A lawsuit has been filed against Dartmouth College for $70 million in damages by seven students. The suit claims the school did not address sexual misconduct by three psychology professors. The women are suing for sexual assault, harassment and discrimination they say they experienced from three prominent professors who, according to the suit, turned a human behavior research department “into a 21st-century Animal House.” The women would like policy changes and hopes the lawsuit will help make that happen.
So far three teachers have resigned or retired amid the school’s sexual misconduct investigation. Professor William Kelley and professor Paul Whalen resigned, and Todd Heatherton chose to retire. The teachers are named in the suit filed in court in New Hampshire this month. The documents include claims that female students were leered at, made intoxicated, groped, and even raped.
According to Attorney Neal Goldstein, Partner at Goldstein and Bashner these teachers appear to have abused their power as teachers in an unconscionable way. “If the allegations are proven true, and these teachers only promised academic support if female students participated in a party culture— it’s a complete lack of conscience. Groping, sexting and raping students is not acceptable. Nor is professors conducting professional lab meetings at bars, inviting students to late-night hot tub parties, and inviting undergraduate students to use cocaine during classes under the guise of an addiction demonstration.”
In our opinion, one of the problems is clear. The school didn’t act swiftly enough. It took over 15 months for the teachers to be pushed out, and initially the school encouraged the students who complained to continue to work with the teachers in question.
We’ll be keeping an eye on this case to see the outcome. We believe the school’s failure to act, violated the students’ Title IX protections against gender discrimination, under which sexual harassment and assault are considered discrimination. The school leaves victims with the choice to either work and study alongside their abusers, which many find intolerable, or to leave school and miss out on the opportunity to learn.
If you have experienced sexual assault by a professor or a school official you have options. Call our office today at 516-222-4000 for a confidential complimentary consultation. Our compassionate lawyers are experienced in sexual assault cases and will give you sound advice.