Old Dominion University Settles $249K Lawsuit With Student Who Claims Rape Report Was Mishandled
Old Dominion University has agreed to pay $249K to a woman who said campus police interrogated her for almost eight hours after she reported being raped.
The lawsuit resulted from an alleged rape in the woman’s dorm room on Oct. 12, 2014. The woman, who is identified as Jane Doe, said she met a man at an off-campus party at The District apartment complex and allowed him to sleep on her couch that night. He reportedly raped her as she slept. After she realized what happened the next morning, she called 911 and a campus police officer picked her up for questioning.
According to the lawsuit, police questioned the then 18-year-old student for almost eight hours and didn’t give her any food or water during that time. The police did, however, provide the suspect with a meal and drink as they questioned him.
Once the woman was finally brought to the hospital for a forensic exam, the nurse did find evidence of trauma.
Later that week, police told the woman that they wouldn’t be pursuing charges against the suspect because there was lack of probable cause.
When the student originally filed the lawsuit, she seeked damages of $75,000 and changes to how the police handled cases like hers. She also demanded the university to fire police campus police chief Rhonda Harris and require security officials to take sexual assault victims to a medical facility immediately.
University spokeswoman Giovanna Genard said the settlement came with no admission of wrongdoing and occurred to avoid the expense and uncertainties of trial.
This isn’t the only time a rape case has been handled improperly at a university. In September 2017, a student filed a lawsuit against the University of Miami for not taking her report of rape seriously.
The student claims she told a dean in 2013 that she was raped and was being stalked by the rapist, and he didn’t provide any help. He, in fact, told her to avoid the person and that she should feel bad for him because he didn’t have any friends.
The incident caused the student to develop depression, severe anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder.
“Had the University provided these options to Plaintiff in the Fall of 2013, Plaintiff would have been spared the failing grades, the continued fear for her safety, the depression and anxiety that stemmed from the repeated trauma she experienced in the fall of 2013, and the despair she felt from the University’s inadequate responses that led to suicide attempt,” the lawsuit says.
The student said she had to resort to getting an emergency restraining order against her attacker in December 2013. He was then finally expelled from the university.
If you or someone you know believes they have suffered from a sexual assault case, it may be in your best interest to reach out to Cohen & Cohen, P.C.