Duke University faces lawsuit as former student alleges sexual assault by faculty member

Warning: This story contains a description of sexual assault. 

A former Duke University student is suing the school, claiming he is a survivor of sexual assault by a faculty member and the university retaliated against him. 

The plaintiff, identified as "John Doe," was studying for his Ph. D. at the Fuqua School of Business. He filed the federal lawsuit last week in the District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. 

According to court documents obtained by FOX Television Stations, the former student identified the male faculty member as "Professor X," with whom the two worked together in the 2020-2021 academic year. 

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Court documents said the professor and the student started out with a cordial working relationship as is common with graduate research students.


A general view of the Duke Chapel on the campus of Duke University as snow falls from Winter Storm Diego on December 9, 2018 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

However, as the school year progressed, the student claimed the professor started to sexually "groom" him, such as "inquiring about Doe’s dating habits, inviting him to attend purely social events where Professor X was present, and inviting Doe to consume alcohol at these events. On occasion, Professor X asked Doe to join him at a local brewery to watch sports events."

The student then alleged in June 2021, they attended an after-hours dinner. 

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"Professor X asked Doe to drive him home.," the lawsuit read. "While driving Professor X to his residence, Professor X forcibly initiated unwanted sexual contact with Doe and committed multiple acts of touching and attempted digital penetration." 

The student said the experience left him traumatized, and he sought medical treatment before filing a police report and a complaint with administrators. 

The student further claimed that his psychological state "interfered with his capacity to leave his apartment or to attend class, and affected his concentration to the point where he struggled to perform assignments and to meet deadlines."

Despite a Title IX investigation launching and a no-contact order issued, the student claimed the school did not do enough to prevent him crossing paths with the professor. 

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The student further alleged the university was unaccommodating and mistreated him after the incident before being terminated from his Ph.D. program.

Doe is suing the school for several counts, including a hostile environment and deliberate indifference to sex discrimination.

The school told FOX Television Stations that it doesn't comment on litigation. 

This story was reported from Los Angeles.