Pomona May Be Ordered To Pay Legal Fees For Title IX Respondent

Pomona College has been accused of mishandling a sexual misconduct case and may be asked to pay at least $255,672.50 in attorneys fees for a petitioner who sued the school because he believes he wasn't given a fair hearing.

The charges stem from a Title IX case that began in 2015, in which the respondent — who is referred to as petitioner John Doe in court documents — was accused of sexual misconduct.

Pomona initially found Doe responsible for sexual misconduct, but Los Angeles Judge Mary Strobel ordered Pomona to set aside their findings because of alleged mistakes in the hearing process, which prevented Pomona from enforcing the intended punishment of suspension.

Pomona did not require the complainant — referred to as Jane Roe in court documents — to attend the disciplinary hearing.

Because Roe did not attend, Doe’s defense argued that key testimony was not heard, which could have demonstrated that Doe may not have known the act was non-consensual.

In July 2016, Doe petitioned the court “for writ of administrative mandate,” because Doe argued that this procedural oversight could have swayed the verdict of the trial, the court document read.

The court granted this motion, and therefore Doe's suspension was lifted and no penalties were imposed.

Pomona College, Pomona’s Title IX office, Pomona’s external investigators, Pomona’s lawyers, and Doe's lawyer all declined to comment on the record.

Now, Pomona Strobel has issued a tentative decision asking Pomona to cover Doe's legal fees because Doe's victory was deemed “an important right affecting the public interest,” the court documents read. Strobel has also asked Doe to provide additional evidence to support the amount he requested in legal fees.

This article was updated April 25 to remove incorrect references to Doe as a defendant and to reflect that Strobel's decision is tentative, not finalized, and that she has requested additional evidence. TSL regrets these errors.
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