BRIDGET DOWNES / THE STATESMAN
Stony Brook University is already under investigation by the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights regarding potential violations of Title IX. BRIDGET DOWNES / THE STATESMAN

By Arielle Martinez, Hanaa’ Tameez and Kelly Zegers

A Stony Brook University alumna is suing the university for the manner in which the administration allegedly handled her complaint of sexual assault by another student.

The lawsuit was filed on Jan. 23, 2015 with the United States District Court, Southern District of New York, in White Plains. Judge Nelson Stephen Roman will preside over the case.

The Statesman is withholding the names of the plaintiff and her alleged assailant, who is currently a Stony Brook student and is also being sued by the plaintiff, due to the sensitive nature of the allegation. At the time of publication, neither could be reached for comment.

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The plaintiff, a former social work major, alleged in the complaint she was sexually assaulted by a male student in his dorm room during the early morning hours of Jan. 26, 2014 after attending a party at West Apartments with him the night before.

She alleged that the man switched her mixed drink with straight liquor, causing her to become deeply intoxicated. After the two started kissing and the plaintiff tried to stop the encounter from going any further, the defendant allegedly “overpowered” her, according to the complaint.

The complaint also details that the defendant allegedly forced her to perform oral sex at least twice, once by pinning the plaintiff down by forcing his knees onto her shoulders and once by pushing her head down to his penis. She alleged that she blacked out several times during the attack due to a combination of trauma and intoxication and is therefore unsure as to whether the defendant forced her to engage in vaginal intercourse with him.

The plaintiff reported the incident to the University Police Department, was examined by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner and reported the incident to the Office of University Community Standards, the complaint states.

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The plaintiff states in the lawsuit that campus police “were aggressive and intimidating in their questioning of her” and failed to investigate the case fully. It also alleges that the plaintiff was told by the unnamed detective that she did not have a “viable case” because “she did not scream ‘No’ or violently fight back in order to stop the attack, and that, while she could go to the District Attorney’s office, prosecutors would probably feel the same way about her case.”

Assistant Chief of Investigations and Administration of University Police Neil Farrell was not immediately available for comment.

The plaintiff then reported the matter to the Office of University Community Standards, which scheduled the disciplinary hearing during the plaintiff’s final exams and less than a week before her graduation ceremony in the spring of 2014.

The plaintiff was allegedly informed that “she would be responsible for prosecuting her case” during the hearing.

“The process of prosecuting her own attacker, while also defending her own version of the facts, put [the plaintiff] in the impossible position of being her own surrogate lawyer while finishing her college education, attending to her job responsibilities, and suffering the trauma of the original attack,” the complaint alleged.

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On May 22, 2014, the day of her first graduation ceremony, the plaintiff was informed the alleged assailant was found not responsible.

After receiving the written basis for the hearing panel’s decision, dated July 9, 2014, the plaintiff filed an appeal.

In a letter dated Aug. 28, 2014, Director of Campus Recreation Jay Souza allegedly advised her that after reviewing the case, he “found no evidence that the Hearing Board considered the definition of consent found in the University Code of Conduct and/or applied that definition to the facts of this case” and that the finding “constitutes a significant procedural error warranting the granting of your appeal.”

The lawsuit states the plaintiff was also notified she would be contacted by the Office of University Community Standards with the next steps in the process but after repeated attempts on the part of the plaintiff to establish contact, no university official provided any “substantive response” or further steps.

Souza declined to comment on the matter.

Stony Brook University is already under investigation by the Department of Education for possible violations of Title IX, the federal clause that prohibits discrimination based on sex at any federally-funded educational institution. An April 4, 2011 letter from the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights clarified that Title IX’s definition of discrimination based on sex includes sexual harassment and assault.

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“Stony Brook University takes all claimed violations of Title IX very seriously and is committed to prevention of sexual assault and violence on campus,” SBU Media Relations Officer Lauren Sheprow said in an email. “We have policies and procedures in place to fully investigate every such claim that is brought to us. We are unable to comment on litigation, as Federal privacy laws prohibit us from disclosing student information, and await the court’s consideration of the full record.”

