Title IX lawsuit against Quinnipiac to go to trial

Kassidy Berger

A Title IX lawsuit against Quinnipiac will go to trial after a motion for summary judgment was granted in part and denied in part on July 10. 

John Doe v. Quinnipiac University, Terri Johnson, Seann Kalagher and Vincent Contrucci was filed on July 10, 2019.

The lawsuit, John Doe v. Quinnipiac University, Terri Johnson, Seann Kalagher and Vincent Contrucci, was filed in the U.S. District Court in New Haven. The case was overseen by U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton.

The former student was accused of being sexually violent against two ex-girlfriends, identified as “Jane Roe” and “Jane Roe 2” in the case documents. Both Jane Roe and Jane Roe 2 were also Quinnipiac students. John Doe was a student at Quinnipiac and graduated in May 2017.

According to the lawsuit, “the investigators ‘found that John Doe may have violated the Title IX policy and student code of conduct and may be responsible for five charges, including Intimate Partner Violence, Assault, Breach of Peace, Disturbing the Peace and Property Damage and recommended that he be suspended for one year, if he accepted their findings’”. 

The lawsuit continues with, “at his deposition, John Doe testified in substance that Jane Roe was treated more favorably than he during the investigation because Roe’s witnesses were interviewed before he was and because Roe had more time to prepare everything. The investigators interviewed twelve of the witnesses before interviewing Plaintiff” (John Doe).

However, an extension of time was granted to John Doe through the Office of Student Accessibility due to the plaintiff’s disabilities, including ADHD.

On November 11, 2016, the plaintiff accepted responsibility for Property Damage but denied responsibility for the other charges.

Throughout the hearing process, the plaintiff requested multiple times for Kalagher and Megan Buda, a committee member who reported to Kalagher, to recuse themselves from the investigation because of previous alleged instances of unfair treatment. 

These requests were denied by Johnson, who claimed she “reviewed the underlying investigation and found that it was not biased or unfair and that ‘the university will not be opening an investigation into the ma[nn]er in which this Title IX investigation has been handled nor will there be another investigation performed as you requested.’” 

Johnson continued with the “Deputy Title IX Coordinator appropriately addressed the various issue[s] raised in regard to both your client and the Complainants.”

The plaintiff’s argument, as outlined in the case docket.

The case document stated that “the bases for Plaintiff’s claim that ‘[a] complainants in [the first investigation], QU treated Roe and Roe 2 more favorably than Doe in numerous ways[,]’ include: reporting and investigating Roe and Roe 2’s allegations about Doe as Title IX matters, while ignoring Doe’s reporting of stalking and harassment by both women; forcing Doe to file a formal complaint against Roe in order to have his allegations investigated, against Doe’s express wishes, and not requiring Roe 2 to file any complaint at all in order to begin investigating her allegations; using an incorrect definition of Intimate Partner Violence in Doe’s hearing, which required fewer elements to be proved, while using the correct definition in the second investigation to find Roe not responsible for charges ‘based on the same evidence’ in the same time frame.”

Doe also contended that the university was “motivated to favor female students over male students in its [Title IX] disciplinary proceedings” in order to “‘insulate itself from accusations that it had failed to protect female students from sexual harassment and misconduct’ to avoid the potential for litigation and loss of federal funding.”

Quinnipiac receives federal funding through the Title IX law.

“The university does not comment on ongoing legal matters,” John Morgan, associate

The plaintiff’s argument, as outlined in the case docket (continued).

vice president for public relations said when asked for a comment on behalf of the university.

The identities of John Doe, Jane Roe and Jane Roe 2 were kept anonymous. 

Check back with Q30 for more as this story develops.