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Safety Dance Update

Here are the latest filings in the Safety Dance sexual assault case: 178-main, 182-main, P reply to D opposition, D opposition to P motion to file, 178-6, 178-4, 178-5, 178-2, 178-3 and 178-1.

Any comments?

I think that, over the last year, nothing has gone well for Williams. (Their lead attorney Daryl Lapp, on the other hand, has been running up the billable hours and raking in the dollars. So, some good news!) Doe’s case is getting stronger, with more support from the court. Perhaps more importantly, the overall legal landscape is changing, with major set backs for colleges in the Boston College case.

Maud: Settle this case! It is a sure loser for the College.

Williams Record: Cover this case! Your readers would find it interesting and you might even get some attention from media outside of Williamstown.


Why do I call this case “Safety Dance?”

And the lyrics from the song “Safety Dance”:

We can dance if we want to
We can leave your friends behind
‘Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance
Well they’re no friends of mine.

I say, we can go where we want to
A place where they will never find
And we can act like we come from out of this world
Leave the real one far behind
And we can dance

Alas, John Doe has discovered that, leaving the real world far behind, is not so easy when it comes to the sexual assault bureaucracy at Williams . . .

Key facts:

This is nuts! Does anyone disagree? Read the full document for details, but it is not disputed that Smith only complained about the alleged assault after her attempts to get Doe thrown out for a never-happened honor code violation failed.

I am honestly curious to know if there are readers who agree with the College’s decision to throw Doe out, denying him his degree even though he has completed all the requirements for graduation.

Recall my question from last year:

How many times has Maud Mandel sexually assaulted her husband since arriving at Williams?

I am 100% serious in asking this question. Consider:

The Williams College Code of Conduct requires affirmative consent for all sexual activity.

Consent means that at the time of the sexual contact, words and conduct indicate freely given approval or agreement, without coercion, by all participants in the sexual contact. Consent may not be inferred from silence or passivity.

Williams also defines “sexual activity” very broadly, as “any sexual touching, however slight, with any body part or object, by any person upon any other person . . .”

So, if Maud Mandel, without asking (and receiving!) explicit permission, has ever kissed her husband goodbye in the morning, or given him an affectionate pat on the behind as he walked out the door, or . . . anything really — then she has committed sexual assault and should, like John Doe, be kicked out of Williams.

This is, of course, nonsense. No normal person thinks that people, like Maud Mandel, in a relationship need to get permission for every single sexual activity ahead of time. But that is still the official policy at Williams, a policy which is used as a stick the ruin the lives of men — many of them poor and/or minority — much less powerful than Maud Mandel.

If John Doe deserves to be kicked out of Williams, than Maud Mandel is guilty of sexual assault.

9 Comments (Open | Close)

9 Comments To "Safety Dance Update"

#1 Comment By fendertweed On October 30, 2019 @ 5:05 pm

Do you think college counsel should not try to defend? If facts are not good, then counsel’s job is harder, and time adds up. Just trying to parse through the shark factor there (again).

#2 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On October 30, 2019 @ 5:12 pm

The shark factor is high!

There is a fundamental conflict for Lapp, as for any outside counsel. If he honestly thinks that the wisest course is to settle, and he successfully convinces Maud to do so, then he is out $100,000+ in billings.

This fact does not mean that Lapp is a bad person or has done bad stuff. For all I know, he has been a tireless advocate for settlement for several years. But I also sure that his partners approve of all the fees rolling in from a deep-pocketed (and not that price sensitive?) client . . .

#3 Comment By fendertweed On October 30, 2019 @ 7:12 pm


My typo, that should read “snark factor.”

Care to revise your reply?

#4 Comment By abl On October 30, 2019 @ 7:42 pm

I think that, over the last year, nothing has gone well for Williams.

Say more! What’s happened over the past year?

There is a fundamental conflict for Lapp, as for any outside counsel. If he honestly thinks that the wisest course is to settle, and he successfully convinces Maud to do so, then he is out $100,000+ in billings.

Yes, although the College presumably also has someone in house whose job is (among other things) to ensure that billing expenses like this are no more than reasonable. I would bet that Williams has a sophisticated GC and probably does not usually get fleeced by outside counsel.

What are the legal claims in this case?

That, to me, should be the center of your posting on this subject.

I don’t know how anyone can expect to say what Williams should do, or how well things are going for Williams, or whether this is a winner or a loser, without understanding this. There are all sorts of injustice in the world that don’t give rise to particularly strong legal claims. I’m not saying this is one such instance (consent to some sexual act is not consent to all sexual acts). But the fact that you (David) and the student (John Doe) are unhappy about the College’s broad definition of sexual assault isn’t alone sufficient to give John Doe a colorable, let alone a strong, legal right of relief against the College. He may well have a great claim. But you need to say more about what it is!

#5 Comment By fendertweed On October 30, 2019 @ 10:44 pm

To clarify if needed, the snark I refer to is DDF’s … not counsel.

#6 Comment By 0xEph On October 31, 2019 @ 12:47 am

Looks like a Title IX claim for sex discrimination and also a separate breach of contract claim. There’s a lot of nonsense in the Plaintiff’s briefing, and it does not overall seem a reasonable suit. As an example of its weakness: one of the central focuses of John Doe’s motion for summary judgment is his allegation that Williams treated Jane Doe’s rape allegations against John Smith more seriously than it treated John Smith’s allegations that Jane Doe slapped him. Of course, though, the underlying in conduct here is not remotely equivalent–and I don’t think anyone would reasonably expect Williams to treat it as such. Even if Williams should have treated the accusation that one member of the campus community slapped another equivalently seriously as the accusation that one member of the College community raped another (referring both victims to counseling and support networks, etc.) I can’t imagine how John Smith expects to prove that the difference in treatment was due to his sex.

John Smith does not appear to have a good lawyer. No doubt John feels upset right now, and his lawyer appears to be feeding that feeling — as opposed to giving him actually good legal advice. The briefing is filled with nonsense tailored to appeal to these sorts of feelings as opposed to any reasonable judge. I don’t think John Smith has good legal claims either, but that’s sometimes more difficult to say when the quality of lawyering is sub-par.

*you may disagree with Williams’ policy on sexual consent–you may think it’s a complete travesty–but as far as I can tell, that’s entirely immaterial to the case*
**all of this is my opinion as opposed to legal advice**

#7 Comment By EphProf On October 31, 2019 @ 9:49 am

David– any Ephblog halloween content? The Record did some excellent spooky articles this week…

#8 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On October 31, 2019 @ 10:07 am

You should join as an author and post some! Or at least add links in this comment thread . . .

#9 Comment By EphProf On October 31, 2019 @ 10:38 am