In April 2014, however, the expelled student presented the college with new evidence — a series of text messages the woman sent to two other male students immediately after the alleged rape, according to a lawsuit. To one, a dorm counselor, she described the sexual encounter in language that suggested it was consensual and she wrote, “It’s pretty obvi [obvious] I wasn’t an innocent bystander.’’
To the other student, she sent text messages inviting him over later that same night to “entertain” her — an invitation that resulted in a second sexual encounter, according to text messages and an affidavit by the male student. The accuser testified during the disciplinary hearing that she had texted a friend to come over after the alleged attack.
In the 13 months since the expelled student obtained the texts and gave them to college officials, it appears Amherst has taken no public steps to revisit its decision to expel the student. On Friday, his lawyer, Max D. Stern, filed a lawsuit in US District Court in Springfield, arguing that the college is guilty of a miscarriage of justice against his client, who is identified as “John Doe.’’
In the weeks after he was expelled and ordered to leave campus, Doe was alerted to the existence of the text messages and obtained copies of both sets of texts with the help of friends, according to Stern. The text messages are included in the lawsuit.
Read the complaint
A lawsuit against Amherst College claims the a former student was falsely accused of rape, not given a fair investigation by the college, and denied justice.
Citing the text messages, Stern charged in his lawsuit that Amherst’s investigation of the episode by an outside lawyer was “grossly inadequate,’’ overlooking signs that Stern says would have cleared his client. What’s more, the lawsuit also asserts that the action taken against John Doe, who is Asian-American, is part of a pattern since 2013 in which the college has sanctioned only “male students of color’’ for sexual misconduct.
Pete Mackey, the Amherst College spokesman, said in a statement that the college’s disciplinary process is consistent with federal requirements and is fair to all parties.
“That process was followed in this case,” he said.
“We are confident that the process the college followed was appropriate and that the court will conclude that the College’s process was fair,’’ Mackey said.
His statement did not address a question from the Globe about whether the college is still confident that the decision was right. He did, however, say that the charge that only male students of color have been disciplined is “incorrect.”
Doe’s accuser, who is identified in the lawsuit by the pseudonym Sandra Jones, did not respond to requests for comment.
The lawsuit is also likely to further fuel an ongoing debate about the tough new standards on sexual assault adopted by colleges and universities under federal government pressure, standards that many legal scholars believe violate the rights of those accused of sexual misconduct.