South Carolina

Students cleared in college rape say SC school discriminates against men, lawsuit says

Two men sued Wofford College recently over how the school handles sexual assault complaints.
Two men sued Wofford College recently over how the school handles sexual assault complaints. Thomistichal/WikiMedia Commons

Two former male students from Wofford College say the way the school handled an unfounded sexual assault complaint against them amounts to sexual harassment.

The unnamed men sued the Upstate, South Carolina college saying that it destroyed evidence that was favorable to the men and that “hundreds of students at the school heard the false allegations that the Plaintiffs were rapists.”

A woman student said the two men “tricked her into engaging in sexual conduct, otherwise consensual and while she had capacity to consent, with the wrong person in March, 2015,” according to the lawsuit. She also said one of the men “engaged in both consensual and non-consensual sexual conduct on October 23, and 24, 2015.”

None of the students are named in the lawsuit. The college cleared both men of the allegations a year later. But the school, the lawsuit says, was “deliberately indifferent to Plaintiffs’ complaints about being sexually harassed and called rapists.”

Wofford Vice President for Marketing and Communications Annie Mitchell told McClatchy, “We don’t comment on any current or pending litigation.”

Wofford issued a no-contact order for the students, but the men say in the lawsuit the woman harassed them at a fraternity function and later assaulted one of the men at a party. The court filing said the school destroyed video evidence that would have incriminated the woman.

“Instead of opening an investigation, Defendant condoned and hid PG’s misrepresentation about her conduct in relation to the Halloween party assault,” according to the lawsuit. “This destruction marked at least four times that Defendant destroyed evidence favorable to Doe or Roe or detrimental to the Defendant.”

The men also say there is evidence the woman sexually harassed one of them.

The men say the school’s policies for sexual assault violate federal discrimination laws.

“It was the Defendant’s policy to hold the man at fault when two intoxicated persons of the opposite gender engage in sexual relations,” the lawsuit says.

Wofford, the lawsuit states, “was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiffs’ rights to be free from the improper use of its Title IX policy to charge male students without any cause but fail to investigate complaints against female students.”

Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.