Georgia Tech settles two lawsuits involving sexual assaults

The University System of Georgia has settled two lawsuits by Georgia Tech students who claimed they were expelled unfairly after being wrongly accused of sexual assault.

The settlements, released through an open-records request, were completed in June and July.

In the first case, system officials agreed to pay a male student $125,000 to settle a case in which he had been accused by another male student of sexual assault. In January, the school was ordered to reinstate the student after it had found him responsible for non-consensual sexual intercourse.

The reinstatement was the only time in the past five years the state Board of Regents had overturned any public college in a sexual assault case, records showed.

In the second suit, filed by a male student accused by a female student of rape, system officials agreed to allow him to receive his diploma from Georgia Tech but prevent him from attending Tech or any other school in the University System. The settlement upholds his expulsion, but modifies his disciplinary record to include only the code number and name of each charge against him. Those charges included non-consensual sexual contact, non-consensual sexual intercourse and coercion. His record will also include a notation that he sued Georgia Tech and the Board of Regents alleging he was denied due process and had been wrongfully found responsible for the alleged offenses. The document also notes that nothing in the settlement agreement should be deemed as an admission of guilt or liability.

The settlements follow complaints about issues the AJC reported on earlier this year, when Georgia Tech came under fire by state lawmakers, particularly Rep. Earl Ehrhart, who criticized school leaders for their treatment of students accused of wrongdoing in sexual assault and other misconduct cases. An analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found Georgia Tech had been one of the most aggressive schools in its handling of accused students. Tech had expelled or suspended nearly every student it investigated for sexual misconduct allegations in the past five years, and also handed down stiff penalties to fraternities.

The accused student who was reinstated at Georgia Tech, and his attorney, New York-based Andrew Miltenberg, talked to the AJC previously. At that time, Miltenberg called Tech’s process for adjudicating sex assault cases “out of date and broken.”

Since then, the University System has enacted uniform policies outlining how all public colleges in the state will handle sexual violence and other student-conduct violations. Those new rules took effect July 1.