This matter involves an arrest for alleged sexual violence alleging sexual assault, forced oral copulation, and false imprisonment. An intensive investigation by the defense lead to no criminal charges, and then we successfully litigated against the University that threatened to discipline the defendant. This case is among the first successful cases against the University Title IX proceedings. This case was the cover story this week at the San Diego Reader.
Sample media links:
The arrest: One of many media reports of the arrest.
Criminal charges dropped: One of many media reports of the DA declining to file criminal charges.
SDSU suspension, Title IX allegations, disciplinary proceedings: Attorney Domenic J. Lombardo explains a student’s rights for KPBS Television.
Civil Suit filed to obtain evidence: A media report discussing our decision to sue the school.
SDSU dropped all charges: Franciso Sousa and Domenic J. Lombardo
Francisco Sousa was arrested for an alleged sexual assault at San Diego State University (SDSU) during a perfect storm of sexual politics, media hysteria, and campus protests demanding SDSU take action in connection to a series of uncharged alleged assaults on campus. He was the only person arrested. At the beginning, the fact that he might be innocent was completely overlooked by every media report. Fortunately, the DA’s office recently rejected the matter after we submitted a binder of information demonstrating their inability to prove a criminal case. Fox News reported the decision to reject charges, running a photo of President Obama in place of Domenic’s client over the caption “NO CHARGES.”
This was only the beginning of the story. The University decided to ban Francisco from the campus, discipline him under the campus disciplinary provisions, and potentially expel him from the University under Title IX provisions against sexual harassment and violence on campus.
On June 5th, 2015, SDSU lifted the interim suspension against Mr. Sousa, and they concluded the Title IX proceedings involving alleged sexual misconduct, and the disciplinary proceedings, finding that insufficient evidence exists to support the allegations. As result Sousa is now cleared of any wrongdoing at the university, the hold has been lifted from his transcript, and he’s free to return at any time if he wishes.
Earlier this year, we filed a lawsuit against the University in order to force them to reveal the information that formed the basis of the misconduct allegations against Sousa. The university fought us over the release of this information, which is obviously fundamental to mounting an effective defense against the allegations. The university’s own rules would have required them to turn the information over to us within 30 days of the allegation being leveled against Francisco. They blew way past that deadline. Fortunately we were able to independently acquire information that led us to conclude who was making the allegation against Francisco and what was being said against him, but the university still refused to provide the information while they demanded that we produce information relevant to the allegations. We provided the results of our investigation to the University many months ago, way before they reached their conclusions in this matter.
Incidentally their own rules would have required them to complete their investigation and reach a determination of outcome within 60 to 90 days of the initial complaint. This is another deadline that they completely missed.
Inexplicably, the university released the disciplinary file to me on June 12th 2015 over 7 months after we requested the file and only after reaching their conclusions in this matter. To me, this is it completely backwards way of handling such serious allegations against the student. To me, this was an arbitrary capricious and one-sided proceeding.
Probably the most egregious violation by SDSU was their email to the entire campus community at the very beginning this matter on December 9th which in effect branded Francisco a sexual predator, identified him by name, and listed the serious felony allegations against him. This email was distributed to the campus community December 9, 2014, at 3:40 p.m., this was hours before Francisco was booked into the jail, and even before the university had obtained Francisco’s complete statement, let alone following up on what he said. The email falsely claimed that an extensive investigation has already occurred. This is not true. Their investigation wasn’t even close to being concluded. This email is another example of SDSU approaching this matter completely backwards, punishing Francisco even before his trial. The email stigmatized him in a lasting and terribly harmful way. Of course the outcome was favorable to Francisco, but the proceeding was needlessly intensive and protracted.