United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
SARA LIOI, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is the motion of defendant Jane Roe
(“Roe”) to dismiss the claims asserted against
her by plaintiff John Doe (“plaintiff”). (Doc.
No. 32 [“Roe MTD”].) Plaintiff opposes the motion
(Doc. No. 36 [“Roe MTD Opp'n”]), and Roe has
filed a reply. (Doc. No. 42 [“Roe MTD Reply”].)
For the reasons to follow, Roe's motion is denied.
March 17, 2017, the Court issued a ruling that granted the
motion of defendant College of Wooster
(“Wooster”) to dismiss the claims
asserted against it. (Doc. No. 28 (Memorandum Opinion
[“MO”]).) The Court assumes familiarity with this
prior decision and will only reproduce that portion of the
decision that will assist the reader in understanding the
dispute between plaintiff and Roe.
According to the [First Amended Complaint
(“FAC”)], plaintiff and Roe were both students at
Wooster. ([Doc. No. 6] ¶¶ 3, 5.) The two were
“good friends” who had engaged in sexual contact
in the past, but had never had sexual intercourse.
(Id. ¶ 21.) On the evening of November 1, 2014,
Roe was drinking with a number of her friends, first in a
dorm and later at a couple of parties, including one hosted
by a fraternity (Id. ¶ 23.) Roe saw plaintiff
at the fraternity party, but the two did not speak.
(Id. ¶ 25.) Later that evening, plaintiff
called Roe requesting her assistance in getting into the dorm
because he had misplaced his access card. (Id.
¶ 26.) After she admitted plaintiff into the dorm, Roe
invited him into her room. The two removed their clothing and
started kissing on Roe's bed. (Id. ¶ 28.)
Plaintiff twice asked Roe if she wanted to have sex. Although
she said “no, ” she continued to kiss Doe.
(Id.) Eventually, Doe got out of bed and started to
leave. Roe wanted plaintiff to “stay and cuddle with
her.” (Id. ¶ 29.) The two argued, in part
because plaintiff did not want “that type of
relationship.” (Id.) Plaintiff left the room
without having intercourse with Roe. In fact, plaintiff
maintains that he has never had intercourse with Roe.
(Id. ¶ 30.)
“On May 12, 2015-more than six months after the”
incident-Roe filed a Report of Discriminatory
Harassment/Sexual Misconduct with Wooster. (Id.
¶ 33, internal quotation marks and citation omitted.) In
her report, she did not state that plaintiff had sexual
intercourse with her. Instead, she wrote, “As [Doe]
tried to remove his clothes, along with mine, I was able to
mule kick him off of me. He then yelled in my face, shook me,
and left the room.” (Id. ¶ 33(c),
internal quotation marks and citation omitted.) Angela
Johnston is the Secretary of Wooster and serves as the Title
IX coordinator for the institution. (Id.
¶¶ 15(b), 34.) After receiving Roe's complaint,
she emailed Roe and asked for a meeting. Roe responded that
she was studying abroad but would “touch base”
with Johnston when she returned on June 3, 2015.
(Id. ¶ 35.)
On August 5, 2015, Johnston emailed Roe and, again, requested
a meeting. Roe stated that she would consider meeting with
Johnston when she returned to campus. (Id. ¶
39.) Roe advised Johnston that her first year at Wooster was
“horrible” and that she had not done well.
(Id. ¶ 39(a).) Johnston responded by assuring
her, “I'm sorry you didn't have a good first
year; I'll do what I can to help you get off to a good
start this year.” (Id. ¶ 39(b).)
Roe did not actually meet with Johnston until December 2,
2015. (Id. ¶ 43; see id. ¶¶
41-42.) It was during this meeting that Roe “changed
her story and told Johnston that she had been raped by John
Doe (i.e. that John Doe had compelled her to have intercourse
by force).” (Id. ¶ 43.)
On December 18, 2015, Johnston “informed John Doe by
email, ‘a female student has filed a complaint of
sexual misconduct against you.'” (Id.
¶ 48.) He was not told the identity of the complainant
at that time. Two days later (December 20, 2015), Johnston
informed Doe that Wooster had received a complaint that he
had violated the Policy. (Id. ¶ 50.) Wooster
started its investigation into the complaint on December 22,
2015. (Id. ¶ 51.) The private attorney retained
by Wooster to investigate the matter, Katie Clifford,
interviewed plaintiff on January 19, 2016. (Id.
¶¶ 52-54.) Clifford's investigation was
completed by February 10, 2016. (Id. ¶ 53.)
(Doc. No. 28 at 1002-04, footnote omitted.)
received a copy of the investigative report on February 19,
2016, at which time he learned the “exact nature of the
charges against him[.]” (FAC ¶ 58.) On March 2,
2016, Wooster conducted a hearing on the charge that
plaintiff had violated the school's Equal Opportunity
Policy. (Id.) At the conclusion of the hearing,
plaintiff was found “guilty” of violating the
policy. (Id. ¶ 59.) He was ultimately expelled
April 25, 2016, plaintiff initiated the present action in
federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction solely
against Wooster, asserting claims for breach of contract,
promissory estoppel, negligence, intentional infliction of
emotional distress, and defamation. (Doc. No. 1 (Complaint).)
On May 9, 2016, plaintiff filed the FAC. In addition to other
changes, the FAC added Roe as a defendant and asserted
separate claims against her for defamation and intentional
infliction of emotional distress.
the state law claims asserted against Roe are premised on
statements Roe allegedly made after and about the November 1,
2014 incident. The FAC asserts that the sexual misconduct
report Roe filed with Wooster's Title IX office on May
12, 2015, which served as the impetus for Wooster's
disciplinary proceedings, contained false and defamatory
statements against plaintiff, “specifically the false
allegation that he had engaged in conduct which could be
considered to be a criminal sex offense under Ohio
law.” (FAC ¶ 33(f).) The FAC further provides
that, during Roe's interview with Wooster's
investigator on January 19, 2016, Roe volunteered that
“immediately after the incident she told a male friend,
J.U., what had happened.” (Id. ¶ 54(b).)
The pleading further asserts that, “the next day [Roe]
told a female friend, M.C., that she had been raped.”
(Id.) According to plaintiff, all of Roe's
statements were defamatory and resulted in the intentional
infliction of emotional distress. (Id. ¶¶
54(f), 92, 94-5, 99-100.)
forth above, on March 17, 2017, the Court granted
Wooster's motion to dismiss the claims against it,
leaving only the claims asserted against Roe. Roe now moves
to dismiss these remaining claims. She posits that
plaintiff's defamation claim is time-barred, that she is
entitled to either an absolute or qualified privilege for any
statements she made regarding ...