A grand jury didn't find probable cause to charge Ethan Peloe for the alleged sexual assault of two classmates at the University of Cincinnati, but that wasn't good enough for the school. It charged Peloe with having sexual contact with two female students who said they were unable to resist because of alcohol. The school subjected Peloe to two hearings that, if Mr. Peloe's lawyer is right, deprived Peloe of any meaningful opportunity to defend himself.
Now Mr. Peloe has sued, claiming that a dean of students who investigated the matter for the administrative hearing was biased against him from the beginning because he was a male accused of assaulting two female students. Why? Because of the pressure from the U.S. Dept. of Education to crack down on sexual assault allegations. UC made an example of Peloe.
According to Peloe’s lawsuit, surveillance video obtained by police shows the two women “were not intoxicated and led Peloe to their room.” The suit also states text messages obtained in the investigation called “significant portions of the students’ stories into question. For example, although the students claimed to be passed out, they still sent a number of text messages,” the lawsuit states. “In addition, later messages joked about the case.”
Peloe alleges a UC detective in the case told Peloe's mother he believed Peloe committed no infraction. According to Peloe's suit, the school's disciplinary committee refused to watch a video of the females signing Peloe into their dorm. It refused to hear a witness who would corroborate Peloe's story. It refused to consider a list of text messages -- including one alleged to have been sent when one of the females said she was passed out -- that Peloe said shows the acts were consensual. The committee also wouldn't hear evidence, the documents note, of a UC report that noted a third female was in the room at the time of the alleged incidents and "did not witness anything illegal." It also alleges the committee wouldn't let Peloe submit other information he said showed he committed no crime.
A UC Associate Vice President of Public Relations said the university is not commenting at this time because of a gag order on the case. Yet, now UC has commented, by affirming that it follows the dictates of Title IX -- not due process: "The University of Cincinnati takes seriously our obligations under Title IX and makes every effort to ensure that our campus is safe for all students, faculty and staff and our processes respect the rights of all students," said M.B. Reilly, director of Public Relations for the University.
If Mr. Peloe's suit is accurate, the University of Cincinnati is not safe for its male students.