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Consensual oral sex video leads to NJ student’s expulsion, lawsuit says

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BLAIRSTOWN — A mother is claiming that a prestigious boarding high school expelled her teenage son over a video he took of a sexual encounter with his girlfriend — even though both the video and the sex were consensual.

The lawsuit, filed in federal district in New Jersey this month, says Blair Academy discriminated against the student because he is both black and a male. The girl, who is white, was not punished.

It is the latest in a number of lawsuits in New Jersey and the country in which male students claim discrimination or a violation of due process by school officials who investigated allegations of sexual misconduct.

The complaint says that in January 2016, the 16-year-old boy and his girlfriend held a tryst under a staircase of the school. The girl performed oral sex on the boy as he recorded for 15 to 20 seconds.

Both of them later allowed friends to view the clips before deleting them, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit says months later, the school investigated the incident and suspended the high-achieving student athlete before expelling the sophomore.

School officials told the boy’s mother that the problem was not the sex, but the video, the lawsuit says.

When the mother asked why the girl was not being punished for sharing the video, the lawsuit says Associate Head of School Ryan Pagotto told the mother that the boy’s and girl’s “intentions” were not the same because she was “the victim” and “was using her friends to console her when she showed them the video, whereas John Doe showed the video to his friends to brag and boast.”

The lawsuit says the girl texted the boy and met him hours after school administrators first questioned them about the video. During that encounter, she “expressed her disbelief that John Doe was being treated so harshly by the school and said that she was sorry he was being treated that way,” the lawsuit says. “Jane Doe also wanted John Doe to know that she wasn’t the one that reported the incident to the school administration.”

The boy was never accused of sexual assault or a crime, his attorney, Norman Siegel, of New York firm Siegel Teitelbaum & Evans, said Friday.

The boy and his mother are identified in the lawsuit only as John Doe and Mother Doe.

New Jersey 101.5 could not reach out to the girl’s parents because she only is identified as Jane Doe in the complaint.

School officials on Friday declined to comment because it involved a legal and private student matter.

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Last year, an expelled male student sued Rider University claiming that he was kicked out as a result of sexual assault allegations that never led to criminal charges.

Samantha Harris, director of policy research for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, at the time told New Jersey 101.5 that colleges and universities, fearing a loss of federal education dollars, have been taking “a more aggressive stance towards addressing sexual assault,” which is considered a form of sexual discrimination under Title IX of the federal Education Amendments Act.

Critics of this say that schools often don’t afford accused students opportunities to cross-examine witnesses or to challenge the accusations the way they might in a court of law.

Victims advocates, however, say schools have an obligation to protect sexual assault victims who might be hesitant to call police or go to trial.

The lawsuit against Blair Academy claims violations of Title IX and the state Law Against Discrimination.

The lawsuit says the “expulsion will strongly damage John Doe’s chances of getting into a top college with a good basketball program” because his grades slipped after his expulsion and he had to enroll in a less prestigious school.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email

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