August 18, 2020

A former Florida A&M University student can keep her identity cloaked in her case against its board of trustees over the university's alleged mishandling of her three rape complaints, as the Eleventh Circuit ruled the school waited too long to appeal.

In an unpublished opinion, a three-judge panel said Monday the university was too late in appealing a trial court's March 2019 denial of its second bid to reveal the full name of the former student, called S.B.

Michael T. Dolce of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, representing the former student, told Law360 Tuesday that she is happy with the Eleventh Circuit maintaining her privacy. He said the federal appeals panel homed in during oral arguments on whether the appeal was timely, so its opinion was not a surprise.

Dolce said he's unsure if the trial will begin as planned within 60 days, given complications from the coronavirus pandemic. He said discovery in the case has ended and there's just a few pretrial matters to deal with.

Regardless of the case's outcome, Dolce said the Florida legislature should be asking why a state university is fighting so hard to reveal the identity of a student rape victim when its own policy aims to protect them. He said the university's reasons for wanting to reveal the former student's name were not case-specific and that it didn't show how it would be prejudiced in trial by the student's anonymity.

The former student is represented by Michael T. Dolce and Takisha D. Richardson of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC.

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