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L.M. v. Southern Illinois University

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 6, 2019

L.M., Plaintiff,
v.
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY AT EDWARDSVILLE SIUE and RANDALL G. PEMBROOK, in his official capacity as Chancellor of SIUE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint filed by Defendants Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and Randall Pembrook (Docs. 10 and 11).

         Factual Background

         Plaintiff, L.M., was a male student at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville (“SIUE”) (Pl.'s Compl., Doc. 1-1, ¶ 1-5). For months prior to October 15, 2017, L.M. had a strictly sexual relationship[1] with a female student, C.M. (Doc. 1-1, ¶ 1-5). On October 15, 2017, C.M. went to L.M.'s apartment where they drank alcohol and had sex three times (Id.).

         Approximately one month later, C.M. went to SIUE authorities and disclosed that she had been sexually assaulted on October 15, 2017 (Id. at ¶ 7). An investigation into the sexual assaults began in April 2018 (Id.). On April 25, 2018, SIUE's Associate Dean Shustrin issued a written investigation report finding L.M. had sex with C.M. at times when, due to C.M.'s ingestion of alcohol, she was unable to give knowing consent (Id. at ¶ 8). L.M. appealed the investigator's findings of two incidents of guilt (Id. at ¶ 13).

         The appeal went to SIUE's Sexual Harassment Panel (“Panel”), which held a hearing with live testimony on May 18, 2018 (Id.). L.M. complains about the procedures of this hearing including: L.M.'s lawyer being unable to speak during the proceeding, L.M.'s lawyer being unable to conduct direct or cross examinations of witnesses, and the Panel's handling of the cross-examination questions that L.M.'s counsel submitted to them (Id. at ¶ 17-21).

         On June 4, 2018, the Panel issued its report of findings (Id. at ¶ 22). Specifically, the Panel found L.M. guilty of sexual harassment of C.M. at 2:00 a.m. on October 15, 2017 (Id. at ¶ 23). The Panel found L.M. innocent of sexual harassment at 4:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., which were the other two times L.M. and C.M. had sex on October 15, 2017 (Id.).

         L.M. appealed the Panel's decision to Chancellor Pembrook. Chancellor Pembrook, also a defendant in this case, upheld the Panel's decision to discipline L.M. and stated that L.M. “has received all due process rights afforded by University policy.” (Id. at ¶ 25).

         On July 23, 2018, L.M. filed suit in Madison County state court, and the case was removed here on August 30, 2018 (Doc. 1). L.M.'s Complaint alleges the following six counts:

Count I - Declaratory Judgment under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that SIUE's sex harassment policies and procedures violate due process and violated L.M.'s constitutional rights;
Count II - Injunctive Relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983;
Count III - In the alternative, an award of Compensatory Damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983;
Count IV - Violation of Title IX, 20 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq.-Disparate Treatment Based on Sex;
Count V - Violation of Title IX, 20 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq.-Disparate Impact Based on ...

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