GRAND FORKS — The University of North Dakota is denying claims made against it in a federal sexual discrimination lawsuit filed earlier this year, instead claiming that a former UND student had a consensual relationship with former UND Professor Andrew Quinn.
In a court document filed last week, UND claims that the March 4 federal lawsuit “contains false and intentionally inflammatory allegations.”
“The indisputable truth is that the 27-year-old plaintiff had a consensual affair with a former UND professor, which affair she attempted to conceal,” the court document filed May 4 stated.
In March, a Title IX lawsuit was filed against the university alleging instances of sexual harassment and assault suffered in 2018 by Aereauna Houle, a student at the time. The lawsuit claims Quinn sexually harassed and abused Houle. It also claimed the university had a delayed action to the allegations and had “fostered a culture of silence around the sexual harassment and abuse of its students,” the lawsuit read.
UND claims Houle did not report the “sexual relationship to UND” and when the university became aware of the relationship through independent channels, it claims it “immediately took appropriate steps to isolate” Houle from Quinn. The court document claims Houle “resisted and bypassed” these steps “so the affair could continue.” The university claims it took further steps to offer Houle services that would have allowed her to continue her students, “which services she rebuffed.”
In the 15-page court document, UND says Quinn is “far from being a ‘known harasser’” and had been disciplined once prior for a “consensual relationship with a former student who was close to his own age.”
“UND specifically denies that it believed Quinn had a proclivity to victimize students, and specifically denies (Houle) was in any way victimized by him,” the court document said.
The university, in court documents, claims that once a Title IX investigation was initiated, Houle wasn’t cooperative.
In denying one claim, UND states that on or about March 30, 2019, Houle “was charged with domestic violence against her live-in boyfriend.” The court document claims this happened after the boyfriend found Houle and Quinn together at Houle’s apartment. The boyfriend allegedly videotaped the encounter.
UND denied most of Houle’s claims in its court filing but admitted Quinn had been reprimanded and placed on a performance improvement plan related to a consensual relationship with the former student.
“UND specifically denies there was anything inappropriate about the investigation conducted and the discipline imposed relating to the former student,” the court document said.
Quinn worked at UND from 2005 until 2019. According to files and documents obtained by Forum News Service from UND through an open-records request in 2020, Quinn was placed on paid administrative leave on Jan. 17, 2019. UND later declared to Quinn its intent to dismiss him. He resigned in May 2019.
UND also claims that “it is not subject to liability under Title IX because it has an effective policy for reporting and redressing sexual harassment and other types of sex discrimination.”
The university asked that the complaint be dismissed and requested a jury trial.