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Does Title IX Require Schools to Notify an Accused Student of a Positive HIV Test?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Apr 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

At student disciplinary hearings across the country, colleges have made it abundantly clear that Title IX provides accusers with an array of rights. They are entitled to pursue their allegations in a manner that is not allowed in criminal court, and they are often able to obtain information from the university that a prosecutor would not turn over.

The same is not true for the accused. In many cases, students facing disciplinary hearings must defend themselves without access to the information they need. According to a filing in an Indiana Title IX lawsuit, a person accused of sexual assault might not even be entitled to information that could endanger their health and well-being.

In John Doe vs. Indiana Wesleyan University, counsel for a student expelled over sexual assault allegations learned in discovery that the accuser had disclosed to the school that she had tested positive for HIV. Incredibly, the school opted not to inform the accused student.

John Doe vs. Indiana Wesleyan

In 2019, a sexual encounter occurred between the two students on the campus of Indiana Wesleyan University. The lawsuit refers to the two as John Doe and Jane Roe. According to the suit, Roe reported the incident three days later and alleged she had been sexually assaulted. Doe claimed that the encounter was consensual. Three weeks later, the school determined Doe had assaulted Roe and expelled him during his senior year. The university refused to hear his request for an appeal, so Doe filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.

The HIV Revelation

During the weeks leading up to Doe's disciplinary hearing, the university refused to provide any documents related to the allegations. During the lawsuit, Doe's legal counsel was able to procure expedited discovery which gained them access to more than 700 pages of documentation. Within those documents was a report that at the time of the allegation, Roe also informed the school that she had contracted HIV. Doe immediately sought testing for HIV and added a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress and defamation against Roe and the school. The school's failure to notify Doe of the HIV claim robbed him of the opportunity to seek immediate medical care.

The Impact on the Disciplinary Hearing

According to Indiana Wesleyan's Title IX policy, the school had no obligation to inform Doe of the HIV claim. Despite the policy and the health risk the school may have exposed Doe to, it also prevented him from thoroughly assisting in his own defense. After all, if Roe's HIV test claims were false, the student advisory board may have been less likely to believe the sexual assault claims that accompanied them. In either case, the system treated Doe unfairly.

Let Attorney Joseph D. Lento Advocate For You

While justice might be delayed, Doe's legal counsel ultimately uncovered Indiana Wesleyan's failure to disclose the alleged positive HIV test result. With strong legal counsel in your corner, you could also be in a position to obtain a positive outcome in your Title IX case. To learn more about your options, Call 888-535-3686 or contact him online to schedule a consultation today.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Mr. Lento represents students and others in disciplinary cases and other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Mr. Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he has sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address school-related issues and concerns anywhere in the United States.

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