UT Lifts Suspension Of Student Previously Cleared Of Sexual Assault Charge

UT Austin President Gregory Fenves overruled a panel that cleared the student of charges, but now the student will be allowed to enroll for the spring semester. A lawsuit is ongoing.

By Rhonda FanningNovember 21, 2017 12:02 pm

The University of Texas has temporarily reinstated a student who was suspended last year after sexual assault allegations. The male student, identified in the lawsuit as John Doe, was accused in 2016 of having sex with a female student identified as Jane Doe in this case.

Jane Doe said she was intoxicated at the time of the encounter, which happened after a sorority formal – a boat party on Lake Austin. Court documents state the woman later told investigators that she verbally agreed to have sex, but a few days later she said she had been too intoxicated to consent.

After a Title IX complaint, a ruling was issued in favor of the accused student. But UT Austin President Gregory Fenves overturned that decision, suspending the student for five semesters. On Monday, the university announced it would lift that suspension.

Ryan Autullo, a reporter for the Austin American-Statesman says Fenves has taken a hard line on sexual assault cases, particularly since a study found that 15 percent of undergraduate women at the university said they’ve been raped. Documents in the case also allege that the accuser is the daughter of a wealthy university donor.

“You can look at it as terrible timing for John Doe, here, who did get consent,” Autullo says. “But apparently that was not enough in the eyes of Gregory L. Fenves.”

Autullo says the university has proposed the appointment of a third party who would review Fenves’ decision. In the meantime, John Doe is being allowed to enroll for the spring semester. His attorneys want to pursue their lawsuit.

Written by Shelly Brisbin.