Title IX Lawsuit Against Marquette
We have obtained the Complaint, filed with the Federal District Court of the Eastern District of Wisconsin by “Jane Doe.” This is, of course, a pseudonym, since both the legal system and the norms of journalism protect the identity of rape victims, so far as is possible.
And we have identified the alleged rapist as “the accused,” since he was acquitted of rape charges in a Milwaukee court.
We have reproduced most of the Complaint below, stripping out legalese, paragraph numbers, and some redundant material.
If everything here is true, Marquette has been guilty of rather severe misconduct. But is everything (or even most of it) true? We have inserted our comments where we have information or a perspective to add. But much of the material in the Complaint is, at the moment, mere assertion that will need to be backed up (or refuted) by sworn testimony.
Defendant MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY recklessly allowed a male student who had already threatened and harmed another female student to return to campus. When the male student then raped JANE DOE, MARQUETTE knew it had done wrong. Rather than help and support DOE, MARQUETTE tried to sweep its mistake under the rug, discouraging DOE from reporting the rape to law enforcement and seeking to discredit DOE as a student.The quoted message is a pale reflection of vulgar messages the accused sent to Doe. Another soon after said:
DOE began attending MARQUETTE as a freshman in or about August 2013. DOE was enrolled in MARQUETTE’s College of Nursing. Once students are admitted to the College of Nursing, they are guaranteed all required classes and clinical hours, enabling students not only to graduate with a college degree but also, upon graduation, to assimilate into the nursing profession.
DOE had a normal, uneventful first year at MARQUETTE. She made friends, earned good grades (with approximately a B average), and enjoyed the nursing program.
During her first year at MARQUETTE, DOE met another MARQUETTE student [the accused]. Although [the accused] repeatedly expressed a sexual interest in DOE, and they once attended a dance together, they were not in a romantic relationship.
In or about August 2014, after summer vacation, DOE returned to MARQUETTE for her sophomore year. Throughout August, [the accused] sent DOE text messages that were at times rude, crude, demeaning, and hostile. DOE repeatedly told [the accused] that she had a boyfriend and asked [the accused] to communicate with her civilly or leave her alone.
On or about August 21, 2014, [the accused] threatened DOE by text message, “If I wanted to I could’ve railed you any night of my choosing ever since I met you. And there’s no doubt in my mind I’m going to rail you sometime this semester. Nothing like you’ve ever experienced before. I would be doing you the favor.” DOE responded, “That’s not going to happen.”
I know big dicks are a scary thing, but you will grow to like it.Which was immediately followed by:
I swear to god if one of those freshman sluts bleeds on my new sheets I’m going to lose it.But it’s downright false to claim that Doe demanded that the accused be more civil or stop texting her. In spite of the vulgarity of the messages, Doe continued a congenial exchange with him, as this list of texts shows.
For example, about a half hour after the “rail you” text quoted above, the accused texted:
What if I told you I liked you and wanted something more. Obviously I don’t give a shit about sex if I’m still talking to you after 6 months of knowing you. . . . You could not let have sex [sic] with you and be your friend. I really enjoy talking to you.To which Jane Doe replied:
That’s what I’m going for. I’m just looking for friends right now.The accused then bragged about how he was “doing really good right now with the ladies,” and then shortly thereafter texted:
Just met a girl named Mary walking down the sidewalk and her friend Grace it’s their first night here and they got back from some square dancing thing.Doe then replied:
Well have fun kid. Remember, safe sex is great sex.So rather than being sorely offended by what seems to us as patiently offensive language, Doe continued with a congenial exchange.
A few days later, in the early morning hours of August 24, 2014, DOE met with [the accused] when she was intoxicated, and he raped her.This is stated as fact, although a jury acquitted the alleged rapist.
The Rape CaseIt seems that the testimony of Jane Doe had several problems. In the first place, she claimed to have simply happened upon the accused on the street the night of the rape. But in fact, she had exchanged several text messages with him and they planned to meet, as a list of their texts shows.
Here is the first page of the texts, and here is the second.
Beginning at 9:53 p.m. on the evening of the alleged rape (August 23-24) a series of texts between Doe and the accused detailed their respective movements. At 2:32 a.m. the accused texted:
Come to Ivy or meet me down in the lobby at [truncated]To which Doe responded:
Why do you want to meet me?The accused replied:
To see you’re beautiful face and say hiTo which Doe responded:
OK (:Another nine messages followed and concluded with the accused being at Schroeder Hall. According to Doe, the accused then invited her to come see his apartment, which was right across the street.
