October 15, 2018 01:10 PM
The lawyer for a former student at The Blake School suspended earlier this year after allegations of sexual misconduct confirms a lawsuit claiming the school discriminated against him because of his race and failed to follow Title IX and internal investigative procedures before making its disciplinary decision has been settled.
Attorney Robert Bennett confirmed the matter was settled last Friday, but the transcript of the proceedings is sealed and Bennett would not comment on the settlement's details.
The lawsuit said the student was suspended indefinitely on Feb. 16 and told he could not return to the school or participate in sports.
The student, identified as mixed-race in the lawsuit and referred to as John Doe, had been at a party with friends before a Feb. 10 dance on campus. He was part of a group of 20 to 25 that arrived at the dance by bus about 8:45 p.m., according to the suit.
The suit said the student, as well as others, drank alcohol at the party.
At the dance, the student joined others in a "mosh pit" on the dance floor, during which he "danced by jumping up and down, grinding, and twerking for approximately an hour with no objection from Blake staff," the suit said.
But later in the evening, the suit said he was accused of touching a female student inappropriately and drinking. While being questioned by school officials and a police officer, he fled because he believed he would have to take a breathalyzer test, the lawsuit stated.
When the student's mother sought further information after the dance regarding the allegation of sexual misconduct, school officials responded vaguely, the lawsuit alleged.
When the student was told he would be called before the school's Community Judiciary Board and asked to provide a written statement, he was allegedly aware only of the allegations of drinking and running away, "but had not heard any more facts about the groping incident," according to the suit.
It was only on the day he was to go before the judiciary board – made up in part by students – that he was told two accusations of sexual assault had been made against him, the lawsuit stated.
Moments later, he read his statement to the board, after which he was asked one question about whether he understood the effects of alcohol.
After the hearing, the lawsuit alleged, a dean said he had never seen a situation where the board failed to ask questions, apologized to the student for the way the meeting had gone, and said, according to the lawsuit, it "was ridiculous for Plaintiff to have to explain how he was dancing when everyone else was doing the same thing."
In a statement last spring, the school said while it could not comment on the specifics of the litigation, "we can communicate that the school follows an established and deliberative process for addressing issues under our community standards policy.
"This process includes confidential review by our ten-member Community Judicial Board, a group of seven elected students in grades 10-12, two faculty members and a senior administrator. That group's recommendation is then reviewed and final actions determined by school administrators."
Updated: October 15, 2018 01:10 PM
Created: October 15, 2018 11:49 AM
Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company