Expelled student sues IU for gender discrimination

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A former IUPD cadet and IU student, expelled for violating the University’s consent policy, is suing IU for gender discrimination.

Aaron Farrer, 21, alleges that the University’s policies for sexual assault investigations unfairly favor women and fail to protect the accused, according to court documents.

“IU violated Title IX by creating a gender biased, hostile environment against males, like Farrer, based in part on IU’s pattern and practice of disciplining male students who accept physical contact initiated by female students, but failing to discipline female students who engage in the same conduct,” Farrer’s attorneys wrote in the complaint.

Farrer was accused of sexual assault in October 2015 by Marion Zerfoss, 21, a fellow student and neighbor. He was left to take care of Zerfoss after she was drinking at a party in her home, and the two had sex while he was looking after her.

While Farrer argued Zerfoss initiated the sex, Zerfoss has said she was blacked out and had not wanted to have sex. She filed a complaint with IU and the Bloomington Police Department. Farrer was arrested and charged with rape.

After a University investigation, Farrer was expelled in November 2015, on the basis that he had violated the University consent policy, which says consent cannot be given by someone who is extremely intoxicated.

Farrer and Zerfoss could not be reached for comment.

The criminal case against Farrer in Monroe Superior Court, however, was dismissed in September 2016 due to insufficient evidence.

Farrer’s federal lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

It lists Zerfoss and IU as defendants, as well as a slew of University officials: Jason Casares, former deputy Title IX director, Vivian Hernandez, assistant director of IU’s Office of Student Ethics, Harold “Pete” Goldsmith, dean of students, Amber Monroe, IU’s associate director and Title IX deputy investigator and members of the disciplinary panel that expelled Farrer.

According to court documents, Farrer is suing for “defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, violations of Title IX” and violation of due process. He alleges that “IU engaged in a gender-biased investigation of Farrer, which culminated in Farrer’s unlawful expulsion from IU.”

Margie Smith-Simmons, IU spokeswoman, said the University cannot comment on the lawsuit or Farrer’s case due to privacy laws.

“The University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy provides for a fair, impartial and robust investigation and adjudication process when responding to reports of alleged sexual assault,” Smith-Simmons said. “Indiana University is strongly committed to providing a safe and secure environment for all members of its community, and assuring that its processes are fair and afford due process protections.”

Farrer is seeking $75,000, demanding a jury trial and is asking to be reinstated as a student at IU, according to court documents.

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