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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Federal judge dismisses former SBU student’s Title IX lawsuit

Sarah Tubbs
Stony Brook University alumna Sarah Tubbs in 2015. Tubbs’ filed a lawsuit against Stony Brook University in 2015 over allegations that the university mishandled her Title IX case. HANAA TAMEEZ/STATESMAN FILE

A Manhattan federal judge filed an order to dismiss former Stony Brook student Sarah Tubbs’ lawsuit against the university on Tuesday. Tubbs’ suit, which was filed in 2015, alleged that the university showed deliberate indifference in handling a Title IX case she opened.

Tubbs claims she was raped by fellow Stony Brook student Daniel Verdejo after an on-campus party they both attended in 2014. The Title IX office found Verdejo not responsible for the charges filed against him. Tubbs tried appealing the office’s decision before filing suit, but the Title IX board upheld its decision.

In his decision, U.S. District Court Judge Nelson Román noted that Tubbs’ case raised “distressing issues.” “The Court is not saying that University Defendants were model citizens, nor that their process was ideal,” he wrote. “Even though University Defendants could have – and perhaps should have – demonstrated greater compassion in handling a sensitive allegation, their responsibility derives from the need to be nominally vigilant about access to educational opportunities through the loose framework of a discrimination statute,” he continued. “Although the court is sympathetic to the plaintiff’s difficulties, unfortunately the law in this area repeatedly sings the same tune, ‘You can’t always get what you want.’”

Román did not address Tubbs’ claims that she was sexually assaulted by Verdejo, since federal charges against him have since been dropped.

Tubbs faced several difficulties leading up to Tuesday’s decision. In 2016, her former law firm, Stewart Karlin P.C., dropped her as a client. In 2017, Tubbs started a GoFundMe campaign to try and raise $25,000 to hire an expert witness to help her case.

Tubbs’ lawyer, Christopher Weddle from the firm Timko & Moses, told The Statesman, “It is a comprehensive decision. Judge Roman clearly put a lot of thought into it.” He added that he had not yet discussed the ruling with Tubbs in person, and that he is waiting to hear back from her on how she would like to proceed.

Stony Brook University did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Private attorney Frederick Brewington, who led Verdejo’s legal team, was not immediately available for comment.  

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