Doe v. Stonehill Coll., Inc.

Decision Date23 February 2021
Docket NumberCivil No. 20-10468-LTS
PartiesJOHN DOE, Plaintiff, v. STONEHILL COLLEGE, INC., Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Massachusetts



Plaintiff John Doe is suing Defendant Stonehill College, Inc. ("Stonehill") for harm arising out of Stonehill's investigation of alleged sexual misconduct. Doe was admitted to Stonehill College's freshman class in 2017. Shortly thereafter, Doe, who is male, met Jane Roe, a female admitted student, through a Facebook group. Once on campus, Doe and Roe developed a friendship and eventually engaged in consensual sexual activity at least three times during the fall of 2017. On November 18, 2017, Doe penetrated Roe with his fingers. Roe filed a sexual misconduct complaint against Doe based on this interaction. Stonehill conducted a two-month investigation and concluded under a preponderance of the evidence standard that Doe was responsible for committing sexual assault. Doe was expelled. Doe now asserts a variety of claims against Stonehill under Massachusetts law as well Title IX, 20 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq. Doc. No. 19.1 Stonehill moved to dismiss all of Doe's claims, Doc. No. 22; Doe opposed, Doc. No. 29; Stonehill replied, Doc. No. 34; and the Court held a hearing on February 9, 2021. For the following reasons, Stonehill's Motion to Dismiss is ALLOWED as to all counts of Doe's Amended Complaint.


The facts set forth below are drawn from the allegations in the Amended Complaint, Doc. No. 19, and such other documents as explained here. Further facts are set forth in the discussion as relevant to the resolution of the issues raised by the pending motion. In addition to the Amended Complaint, the Court considers the documents attached as exhibits to the Amended Complaint, Stonehill's Motion to Dismiss, and Doe's Opposition.2 The Court accepts as true Doe's factual allegations for purposes of the Motion as well as all reasonable inferences drawn therefrom.

A. The Relationship Between John Doe and Jane Roe

Stonehill College is a private, Catholic, liberal arts college in Easton, Massachusetts. Doc. No. 19 ¶¶ 4, 8. John Doe was admitted into Stonehill's class of 2021. Id. ¶¶ 14, 17. In spring 2017, before arriving on campus, Doe met Jane Roe in a Facebook group for incoming students and they began to message each other over Snapchat and through other forms of social media. Id. ¶ 21. They met in person on campus once classes began in September 2017 and developed a friendship. Id. ¶¶ 24, 33.

Starting in October 2017, their relationship began to include consensual sexual intimacy. Id. ¶ 35. These sexual encounters occurred at least three times. Id. ¶ 43. Doe alleges that their interactions "established a pattern of verbal communication and physical cues by which Jane Roe indicated her consent to digital stimulation and John Doe understood that she had consented." Id. ¶ 46. Moreover, Doe alleges the only sexual act in which he engaged with Roe was his digital stimulation of Roe. Id. ¶ 43.

B. The Alleged Sexual Assault

On November 18, 2017, around midnight, Doe was on campus with a male friend (later designated "Witness #1") when he received a Snapchat message from Roe. Id. ¶¶ 48-49. Roe told Doe that she was at a party but was too scared to walk back to her dormitory alone. Id. ¶ 49. Doe offered to walk Roe back to her dormitory; Roe said yes but then stopped responding to Doe's messages. Id. ¶¶ 49-51. When she did not respond, Doe began walking in the direction of Roe's dormitory. Id. ¶ 51. Roe then messaged Doe that she had been on a phone call and was back in her room. Id. Doe told Roe that he was on his way already. Id. When Doe reached Roe's dormitory, there were a number of students around the door to her room, including a femalestudent later designated "Witness #2." Id. ¶ 52. In view of Witness #2, Doe knocked on Roe's door, and she opened it and let him in. Id. ¶¶ 52-53.

The Amended Complaint lays out both Doe's and Roe's versions of what transpired next. Doe alleges that after he entered the room, he and Roe engaged in consensual sexual contact that involved his digital stimulation of Roe, similar in nature to their prior interactions. Id. ¶¶ 54-60. Doe did not believe Roe had consumed any alcohol prior to their meeting. Id. ¶ 56. By contrast, Roe alleges that she was heavily intoxicated by the time she came back to the room and did not want to engage in any sexual activity. Id. ¶ 96. Roe states that she told Doe multiple times to stop and that she was drunk. Id.

