San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Former student wins $10,000 in lawsuit

File Photo

San Diego State will pay $10,000 to a settle a lawsuit from a former student who said he was falsely accused of sexual assault.

Francisco Sousa, an international student from Portugal, was arrested by university police Dec. 9, 2014, and was charged with false imprisonment and forcible oral copulation of a female. SDSU sent a campus-wide email naming Sousa and listing the charges against him soon after his arrest. Charges were dropped January 2015, and in September 2015 SDSU lifted Sousa’s suspension.

The settlement came after Sousa sued SDSU for monetary damages. However, Sousa said his main concern wasn’t money.

He said it would be unfair for taxpayers to pay for the lies of his accuser and the misdeeds of the university.

“At the end of the day no amount of money will actually compensate what I went through and what my friends and family suffered,” Sousa said.

In addition to the payment of $10,000, SDSU will also require additional training for Title IX investigators. Three employees will be sent to a “Civil Rights Investigator Training and Certification” course offered by the Association of Title IX Administrators.

The settlement also includes an agreement to have SDSU’s Clery Director and SDSU’s sworn officer command staff participate in a webinar on “Timely Warning Notices and Immediate Notifications” offered by the National Association of Clery Compliance Officers and Professionals.

The Clery Act is a federal statute requiring colleges and universities that receive federal funding to disclose information regarding crime on and near campus.

Sousa hopes the additional training will prevent future mishandlings of Title IX investigations.

“My hope is that they don’t jump the gun again,” he said. “They (should) actually conduct an investigation before making the arrest. There’s a thing in America — innocent until proven guilty. We can agree that was hardly the case then with me.”

Sousa said it was important that victims of sexual assault feel comfortable coming forward.

“And if they currently think an institution is not able to properly address sexual assault, that might discourage them from coming forward,” he said.  “I’m not the only victim here. Real sexual assault victims might now feel discouraged due to a false accusation and I want to tell them, the real victims, to speak up.”

The settlement agreement also cleared Sousa’s arrest from his record, replacing it with a detention.

Sousa has since transferred to another university in California. He will be graduating in May 2017 with a degree in business and a minor in economics.

“I’m going to be looking for jobs, and (the sexual assault accusation) is something that’s going to appear on the internet,” he said. “There’s also going to be a day in the future when my kids are going to Google their father’s name on the internet, and this stuff is going to pop up.”

Sousa said his main goal was to exonerate and vindicate himself.

“I was happy we were more than able to do that,” he said.

About the Contributor
Adriana Millar
Adriana Millar, Assistant News Editor
Adriana Millar is a senior studying communications at San Diego State. She is the Assistant News Editor for The Daily Aztec.
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Former student wins $10,000 in lawsuit