A group of six SFA students accused of making a false police report against 17-year-old freshman Christin Evans have filed a federal lawsuit against the University, naming the Board of Regents and University President Dr. Scott Gordon as defendants.
According to the civil complaint, which was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Lufkin, the students said they have not received due process from the University, which is investigating the incident that occurred Sept. 14 when a group of students filed a false report accusing Evans of threatening to stab other students with scissors. A community assistant who had been informed of the threat called the University Police Department.
Three officers arrived at Evans’ room, and entered in through her suitemate’s door. One officer had a weapon unholstered in order to use the flashlight, one had a taser and the third officer had no weapon. University Chief of Police John Fields said no weapon had been pointed at Evans, and as soon as the officers saw no threat, the situation was deescalated.
Two investigations of the incident were started to look into the incident and the group of students who filed the false report, one being a criminal investigation though UPD that has since been turned over to the County District Attorney’s office and the other a disciplinary investigation through the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.
The legal claims of the lawsuit say the violation of due process during the investigations is a result of University officials, including Gordon, referring to Evans as an “innocent victim” and the six students as “perpetrators” and “suspects.” It also argues that the students had not been given adequate time to prepare for hearings with the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.
The complaint also says the University has acknowledged numerous falsehoods related to the portrayal of the incident, “yet SFA continues to rush to punish these students for something they did not do.”
In addition to the civil suit, the students have also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order that will halt the disciplinary hearing until Oct. 16. The restraining order was granted on Oct. 5 and will prevent the students from being asked to make statements about the incident.
The civil complaint only includes the plaintiffs’ viewpoints, and the University has yet to respond to the claims in court.
A hearing has been scheduled in Beaumont on Oct. 15 to discuss the students’ request for a permanent injunction that will require the University to provide them with proper due process. The Board of Regents and Gordon will be represented by Attorney Emily Ardolino.