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Cruise Ship Assault Shines Light on the Way Colleges Handle Accusations


A Boston College student was recently awarded damages related to a mistaken sexual assault that occurred aboard a cruise ship. The student referred to only as John Doe was representing the school in his capacity as a writer for the school newspaper.

The students were at a dance when another student, known only as AB, turned around and began screaming at Doe. Doe, who was confused as to what happened, just walked away from her. Later, he was detained by ship security and held until he was turned over to Boston police. The police accused Doe of inserting his fingers into AB’s rectum. The police detained him and took swabs of his fingers and hands, and he was later charged with indecent assault and battery.

The Boston College Police Department was notified of the charges. However, the report indicated that John Doe had been dancing with AB, which they had not, and that John Doe knew who AB was. This version of events was circulated among the school administrators.

Who Committed the Assault? 

According to Doe, another student who is being referred to as JK turned to him and said, “Sorry, my bad.” Doe inferred this to mean that it was JK who had acted inappropriately with AB. Doe told this to police. JK told police that he didn’t remember speaking to Doe, but texted him after the incident occurred to ask why he was being led away by security. When Doe explained why he was taken away, JK responded in a phone conversation calling the woman a bitch and asking what kind of girl would go to a dance floor dressed like that without expecting to be touched or grabbed.

Doe was tried for the assault by a college tribunal that ultimately found him responsible for the assault. Meanwhile, Suffolk County police officers dropped the charges against Doe after they could not find any evidence of her DNA on him or his DNA on her.

Doe filed a lawsuit against the university alleging that they failed to wait for the criminal investigation to be completed and came to an erroneous and hasty decision against him. Doe was ultimately suspended form the university for a year and then returned in 2014 to get his degree.

The original lawsuit requested $3 million in damages and alleged that the way the university handled the charges were intrinsically biased. While most of the complaint was tossed out by a federal judge, an appeals court decision ruled the school breached its contract with Doe and infringed on his basic rights to fairness. Additionally, one administrator dealing with the case contacted another administrator who told the panel that would give the ruling to render a decision. This too was a breach of legal due process.

A jury awarded Doe $100,000 for his tuition and expenses related to lost wages incurred when Doe had to forestall his graduation.

Talk to a Maritime Injury Lawyer Today 

If you’ve been injured aboard a cruise ship, Miami admiralty & maritime lawyer Michael F. Guilford, P.A. can help you file your claim. Talk to us today for a free consultation.




  • American Association for Justice
  • Florida Justice Association
  • Bar Register Preeminent Lawyers
  • American Association for Justice

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