The next morning, November 19, 2017, Doe alleges that he received Snapchat messages from Roe saying things like "what just happened[?]," "that wasn't consensual," and "that wasn't ok." Id. ¶ 65. Doe states that he was "alarmed" by these messages. Id. ¶ 66. He alleges that he grew "concerned that she would accuse him" of sexual misconduct. Id. Doe "finally" responded to Roe with messages stating the following: "Please forgive me for being a drunken idiot. I'd never want to hurt you," and "I'm so really sorry I know I fucked up, I totally misread the situation. What can I do to make it right?" Id. ¶ 70. In the Amended Complaint, Doe states "[n]either Snapchat message that John Doe sent to Jane Roe was true" and that he knew so at the time—while he believed their interaction had been consensual, he thought Roe "did not want to accept responsibility for having engaged in sexual activity with him" and his messages would help her "feel better about herself." Id. ¶¶ 71-72. Nothing in the Amended Complaint alleges Roe felt this way, nor does the Amended Complaint allege any factual allegations for this feeling other than Doe's interpretation based on his view of the night's events.

On November 20, 2017, Roe filed a sexual misconduct complaint against Doe with Lily Krentzman, Stonehill's Title IX Coordinator. Id. ¶ 74. Doe received an email later that day from Stonehill's Director of Community Standards, Michael Labella, which alerted him that an incident report had been filed and that the school was implementing a no-contact order between Doe and Roe. Id. ¶¶ 76-77.

C. Stonehill's Title IX Investigation

On November 22, 2017, Labella formally notified Doe that Stonehill was investigating Roe's allegation that Doe had violated Stonehill's Sexual Misconduct Policy ("the Policy"). Id. ¶ 103. Stonehill's Title IX Investigators, Shayla Jordan and David Bamford, interviewed Roe and Doe separately. Id. ¶¶ 233, 256, 259. Doe retained an attorney, who was present for his interview. Id. ¶¶ 258-59. The Investigators also interviewed Witness #1 and Witness #2. Id. ¶¶ 274, 279. On December 20, 2017, Doe was advised that the interview phase was complete. Id. ¶ 285. Nonetheless, on December 28, 2017, the investigators conducted a follow-up interview with Roe, in which Roe confirmed that she and Doe had engaged in consensual sexual activity in the past. Id. ¶¶ 324-25, 328. On January 12, 2018, the investigators reviewed "Part 1" of the report over the phone with Doe and his attorney, and Doe was sent a copy of Part 1 of the report on January 23, 2018, which contained statements of disputed and undisputed facts. Id. ¶¶ 330, 333-34. By reviewing the dates of his and Roe's interviews, Doe and his attorney surmised that Roe had been interviewed twice, and in her second interview she had corroborated his statement that they had engaged in sexual conduct in the past. Id. ¶¶ 344, 349. Doe's attorney emailed the investigators the following: "We would like it noted that the Reporting Party's clarification of consensual sexual contact occurred only after she was interviewed a second time. And it substantiates my client's statement regarding prior sexual contact." Id. ¶ 353. Investigator Jordanresponded, "Investigator Bamford and I have reviewed your request. We have decided to include this information in our final report that we share with the Dean of Students." Id. ¶ 354. Doe does not allege asking for the investigators to include further information, ask further questions of Roe, or interview further witnesses. In fact, Doe does not allege asking for any other changes to Part 1 of the Final Report.

On February 12, 2018, Doe met with Stonehill Dean of Students Kevin Piskadlo. Id. ¶ 382. At this meeting, with Doe's attorney on speakerphone, Piskadlo informed Doe that he had been found responsible for violating Stonehill's prohibition on nonconsensual sexual intercourse. Id. ¶¶ 382-83. Piskadlo additionally informed Doe that the only possible sanction was dismissal from Stonehill. Id. ¶ 389. Doe was given a letter explaining his expulsion and a copy of the Final Report after his meeting, which contained Part 1, the facts (which he had reviewed), as well as Part 2, the credibility assessment and finding (which he had not previously seen). Id. ¶¶ 393, 395, 404; Doc. No. 29-1. Doe filed an appeal with the school, which was denied on March 9, 2018. Doc. No. 19 ¶¶ 407, 415-16. Doe then filed this case in federal court.


To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The court "must accept all well-pleaded facts alleged in the Complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff." Watterson v. Page, 987 F.2d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 1993). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The Court "may augment these facts and inferences with data points gleaned from documents incorporated by reference into thecomplaint, matters of public record, and facts susceptible to judicial notice." Haley v. City of Boston, 657 F.3d 39, 46 (1st Cir. 2011) (citing In re Colonial Mortg. Bankers...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT