Jake Douglas | Mustang News

A Cal Poly student who has been accused of multiple instances of sexual assault was found not in violation of Title IX policies for an instance more than a year ago in which he was accused of forcing a woman to have oral sex.

Mustang News has obtained the Investigation Report, which details the case and ruling, for this instance and one other.

Investigator Liz Paris concluded Oct. 18, 2017 that the alleged offender did not engage in non-consensual oral sex with the woman.

This accusation is one of three formal cases investigated by Paris of Van Dermyden Maddux Law Corporation, retained by Cal Poly. All three investigations have concluded and Paris has not sustained any allegations against the alleged repeat sexual offender. At least seven complaints about the individual have been brought forward to Safer as of Sept. 27, 2017.

Mustang News filed a public records request for all payments to Liz Paris from January 2014 to March 2018.

Graphic by Brendan Matsuyama | Mustang News

In response, Mustang News received invoices of payments to Van Dermyden Maddux Law Corporation totaling $128,969.91 paid to the firm for Paris’ work between July 15, 2016 and Sept. 23, 2017. Based on the invoices, it is unclear how many Title IX cases she investigated during this period.

Cal Poly paid the Sacramento-based law firm $250 per hour for Paris’ work on each investigation, and $125 per hour for travel time.

Although he is named in the report, Mustang News is not naming the alleged assailant because he has not been found in violation of university policies for sexual misconduct. Mustang News is also not naming the alleged accuser.

In this instance, the “Complainant” alleges that the “Respondent” — the terms used to describe the two throughout the report — forced her to perform oral sex on him in a bathroom during an afternoon event at a satellite house of the Respondent’s fraternity at the time, Delta Tau Delta (DTD).

The individual was a member of DTD from winter 2014 to spring 2017. He was expelled from DTD because of several accusations of sexual assault. DTD disbanded Jan. 19 following a membership review by their national organization that left the fraternity with just 15 members.

*Graphic content below

Her story

The woman said she attended the event at the DTD satellite house April 27, 2017 and had a few drinks, but was not drunk. She said she joined the man on a couch and he started kissing her chest, to which she said “Stop.”

They continued talking, and he intermittently kissed her. She said, “I don’t want to be on the couch hooking up,” according to the report.

He got up and motioned her toward the bathroom. She followed. She said that once she was in the bathroom, he shut the door and they began kissing. She said she was fine with kissing but didn’t want to do anything else.

Then, she said, he pulled his penis out. At that point she said things became non-consensual. She said he began pushing her hands and head toward his penis.

She said she began feeling uncomfortable and moved to leave. When she reached for the door, however, he pulled her hand back. She said she was then coerced into performing oral sex. She said his hands were on her head and shoulders while she performed oral sex. She said he did not allow her to get up.

After performing oral sex for four to seven minutes, the Complainant said  “I’m really not going to do this right now,” and he let her up.

The woman said she immediately left the bathroom and walked home.

According to the report, the woman, visibly distraught, promptly told her two roommates what had happened. In response, they ran back to the satellite house to confront the man.

When the roommates got to the house, they couldn’t find the man but they did run across two DTD Executive Board members and explained the situation to them. The fraternity subsequently launched its own investigation.

DTD’s investigation

A DTD Executive Board member asked the Complainant to provide a statement about the alleged assault to use in the fraternity’s own investigation of the individual.

This is the statement she sent to DTD:

“So he was forcing himself on me and I kept saying no and when I tried to leave he wouldn’t let me. And then when I finally got up he walked me to the bathroom and after I kept saying no he grabbed my hand and put it on his dick which I hadn’t realized until then was out and then as I tried to leave again he said no and shoved my head down.”

When the fraternity conducted their investigation, a DTD member spoke to the man about the allegations. The DTD member said the man viewed the interaction as “very consensual” because the two had a previous sexual history.

In the report, the woman said that she and the man had sex on two occasions in 2016 but did not engage in physical activity again until the incident that formed the basis for this investigation. She said that in one of these instances he began to choke her but stopped when she asked him to. In the reports, he denied having ever choked her.

The DTD witness said the Respondent felt targeted by the fraternity, convinced that other members wanted him expelled.

According to the Investigation Report: “[A DTD witness] agreed there are ‘lots’ in the fraternity that disliked Respondent, but he did not think ‘anyone would get a girl to lie.’”

