NORTHFIELD, Minn. — A judge rejected a lawsuit Thursday, Aug. 22, brought by a former student who claimed Carleton College showed “deliberate indifference” in its response to her sexual assaults in 2011 and 2013.
The first rape is alleged to have taken place in September 2011, soon after the woman started her first year at the Northfield private school.
She said a male student-athlete who lived on her dorm room floor raped her after a party. She initially didn’t want Carleton to investigate but detailed the assault the following May to stop him from being hired as a resident adviser in the dorms.
The woman still was unsure she wanted Carleton to investigate her claims, but the college initiated disciplinary proceedings on its own.
A student misconduct board ultimately placed the alleged rapist on disciplinary probation for one year, among other sanctions.
He also was directed to participate in a mediated conversation with his accuser if she was willing to do so. That meeting took place in October 2012. Afterward, both students agreed the college should drop a no-contact order between them.
In her Title IX lawsuit, however, the woman claims the college “coerced” her into speaking with her rapist as friends and family members advised her not to.
U.S. District Judge Eric Tostrud on Thursday disagreed. The meeting, he found, would not have taken place without her agreement.
The woman’s lawsuit also accused the college of excluding her from the disciplinary proceedings and ignoring her recommendation that he be expelled.
“The record establishes beyond dispute that she played a significant role and that she could have played a larger role but declined,” Tostrud wrote.
As for the severity of the penalties, Tostrud wrote that while it was unusual that the rapist was not suspended or expelled, judges generally decline to second-guess college disciplinary decisions.
The woman said she was raped by a second student in April 2013 after she went to his dorm to confront him about his predatory behavior with female students. She told the college she suspects he drugged her that night because they had sex after she went from feeling “furious to, like, euphoric.”
Again, however, she did not ask the college to investigate. Carleton officials instructed the man to stay away from the accuser and three other women who complained about his behavior.
The judge found that no-contact order sufficient for the college to avoid being found indifferent to sexual assault.
Further, the judge rejected the woman’s claim that Carleton violated federal disabilities law by refusing to make academic accommodations for her while she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Although the college did not give her every accommodation she requested, it did enough, the judge found.
The woman graduated in 2015 and sued the college one year later.