Following a monthslong legal battle with Daniel Tenreiro-Braschi ’19, who sued Yale after being disciplined for sexual misconduct, the University expunged his suspension from his academic record, the News has confirmed.
In December 2017, Yale suspended Tenreio-Braschi for two semesters after the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct found him responsible for three counts of groping and one count of “creating a hostile academic environment” for two female students. A month later, Tenreiro-Braschi sued the University for discriminating against him on the basis of gender. According to the complaint, he was banned from campus in December 2017 and suspended for the spring and fall semesters of 2018. At the time, then-Vice President for Communications Eileen O’Connor told the News that the plaintiff is “wrong on the facts, wrong on the law” and said that the University would not reassess its processes for adjudicating sexual misconduct cases because of lawsuits.
Although Tenreiro-Braschi and the University agreed to dismiss the lawsuit and bear their own costs in May 2018, the terms of their settlement were not disclosed to the public. Earlier this week, however, Tenreiro-Braschi sent the News a letter written by his residential college dean Nilakshi Parndigamage that reveals what may have been a part of the settlement. According to Tenreiro-Braschi, he received his diploma this May, when he was originally supposed to graduate.
“Daniel Tenreiro-Braschi is currently a student in good academic standing in Yale College with a cumulative GPA of 3.78,” Parndigamage, the Stiles College Dean, stated in the letter dated April 5, 2019. “He is on track to complete his degree requirements in May 2019. Daniel does not have a suspension on his Yale College disciplinary record.”
Tenreiro-Braschi declined to comment for this story, citing “confidentiality stipulations.”
In an email to the News, University spokeswoman Karen Peart said that every lawsuit presents unique circumstances, and that Yale does not comment on its general approach to litigation or settlements.
On Monday, the Registrar’s Office at New York University confirmed that Tenreiro-Braschi was enrolled at the school in spring 2018.
According to Yale College Director of Strategic Communications Paul McKinley, students suspended from the University can take classes at a different institution and reinstate their credits when they return to campus. But for any student, the maximum number of outside credits awarded toward graduation is two, McKinley said. He added that courses that are not eligible for graduation credit can sometimes be approved for major or distributional credit. It is unclear how Tenreiro-Braschi reached the 36 credits necessary to graduate from Yale College.
NYU’s Senior Vice President for Public Affairs and Strategic Communications John Beckman did not respond to request for comment on Monday on the circumstances surrounding Tenreiro-Braschi’s acceptance to NYU.
According to the University website, a student accused and found responsible for sexual misconduct by the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct can appeal the decision to the University Provost Benjamin Polak. According to the lawsuit, Polak denied Tenreiro-Braschi’s appeal in January 2018. An appeal to the Provost is the only way to revise the UWC’s conclusions and recommendations specified in the University website.
Revelations about Tenreiro-Braschi’s settlement come amid increasing scrutiny over how universities adjudicate sexual misconduct cases. Following the release of former U.S. President Barack Obama’s “Dear Colleague Letter” in 2011, many universities adopted a less demanding “preponderance of the evidence” standard, which means that an accused individual is found responsible for sexual misconduct if more than 50 percent of the evidence supports the plaintiff. But Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos rescinded the letter in 2017. The new Title IX guidelines released by the Department of Education limit the definition of sexual harassment, allowing schools to choose between the lower standard or a “clear and convincing evidence” standard — which means the evidence should be substantially more likely to be true than untrue.
According to Katharine K. Baker, an expert on campus sexual assault and a professor at the Chicago-Kent College of Law, the push to protect the rights of the accused has emboldened lawsuits from men accused of sexual misconduct alleging gender discrimination under Title IX.
Since the creation of the UWC in 2011, Yale has settled similar lawsuits with four other students penalized for sexual misconduct. According to Harvard law professor Jeannie Suk Gersen, thus far, more than 70 students who claim their universities used unfair procedures to discipline them for sexual misconduct have managed to defeat motions to dismiss lawsuits. In June, former basketball captain Jack Montague — whose expulsion from Yale for sexual misconduct made national headlines — settled his case with the University after an almost three-year-long court battle.
At the time, Baker explained that Montague’s settlement with the University posed a “risk for Yale” because it could send the message that it may be worth it for other students who have been disciplined for sexual misconduct to file similar suits. Still, Baker told the News on Thursday that the settlement was not necessarily an acknowledgment of poorly adjudicating Tenreiro-Braschi’s case.
“The fact that Yale settled may just mean that they’re weighing the cost of litigation,” Baker said. “It’s not necessarily that they did anything wrong, just oftentimes settling keeps any of the dirty laundry from being exposed. It still doesn’t mean that Yale doesn’t have the right procedures.”
In an interview with the News, Michele Dauber, a Stanford law professor and a public advocate for improving university policies that deal with campus sexual assault, said these agreements generally entail cash settlements, expunged disciplinary records or the reinstatement of academic credits.
Yale’s Title IX Office received 162 complaints from July 1 to Dec. 31 last year.
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