Cal State San Marcos sued for botched sexual assault case

Student says school failed to conduct proper and timely hearings

A Cal State San Marcos student accused of assaulting a female student is suing the college over its handling of the investigation.

According to a lawsuit filed in Superior Court on October 21, the student, whose name was not released, says college administrators failed to properly conduct its investigation and refused to provide the evidence used against him, thus making it impossible to hold a fair trial.

Cal State San Marcos is only the latest university in San Diego County charged with botching sexual assault investigations on campus. In fact, the number of lawsuits against universities over their handling of sexual assaults on campus have increased throughout the nation. As reported by the Reader, San Diego County campuses are following suit. In recent years both the accused and the victim have sued San Diego State, University of California at San Diego, and the University of San Diego for not handling Title IX investigations as required by federal law.

In the most recent case, on November 18, 2015, a female student reported that a male student, known in the lawsuit as "Student Doe," had sex with her without her consent. No other details of the allegation were released in the complaint.

The following day school administrators notified Student Doe of the allegations and immediately placed him on an interim suspension, prohibiting him from entering school property. As required by federal law, school administration is required to provide the accused with information about the complaint as well as set a hearing within ten days of the suspensions. However, it took Cal State San Marcos staff an additional ten days to set a hearing date.

In addition to failing to set a timely hearing, staff did not conduct a complete interview with the victim until February 7, well after the hearing had taken place and long after the December 7 deadline. The university also failed to meet the deadline to begin its formal investigation. The findings of the investigation, which should have been released on March 2, 2016, did not arrive until August 4, 2016.

And while university staff were taking their time to conduct an investigation, the student continued to ask for the evidence used against him.

From the complaint: "Student Doe made numerous requests for CSUSM's evidence against him, but it was not until he filed an administrative appeal to the Chancellor that heavily redacted reports and documents were sent to him on September 9, 2016. The redactions made it virtually impossible to mount a defense or provide more than a minimal supplement to the appeal, and was given only seven calendar days within which to submit a supplement to his appeal."

Attorneys for the student are asking that a judge order the school to reinstate the student, remove any mention of assault in his transcripts, and refund tuition for the previous semester.

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