Earlier in January, Stony Brook also declined an offer from the Association of American Universities to anonymously survey the campus about the prevalence of sexual assault at SBU.

“While we appreciate the AAU effort in this process, as part of the Board of Trustees resolution on sexual violence, SUNY will be developing its own campus climate survey, in which SBU is required to participate,” Director of Title IX and Risk Management Marjolie Leonard said in an email in January.

Leonard was not immediately available for comment regarding this lawsuit.

Director of Office of University Community Standards Matty Orlich, who oversaw the plaintiff’s case at Stony Brook, was also not immediately available for comment.

For more of The Statesman’s coverage of and relating to Title IX, click here.

33 comments

  1. I knew the name of the woman who claims to be a victim since she is publicly suing the college. You accused me knowing the falsely accused male victim. That’s who I denied knowing. As I said you are ridiculous. Now you are also showing you can’t keep simple issues straight in your mind.

    Having a kangaroo court system stacked against males will not make the campus safer. I doubt you have a sone enrolled and if you want to prove it you’ll have to stop being an anonymous troll accusing random people you don’t know of being rapists. You obviously have zero standards when it comes to making claims.

  2. You systematically expose yourself for what you are Brian, a clueless, low information, knee jerk right wing FauxBot.

    First, I actually have a son in the Stonybrook chemistry/geology program for the last three years, so you might actually call me a stakeholder. That means I pay a lot of money to educate my son and expect the school to provide a safe and fair experience-to ALL. students!

    Second, I actually do know the name of the student who was taken advantage of. You would too, if you actually knew how to do some independent research instead of just posting the output of your spleen as a response. This student (I’ll let you figure out how to find her name, it’s rather easy but you need to begin slowly lest you hurt yourself) would not be filing this lawsuit if ‘nothing happened’ as you insist. You obviously don’t have grown children, perhaps because you’re not grown up yet yourself.

    I reiterate my first supposition, your reaction to my post and your confession at the end of your post was all the indication I need to understand you very well indeed. Anyone with an education beyond high school could see it plainly…

  3. Also, ironically,, I see that you have responded systematically to comments here. By your reasoning one could deduce that you are someone who makes false rape allegations, and are secretly defending that practice. This is, of course, a ridiculously false non-sequtur but that is how you think.

    I don’t need to use any such non-sequitur however. You blatantly accused me of being a rapist. You are a false accuser.

  4. You have zero deductive skills. I systematically destroy the illogical and irrational arguments I see on any comment thread I join. I don’t know the accused. I don’t even know his name.

    Your charge that I’m a rapist because I responded to a bunch of comments is absurd. It also goes towards showing the hysteria involved here. He’s been charged with being a witch and anyone who doesn’t condemn him as a witch and stands up against a lynching is also a witch. That’s your reasoning. It’s an appalling display of immorality on your part.

    This is exactly what happened in the Twana Brawley case. She accused anyone who had the brains to see through her inconsistencies and lies. It’s also a common tactic of the left.

  5. You have a real problem Brian. The act of systematically responding to every single post in this thread is indicative of either a fellow rapist trying to justify their own actions in another case or a friend of the perp trying to exonerate him via social media. The fact that you did it so long after the comments were made (months) may indicate the former.

    It always amazes me how people like you think they are so smart that nobody could possibly figure out their motives…..

  6. “Do you have any idea of how high the bar is for this kind of thing to make it as far as it has”

    Yes, the bar is set incredibly low. In fact so low that it violates the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the accused. Which is why colleges are going to see and lose many lawsuits brought by falsely accused victims. Colleges should not be running these kangaroo courts and should instead refer any accusers directly to the police.

  7. “We don’t know if she’s a victim. Period.”

    Yes, we don’t. Athough it would never be her fault if she was raped, she could be partially or wholly responsible for the fact that we could never determine the actual facts. In this case she went back to the accused’s dorm voluntarily which makes it much more difficult to determine whether a rape occurred.

