School wants court to dismiss lawsuit

Augusta State counseling student Jennifer Keeton was told to take sensitivity training on homosexual issues.

 

Attorneys for Augusta State University have asked a U.S. District Court to dismiss counseling graduate student Jennifer Keeton's lawsuit against the school, in which she contends the faculty violated her free-speech rights.

The motion filed Friday asks the court to either throw out the case or to require Keeton to present more specific evidence against the school.

As presented, ASU attorneys said, Keeton's claims are so vague that it is "impossible to determine the factual basis for each claim."

The filing is in response to Keeton's Aug. 23 appeal of Judge J. Randal Hall's ruling in the case that ASU was justified in asking Keeton to complete a remediation plan after she objected to counseling homosexuals.

The remediation plan required Keeton to attend counseling workshops, read counseling journals regarding gays and increase her exposure to the gay population.

Faculty members required Keeton to complete a plan after she wrote in a term paper regarding homosexuals that "it would be hard (for her) to work with this population."

Keeton filed a lawsuit against the university July 21, alleging she was "being forced to change her religious views."

The faculty said that it was only asking Keeton to "make certain her own beliefs and values do not interfere with her ability to counsel clients who do not share those same values," according to Friday's filing.

Attorneys for ASU asked the court to dismiss the case Friday based on several circumstances.

The defense contended Keeton has not shown she is entitled to monetary or injunctive relief because documents used as evidence did not support her claims.

"The conclusory or speculative allegations, unwarranted deductions of fact and mischaracterizations of evidence made in (Keeton's) complaint are not accepted as true in the face of documents ... demonstrating otherwise," the filing stated.

Defense attorneys also cite the 11th Amendment as protection for the faculty against Keeton's claims, saying state agencies and officers cannot be sued directly, regardless of relief sought.

In her lawsuit, Keeton included state officers, including members of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, alleging only that those officials enforce general policies and govern students at ASU.

ASU faculty members also said they did not violate the U.S. Constitution by asking Keeton to complete the remediation plan.

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