By Sam Colt
Stephen Zingarelli, a former Kenyon student who was acquitted in June on charges of rape and gross sexual imposition, filed a lawsuit on Thursday, Dec. 5 against Kenyon, the student who accused him of rape and a former Sexual Misconduct Advisor (SMA), Ellen Kaufman ’13. The suit was first reported by the Mount Vernon News.
In the suit, which contains 14 individual counts, Zingarelli accuses Kenyon of breach of contract and negligence in the training and supervision of SMAs. The suit also accuses the College of violating Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by discriminating against him based on his gender.
“Kenyon’s Student Conduct Review process constitutes a pattern of decision-making whereby Kenyon’s disciplinary procedures governing sexual assault claims are discriminatorily applied and motivated by an archaic view of the sexes,” the suit says, referring to the College’s system, independent of the courts, for adjudicating claims against students.
The suit’s emphasis on Zingarelli’s gender has provoked discussion among the student body, most visibly in an anonymous comment briefly posted to the Kenyon Confessions Facebook page on Tuesday evening.
“It pisses me off that men on this campus are periodically wrongfully accused of sexual misconduct,” the post read in part.
Zingarelli alleges that his student accuser subjected him to malicious prosecution, infliction of emotional duress and defamation that were injurious to his reputation and adversely affected his education and professional career.
“In making such an egregious false allegation, [the accuser] intended to cause Stephen serious emotional distress,” reads the suit. “Stephen’s emotional distress and mental anguish was so serious and of such a nature that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it.”
In the suit, Zingarelli additionally claims his accuser destroyed evidence relevant to the case, and alleges that those actions were taken “with the aid and encouragement of Kaufman, and at her direction.” Kaufman declined to comment for this article.
Zingarelli’s accuser, whose name the Collegian is withholding in keeping with standard journalistic practice, did not return a request for comment.
One of Zingarelli’s claims against Kenyon references the Collegian‘s coverage of his indictment on sexual assault charges, which his lawyers allege amounted to placing Zingarelli in a false light that “would be highly offensive to a reasonable person.”
All three defendants are accused of civil conspiracy to damage Zingarelli in the suit, which was independently obtained and confirmed by the Collegian last week.
The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages from the College. It also seeks the removal of a note on his transcript indicating he withdrew while facing student conduct charges, which he says has prevented him from being admitted to other colleges.
The suit also seeks damages and attorneys’ fees from the two student defendants.
Although the suit repeatedly seeks undetermined damages, it cites $175,000 in paid Kenyon tuition, counseling fees in excess of $500, attorney’s fees in excess of $15,000 and compensation for lost income caused by Zingarelli not graduating in May 2013.
News Director Mark Ellis told the Collegian that Kenyon would not comment on pending litigation.
Zingarelli’s attorneys, who are employed by a firm in Cleveland, did not return the Collegian‘s multiple requests for comment.
The suit is assigned to Knox County Court of Common Pleas Judge Otho Eyster, who issued the ruling that aquitted Zingarelli in June.
[starbox id=”sam colt”]