    I could leave $300 on a picnic table at the park because it was making me uncomfortable during a hike. It truly is the responsibility of everyone who sees that $300 not to steal it. They know it is not theirs. I wouldn’t be responsible for the theft itself. I would however be responsible for making it easy for the criminal, and making it hard to catch and convict them.

  8. The very fact that kangaroo courts are being established on campuses is evidence of rape hysteria. The police should be used. Other evidence of rape hysteria is the use of false and ridiculous claims, like that 1 in 5 women are raped on campus. This was unquestioningly repeated by politicians going all the way to the president of the US. Yet, it was always false but none of those pushing the hysteria bothered to use an ounce of skepticism. Turns out that DOJ statistics show it is false.

    Plus there has been a long list of provably false allegations being used a poster children for the hysteria. The Duke rape case, UVA, mattress girl, Dunham, have all been show to have made things up. If you have a strong hand all your moves won’t be bluffs. These cases where the ones hand picked by the hysterics to prove thier point and yet they still failed.

  9. “UPD seems to have dismissed her grievances. ”
    No, they turned it over to a decision making body that investigated, held a hearing or hearings, and dismissed it. She can always go to police. She is alleging rape and that is a crime.

  10. “Plus, anyone who doesn’t drink often/already had a sufficient amount to drink could quite possibly not notice the alcohol content of what they’re drinking. ”

    You are a very poor at coming to conclusions. That is not consistent with her claims. Implicit in her claim is that she did notice. Not only did she notice a higher alcohol content but identified it as straight liquor. You are fabricating points not in evidence and quite contrary to her actual story.

    This is the point at which the investigtors would quite naturally ask more questions like, ” what were you drinking?”. If she said, “screwdrivers” then they might ask, “So how did you realize it was ‘straight liquior'”? At whichnpoint she might say, “It was strong with no orange juice.”

    She seems to object to this entire quite reasonable process.

  11. The point was never made that she should be raped. The fact you jumped to that conclusion shows you are being intellectually dishonest. It’s a straw man. The actual point is that it is factually untenable, and thus undermines her claims. She is either lying or has a loose grasp of reality, and personal responsibility.

  12. Being found not guilty is not the same as being found innocent. The meaning also depends on the standards being applied in the hearing or trial. Not guilty could mean there was no proof beyond a reasonable doubt, or it could mean that the preponderance of the evidence showed no crime was commited. In this case the accused is more likely to be innocent because the burden the accuser faced in showing a crime was low. This however is never proof of innocence. Nor was it shown the accuser was lying. With these kangaroo courts there is no danger to the accuser of being ruled a liar. With actual rape charges mad to police there is not only the possiblility of the accuser being found a liar, but also facing criminal charges, a trial, and punishment.

  13. That’s a distorted representation of a robbery. No robber just stands next to his victim and waits for money to be handed over either. Usually a robbery commences with a demand for money with no quid pro quo. As a victim of a robbery you don’t get anything out of it you didn’t already have. That’s true even if the robber offers to spare you harm or death. That is true even with a pick pocket. Only one side benefits.

    A consensual sexual encounter doesn’t work this way, as both parties can get something out of it, desired pleasure. If a girl unzips a guys pants, pulls it out and gives a BJ, but he never says “yes” that is not a sexual assault. He had every opportunity to say “no”. Plus if he had been on a date with her and had consented to returning to her room where this happened it is clearly an implicit yes. An implicit “yes” happens all the time with sexual encounters, kisses, touching, etc.

    If on the other hand she is some stranger who pulls a gun on him at the park, points it at him before unzipping his fly then that would be equivalent to a robberry.

  14. She hasn’t established she was a victim. In fact, the results of the inquiry have established the opposite. This was not a criminal proceeding and the bar is set very low in these kangaroo courts in favor of the accuser. The standard is merely “more likely than not” and she wasn’t even able to show that. This was not the far higher (and quite just) standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

  15. You write, “First of all, “not realizing” she went from a mixed drink to straight liquor has absolutely nothing to do with the verdict.”

