University Student Declan McCool Sues After Being Falsely Accused Of Sexual Assault By Anonymous Source And Slandered In The Press
A University student who was accused of sexual assault is now suing the university, a student paper, two student organizations and his accuser, saying his life has been unfairly ruined. Declan McCool, 24, is seeking $1.5 million in damages.
McCool had just been elected the vice-president of McGill University’s student society when he was told that another student had accused him of sexual assault. He wasn’t told who the accuser was, he said, or given details of the accusation, but he was required to defend himself before a committee of four engineering students.
That committee “convicted” McCool within its own system and imposed a sanction on him: he was no longer allowed to participate in McGill events involving alcohol. The whole process was supposed to be confidential. But according to McCool’s lawsuit, just hours after he was advised of the decision, the student paper The McGill Daily published an article that “characterized McCool as a sexual predator.”
“The press, then, without even speaking with Declan, without even learning that he never had an opportunity to properly defend himself, because he didn’t even know what the allegations were and who had made the allegations, ran this article,” said Chris Spiteri, McCool’s lawyer. “So by implication, they have convicted him in the public forum,” he said.
None of the allegations have been tested or proven in court. The student who falsely accused McCool also wrote an anonymous piece for The McGill Daily, saying she didn’t want to go through an official reporting process.
McCool appealed the ruling he’d received at the school committee. This time, the student society hired an independent investigator, and McCool was given the name of the complainant and more details of the allegations. The decision was overturned. According to the lawsuit, the investigator found that the incident was consensual.
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