NCLA Site Search

NCLA Demands Trial to Prove Ex-Professor’s Case Against Cornell’s Title IX Kangaroo Court

Washington, DC (March 14, 2024) – The New Civil Liberties Alliance has filed a brief opposing summary judgment in its client Dr. Mukund Vengalattore’s lawsuit alleging that Cornell University’s biased and faulty sexual misconduct investigation discriminated against him in violation of Title IX and defamed him. Dr. Vengalattore was a tenure-track Cornell University physics professor when a former graduate student’s false 2014 sexual misconduct allegation launched an utterly due-process deficient Title IX investigation that ruined his promising career. Cornell’s scheme was driven in part by the university’s Title IX office, which succumbed to pressure from the Department of Education (DOE) to rig its investigatory and adjudicatory processes against men accused of sexual misconduct. NCLA’s brief asks the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York to reject Cornell’s request for summary judgment and proceed with trial in Vengalattore v. Cornell, allowing a jury to resolve the case’s many factual disputes and clear Dr. Vengalattore’s good name.

Dr. Vengalattore has consistently and specifically denied the suspiciously timed accusation of his former student. Nevertheless, Cornell found him guilty of other conduct that his former student did not even allege in a proceeding that ignored procedural protections in Cornell’s applicable policies, deprived him of due process, disregarded evidence to reach its preferred outcome against the full weight of the evidence, and defamed him. Dr. Vengalattore enlisted NCLA’s help in taking Cornell to court for this injustice. The district court initially dismissed his Title IX claims, concluding the Title IX cause of action did not extend to faculty. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ultimately reversed that ruling, with Judge José Cabranes observing in his concurrence: “insulated from review, it is no wonder that, in some cases, these procedures have been compared unfavorably to those of the infamous English Star Chamber.”

Bias drove Cornell’s misconduct in this process, as the university caved to DOE influence. Cornell has admitted that DOE’s 2011 and 2014 guidance, including an infamous “Dear Colleague Letter”, was an “instigating cause” for changing its sexual assault and harassment policies. Courts have previously found that universities that followed the DOE guidance eviscerating commonsense procedural protections violated rather than complied with Title IX. In Dr. Vengalattore’s case, Cornell changed or ignored multiple policies and procedures to placate DOE, ironically leading to the university’s violating Title IX rather than complying with it.

NCLA released the following statements:

“It is high time that Cornell faced the consequences for subjecting Dr. Vengalattore to years of fundamentally unfair, secretive, and biased proceedings reminiscent of the infamous English Star Chamber, which ultimately ruined his previously stellar academic career. We welcome the opportunity to prove our case at trial.”
— Casey Norman, Litigation Counsel, NCLA

“Cornell dragged Dr. Vengalattore’s reputation as a well-revered atomic physicist through the mud when it threw its Title IX investigatory policies to the wind and allowed a vindictive student and #metoo University dean to unduly influence the outcome of the investigation. This litigation serves as a warning to all educational institutions that due process is not optional.”
— Kaitlyn Schiraldi, Staff Attorney, NCLA

For more information visit the case page here or watch the case video here.

ABOUT NCLA

NCLA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit civil rights group founded by prominent legal scholar Philip Hamburger to protect constitutional freedoms from violations by the Administrative State. NCLA’s public-interest litigation and other pro bono advocacy strive to tame the unlawful power of state and federal agencies and to foster a new civil liberties movement that will help restore Americans’ fundamental rights.

On the Case