    Then why bring it up other than to blame shift? She miust have realized it was hard liquor otherwise her claim is in fact unsupported by an observation and thus a lie.

    You additionally claim, “She was not making a complaint about her drink,”

    That’s right. She liked her drink as is evidenced by the fact she drank it. She did however bring it up because she wanted to shift responsiblity from herself. She is arguing that what happened has the moral equivalence of someone secretly drugging her. It is a ridiculous point to bring up. The fact that she does hurts her credibility.

    “…, she was making a complaint about the fact she was sexually assaulted.”

    No, she was making allegations. In fact she might be lying about the whole thing, and it is already clear from the article that one of her implied allegations, that she was somehow secretly drugged with alcohol is false. She is either stupid, or thinks we are.

  16. “First of all, “not realizing” she went from a mixed drink to straight liquor has absolutely nothing to do with the verdict.” Then why bring it up other than to blame shift? She miust have realized it was hard liquor otherwise her claim is in fact unsupported by an observation and thus a lie. “She was not making a complaint about her drink,” That’s right. She liked her drink as is evidenced by the fact whe drank it. She did however bring it up because she wanted to shift responsiblity from herself. She is arguing that what happened has the moral equivalence of someone secretly drugging her. It is a ridiculous point to bring up. The fact that she does hurts her credibility.

    “…, she was making a complaint about the fact she was sexually assaulted.”

    No, she was making allegations. In fact she might be lying about the whole thing, and it is already clear from the article that one of her implied allegations, that she was somehow secretly drugged with alcohol is false. She is either stupid, or thinks we are.

  17. “She alleged that the man switched her mixed drink with straight liquor, causing her to become deeply intoxicated. ” This statement is obvious blame shifting. It is an implict claim that she recoginized at the time that it was straight liquior,myet she choose to drink it. It was her choice to becom drunk if she in fact became drunk. There is no allegation he used a funnel to force it down her throat at the party (and no witnesses) so getting drunk was her choice. That she now blames her choice on a third party is a flaw in her mental processes. She chose to drink hard liquior and not liking the result of additional bad choices on her part like going back to his room for sex wants to blame shift her drinking choices on him.

    She is also doing the same thing with the campus police and the university. She was presented with a whole series of choices her which she took and now that the outcome was not what she desired she’s blaming everyone except herself. She chose not to pursue rape charges with police. She chose to have the hearing. She chose to participate as her own representative. Etc. Yet her she is suing and thus blaming others for her choices.

    Also “deliberate indifference” sure sounds like an distorted euphemism of “just impartiality”. Her expectation not to be questioned about her allegations of events is irrational.

    Lets take her claim that the defendant forced oral sex on her bynusing his knees to pin her shoulders. It seems physically impossible to complete a forced blow job in this fashion, as it would completely limit any mobility on of his hips in relationship to her mouth. If his knees were literally on her shoulders there would likely be bruising. Unless his penis is long enough to reach his knees it would not reach her mouth with his knees on her shoulders. Even if he has the required eighteen or more inches it would also need to be independently prehensile in order to perform the requisite in and out motion.

    This is just one way in which her story is fishy so of course the campus police are going to ask questions. Here expectation that everyone take her word unquestioned is ridiculous. It’s highly likely that the individuals involved picked up on her irrational blame shifting and became uncomfortable in talking with her, hoping not to be her next victim.

  18. There is no ‘rape hysteria’ map. It’s a figment of your imagination at best. Please cite the dozens or hundreds of cases of ‘rape hysteria’ in some sort of documented source, I’ll cite the thousands upon thousands of documented cases of rape on campuses all over the country and yes, the world.

    You’re trying really hard to obscure and muddy the waters here, I’ll not allow it without a pushback. Crawl back in your hole now and avoid the humiliation of me citing the sources for campus rape and your LACK of sources for,your spurious claims…

  19. Nice try map. No cigar. You are engaging in classic victim blaming here, regardless of how cleverly you think you’ve disguised those motives.

    You’re the kind of guy that would be taking the clothes off of a passed out coed, because she ‘didn’t say no’. I’d be the guy beating you to a bloody pulp and leaving you for dead if I saw it happening….