Doe, speaking to police, misrepresented what happened, implying that the two had simply happened upon each other when both were out roaming around.
Milwaukee Police Officer Cindy Carlson interviewed her. Carlson describes her testimony.
A. . . . the victim stated that she was outside of her dorm on Marquette’s campus looking for some friends when she was approached by a known acquaintance of hers [the accused]. She said they hugged each other, then talked, and they began walking to his apartment because he wanted to show her his new apartment.Examined by the accused’s lawyer, Carlson was asked:
Q. Officer, you indicated that when you interviewed [Jane Doe], she indicated that she was outside of Schroeder Hall on August 24th in the evening when she saw [the accused]?Why would Jane Doe give a false account about this? Perhaps she knew that the truth might look like a hook-up for sexual purposes, even if it was not. Still, it doubtless harmed her credibility in the eyes of the jury.
A. It was the early morning hours, yes.
Q. Okay. And did she tell you that [the accused] and her had planned to meet up outside of Schroeder Hall?
A. She did not say that those were her plans, no.
Q. Okay. She told you she was waiting for other friends. Not [the accused]. Correct?
A. She was looking for her other friends, yes.
Back to the Complaint:
The next day, DOE sent [the accused] multiple text messages, telling him that they needed to speak. He told DOE, “text me what you want to say.” DOE wrote, “Its about Saturday night. What you did was absolutely horrible....” [the accused] then agreed to speak with DOE, who told him that she was going to report the sexual assault. [The accused] admitted he had raped DOE but told her that if she went to the police, no one would believe her.In fact, the texts sent the next day to not show any urgency on the part of Doe to meet her supposed rapist, as the exchange of texts shows.
Further, on the day after the supposed rape, Doe told friend Ann Lally that she “did not know” whether she had had sex the night before. An odd statement, which might make sense if Doe was drunk to the point of unconsciousness. But she does not claim to have been unconscious during the rape, and video surveillance footage from her return to her dorm (Schroeder Hall) does not show any perceptible impairment in her actions.
Probably worse, in the eyes of the jury, was the fact that Doe admitted, at the rape trial of the accused, to extremely aggressive sexual behavior toward him during the spring of 2014. Specifically, she admitted making out with him, to taking off his clothes and hers, and getting on top of him, grinding her pubic area against his.
The accused claims his penis briefly penetrated Doe’s vagina. Indeed, he brought sexual assault charges against Doe, but only after she had accused him of rape, in what was apparent retaliation.
(How a misguided tactic of the prosecutor allowed this into evidence notwithstanding the rape shield law is an interesting story.)
VerdictAfter a much-delayed trial, the jury acquitted the accused on July 14, 2016. Anomalies in Doe’s account, and (doubtless) her earlier sexual aggressiveness toward the accused, appear to have produced a “reasonable doubt” in their minds. A less strict standard of proof – for example the “preponderance of the evidence” standard used in many campus tribunals – might lead to a different result. Especially, it is hard to see a motive for a false rape claim here. But then, not all such claims have a perceptible motive.
Back to the Complaint:
At the Time of DOE’s Assault, MARQUETTE Was Already Under Scrutiny for Title IX Non-ComplianceThis is quite accurate. Misconduct was exposed by articles in the Chicago Tribune that show, in two separate incidents, Marquette failed to inform police of sexual assaults that the university knew about and meted out absurdly lenient punishments to athletes who committed assaults.
In 2011 – a few years before DOE was assaulted – MARQUETTE officials acknowledged that they made mistakes in handling student reports of sexual assaults, including by failing to report incidents to Milwaukee police as required by state law. In order to remedy those failures, MARQUETTE said it was improving how the university reported incidents of sexual assault to the Milwaukee police. These changes came only after a former student said that MARQUETTE dismissed her allegations that a student-athlete had sexually assaulted her.
At that time, MARQUETTE officials told the press: “There were a lot of things I think we found that we were not proud of, as you can imagine. We have initiated a lot of conversations since then on campus as well as with local law enforcement . . . to really help us learn from that. It will not happen again.”
Moreover, in and around 2015, around the same time as incidents described in this Complaint, MARQUETTE was under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education for possibly mishandling an incident involving sexual harassment.We have been unable to reach any of the parties to the exchange between Marquette Public Safety and Doe and her parents. A call to Doe’s parents was not returned, and neither was a call to Marquette Police Chief Paul Mascari. We did reach Megan DeVries, apparently one of the officers present, and her only response was “I have nothing to say about that.”
