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Former student’s suit against school can go to trial

A federal judge has ruled that a Rhode Island man’s suit against the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth for what he calls “constructive expulsion” can proceed to trial.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Stearns in Boston determined that John Harnois, a 55-year-old disabled veteran acting as his own lawyer, may pursue eight of the 19 counts in the suit he filed in April, despite the school’s motion to dismiss.

Harnois alleges that the university created a “bogus misconduct allegation” and “similar witch-hunt sexual misconduct investigation” after administrators discovered a felony he claims to have previously disclosed to the director of graduate studies and admissions.

The university said in a statement that the case is based on “a very low legal standard regarding burden of proof.”

The Standard-Times newspaper in Massachusetts reported that Harnois will be allowed to pursue counts relating to due process, free speech, defamation, Massachusetts civil rights law and breach of contract.

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