Portuguese student sues US university after being cleared of sex abuse charges

“Let justice be served and may the system evolve so that other people who are falsely accused do not have to go through what I went through.” These were the words of 21-year-old Francisco Paiva de Sousa, the Portuguese student who has announced he will be suing California’s San Diego State University for suspending him after being “falsely” accused of forcing a fellow student to perform oral sex on him.

The incident was reported to have happened during a student party at the university in December 2014.

Sousa, described as a “good student who loves parties”, was cleared of all charges in February but now wants the university to compensate him for turning his life into a “living hell”.

Paiva criticises the university for announcing his arrest in an email to all students and suspending him without giving him a chance to defend himself.

“I don’t have any set amounts (for compensation). One of my goals is to force the university to apologise, admit it was wrong and improve its system,” he told Jornal de Notícias.

He also complains that the university refused to take him back even after charges were dropped, forcing him to continue his education at another university.

Paiva claims he even presented proof of his innocence – namely phone messages and pictures that indicated the young girl who accused him of sex abuse had lied.

He claimed he had been made the “scapegoat” for 13 reported cases of sex abuse on and around the San Diego campus during that time.

When the original story broke, newspapers remarked that Sousa faced an eight-year jail term if found guilty.

A female student was quoted by Correio da Manhã as saying “he was not always welcome by girls” while other newspapers suggested that his love of parties had already caused him “to get in trouble” before.

Following the accusation, the student from Foz do Douro in Porto appeared in court where he was freed on a 100,000 US dollar (equivalent to €80,700) bail.

At the time, a police source said the amount was granted through a “bail agent”.

Two months later, San Diego’s District Attorney’s office dropped all charges against him.