As a result of the investigation, in which several other accusations were brought forward, the man was expelled from the fraternity.

His response

According to the report, the man denied that he engaged in non-consensual sexual activity with the woman. He said the woman willingly performed oral sex on him, and maintained that he never forced her head down or prevented her from leaving.

“I was reading her body language,” he said in the report. “We had sexual relations before. I had my hands around her, and she started kissing my collarbone, and then went down from there.”

The Respondent said he stopped the oral sex because he didn’t want to hold up the bathroom. He said the woman invited him to her house to “take things further” and to a concert later that evening. The man said he declined both invitations.

The Respondent provided his roommate as a witness, who described him returning from the party.

“[Respondent] and I exchanged banter and he brought up that he hooked up with a girl and that everything was normal and fun,” the witness said in the report.

Mustang News contacted the accused assailant for a comment and was subsequently contacted by his attorney, who said in a letter that his client “did not have sex with anyone without effective consent.”

Results of the report

In the report, Paris acknowledged that she was charged with investigating two additional allegations of sexual assault against the same man.  

“It is concerning that three separate complaints were brought against the same individual. I carefully considered this in my analysis. However, after a full review of the record, I was not persuaded by a preponderance of the evidence that Respondent engaged in the sexual misconduct as alleged by this Complainant,” Paris wrote.

Paris noted that the accounts of the woman’s roommates supported the Complainant’s allegations.

“Her roommates corroborated that Complainant was upset, crying, and voiced concerns that she engaged in sexual activity with Respondent that might have been non-consensual. This supports Complainant’s allegations, and suggests that she recently experienced some sort of trauma,” Paris wrote.

However, Paris noted that the woman’s account of the incident differed from that of her roommates. The roommates’ statements said the man used greater force than the woman described.   

Paris said the roommates’ statements said the man “grabbed her hand,” and “shoved her head onto his penis.” They said he “pushed her down” and said “You’re not going anywhere” and “You’re going to do this.” Paris said these statements were contradictory to the woman’s retelling of the event.

In explaining her decision, Paris also noted that the two had engaged in consensual activity before and that she had walked to the bathroom of her own volition.

“The point at which their versions diverge is Complainant’s assertion that Respondent forced her head onto his penis without her consent. Considering the aforementioned credibility analysis and the record as a whole, the evidence does not support that Respondent “forced” Complainant’s head onto his genitals and prevented her from leaving the bathroom.”

After being asked to elaborate on the cases by Mustang News, Paris declined to comment.

According to university spokesperson Matt Lazier, privacy laws preclude the university from discussing or acknowledging any specific Title IX case.

Similarities with another case

Several of the allegations made in this case mirror those in the other Investigation Report that has been provided to Mustang News.

Animal science junior Sydra Gianassi, who shared her story with Mustang News in December 2017, described having been assaulted by the same man March 11, 2017.

Gianassi also told her story to DTD and also filed a Title IX complaint.

Gianassi’s investigation also began June 6, 2017. Giannasi said she engaged in consensual sex with the man but said things turned non-consensual when, during sex, she was choked, bit and prevented from leaving. She also described him demanding oral sex when he “grabbed my hair and kind of threw my head down.”

During the investigation, Gianassi provided Paris photos of her bruised breasts and swollen lips taken after the encounter.

However, Paris concluded that no misconduct had occured, citing what she described as omissions in Gianassi’s recounting of the incident and differences in accounts of people she and the man later discussed the encounter with.

Gianassi said she did not know the woman in this case prior to the accusations being brought forward to DTD.

Title IX

Title IX investigations are different from criminal investigations. For example, they can’t result in criminal convictions and do not require the same procedural protections and legal standards.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, “a school has a duty under Title IX to resolve complaints promptly and equitably and to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students, free from sexual harassment and sexual violence.”

The CSU’s Title IX investigation process can take up to 120 days to complete.

If the alleged conduct is found to have occurred, sanctions can be placed on the perpetrator. These sanctions that are directly related to the complainant “include, but are not limited to, requiring that the perpetrator stay away from the complainant until both parties graduate, prohibiting the perpetrator from attending school for a period of time, or transferring the perpetrator to another residence hall, other classes, or another school.”

No sanctions were imposed against the accused sexual offender in any of the three Title IX cases.

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