A former Duke University student is suing the school over the way they handled her 2007 rape case, the Herald-Sun reported on Thursday
The student claims that Duke Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta created a "hostile educational environment" by disparaging the gravity of the case to the media. The student is also accusing Duke of tricking her into subsequently withdrawing from the school.
Duke claims the suit lacks merit because the statute of limitations on the case is up and that the student "voluntarily" transferred after sophomore year. The student sued in state court early this year. Last month, Duke moved the suit to federal court because it makes claims under Title IX.
In February of 2007, the student told officers that a local man, Michael Jermaine Burch, raped her at a fraternity party. Burch, who was not enrolled at Duke, pleaded two counts of attempted rape -- one stemming from another incident -- and is now in prison.
However, the student contends that the administration wasn't supportive of her case. She cites Moneta's comment about the incident to a local TV station, in which he said that the case was "part of the reality of collegiate life and of experimentation and some of the consequences of students not necessarily always being in the right place at the right time."
The student contends that her trauma continued after she took time off from Duke and subsequently tried to return.
The AP has more:
After the rape, the woman took a leave of absence from Duke and enrolled in several courses at Hofstra University in New York. Upon returning to Durham in the fall of 2007, the woman contends she was blocked from registering for classes she wanted to take in the spring. On November 8 that year, she met with a dean "to discuss her undue stress she was enduring at Duke due to her status as a white woman who accused an African-American man of rape," the lawsuit says.
The student who was raped told the dean she wouldn't be able to attend school in such a tense environment and asked about taking more classes at Hofstra or Fordham University in New York City instead of immediately returning to Duke. The lawsuit says she followed the dean's advice to put her intention in writing, not knowing that this would effectively bar her from re-enrolling at Duke.
Response to sexual assault on college campuses has been highly publicized of late. A recent Today show segment exposing how colleges often turn a blind eye to sexual assault.