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Lewis McLeod gets degree after nearly four-year student conduct lawsuit against the University

Lewis McLeod, whose lawsuit against the University for its handling of a sexual assault allegation against him stretched on for nearly four years, is officially a Duke graduate. 

He is also a registered alumnus of Duke, he wrote in an email, with the “ability to attend events, go on campus, and use the Duke network.” A copy of McLeod’s transcript seen by The Chronicle stated that he was officially conferred with a bachelor of arts in psychology Dec. 31, 2017. A letter from McLeod's attorney's office, Schwartz and Shaw, also stated that McLeod holds a Duke degree and is registered as an alumnus.

Kristen Brown, associate vice president of news, communication and media, confirmed in an email that McLeod is a Duke graduate, but wrote the University had no further comment in response to questions about his status as an alumnus and his disciplinary record.

The disclosure comes after Duke settled the lawsuit with McLeod in February 2018. The University did not provide any details about the settlement at the time, and McLeod wrote in an email that the terms were "highly confidential."

McLeod stated that his transcripts show no disciplinary history or action against him. Neither Stephen Bryan, associate dean of students and director of the Office of Student Conduct, nor Brown responded to a request for comment regarding McLeod's claim about his student conduct record. There were no disciplinary actions noted in the transcript the Chronicle viewed, but OSC also maintains separate disciplinary records for students.

McLeod came to Duke with the Class of 2014, but in November 2013 he was accused of sexually assaulting a female first-year student. An Undergraduate Conduct Board hearing found him responsible for sexual misconduct in February 2014, and an appellate hearing in April 2014 came to the same conclusion. The University chose to expel him.

He filed a lawsuit against Duke in May 2014, alleging that the University’s investigation was sloppy and that Duke had violated the student conduct procedures outlined in the Duke Community Standard. A Superior Court judge issued a preliminary injunction that month saying Duke could not officially expel him until a trial was held, but that it did not have to grant him his degree.

Although initially scheduled to begin in early 2015, McLeod’s trial was pushed back to February 2016 after McLeod filed an amended complaint. The amended complaint named three new defendants—Sue Wasiolek, dean of students; Stephen Bryan, director of the Office of Student Conduct; and Celia Irvine, the psychologist Duke hired to conduct an independent investigation of McLeod's case for the student conduct hearing. McLeod argued that Irvine was not professionally licensed in the state and conducted a flawed investigation, and that Wasiolek was responsible for hiring her. 

But in January 2016, the case was postponed again without a specified start date. In February 2018, Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, shared that the University had settled the case, just writing that "the parties have settled their differences.”

Correction: This article was updated to reflect that the University decided to expel McLeod, but was prevented by an injunction.

Bre Bradham

Bre is a senior political science major from South Carolina, and she is the current video editor, special projects editor and recruitment chair for The Chronicle. She is also an associate photography editor and an investigations editor. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief and local and national news department head. 

Twitter: @brebradham



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