After dismissal, former student resubmits Title IX complaint

by Dina Kleiner / Beacon Staff • June 9, 2015

A former student who sued Emerson for mishandling her rape case filed an amended complaint to her lawsuit on May 27. The student, Jillian Doherty, edited and resubmitted her complaint after the initial case was dismissed by a federal judge two weeks before.

Doherty, 22, originally filed a civil complaint against the college last year on August 8, 2014, alleging she was raped by a male Emerson student after a consensual act in his dorm room in April 2012. She accused four individual school administrators of mishandling her rape case, which she reported to the school in March 2013.

After her case’s dismissal, Doherty exercised her right to file an amended complaint, which dropped claims against President M. Lee Pelton; former Dean of Students Ronald Ludman; and former Director of Housing and Residence Life David Haden, who left Emerson in January. The amended complaint maintained claims against the Director of the Office of Student Conduct (and the case’s Title IX investigator), Michael Arno, and the college.

The amended complaint also continued the lawsuit’s allegation that the college’s resources regarding sexual assault when Doherty first arrived at the college as well as at the time of her assault were inadequate, stating a failure to properly train administrators and educate the student body on sexual violence prevention.

“Due to Emerson’s lack of proper policies and procedures pursuant to Title IX and the lack of education and training of college administrators, Michael Arno’s investigation was woefully inadequate,” the amended complaint reads.

The new amended complaint also dropped claims that the college violated the Jeanne Clery Act, which requires colleges to disclose campus crime information. In the past, lawyers for the college argued that the Clery Act can only be enforced by the Department of Education and not through lawsuits, which Doherty’s lawyer acknowledged in the April hearing.

Doherty, who did not respond to requests for comment, wrote in a previous statement to the Beacon that the case’s dismissal would not mean the end of her lawsuit.

“I deserve to be heard and I deserve to be paid for damages and severe emotional distress...I don’t care if it takes years, I refuse to walk away in defeat because then I will truly have nothing,” Doherty wrote.

Andrew Tiedemann, vice president for communications and marketing and the spokesperson for Emerson, wrote in a statement to the Beacon that the college was considering its options, including moving again to dismiss all claims.

“The College remains confident that the federal court will rule that Emerson acted promptly, with compassion, and in accordance with all applicable laws and guidelines,” the statement reads.

 

Correction, June 9th: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Jillian Doherty could not be reached for comment. In fact, Doherty did not respond to requests for comment.