A former University of Montana quarterback is receiving $245,000 from the school after claiming that officials mishandled a rape investigation against him that led to his expulsion from the university in 2012, according to an agreement that was reached Tuesday.
Johnson alleged that the school's officials had already predetermined his guilt when a woman accused him of raping her in 2012 and had led a biased investigation against him, according to the Associated Press. Although a jury acquitted him of the crime in 2013, the University of Montana had already expelled him in a case that drew intense national scrutiny as colleges and universities began to crack down on rape accusations.
Johnson's settlement with the university listed 11 claims, including due process violations and infringements upon his civil rights, as well as sexual discrimination, negligence and destroying evidence, the AP noted.
"Any student accused of wrongdoing deserves a fair and impartial hearing of the facts of his or her case," Johnson said in a statement, according to the AP. "Officials at the University of Montana — people who were in positions of great power — were unfair and biased. Their misconduct made my family and me suffer unnecessarily, both emotionally and financially."
Former Montana QB Jordan Johnson awarded $245,000 after wrongful rape accusation https://t.co/DiH03cvNNu— CollegeFootballTalk (@CollegeFootballTalk) 1455749720.0
The trouble began for Johnson when a female friend of his texted her flatmate in 2012 after she and Johnson had watched a movie together, saying, "Omg … I think I might have just gotten raped. He kept pushing and pushing and I said no but he wouldn’t listen … I just wanna cry … Omg what do I do!” the Washington Post reported.
But Johnson claimed that the sex was consensual, and an intense battle with the university's administration ensued, culminating when the state’s commissioner of higher education reversed Johnson's expulsion from the University of Montana.
"I want to put this entire situation behind me and move forward with my life," Johnson said, the AP reported.
The success of Johnson's lawsuit against the University of Montana is the latest reversal that the U.S. has experienced in cases where male college students have accused their universities of unfairly treating them and their investigations in efforts to clamp down on campus sexual assaults, the Washington Post noted. More than 50 lawsuits have been pending since last November across the nation where men have claimed that they were expelled or suspended from their schools due to erroneous sexual assault accusations that were incorrectly handled and investigated.
“Almost every week, there’s at least one more suit like this,” Samantha Harris, the director of policy research at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, told Inside Higher Ed. “It’s a very rapidly emerging area of law. Up until this point, it’s an area that has not been super fleshed out by the courts, and earlier lawsuits have been largely unsuccessful. But that’s starting to change.”
Follow Kathryn Blackhurst (@kablackhurst) on Twitter