NORTHFIELD, Minn. — A former Carleton College student who was accused of sexually assaulting a fellow student after their initiation into a secret society is suing the college for expelling him.
Taariq Vanegas, 21, claims his accuser was the aggressor and that the college in Northfield failed to give him a fair disciplinary hearing.
The Seattle resident alleges Carleton violated the federal Title IX law, which prohibits sex discrimination at schools and colleges.
“The erroneous outcome of the hearing and purported appeal can only be explained by gender bias against males in cases involving allegations of sexual assault,” according to the complaint filed last week in U.S. District Court.
Rice County prosecutors charged Vanegas with third-degree rape of a helpless victim but ultimately dismissed the case after the accuser left the country, according to news reports.
According to court records, Vanegas and his accuser accepted invitations to what turned out to be an initiation into a secret society called DTX. They drank heavily, starting at 2 a.m. on April 28, 2017, and had sex in his dorm room before he left for a football workout at 6 a.m.
Vanegas said his accuser was the aggressor throughout the encounter — introducing herself, kissing him, touching his penis and asking to go to his dorm room.
But the woman woke up later that day with little memory of the previous night. A hospital test at 7:30 a.m. showed her blood-alcohol concentration was 0.24, three times the legal limit to drive.
Vanegas, by contrast, described the night in detail to police and was sober enough to participate in his morning football workout.
With his lawsuit, Vanegas is seeking a clean disciplinary record and money to compensate him for emotional distress and lost educational and career opportunities.
Like numerous other male college students who have been punished for sexual assault, he argues his college bowed to pressure from the Obama administration, which in 2011 urged colleges to lower the bar for holding accused students accountable.
The Trump administration in 2017 pushed in the opposite direction, instructing colleges to provide accused students more due process.
Carleton announced after the DTX initiation that it had suspended 13 students for a full year.
Twelve of those suspensions were “quietly overturned,” according to Vanegas’ lawsuit.