Former IU student files lawsuit accusing university of gender bias in rape investigations

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – A former Indiana University student filed a lawsuit accusing the university of damaging his reputation and stacking the deck against male students accused in rape cases.

Aaron Farrer was accused of rape in September 2015, when a female student said he’d taken advantage of her while she was drunk. According to court documents, Farrer’s accuser consented to the sexual encounter but had reservations about it after the fact.

“What I’m saying is I was way too drunk and everyone knows that he was sober,” the girl told police during an interview two days after the incident. “You can’t have sex with a drunk girl like that.”

Farrer said he was also “very drunk” and had sex with the woman after she was “sexually aggressive” toward him.

Farrer, who is from Lafayette, was eventually expelled from school. Monroe Superior Court dismissed the case in September 2016, citing insufficient evidence.

The lawsuit filed by Farrer accuses Indiana University of defaming him and engaging in a “gender-biased” investigation into the matter.

He “seeks damages and injunctive relief to remedy emotional, mental, economic, and physical harm caused by the Defendants,” the lawsuit said. The suit, filed last week in in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, names the university, Farrer’s accuser and several IU officials.

“IU engaged in a gender-biased investigation of Farrer, which culminated in Farrer’s unlawful expulsion from IU,” the lawsuit alleged, saying IU violated Farrer’s constitutional rights and Title IX regulations.

“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,” according to court documents.

The lawsuit said the university took the accuser’s claims at face value and referred to her as the victim from the beginning of the investigation, “thus demonstrating IU’s preconceived notion that Farrer was guilty and that female complainants are victims in need of special treatment.”

The lawsuit said Farrer was not allowed to bring a counterclaim against his accuser and described the university’s investigation as “incomplete and biased.”

Farrer is seeking a jury trial and damages in excess of $75,000. He wants the university to reinstate him and expunge his files of information related to the case.

Indiana University spokeswoman Margie Smith-Simmons provided the following statement about the lawsuit:

“While Indiana University cannot comment on pending litigation or, due to federal privacy laws, specific student disciplinary cases, 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. 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.”