Judge Tosses Some Charges in YU Sexual Assault Suit
A federal district court judge threw out several charges in the lawsuit against Yeshiva University by a student allegedly raped by a player on YU men’s basketball team in January 2021.
The 50-page opinion, which was released by Senior District Judge Kevin Castel at the end of November, granted YU’s request to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim that the university had engaged in retaliation against her due to her Title IX complaint as well as several other claims, including that the university had falsified statistics about sexual misconduct among students and on campus. The judge denied the motion by YU to dismiss the Title IX claim that it had acted with “deliberate indifference” by not properly investigating the incident, and also upheld several state and local charges.
According to the complaint registered with the court, the plaintiff, identified as “Jane Doe,” was raped in the off-campus apartment of the player. That February, she filed a complaint with the university. The university employed the firm Seyfarth Shaw LLP, which also represents YU in its ongoing sexual assault case against former YU High School for Boys (YUHSB) students, to conduct an investigation.
That May, the university notified the student that the investigation had been concluded and the evidence collected was insufficient to show that the player had violated university anti-sexual harassment policy. She later sued the university and the law firm in June 2022, alleging that her request to appeal the decision was ignored and that investigators deliberately ignored evidence in their investigation, never requesting permission to obtain evidence from a rape kit or to interview medical staff who attended to her.
The basketball player referred to anonymously in the case, who was on the team during at least part of the Maccabees' 50-game win streak, did not play on the team during the 2021-’22 season, according to multiple sources familiar with the 2021-’22 Maccabees.
The judge determined that the facts as presented by the student did not support the claim that YU had engaged in retaliation against her, or that YU had falsified its sexual assault statistics in years leading up to the rape. Nevertheless, claims that were upheld against the university included breach of contract and discrimination and aiding and abetting under New York City and New York State Human Rights Laws.
“The safety of our students is our number one priority,” a YU spokesperson told The Commentator. “We maintain strong policies and procedures to protect all students from harassment and assault of any kind. As expected, Judge Castel’s decision significantly reduced the scope of plaintiff’s claims, and we anticipate full dismissal of the remaining claims in any further adjudication.”
Other defendants in the case, besides YU and Seyfarth Shaw, include Andrew Lauer, YU’s general counsel; Chaim Nissel, vice provost of student affairs and former Title IX Coordinator; and Dov Kesselman, one of the attorneys who conducted the investigation. Charges against Emily Miller, another Seyfarth Shaw attorney, were dropped at the end of 2022.
YU’s lawyers did not respond to The Commentator’s request to comment. The lawyer representing the student declined to comment.
Photo Caption: A judge threw out several charges in the lawsuit against YU by a student allegedly raped by a YU men's basketball player in 2021.
Photo Credit: Yeshiva University