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Former TKE member takes legal action
A sophomore is taking legal action against the university after being suspended for three weeks during the fall semester and the entirety of the spring semester.
John Demoulas was formerly a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity chapter and was suspended due to hazing allegations – which, in turn, resulted in the university shutting down the fraternity.
Michael Lynch of Bai, Pollock, Blueweiss & Mulcahey, P.C. law firm in Shelton is representing Demoulas in his lawsuit against the university. Though there are four specific administrators involved with the lawsuit, Lynch said it is all one lawsuit.
“[The lawsuit] names Quinnipiac and the individuals involved in the decisions for the alleged hazing incident,” Lynch said.
He said their main goal is to get Demoulas back in school, if possible. Lynch said they have filed a temporary injunction and he said he hopes it will be approved and will allow them to move forward to find out the real cause of Demoulas’ suspension.
Freshman Kelly Kreysman said she isn’t sure whether or not she agrees with the suspension.
“I would support him being suspended if there was evidence,” she said. “But without evidence, it’s kind of hard.”
And Lynch said the lack of evidence is one of the issues they are facing.
“I haven’t been able to find a basis for his suspension anywhere,” Lynch said. “Nowhere in the letters from Quinnipiac is there factual information about the incident.”
The official complaint filed in court explains that Demoulas received a letter from Megan Buda, Director of Student Conduct, saying he was removed from the university, pending a student conduct meeting.
“This letter failed to provide the plaintiff with any information concerning the charges levied against him, the factual basis for those charges, or any of the individuals who were involved in bringing these charges,” the complaint reads.
As the complaint continues, it addresses the issue of lack of proof as to Demoulas being considered a “threat to himself, others or property of the University.” It also addresses the issue of a violation of Demoulas’ rights, provided by the university’s student handbook.
According to the complaint, in a letter from Seann Kalagher, associate dean of student affairs, Demoulas was “falsely alleged” of violating six parts of the Quinnipiac Student Code of Conduct: disruption/rights of others, complicity, physical harm, health and safety, coercion and hazing.
But Lynch said he feels as if the suspension was unfair because they were not presented with all the materials that led to the decision for Demoulas’ suspension.
“Neither [John] nor I know the basis of the suspension because we’ve never been provided with any facts,” Lynch said. “We’ve never been provided with an incident report from public safety. We’ve never been provided with who they spoke to in the investigation. We’ve never been provided with any witness statements. I don’t believe John is being offered fundamental fairness.”
Sophomore Sean Davis thinks Demoulas’ suspension is unfair, as well.
“You need to get proof of the hazing,” Davis said. “And if it comes out, then take the punishment. But if not, the school needs to be more open about it. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.”
The parties were ordered to appear in court on Monday, Feb. 2, according to Lynch. However, due to the weather, he said they were unable to appear in court. Lynch said they are trying to reschedule for some time next week.
This hearing will be a meeting outside the public courtroom, according to Lynch. He said it allows the parties to meet with the judge and present information and possible witnesses for the trial.
Until then, Lynch said Demoulas remains out of school. But he said he hopes the trial will break down the communication barrier between the university and himself and his client.
“He’s out there, unable to go to school, and he doesn’t know what to do,” Lynch said. “We just hope that we can have a dialogue with the school.”
The university declined to comment for this story.