New York University's ("NYU") 11-month Title IX investigation into allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, and retaliation made against professor Avital Ronell by her former graduate student Nimrod Reitman has garnered relatively widespread media attention this year, particularly after a May 2018 draft letter to NYU in support of Ronell from a group of professors was made public while the investigation was pending.
Earlier this year, it was reported that Ronell was found responsible for sexual harassment, but cleared of the other allegations made against her. However, the incident continued to make headlines in August after Reitman filed a lawsuit in New York state court naming both Ronell and NYU as defendants.
In that lawsuit, Reitman not only alleges that he was sexually harassed, sexually assaulted, stalked, and retaliated against by Ronell, but also alleges that NYU unlawfully discriminated against him on the basis of his gender by failing to take appropriate action to prevent Ronell's conduct and behavior. Reitman also alleges that NYU's determination in its Title IX Report that Ronell did not engage in sexual assault and stalking was "intentional and motivated by gender bias and the product of a discriminatory animus," and cites to several alleged deficiencies in the investigation and the report's conclusions in support of his claim.
It is certainly possible that this case will continue to generate news if it continues to progress. Stay tuned for any notable updates.
Client Tip: Colleges and universities should make it a priority to ensure that Title IX investigators are well-trained, and that Title IX complaints are addressed and resolved in compliance with all applicable laws. Colleges and universities should also be aware of the possibility of litigation arising from Title IX complaints.
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