TOPEKA – The individual defendants in a civil action brought by Brian Schrader, a former Emporia State professor who accused the university of reverse discrimination and other claim following a sexual assault scandal that rocked campus in 2018, have been dismissed from the case.

In a 54-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree found that Schrader had not provided sufficient evidence to sustain his claims against defendants David Cordle, Allison Garrett, Ray Lauber, Max McCoy and Lisa Moritz.

Two claims were allowed to proceed against the university.

Cordle is the former Emporia State provost and Garrett was the university president until she resigned this month to take another position in Oklahoma. Ray Lauber is head of Human Resources, McCoy is adviser to the student newspaper, and Moritz at the time was the school’s Title IX investigator.

Schrader, a psychology professor at ESU for more than 20 years, resigned in December 2018 after eight months of controversy. In February, The Bulletin began publishing an investigative series by Sarah Spicer about the university’s handling of a Title IX sexual harassment case against Schrader, which left the South Korean student who brought the case feeling “hopeless.” The student was identified as “Jane” in the series.

A committee of tenured faculty had earlier determined that there was not “clear and convincing” evidence that Schrader had violated the university’s sexual harassment policy. A second Title IX sexual harassment charge was later filed against Schrader by another student, and that case was pending when he resigned.

Crabtree’s ruling is notable for its conversational style. “The usual case is a male college student suing his former university for expelling him,” he notes in the first paragraph. “But this isn’t the usual case.”

The order carefully chronicles the events that followed initial publication of the “Jane” stories. These events include town hall meetings presided over by Garrett, subsequent coverage in The Bulletin, and the university’s communications with Schrader, including making clear he was free to defend himself in the Press.

Schrader filed suit in U.S. District Court in Topeka in July 2019 claiming he was the victim of reverse sex discrimination. He also claimed a hostile work environment, retaliation, blacklisting, gender bias, and tortious interference with prospective contractual relationship or expectancy. All of the claims against individual defendants were dropped by Crabtree. Claims against the university alleging reverse sex discrimination, gender bias, and contractual relationship were allowed to proceed against the university.

“Plaintiff’s first focus is on the alleged false and defamatory statements in the internal report of J.J.’s harassment complaint and that report’s ascension up ESU’s chain of command,” Crabtree wrote in his order. “At step one of the chain was Moritz, ESU’s Title IX investigator who wrote the report. Next was Lauber, ESU’s Human Resources Director, who accepted Moritz’s report and summarized her findings. And finally came Cordle, ESU’s Provost, who then accepted Lauber’s summary of Moritz’s report and began termination proceedings against plaintiff.”

Schrader failed to meet the standard required for the claims to proceed against Garrett, Lauber, and Mortiz, the ruling said.

“Plaintiff’s second focus is the series of stories published by The Bulletin in the spring of 2018—specifically, J.J.’s allegedly defamatory and stigmatizing statements about plaintiff and her harassment complaint,” Crabtree wrote. “But plaintiff isn’t suing J.J. He is suing Cordle, ESU’s Provost, and McCoy, the faculty advisor of The Bulletin. And he alleges that they are both responsible for J.J.’s statements because they failed to enforce her confidentiality agreement with ESU… There are several problems with this argument.”

Neither Cordle or McCoy were parties to the confidentiality agreement, the judge noted.

The order was filed Sept. 21. Kevin Johnson, general counsel for ESU, declined comment on the ruling, citing pending litigation.

“I apologize, but I really can’t comment on that case,” Johnson said. “It is a pending lawsuit and the best practice is for me to not comment on pending lawsuits.”

The university is represented by the Kansas Attorney General’s Office. Schrader is represented by Theodore J. Lickteig, a Lenexa attorney.

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