, which was completed on December 16, 2016. Compl. ¶ 19. Plaintiff remained concerned with how the investigation would interfere with her social life. Compl. ¶ 21. Plaintiff was informed that while the Title IX office appreciated her concern and could provide preliminary sanctions to students involved in investigations, the office has no oversight over either the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life or over the actions of the individual fraternities and sororities. Compl. ¶¶ 21-22; Oct. 6, 2016 No. Contact Order, attached as Exhibit 4. A no contact order was put in place to ensure that Plaintiff and John Doe would have no physical or verbal interaction. Compl. ¶ 22. Plaintiff was further informed that if she wished preliminary sanctions to be imposed regarding John Doe's contact with his fraternity, she would have need to reach out to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life or to his fraternity directly, as the Title IX office has no power to impose such sanctions. Compl. ¶ 21.

         Plaintiff chose to contact John Doe's fraternity to seek additional preliminary sanctions, including that she be able to attend events for John Doe's fraternity but John Doe, a fraternity member, be excluded. Compl. ¶ 23. The fraternity decided to require a “sober buddy” to attend fraternity events with John Doe, so as to ensure that no contact between Plaintiff and John Doe occurred. Compl. ¶ 24. Unsatisfied with the fraternity's choice of preliminary sanction, Plaintiff again complained to the Title IX office that she wanted John Doe prohibited from attending his fraternity events. Compl. ¶ 24. The Title IX office again informed her that it did not have the authority to impose such a sanction as it had no control over fraternity membership or governance. Compl. ¶ 21, 24.

         Over the course of the investigation, Plaintiff frequently met with the Title IX office to participate in the investigation of her allegations against John Doe. Compl. ¶ 28. The investigation involved interviewing many students and collecting evidence, such as text messages, one of Plaintiff's journal entries, and dorm entrance logs. See M. Alexander Report, Ex. 1. Title IX office officials interviewed Jane Doe and John Doe multiple times on various aspects of the investigation., interviewed six other witnesses, and identified and reviewed more than ten exhibits over the course of ...

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