Former student defends claim of mishandled rape case following college’s request to dismiss lawsuit

by Dina Kleiner / Beacon Staff • July 1, 2015

A former student, who is suing Emerson for what she alleges was a mishandling of her rape case, is maintaining her claims in response to the college’s request that the court dismiss her lawsuit. The student filed a memorandum in opposition to the college’s motion for judgement on the pleadings of the case on June 11.

The college filed a motion for a judgement on the pleadings of the case on May 14, which asks the federal judge to decide whether the lawsuit will be dismissed or continue to trial. The college stated that the student, identified in the lawsuit as Jane Doe, made claims that were legally invalid.

“Doe’s dissatisfaction with the adequacy of the Defendants’ response or Emerson College’s decision regarding disciplinary action does not establish a violation of state or federal law,” the document reads.

The college has also previously denied several factual claims and said it was not legally liable for what the plaintiff considered “deliberate indifference” toward her rape case in their answer to the lawsuit filed on March 17.

The plaintiff’s memorandum was in opposition to the accompanying motion for judgement, and maintains her claim that the college was negligent and did nothing to prevent further harassment.

“Emerson was also made aware that its measures had proven inadequate and should have taken further steps,” the memorandum reads. “It was clearly unreasonable that no form of protection was put in place for Doe, who felt traumatized, scared, and threatened.”

Doe also maintained that multiple administrators were unqualified to handle sexual assault cases and mishandled her investigation, and claimed multiple administrators questioned and minimized her report of the incident.

“The comments made by each of the Defendants attempted to belittle and downplay Doe’s claims,” the memorandum reads.

Doe stated Emerson failed to properly change policies after her rape or educate the student body regarding sexual assault.

“The College has a different view of Doe’s legal claims,” the college’s statement reads. “The College maintains that it fulfilled the law in responding to Ms. Doe’s reports of sexual assault, and, therefore, the Court should dismiss her legal claims because there was no violation of law.”

The college also filed a response memorandum to Doe on June 18 , which reiterated the college’s position that they did not violate state law in their handling of her rape case.

“There is no basis in the pleadings for the Court to conclude that Emerson deliberately chose not to provide reasonable safeguards for Doe...Emerson investigates each and every report Doe made to the College,” the college’s response memorandum reads.

The college also stated in the document that Emerson—as an academic institution—properly handled Doe’s report of sexual assault.

“Allegations that some College employees may have made improper comments does not change the fact that the college, institutionally, responded with deliberate action to each report from Doe.”

An oral argument on the college's motion for judgment on the pleadings is also scheduled for July 8, according to the statement.

Doe’s lawyer did not respond to requests for comment.