HOUSTON – A Brazos County man who attends Texas A&M University has initiated legal action against the school, alleging its Student Conduct Office wrongfully found him responsible for sexual abusing a female student almost three years ago.
Austin Van Overdam explains in a federal lawsuit filed on June 18 that TAMU investigated him on four charges raised by Hannah Shaw, a woman he met on social media dating app Tinder in or around September 2015. The suit implies the plaintiff faced the charges because of his gender.
Van Overdam, who was also a member of the TAMU swim team, says Shaw went over to his residence “with the plan being to engage in sexual activity” after a few private messages were exchanged.
Court documents state that the pair engaged in intercourse, but when Shaw asked Van Overdam if she could stay to cuddle, the plaintiff refused. He also declined to give her a goodbye kiss when she left.
“This was the only encounter or interaction that Van Overdam and Shaw had,” the suit says.
Almost a year later, the defendant informed Van Overdam that he was investigated for sexual misconduct. He and Shaw presented their accounts of the evening in question only for the school to deem him guilty of one of the four charges, the original petition says.
Van Overdam unsuccessfully appealed the hearing panel’s finding.
“More than two years later, Texas A&M University continues to ignore the clearly contradictory testimony and continues to support the narrative,” the suit says. “Publicly, Texas A&M University is supporting Shaw as a purported ‘victim,’ buckling under public pressure and hiding behind its discriminatory policies and procedures.”
Consequently, the plaintiff seeks unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.
He is represented by Gaines West, John “Jay” Rudinger, Jr., and Aaron B. Michelsohn of the law firm West, Webb, Allbritton & Gentry, P.C. in College Station.
Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas Case No. 4:18-CV-2011