Jack Montague, the former Yale basketball captain who was expelled from the school in February after an investigation into a sexual misconduct allegation, pledged Monday to sue the university in a statement from his attorney.
Yale expelled Montague on Feb. 10, three months after a female student filed a sexual misconduct claim against him with the school's University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct, which handles such claims under federal Title IX laws. The committee investigated the incident and ruled against Montague.
The statement asserts that Montague and the woman engaged in consensual sex on multiple occasions.
"We strongly believe that the decision to expel Jack Montague was wrong, unfairly determined, arbitrary, and excessive by any rational measure," read the statement from Max Stern, Montague's attorney. "Yale has been oblivious to the catastrophic and irreparable damage resulting from these allegations and determinations. The expulsion not only deprives Jack of the degree which he was only three months short of earning, but has simultaneously destroyed both his educational and basketball careers."
Montague last appeared in a game for Yale on Feb. 6. The Bulldogs went on to win the Ivy League title and qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1962.
But Montague's absence became a central story around the team, especially after multiple players donned tributes to their former captain on T-shirts and wrist tape before a Feb. 26 game against Harvard. After that tribute, posters appeared across campus urging the team to "stop supporting a rapist."
Yale's handling of sexual assault and misconduct complaints had become a source of controversy on campus even before Montague's dismissal. In 2011, 16 students filed a Title IX complaint with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, alleging that the school had "fail[ed] to eliminate a hostile sexual environment" for women. Student organizations have challenged the university to level heavier punishments against perpetrators of sexual assault in recent years, and have criticized it for finding students guilty of "nonconsensual sex" without suspending or expelling them.
Yale President Peter Salovey responded to complaints by saying, "It is clear there is more to do."
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter also called on the school to improve its handling of sexual assault complaints during a 2014 event on Yale's campus that also included Salovey.
In a recent Association of American Universities survey of 27 college campuses, 13.2 percent of women at Yale said they had experienced sexual assault, and just 39.7 percent of students thought it was "very or extremely likely" Yale would conduct a fair investigation of such complaints.
Montague's attorney connected the former player's case to the attention given to the issue recently, saying that "we can't help but find it not coincidental" that the decision to expel Montague came not long after the AAU report and Salovey's pledges to "redouble our efforts."
"From what it appears, Jack has been pilloried as a 'whipping boy' for a campus problem that has galvanized national attention," the statement said.
"There is no doubt that institutions of higher learning must take the problem of sexual abuse seriously and take effective steps to protect its women students," it continued. "But that obligation cannot justify imposing so drastic a punishment on the basis of such flimsy evidence."
Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said Monday that the university does not comment on specific disciplinary cases involving students.
But, he said in an emailed statement, "Yale's procedures for addressing allegations of sexual misconduct are thorough and fair: The allegations are investigated by an impartial fact finder, heard by five trained members of the Yale community, and decided by the accused student's dean. Throughout the process, all parties have advisors, which can be legal counsel, and they can appeal the decision."
"Where cases involve judgments about the witnesses’ credibility, all of the available corroborating or contradictory information is carefully weighed to determine who is telling the truth," the statement continued.
Conroy noted that 1 of every 5 sexual misconduct cases at Yale ends without a finding, while 2 out of 5 lead to probation or reprimand for the accused student. Just 1 of every 10 cases ends in expulsion, he said.
This article has been updated with a statement from Yale.