A federal district court in Pennsylvania gave a former Saint Joseph’s University student accused of sexual assault the go-ahead to sue not only the institution but also his female accuser and a college official last week. Brian Harris – who was convicted by a Saint Joseph's panel of sexually assaulting a first-year student in their first year at the university in 2012 – is now able to sue all defendants for defamation and intentional interference with contractual relations. The university tried to get the case kicked out of court, and the court dismissed Harris’s claims of negligence and violation of Title IX, among others.
The case builds on the growing number of male students accused or convicted of rape who are bringing universities to court, claiming unfair or biased processes. Typically, courts only treat colleges as the liable parties – not individual administrators or accusers.
The number of students calling colleges out for favoring the accuser has also accelerated, as the U.S. Department of Education has ramped up its enforcement of colleges' efforts to combat sexual assault.
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