Seven women have filed a lawsuit against Dartmouth College after three professors allegedly sexually harassed and assaulted them for years.
According to the lawsuit, professors Todd Heatherton, William Kelley and Paul Whalen “leered at, groped, sexted, intoxicated and even raped female students,” as far back as 2002 and the university always looked the other way.
The women claim that the professors used their power over the students’ academic careers and future jobs to pressure them into participating in an alcohol and sexually saturated party culture and to prevent them from reporting their behavior.
“Kelley, Whalen, and Heatherton all prided themselves on having young and attractive females in their labs,” the lawsuit said. “During a lab meeting, Heatherton announced that he found it socially rewarding when women smiled at him.”
Kristina Rapuano, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said that Professor Kelley raped her during the yearly conference of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society in San Francisco. She said that after a night of drinking, she woke up not remembering what happened. He told her that they didn’t have sex.
Professor Kelley then reportedly pressured her to have sex with him and threatened to punish her professionally when she resisted. Rapuano said that he had a lot of power over her because she was working on her Ph.D.
“This is the person that will provide the academic advising that you need to have enough research under your belt so you can get a job, the person that will help you network to get that job,” she said.
Rapuano said she left the country in 2016 to get away from Professor Kelley.
In March 2017, Professor Heatherton reportedly groped and sexually harrassed Sasha Brietzke, another graduate student, at a conference.
Justin Anderson, a spokesman for Dartmouth, said the college is proud of the women for being brave and coming forward and that open to resolving their complaints outside of the courtroom.
“However, we respectfully but strongly disagree with the characterizations of Dartmouth’s actions in the complaint and will respond through our own court filings,” he said.