  20. Do you have any idea of how high the bar is for this kind of thing to make it as far as it has? If you were to simply play the odds, it’s pretty much a given that her allegations have a serious basis in fact

    Though WE can’t ‘judge’, someone must. The facts ARE known, but these things are all too often swept under the rug as fast and as quietly as possible. If the school settles, assume they were in the wrong, they wouldn’t settle if they were not, regardless of whether they admits wrongdoing….

  21. Stop automatically sticking up for accusers. Stop Rape Hysteria!

    Whether she consented or not isn’t up to us. Consent is not “saying yes.” You don’t say “yes ok” when you have sex, that’s ridiculous.

    He’s an “alleged assailant” until he’s found by a court of law to have been an assailant. Not by the public, not by UPD, not by this girl, and not by her attorneys.

    “Victim blaming” is a lot different than not automatically believing the victim.

  22. We don’t know if they’re enabling anything. Following your analogy, do people say “yes I agree to this intercourse”?

    We don’t know how intoxicated she was. It seems like UPD didn’t find enough evidence to pursuit anything. This will most likely go nowhere.

  23. Don’t disregard allegations, but never assume their veracity. We don’t know if she’s a victim. Period. We have NO idea what happened beyond the accusing’s word. It is not for us to judge.

  24. It’s not “blaming the victim.” We ONLY have her word. We don’t know what was “taken” from her or “denied” by UPD, you’re jumping to a conclusion.

    I know it feels good to stand up for victims of sexual assault, and I agree! But this whole story is incredibly fishy. There have been no publid records released and all we have are allegations from an obviously biased individual in the matter.

    Rape hysteria is just as much of a problem as victim blaming. There is no reason for us to make judgments about this, as people who have no idea what happened. UPD seems to have dismissed her grievances. She’s understandably upset. But the rights of the accuser are never weighed differently than the rights of the accused.

  25. “The plaintiff reported the incident to the University Police Department, was examined by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner and reported the incident to the Office of University Community Standards, the complaint states.”

    First at thing she should have said to aggressive police is ” I want my attorney here, now!” The second thing she should have said was “I want to call my parents, NOW! The third thing she should have done was stop talking. Period.

    “The plaintiff states in the lawsuit that campus police “were aggressive and intimidating in their questioning of her” and failed to investigate the case fully. It also alleges that the plaintiff was told by the unnamed detective that she did not have a “viable case” because “she did not scream ‘No’ or violently fight back in order to stop the attack, and that, while she could go to the District Attorney’s office, prosecutors would probably feel the same way about her case.”

    Don’t worry about being ‘blamed’ by your parents, get them involved RIGHT AWAY! Don’t take no or anything else for an answer. Don’t go to campus authorities, go directly to the police AND the DA, with your attorney.

    No is no. Personally, I see someone disregarding this and he will be minus two testicles. Then you can sue me!

  26. First of all, “not realizing” she went from a mixed drink to straight liquor has absolutely nothing to do with the verdict. She was not making a complaint about her drink, she was making a complaint about the fact she was sexually assaulted. Second of all, he is still considered the “alleged assailant” because this is an appeal of the original verdict where he was the alleged assailant.
    Now let me make this completely clear and obvious… just because she did not say “no” does not mean it was consensual. Not saying anything is not giving consent. When someone is intoxicated to the point where they are blacking out, then they do not have the ability to give consent and any acts done to them is assault. The only form of consent is if she said “yes”, which she did not.
    Stop victim blaming. Stop Rape Culture!

  27. In what way? The way she alleged happened?

    “Blaming the victim” is very different than waiting for an objective account.

  28. Even if she did realize it was straight liquor that in her glass, that doesn’t mean she should be raped or that what he did was not rape. That sort of victim blaming is the real problem here. I don’t care if she showed up to the party naked and hammered, nobody deserves to be sexually assaulted in that way, and even insinuating otherwise is awful.

  29. And how did.she “not realize” she went from a mixed drink to straight liquor. I see why he got found not guilty

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