A federal Title IX lawsuit filed against UND earlier this year has been dismissed.
The lawsuit, filed in March, claimed UND had failed to protect a student in the university’s social work program from sexual harassment and abuse and instead “fostered a culture of silence.” However, a short, two-page “stipulation of dismissal with prejudice” was filed on Friday, Sept. 24, according to court records.
“The parties have mutually agreed to resolve these claims,” Timothy Purdon, attorney for the former student, said in an email to the Herald Friday afternoon, adding he couldn’t comment beyond that at this time.
In a statement to the Herald regarding the dismissal, UND said: "The lawsuit was settled by the Risk Management Division of the Office of Management and Budget for a payment of $25,000. The final decision on settlements of this sort is made by Risk Management, and the money is paid by Risk Management. The lawsuit was settled by Risk Management for purely economic reasons, and was intended solely to avoid the costs of defending the claim. The settlement involves no admission of liability by UND. UND continues to deny what it considers to be baseless allegations in the complaint and fully supports the current UND staff and faculty named in the complaint, and identified publicly, as they engaged in no wrongdoing."
In March, a Title IX lawsuit was filed against the university alleging instances of sexual harassment and assault suffered in 2018 by Aereauna Houle, a student at the time. The lawsuit alleged that former UND Professor Andrew Quinn sexually harassed and abused Houle. It also claimed the university had a delayed action to the allegations and had “fostered a culture of silence around the sexual harassment and abuse of its students,” the lawsuit read.
In court documents filed in May, UND denied the claims, instead saying Quinn and Houle had a consensual relationship and that the lawsuit contained “false and intentionally inflammatory allegations.”
“The indisputable truth is that the 27-year-old plaintiff had a consensual affair with a former UND professor, which affair she attempted to conceal,” the court document filed May 4 stated.
UND claims Houle did not report the “sexual relationship to UND” and when the university became aware of the relationship through independent channels, it claims it “immediately took appropriate steps to isolate” Houle from Quinn. The court document claimed Houle “resisted and bypassed” these steps “so the affair could continue.” The university claimed it took further steps to offer Houle services that would have allowed her to continue her students, “which services she rebuffed.”
Quinn worked at UND from 2005 until 2019. According to files and documents the Herald obtained from UND through an open-records request in 2020, Quinn was placed on paid administrative leave on Jan. 17, 2019. UND later declared to Quinn its intent to dismiss him. He ultimately resigned in May 2019.