United States District Court, D. Delaware
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
R. FALLON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the court in this civil rights action is a motion to
dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)
filed by defendants Delaware State University Board of
Trustees, Candy Young, Paula Duffy, and Randolph Johnson
(collectively, "Defendants"). (D.I. 10) For the
following reasons, the court recommends Defendants'
motion should be GRANTED and Plaintiffs complaint should be
dismissed with prejudice.
Mai- Ajah Keel ("Keel" or "Plaintiff) was a
student at Delaware State University ("DSU"), a
public university located in Dover, Delaware. (D.I. 1 at
¶¶ 1, 6) Defendant Delaware State University Board
of Trustees ("Trustees") is DSU's official
governing body. (D.I. 1 at ¶ 1) Defendant Candy Young
("Young") was the Director of the Title IX Office
at DSU. (Id. at ¶ 2) Young was responsible for
participating in making, communicating, enforcing, and
implementing all policies and practices at DSU with respect
to 20 U.S.C. § 1681, "Title IX," including
insuring DSU's policies and procedures concerning Title
IX comply with federal law. (Id.) Defendant Paula
Duffy ("Duffy") is the Director of the Office of
Judicial Affairs at DSU. (Id. at ¶ 3) As the
Director of the Office of Judicial Affairs, Duffy is
responsible for overseeing the enforcement of DSU policies,
regulations, and rules, including but not limited to
compliance with the Student Code of Conduct, as well as
implementing and overseeing any judicial proceedings relative
to alleged violations of DSU policies, regulations, and rules
and sanctions issued by the judicial body. (Id.)
Defendant Randolph Johnson ("Johnson") is the
Director of Bands at DSU. (Id. at ¶ 4) As the
Director of Bands, Johnson is responsible for overseeing all
band activities at DSU including providing supervision,
direction, and insuring the safety of all band participants.
alleges that on November 22, 2013, Jason Faustin
("Faustin"), a fellow DSU male student, sexually
assaulted her. (Id. at ¶¶ 13-16) On or
about November 25, 2013, Keel reported the assault to Dr.
Brian Stark, a professor of criminology at DSU. (Id.
at ¶ 18) Keel was ultimately referred to DSU's
counseling services department, and Dr. Pauline Meek arranged
a meeting with Keel and Faustin. (Id. at
¶¶ 18-20) At this meeting, Faustin apologized to
Keel and agreed that he would no longer contact her.
(Id. at ¶ 20) However, Keel claims that Faustin
continued to approach her during their band practices.
(Id. at ¶ 22)
about August 22, 2014, and again on or about February 4,
2015, Keel made two anonymous reports of the assault to the
DSU Police Department ("DSUPD"). (Id. at
¶¶ 23-24) In response, DSUPD opened an
investigation, and on February 5, 2015, interviewed Keel and
Faustin, separately. (Id. at ¶ 27) DSUPD
officers subsequently arrested Faustin. (Id. at
¶ 24) On February 6, 2015, DSUPD reported the matter to
DSU's Title IX office. (Id. at ¶ 24) In
March 2015, the Title IX office opened its own investigation,
and conducted a series of hearings on Keel's allegations.
about March 31, 2015, the panel found Faustin "not
responsible" for violating DSU's Code of Conduct.
(Id. at ¶ 36) On or about April 2, 2015, Keel
appealed this decision, and a new hearing was granted on
April 14, 2015 based on a "lack of due process, i.e.
when a student can show an error in the hearing or
arbitrariness in the finding against the weight of the
evidence." (Id.) On May 11, 2015, a second
panel found Faustin "responsible" for the sexual
assault and rape of Keel and suspended him for a minimum of
one academic year - specifically 2015-2016. (Id. at
¶ 37) In its rationale supporting the sanction, the
Having been found responsible for the sexual assault and rape
of the complainant, the respondent is in violation of the
General Standards of Conduct and Decorum and has exhibited
violent behavior by sexually assaulting and raping the
complainant. (Delaware State University, Division of Student
Affairs Student Judicial Handbook, p. 5) Furthermore, the
complainant has a right to continue her education and feel as
though she is matriculating in a safe and secure academic
environment. The complainant is now a senior. Removing the
respondent for at least the 2015-2016 academic year will
provide the complainant with the opportunity to do so.
(Id. at ¶ 38)
continued to attend counseling with Dr. Meek until February
2015. (Id. at ¶ 22) Keel graduated from DSU on
December 21, 2015. (Id. at ¶ 44) On January 13,
2016, DSU readmitted Faustin under the condition that he
"abide by the Student Code of Conduct," stating
that his past actions "were of poor judgment and not
representative of the mature and responsible behavior we hope
to develop in our [DSU] students." (Id. at
December 19, 2017, Keel initiated this suit against
Defendants, asserting claims for discrimination on the basis
of gender in violation of Title IX and violation of the Equal
Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United
States Constitution pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (D.I.
1) On February 20, 2018, Defendants filed the current motion
to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). (D.I. 10)
12(b)(6) permits a party to move to dismiss a complaint for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true all factual
allegations in the complaint and view them in the light most