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    University Statement Regarding Jane Doe Lawsuit

    Nov 14, 2010

    University Statement Regarding Jane Doe Lawsuit

    University of the Pacific has been involved in a highly publicized lawsuit ("Jane Doe vs. University of the Pacific") related to a sexual assault that occurred on campus in 2008. Immediately after learning of the assault, the University contacted Jane Doe to express concern and to provide full support for her. The University then initiated an investigation and judicial hearings that followed best practices. Regrettably, the victim and her family were not satisfied by the process or outcome, and they sued the University in March 2009.

    On September 17, 2010, after reviewing all of the evidence presented, the United States District Court in Sacramento dismissed the lawsuit - the judge wholly and fully rejected all allegations made against the University. The plaintiff appealed, and the University expects the same outcome on appeal.

    Through the entire, painful incident, the University has remained deeply committed to act with sensitivity and respect for the privacy of the victim. For that reason, the University, the plaintiff and the Court have worked together to maximize student privacy by keeping most of the records related to the case sealed. Throughout the litigation, the University has honored the assault victim's desire for privacy, adhered to its legal obligations under FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), and worked to protect the victim from further painful accounts of this incident in the media.

    On Nov. 14, the Sacramento Bee ran a story accusing the University of trying to hide the facts behind the litigation, due to so many records being sealed. The story gave no evidence that the University unilaterally sought to keep the records sealed. To the contrary, the story pointed out in four places that some or all of the motions and documents filed in the case were filed under seal by joint agreement of the plaintiff, the defendant, and the Court.

    The Bee also repeated allegations from the plaintiff's attorney that the Court has found to be without merit. Again, the lawsuit has been fully examined by the U.S. District Court and the case was dismissed.

    The University of the Pacific community has always expressed its sympathy and support for Jane Doe. Her lawsuit has not changed that fact. We recognize the pain and trauma Jane Doe has experienced as a result of the assault, and we hope that she finds comfort and healing in her future.


    Background

    From the outset, this issue had the full and complete attention of the University. The University strongly encouraged the victim to go to the Stockton Police and immediately offered counseling and victim's advocacy services to Jane Doe. Even without a statement from the victim, the University proceeded immediately to investigate the incident under its policies and responsibilities under Title IX.

    The University tried the case under its judicial review process fairly and carefully, with full support to Jane Doe and with the rights and confidentiality of all of the students fully protected. After careful consideration and interviewing all witnesses, the judicial board found three students responsible for different actions under the University's sexual assault policy and levied significant sanctions against all three, including two suspensions, one dismissal, and permanent notation on their academic records. The case was appealed and the campus appeals board supported the findings of the judicial board. Full due process was followed in both reviews and Jane Doe was assisted and supported throughout by the campus Victim Advocate and best-practice judicial proceedings for victims.

    The University had best practices in place at the time this incident happened and provided all the resources available to Jane Doe. The University was then, and still is, committed to doing all it can to provide a safe, supportive academic and social environment for all its students. We enforce a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault and all forms of violence and provide required sexual assault awareness education for all students.

    Further information--including the original lawsuit and the University's response--is posted here, along with links to the many resources and programs the University offers to prevent and deal with sexual assault.