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Openly gay former York College student alleges discrimination from school against him in lawsuit

Written by Dylan Segelbaum/YDR | May 14, 2015 3:30 PM
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A former York College student who's openly gay alleges in a lawsuit that he was discriminated against based on his sexual orientation and disability during a "sham" judicial hearing, which was held after he expressed romantic interest in a male student.

In the lawsuit filed against York College, the former student -- who lives in New Jersey and is only identified by the pseudonym John Doe -- alleges he was found guilty of sexual misconduct and harassment along with other charges in a hearing that was "so procedurally flawed as to virtually ensure the outcome against him."

The student was not allowed to look at an incident report detailing the accusations against him, or to cross-examine witnesses in the case, according to the lawsuit. Because of the hearing, the lawsuit states, the student's reputation has been damaged and his career prospects have been "severely affected."

The student is seeking more than $75,000 in damages. The lawsuit was filed on Monday in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

York College spokeswoman Mary Dolheimer said that the school stands behind the judicial proceeding and that it does not discuss ongoing litigation. The student's attorney, Alex Brophy, declined to be interviewed.

Timeline of the allegations:

The lawsuit also does not identify the man that the former student, Doe, is accused of sexually harassing. Instead, the complaint refers to the man as Richard Roe. The lawsuit states the two were friends who confided in one another, and that Doe developed a romantic interest in Roe in the spring of 2013.

On April 5, 2013, Doe was sitting in a lounge with four other students, including Roe. A female student was flirting with Roe and asked him to "talk nerdy to me," according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit states that Doe then said to Roe: "I'll talk nerdy to you." When one of the female students said that was sexual harassment, Doe jokingly replied that "you can't sexually harass a straight man," according to the lawsuit. Three students reported on April 22 that Doe had sexually harassed Roe to a campus safety officer, the lawsuit states.

A judicial hearing was held on May 9, and Doe was later given a document stating that, among other things, he had been placed on disciplinary probation through graduation and that his parents were notified about the case, according to the lawsuit. He got a letter stating that his appeal had been denied on May 16.

York College did not investigate other cases of "overtly sexual behavior" in the lounge, the lawsuit states, and Doe's orientation and disability were put "on trial" during the hearing. Doe had a mental illness, and had reached out to friends about feelings of self-harm, according to the lawsuit. 

The use of pseudonyms in lawsuits:

Though court proceedings are presumed to be open in United States, pseudonyms can be used if someone's privacy rights outweigh this tradition, according to a July 2011 bulletin from the National Crime Victim Law Institute, a nonprofit education and organization at the Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Ore.

Generally, the document states, the threat of being embarrassed is not enough for a person's lawsuit to go forward under a pseudonym. Factors in determining whether a pseudonym can be used vary across different jurisdictions, but they include whether someone would have to reveal information that is of the "utmost intimacy" or is "highly sensitive and of a personal nature."

Contact Dylan Segelbaum at 771-2102.

Also of interest

Fixing York: College students, longtime residents mix in city's southwest corner

York College sorority suspended for alleged hazing, conduct violations

College party busted by York police, 173 cited  


This article comes to us through a partnership between York Daily Record and WITF. 

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