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Former ASU graduate student sues University, ABOR for $4.1 million after expulsion for sexual misconduct

The student's suit alleged that ASU's expulsion decision constitutes negligence and discrimination

In bars Fighting for my degree (1).jpg

"An ASU student fights for his degree after expulsion for sexual misconduct."

A former graduate student is suing ASU and the Arizona Board of Regents for $4.1 million after the University expelled him for sexual misconduct in 2017.

Matthew Green, who attended ASU in 2017, alleged that the University wrongfully expelled him for an alleged sexual assault of now-ASU alumna Brooke Lewis, according to the complaint. 

Additionally, Green's complaint states that ASU and ABOR’s actions constitute negligence and discrimination.

The Hogle Law Firm, which is representing Green, said in a statement that ASU followed “some version of its procedures,” later adding that ASU failed to extend its vast resources to investigate student conduct.  

According to court records, Green received notice of expulsion after Title IX investigated Lewis’s claim and found that he was guilty of sexual misconduct. The complaint also stated that the ASU Police Department conducted an investigation and did not find evidence of a sexual assault.  

ASU PD declined to comment on the case. 

After Green appealed the University's expulsion decision, the University Hearing Board decided that while the student code of conduct was violated, expulsion was not an appropriate response and decided to suspend him instead, according to the complaint. 

Senior Vice President of Educational Outreach and Student Services James Rund overruled the decision — the complaint alleges this happened after Green’s case received negative media attention. The Hogle Law Firm, Green’s legal counsel, called the decision “unconscionable” in an email statement.

“Any young or old bright mind seeking to better his or her education should be downright scared to trust such a poorly managed, unjust, archaic process of administering a student code of conduct,” the statement said. “Matthew aside, if I were an ASU student, I would ask myself how well I know this code of conduct and how can such a policy be regulated in ASU’s kangaroo court.”

ABOR and ASU staff moved to dismiss the case on Dec. 20, 2018, alleging that Green had the opportunity to appeal Rund’s decision and failed to meet the 35-day deadline. 

Additionally, ASU's motion to dismiss said that Green’s complaint is “fatally flawed,” stating that it does not provide facts to back up its claims. 

James Rund, members of the University Hearing Board and their respective attorneys declined to comment. 

Prior to Rund's decision, Lewis reached out to Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault founder Jasmine Lester.

Lester’s organization has worked to expose the University’s handling of sexual misconduct since 2014. SDASA started a petition calling on Rund to expel Green, who was unidentified in the petition.

The petition had gathered more than 14,000 signatures by the time Rund rendered his decision and has more than 25,000 signatures as of Jan. 23, 2019.

An additional petition addressed to Rund received almost 55,000 signatures. At the time, Lester and Lewis did not know about it, Lester said. 

She said that this case points to a larger problem that the ASU administration has, and that people should remember that Green was found to have violated sexual misconduct policies. 

“A lot of people were really concerned that a university would say that the student had sexually assaulted someone but was still going to allow him back on campus,” Lester said.

Lewis, who graduated in 2018 with degrees in business and human development, has been engaged in a separate, civil suit with Green for more than a year and is not able to comment on either case, her lawyer Jeff Surdakowski said. This case is ongoing. 

“Miss Lewis stands by her allegations, feels that ASU took appropriate steps in its actions and is continuing to seek justice currently through the courts,” Surdakowski said. 

This is not the first time ASU has faced backlash for its handling of sexual misconduct. 

Additionally, the University has been under federal investigation for alleged Title IX violations and has terminated contracts with professors in the past for sexual misconduct.  

The Hogle Law Firm said that the lack of attention that Green's case received raises concern about the University's future. 

"ASU's failure to allocate such resources when deciding a student's collegiate experience and scarring his future career is inexcusable," the firm said. "However, ASU's effort lacked any real commitment to discover the truth."

As of now, Green's suit against the University and ABOR is ongoing. 

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