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Expelled basketball captain sues Yale, saying alleged ‘sexual misconduct’ was consensual

Yale’s Jack Montague attempts a shot during an NCAA college basketball game against S.M.U. on Nov. 22 in Dallas. (Tony Gutierrez/AP)

Jack Montague was expelled from Yale University in February, shortly before the basketball team he led went to the NCAA tournament for the first time in more than 50 years and not long before he was expecting to graduate.

Yale goes to the NCAA tournament for the first time in more than 50 years — after its captain was expelled for alleged sexual misconduct

But the university said a student had filed a formal complaint against Montague to a committee on sexual misconduct, and he was expelled as a result of the investigation.

Now Montague is firing back. He filed a lawsuit against Yale on Thursday, claiming breach of contract and violation of his rights under the federal Title IX law because he was deprived of his Ivy League degree and was branded a sex assailant. The lawsuit claims that the sexual encounter in question was consensual.

A statement released with the lawsuit by a public relations firm said:

Not only did [the complainant] — with whom Montague had had three previous sexual encounters, at least one of which involved consensual sexual intercourse — voluntarily lead Mr. Montague to his bedroom, voluntarily take off all of her clothing, and voluntarily engage in passionate foreplay with him, she explicitly told Yale that she did not think Mr. Montague heard her when she purportedly said “no” to the ensuing sexual intercourse.
Yet Mr. Montague – who reasonably believed he had consent to engage in sexual activity, and who never heard Roe revoke her consent — was promptly found responsible and deemed a sexual assailant.

(The lawsuit uses the pseudonym ‘Jane Roe’ for the student. The woman who reported the misconduct to Yale has not been publicly identified.)

A spokesman for Yale said the lawsuit is inaccurate and baseless.

The case attracted widespread attention, with campus sexual assault a closely watched issue nationally. Advocates say the incidence is shockingly high and that universities have done too little to prevent sexual assault and hold students accountable for it. Some critics question the statistics suggesting one in five female undergraduates is a victim of some type of assault and worry that attempts to combat the problem have led to flawed university investigations that make it difficult for students who are accused to defend themselves.

Expelled Yale basketball captain says the alleged sexual misconduct was consensual

The lawsuit contends that the woman in question did not want to file a complaint and that she was manipulated and misled by the university official whom she approached to ask if Montague could be given training about consent.

Montague argues in the lawsuit that the university inappropriately used him as an example, that it went out of its way to expel him to make a point:

This case arose during a tumultuous period at Yale in which the university faced mounting criticism concerning its handling of allegations of sexual assault made by female students against male students. Specifically, Yale had been accused by students and alumni alike of not taking these allegations of sexual misconduct seriously enough and of shirking its duty to harshly punish perpetrators of sexual assault. Moreover, results from a survey of 27 colleges and universities around the country painted a damning picture of the campus climate: Sexual assaults at Yale, according to the survey, were the third-highest of all the schools surveyed. As a consequence, the university had to show it was willing to take a hard line against male students accused of sexual assault in order to dispel the notion that Yale’s campus was an unfriendly and unsafe environment for women.

Tom Conroy, a spokesman for Yale, issued a statement Thursday in response:

The lawsuit is factually inaccurate and legally baseless, and Yale will offer a vigorous defense.
Yale always respects the privacy and confidentiality of all students involved in a disciplinary process. Yale’s procedures for addressing allegations of sexual misconduct are thorough and fair. Allegations are investigated by an impartial fact-finder, heard by five trained members of the Yale community, and decided by the accused student’s dean.  Throughout the process, all parties have advisers, which can be legal counsel, and they can appeal a decision.
Where cases involve judgments about the witnesses’ credibility, all of the available corroborating or contradictory information is carefully weighed.
One out of five formal sexual misconduct hearings has ended without a finding against the accused, and, in two out of five cases, the accused student has received a reprimand or probation. Only about one out of 10 cases has ended in expulsion, and the decision to expel a student has been made only after the most careful consideration, based on the facts and, when appropriate, disciplinary history.

Neither Montague nor his lawyer would comment now that litigation is underway.

Read the full complaint here:

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