Law firm releases new details in student lawsuit
Observer Staff Report | Monday, November 2, 2015
The University fired the employee at the center of a recently filed lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and racial discrimination, according to a letter released Monday by the law firm representing the student who filed the suit.
The names of the student and the now-former employee, an academic coach, were redacted in the letter originally sent to the student by the University’s Office of Institutional Equity and dated Oct. 16.
The suit, filed Friday in St. Joseph County Circuit Court, alleges a white University employee — “Jane Roe” — coerced the plaintiff — “John Doe,” an African-American student at the University — into a sexual relationship with her daughter, who attends a “nearby school” and is also an employee of the University. The suit also alleges University administrators knew about the misconduct and, under Title VI and Title IX, had a responsibility to intervene for the student’s wellbeing, which was compromised by a racially and sexually hostile environment.
The letter from Karrah Miller, director of the Office of Institutional Equity and Title IX Coordinator, stated that the University determined the academic coach’s behavior “violated the University’s values and the University’s Sexual Harassment Policy. As a result [Academic Coach] was terminated from employment with the University. [Daughter] was not found to be in violation of any University policy.”
According to the letter, the investigation used the “preponderance of evidence” standard to determine the University’s course of action against the employee.
“A ‘preponderance of evidence’ standard means that it is more likely than not that the event occurred (i.e., that there is a 51 percent chance the event occurred.) This is the standard of proof required by the Office of Civil Rights (a division of the Department of Education) in Title IX (i.e., sexual harassment) investigations,” the letter stated.
Notre Dame’s vice president for public affairs and communications Paul Browne said Friday the University is aware of the suit but denies all allegations of misconduct on the part of the University.