United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. MCCONNELL, JR., United States District Judge.
have recognized a private right of action under Title IX to
remedy gender discrimination at federally-funded educational
institutions ("schools") in cases of discrimination
between two students at a school, and between a teacher and a
student at a school. By bringing this case against Brown
University and two of its administrators, Plaintiff Jane Doe
seeks to expand the scope of Title IX protection to include
persons experiencing gender discrimination who are not
students or staff at the offending school.
Defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings. ECF No. 16.
Because the Court finds that the expansion Ms. Doe advocates
is not permitted under Title IX or the cases interpreting its
language, the Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings is granted.
Doe was a freshman at Providence College in 2013. In November
of that year, she was at a bar in Providence, Rhode Island
with friends when she was drugged, taken by taxi to a Brown
University dorm, and sexually assaulted by three Brown
University football players. Ms. Doe received treatment
several days later at a Massachusetts hospital.
months later, in February 2014, Ms. Doe reported the sexual
assault to both the City of Providence and Brown University
Police. Providence Police issued search warrants for the cell
phones and dorm rooms of the Brown University students
suspected of assaulting her. The cell phones revealed
communications that referenced rape and contained explicit
photographs of Ms. Doe taken at the time of the sexual
assault. Later laboratory test results of Ms. Doe's hair
indicated the presence of two over-the-counter drugs commonly
used to incapacitate rape victims.
fall of 2014, after Ms. Doe made several requests, Brown
University agreed to conduct an inquiry into Ms. Doe's
allegations under the student disciplinary code, but not
under Title IX standards. In 2016, after Ms. Doe's repeated
inquiries with appropriate persons at Brown, Brown informed
her that it never completed the inquiry concerning her
assault and abandoned any disciplinary action against the
three Brown students.
withdrew from Providence College alleging that she was forced
to do so because Brown's refusal to discipline her
attackers allowed them free range of Providence, causing her
to fear for her safety on the Providence College campus and
in the general Providence area.
has now sued Brown University, Jonah Allen Ward, Senior
Associate Dean of Student Life, and Yolanda
Castillo-Appollonio, Associate Dean of Student Life
(collectively "Brown"), alleging that they failed
to protect her under Title IX and acted with deliberate
indifference by failing to act on or provide redress for her
sexual assault. Specifically, Ms. Doe asserts that because
Brown failed to respond effectively to her assault she was in
fear for her safety on the Providence College campus and in
the general Providence area, because "Brown students
and/or associates of the men who assaulted her were not
prohibited from being near her, or contacting her or her
friends." This fear, she alleges, resulted in "a
hostile education environment" at Providence College
that caused her to suffer "substantial interference with
her access to educational opportunities or benefits, "
and ultimately caused her to withdraw from Providence
addition to her federal statutory claim, Ms. Doe also claims
violations of the Rhode Island Civil Rights Act
("RICRA") and Article 1, Section 2 of the Rhode
Defendants have moved for judgment on the pleadings pursuant
to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion for judgment on the pleadings [under Rule 12(c)] is
treated much like a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, "
with the court viewing "the facts contained in the
pleadings in the light most favorable to the nonmovant and
draw[ing] all reasonable inferences therefrom."
Perez-Acevedo v. Rivero-Cubano, 520 F.3d 26, 29 (1st
Cir. 2008) (quoting R.G. Fin. Corp. v. Vergwa-Nunez,
446 F.3d 178, 182 (1st Cir. 2006)).
function of a motion to dismiss is to test the sufficiency of
the complaint. Godin v. Schencks,629 F.3d 79, 89
(1st Cir. 2010). If the Plaintiff is entitled to relief under
any set of facts that are plausible and are "more than
labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action, " the court must deny the
motion to dismiss. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). However, "[i]f the facts
articulated in the complaint are too meager, vague, or
conclusory to remove the possibility of relief from the realm
of mere conjecture, the complaint is open to dismissal."
SEC v. Tambone,597 F.3d 436, 442 (1st Cir. 2010)
(citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). A court must
embark on a two-step analysis in considering plausibility.
In re Cm-ran,855 F.3d 19, 25 (1st Cir. 2017). The
court must first set aside conclusory allegations and second,
it must ...