A federal jury last Friday ruled for a former student at Sewanee: The University of The South but decided the college won’t have to pay him millions of dollars sought in a lawsuit over a campus rape accusation.
The jury decided to award the student $50,000 in compensatory damages. His attorney had suggested his client, whose name was kept secret during the trial, should get $5 million from the University of the South.
The suit stems from how the school handled a complaint filed in 2008 by a female student who said the plaintiff raped her while they spent the night together in his dorm room. Criminal charges were never filed, and he claimed the sex was consensual.
Administrators at the private, Episcopal-affiliated college in southeastern Tennessee testified the university followed its rules as it investigated the accusation, conducted a disciplinary hearing and rejected an appeal. The university decided the student, then a freshman, was responsible for raping a female student.
The female student said in a statement for the university’s disciplinary panel that she had been prescribed mood-altering medications and was drinking alcohol when they spent the night together in his dorm room in August 2008.
The disciplinary panel agreed with her claim that she was incapacitated.