After the sexual assault, DOE was scared and upset. She called her parents, who immediately came to the MARQUETTE campus. Together, DOE and her parents went to MARQUETTE’s Department of Public Safety to report the attack.
Despite the fact that [the accused] had committed a serious violent crime – and despite MARQUETTE’s prior mishandling of situations like this one – MARQUETTE’s Department of Public Safety discouraged DOE and her parents from reporting the crime to the Milwaukee Police Department. Moreover, despite the fact that DOE specifically asked what her options were, no one informed DOE or her parents about Title IX or her option to pursue a complaint under MARQUETTE’s complaint procedures.
In response to the earlier scandal, reported by the Chicago Tribune, Mascari said “I can tell you that, having talked to the officers afterward, it was never the intention of anyone in this department to discourage … victims from contacting the Milwaukee Police Department.”
It would be striking, in light of the previous scandal, if Public Safety officers in fact did discourage a report to police.
Notwithstanding MARQUETTE’s repeated efforts to dissuade DOE from contacting police, DOE insisted that she wished to report the rape to the Milwaukee Police Department. At DOE’s request, the police responded and took DOE’s statement.We don’t know what to make of the “refused to allow the police to arrest [the accused] on campus” comment. Perhaps Marquette resisted having him arrested when he was in class. But he lived at Ivy on 14th, right on Wells Street, and would not have been hard to find.
The police secured an arrest warrant for [the accused]. DOE feared encountering [the accused], who lived across from DOE’s dormitory. Even though MARQUETTE knew the danger that [the accused] posed to DOE and other students, MARQUETTE refused to allow the police to arrest [the accused] on campus. During the days that it took for the police to track [the accused] down off campus, DOE was frightened and stayed in a hotel with her parents until police notified her that [the accused] was in custody.
On or about August 29, 2014, [the accused] was arrested and charged with third-degree sexual assault.
Restraining the AccusedOn September 3rd, the accused appeared before Court Commissioner Barillas and was granted bail, and also was put on GPS monitoring, and forbidden to be within 1,000 feet of Schroeder Hall. A complication arose when it was discovered that his apartment was only about 600 feet from Schroeder Hall, and many of the buildings in which he would have classes were less than 1,000 feet from that building.
Later on the 3rd, this was brought to the attention of Barillas, who modified the order to give the defendant 48 hours to collect his belongings and leave campus. At this time, Barillas was informed that the defendant had withdrawn from Marquette.
The defendant then returned to his parents home in Illinois, and remained under surveillance by Justice Point, although the GPS monitoring was eventually removed.
On or about September 3, 2014, while [the accused] was still in custody, DOE and her parents met with MARQUETTE’s Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and asked what the school was going to do. The Assistant Vice President, who failed to inform DOE about Title IX or DOE’s ability to lodge a complaint with the school, was non-committal concerning what action MARQUETTE would take concerning the rape. The Assistant Vice President said only that people at MARQUETTE would discuss the issues.A source at Marquette tells us that the Marquette official in question was probably Marya Leatherwood, of the Student Affairs office.
Reached at her home in Georgia, Leatherwood could not confirm that she was the official (citing confidentiality rules), but she did make it clear that, at this point, “lodging a complaint with the school” was a moot issue. The rape complaint lodged with Department of Public Safety on August 27th would have automatically been reported to Student Affairs (which was then handling Title IX complaints under the Student Conduct process).
Of course, Student Affairs might not move on such a complaint if the criminal justice system was pursuing it aggressively. Why institute a process that might lead to the student’s expulsion when cops and prosecutors are trying to put him in prison? And why make any promises about what Marquette is “going to do” when the issue is in the hands of the justice system? Marquette would not be precluded from pursuing a disciplinary process if charges were dropped, or if the accused was acquitted. But by the time the accused was finally acquitted (nearly two years later) he was long gone from Marquette.
DOE’s parents also specifically asked the Assistant Vice President whether [the accused] had any disciplinary history. In response, the Assistant Vice President said that [the accused] was a MARQUETTE student. DOE’s parents followed up, asking if [the accused] had any issues. The Assistant Vice President just repeated that [the accused] was a MARQUETTE student.Of course, rules about confidentiality would have prevented any Marquette official from revealing this information. While the Marquette official may have come across as frustratingly evasive, the evasiveness was prudent (don’t promise something that might not happen) and in some cases was required (don’t reveal confidential information).
DOE’s parents met with the Assistant Vice President again on or about September 5, 2014, and notified the Assistant Vice President that the Milwaukee County District Attorney was bringing formal charges against [the accused]. DOE’s parents provided a copy of the charges and asked what MARQUETTE was going to do. Again, the Assistant Vice President provided no information about Title IX and gave no assurances that the school would take any action.
