Judge rules Virginia Wesleyan College not liable in $10 million lawsuit case

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NORFOLK, Va. - A judge ruled Thursday that Virginia Wesleyan College is not liable in a $10 million lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed in October 2014, said "The College knew that male students were drugging female students, rendering them incapacitated, and raping them..." while security guards and college officials turned a blind eye."

The woman filing the lawsuit used the name "Jane Doe"  to protect her privacy. She says that as a freshman in 2012, a student who had the title of "peer advisor" took her to a party where she was drugged. The lawsuit alleges an upper-class lacrosse team member followed her from the party, forced her into his dorm and raped her.

According to college documents included in the 2014 lawsuit, officials at first expelled the lacrosse player. But in a letter to his accuser later, they told her they changed their decision, and let him instead withdraw from the college so he could attend school elsewhere.

The alleged victim took the stand on Monday to testify.

Following the ruling, "Jane Doe's" attorney said they will re-file the decision.

“The entire defense in this case was to victimize the victim – to basically call her a liar, a faker, a cheat and a slut and they made no bone about it" the plaintiff's lawyer, Jonathan Halperin, said. "This is really horrific for women.”

The defense claimed the interaction was not five hours and the details did not match between what his client says is true.

The lacrosse player has not been identified because he was not criminally charged.

Attorneys for Jane Doe said their evidence showed that the university was negligent when handling the sexual assault, and have a history of not having proper procedures.

But attorneys for the university insinuated the victim was lying so she can get $10 million dollars.

They argued that the sex was consensual, and the university did nothing wrong.

“An all-female jury, I think, didn’t appreciate my client being made a joke out of and  and then being accused of rape and being sued," Defense Attorney Shawn Voyles said. "I don’t think they thought that was funny.”

A spokesperson with the school released a statement shortly after the decision:

Norfolk, Virginia – May 26, 2016 -- After a six-day trial and 3½ hours of deliberation, a seven woman Norfolk jury today unanimously returned a verdict for Virginia Wesleyan College in the Jane Doe trial. In so doing, the jury dismissed the plaintiff’s claims and the plaintiff’s request for $10 million.
The jury correctly rejected Ms. Doe’s claim that Virginia Wesleyan College failed to take reasonable and adequate steps for the safety of its students. The College is pleased with the jury’s affirmation of its efforts to provide a safe and secure learning environment for all of its students.


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