Dartmouth College agreed to pay nine women who alleged that they were sexually assaulted or harassed by their professors $14.4 million.
According to the lawsuit, three Dartmouth professors who taught in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences coerced the plaintiffs into an alcohol and sex saturated party culture in the human behavior lab that they led. The women said that the professors used their power over their students’ academic careers and future careers to keep them from reporting the behavior.
The professors accused in the lawsuit — Todd F. Heatherton, William M. Kelley and Paul J. Whalen — either retired or resigned after the university moved to revoke their tenure. While the professors didn’t face any financial consequences from the lawsuit, they may still be found liable through criminal prosecution.
Kristina Rapuano said that Kelley raped her while she attended a conference in California in 2015.
“Essentially, I have no memory of this night,” Rapuano said “I didn’t even remember waking up. I had thought that I had just been drinking heavily. Now I’m unsure.”
Vassiki Chauhan said that she was raped in April 2018 in Whalen’s home.
“I tried to get out of the situation as soon as possible,” she said. “It was only when he started reaching for more intimate parts of my body that I was unambiguous about the fact that this is not something I wanted.”
The women said that they were happy with the settlement, which was much less than the $70 million they originally asked for.
While Dartmouth didn’t admit liability, Philip J. Hanlon, the president of the university, praised the women for coming forward.
“Through this process, we have learned lessons that we believe will enable us to root out this behavior immediately if it ever threatens our campus community again,” he said.
Dartmouth had adopted several new policies that are included in the settlement, such as requiring that these and dissertations be overseen by a committee instead of a single advisor.