College requests more time to respond to lawsuit

by Christina Jedra / Beacon Staff • September 18, 2014

Emerson College and four school administrators have requested additional time to respond to the allegations of mishandling a former student’s rape case that were filed in a lawsuit last month, according to documents filed with the Massachusetts District Court on Friday.  

A response from the defendants in Doherty v Emerson, et al was due Sept. 15, according to the summons served, but in a motion for enlargement of time filed Friday, Sept. 12, the defendants requested more time “in order to prepare a proper response” to the 22-page complaint.

Harold W. Potter and Katrina N. Chapman of Holland & Knight LLP represented Emerson College, President M. Lee Pelton, Dean of Students Ronald Ludman, Director of Housing and Residence Life David Haden, and the plaintiff’s Title IX investigator, Michael Arno, for the filing of the motion, according to notices of appearance.

District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin granted their extension until Sept. 29, according to the case docket.

Jillian Doherty, a former junior writing, literature, and publishing major, filed a lawsuit on Aug. 8 alleging that the school and named administrators did not adequately investigate her rape case and were negligent before and after her alleged assault. Doherty, who participated in filing a Title IX complaint against the school with the U.S. Department of Education last fall, claims that the school violated Title IX — which requires federally-funded institutions to protect students from gender discrimination — and the Jeanne Clery Act, which mandates the disclosure of campus crime information.

Andrew Tiedemann, vice president of communications at Emerson College, said that requesting additional time is a standard procedure.

“Asking for an extension is a common practice in litigation and permits the College to respond to the allegations with the thought and attention to detail that they deserve,” he said.