A Texas student committed suicide after campus official denied to grant him due process, reports Watchdog.org.
The organization states that the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) student, Thomas Klocke, was accused in May 2016 of sexually harassing a gay peer by writing “gays should die” on his computer during class.
Investigators reportedly acknowledge that there was no evidence to support the student’s claim.
Further, Watchdog states that Klocke not only denied the incident but gave a completely different version of what happened.
Klocke stated that on that day, his accuser made unwanted sexual advances towards him. Klocke reportedly refused, telling his soon-to-be-accuser that he was straight.
A lawsuit filed by Klocke’s father – an attorney – claims the student went on to accuse Klocke out of fears he might wind up being accused of sexual misconduct.
Watchdog goes on to state that, instead of contacting support services with his claim, the accuser reached out to Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Heather Snow, with whom he had a close relationship.
“The accuser was close enough to Snow to refer to her by her first name at times,” writes Watchdog. “And Snow quickly became the accuser’s advocate, helping him to draft a complaint against Klocke and conducting the disciplinary procedure without following the school’s Title IX policies.”
The lawsuit Klocke’s father filed reportedly claims that the University of Texas’s Title IX coordinator was not even briefed on the situation, despite Snow insisting it was sexual harassment.
Watchdog states that this is a direct violation of the university’s policy regarding sexual misconduct.
Because the Title IX coordinator was not aware of the situation, Watchdog states, no proper investigation was conducted. As a result, Klocke received no hearing and no standard legal protection.
Watchdog states that Klocke was ultimately told he could not contact anyone in the class the alleged incident took place in, “effectively denying him any ability to find witnesses to corroborate his story.”
Klocke’s accuser, on the other hand, was allowed to communicate with class members. Even then, he could not find a witness that fully corroborated his story.
Ultimately, Snow and UTA’s associate director of academic integrity Daniel Moore reportedly placed Klocke on disciplinary probation for the rest of his time at the school.
Such a punishment, Watchdog states, would be placed on Klocke’s disciplinary record – preventing him from attending grad school as he planned.
Just days after receiving word of his punishment, Thomas Klocke reportedly took his own life.
Earlier this month, Klocke’s father, Wayne, filed a lawsuit against the university for failing to follow proper procedure in handling the situation.
The suit, seen here, names the University of Texas and Nicholas Matthew Watson as defendants.
It claims “the actionable misconduct of UTA and Watson… foreseeably injured Thomas, causing him immense embarrassment, the destruction of his reputation, and severe mental anguish and pain, all of which causally led to Thomas’ self-inflicted death on June 2, 2016.”
Kenneth Chaiken, the filing attorney, told Watchdog, “when a college violates the legal rights of a student accused of misconduct, and its own rules for addressing such a complaint, the accused student can suffer life altering consequences.”
“The important case of Klocke v. University of Texas at Arlington illustrates just how quickly and arbitrarily a college can act, leading to the most tragic outcome from the unimaginable stress and pain that an unfairly treated, accused student can suffer.”