Philadelphia, PA – A federal jury in Philadelphia has awarded $15 million to a former male professor who sued Thomas Jefferson University for gender discrimination in a sexual assault investigation. This verdict marks the largest-ever award under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded schools. Legal experts say it is also the first time a male professor accused by a female subordinate has won such a case against a university at trial.
The case was highly unusual and the verdict was dramatic, according to KC Johnson, a Title IX expert and history professor at Brooklyn College. The trial tested the 1972 law in a rare courtroom setting, where a jury found that Thomas Jefferson University failed to impartially investigate the professor’s claim that he was a victim in an alcohol-fueled encounter in which he was accused of rape.
This groundbreaking verdict sends a powerful message to university leaders to take allegations of sexual assault by males seriously and to conduct unbiased investigations. It challenges the notion that only females can be victims and highlights the importance of equal treatment and due process for all parties involved.
Thomas Jefferson University is considering an appeal and maintains that it treated both parties fairly and equitably. However, the jury, who referred to themselves as “Team Justice,” took only an hour to reach their decision. They believed that the professor had been wronged and that his life had been ruined.
This case not only tested the limits of the #MeToo movement but also raised concerns among advocates for female survivors of sexual abuse. They fear that wealthy men accused of sexual misconduct could use civil courts to undermine their accusers and discourage future victims from coming forward.
Despite the outcome of this trial, it is important to note that such cases are rare. In the past 12 years, only seven cases involving male defendants accused of sexual misconduct have gone to a federal jury. However, the increase in Title IX cases, mostly filed by male students, after the Obama administration’s directive to address sexual harassment on campuses, underscores the need for fair and balanced investigations.
The $15 million award to the professor includes compensation for his financial losses and punitive damages. The jury, comprised of five women and three men, unanimously found that Thomas Jefferson University conducted a gender-biased investigation. They believed the professor’s account of the events and felt that the university had treated him unfairly.
This groundbreaking verdict serves as a reminder that allegations of sexual assault should be approached with impartiality and investigated fully, regardless of the gender or power dynamics involved. It highlights the importance of due process and equal treatment under the law.
In conclusion, the historic $15 million verdict in favor of the male professor in this gender discrimination lawsuit challenges existing narratives and highlights the need for unbiased investigations in cases of sexual assault. This landmark decision sets a precedent for future cases and emphasizes the importance of fair treatment and equal opportunity for all parties involved.