We use cookies to provide some features and experiences in QOSHE

More information  .  Close
Aa Aa Aa
- A +

2 Women Dated For Years. After It Ended, JMU Said Their Relationship Was 'Nonconsensual.'

2 71 11

Title IX

Robby Soave | 9.15.2021 9:00 AM

Ten years ago, Alyssa Reid landed her dream job: assistant director of the speech and debate team at James Madison University (JMU). She also became a faculty member of the School of Communication Studies, where she met a student named Kathryn Lese.

Lese took Reid's speech class in the spring of 2013. The two quickly became best friends. The following year, Lese graduated from JMU and accepted a graduate teaching position with the speech and debate team. The pair worked closely together as friends and colleagues, and traveled together for events.

One night, during a trip to New Jersey for a forensics tournament, Lese told Reid that despite being in a relationship with a man, she was a lesbian, and had developed feelings for her, according to Reid. Though initially reluctant to put their friendship at risk, Reid says she eventually came to reciprocate Lese's feelings.

"When she first told me that she had feelings for me, I immediately told her that we can't be in a relationship," says Reid. "But she was very persistent and eventually it just became a reality after time."

They dated for two and a half years, living together for much of that time.

The relationship ended badly, causing both women much consternation. Almost a year later, on December 4, 2018, Lese filed a Title IX report with JMU. This report then became the basis of a sexual misconduct complaint, and Reid was accused of engaging in a nonconsensual relationship with her former girlfriend.

JMU suspended Reid from teaching. Then, following a hearing where Reid was given no meaningful opportunity to rebut the allegations against her—Lese did not even attend it—the university determined she had violated an aspect of the sexual misconduct policy that had not even existed during the time period in question.

The finding made it impossible for Reid to continue working at JMU; indeed, she had already been denied a promotion and barred from campus. She was hired at another university, sold her house, and moved—but when her new employer found out about the sexual misconduct finding, the offer was abruptly rescinded.

"I was let go a week before the semester began," she says.

Reid is now suing JMU, as well as the U.S. Department of Education, which pushed colleges and universities to adopt unfair sexual misconduct adjudication policies during the years of Barack Obama's presidency. The lawsuit comes at a time of profound national uncertainty about the trajectory of federal education policy as it relates to Title IX, the statute that prohibits sex and gender-based discrimination in schools. Under Obama, the Education Department instructed campus officials to vigorously investigate sexual misconduct, define it broadly, and give accused persons very little recourse. Then, under former President Donald Trump, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded the Obama-era policies and made........

© Reason.com

Get it on Google Play