On or about September 5, 2014, [the accused] withdrew from MARQUETTE. When DOE’s parents followed up with the Assistant Vice President, the Assistant Vice President stated that because [the accused] withdrew, the school would take no action.
To DOE’s knowledge, MARQUETTE never commenced a Title IX investigation or took other action concerning [the accused] with respect to the sexual assault.
Marquette’s ActionsIn fact, Marquette was taking action on the case. On September 4th, Erin Lazzar, Associate Dean of Students, wrote to the accused student noting that the charges against him had been reported to her office by Public Safety, and that he was not enrolled in classes for the fall semester. Thus, a “Student Conduct Hold” had been placed on his record. Further, “Should you wish to return to Marquette as a student, a student conduct hearing will need to be scheduled first.”
Finally, he was told that “Effectively immediately, you are prohibited from being on the Marquette University campus at any time for any reason.”
So while Doe’s parents were faced with what they considered stonewalling, Marquette was indeed acting against their daughter’s alleged rapist.
With respect to DOE, MARQUETTE assigned a counselor who, upon information and belief, was serving in an interim capacity and had no training working with sexual-assault victims. DOE received calls from the counselor at random times, asking questions like, “Hi, how are you feeling about being raped?” The calls were insensitive and very upsetting to DOE.Of course, without knowing the full details of the case, and also the precedents (how had similar previous cases been handled?) is it impossible to know whether this sanction was unduly lenient.
DOE also discussed the sexual assault with her Academic Advisor, who instructed DOE to notify her teachers about what had happened. DOE told each of her teachers at MARQUETTE that she had been sexually assaulted by another student at the beginning of the school year.
DOE Learns about [the accused’s] Past
Another MARQUETTE undergraduate student approached DOE in or about January 2015. The student informed DOE that in or around early 2014 – when DOE was a freshman at MARQUETTE – [the accused] had stalked and intimidated the student. [the accused] sent the student angry, harassing, and degrading text messages; posted hostile slurs about her on social media; and aggressively approached and followed her on campus. The student was extremely frightened by [the accused], fearing for her safety and repeatedly seeking recourse with MARQUETTE’s Department of Public Safety.
Also, just as [the accused] had done with DOE – trying to turn the tables and accusing DOE of raping him – [the accused] had used the same tactic the previous year, when under investigation for stalking the student. That is, [the accused] had attempted to shift blame to the student, telling MARQUETTE that the student had previously stalked him.
Because of [the accused’s] misconduct toward the student, MARQUETTE suspended [the accused] from the school, in or about spring 2014. There was also a no-contact order in place at MARQUETTE, prohibiting [the accused] from having contact with the student.
Inexplicably, though, [the accused’s] suspension did not stand. MARQUETTE’s Vice President for Student Affairs overruled that decision, and [the accused] was permitted to return to MARQUETTE in fall 2014 on the conditions that he, among other things: (1) write a reflection letter to the student, and (2) receive counseling.
Back to the Complaint:
According to the student, [the accused] never provided her with a reflection letter.Note that this supposed “campaign” would have had to involve multiple administrators in both the Student Affairs office and (as we shall see below) the College of Nursing, as well as several instructors in the College of Nursing. But any campaign against Doe would seem to involve much greater risks than merely letting her alone to finish her education.
Moreover, on information and belief, [the accused] never provided MARQUETTE with evidence that he received counseling or wrote the required reflection letter to the student before returning to MARQUETTE’s campus.
MARQUETTE Retaliates Against DOE
Once DOE learned this information about [the accused], DOE and her parents confronted MARQUETTE, trying to understand why [the accused] had been permitted back on campus. It also became clear to DOE that the information about the other MARQUETTE student was very important to the criminal case against [the accused] and should be turned over to the prosecution. Although MARQUETTE knew all of this information before and could have shared it with the District Attorney’s Office, MARQUETTE did so only at DOE’s urging, and only after the student alerted DOE.
DOE tried to remain focused on succeeding in MARQUETTE’s nursing program. Rather than recognizing the trauma that DOE had experienced and helping her overcome the new obstacles facing her, however, MARQUETTE embarked on a campaign to discredit DOE and ultimately to run her out of the school. Throughout 2015 and 2016, in particular – after [the accused] filed a complaint with MARQUETTE about DOE – MARQUETTE appeared to have two motivations: (1) to deter future sexual-assault victims from pursuing charges, as DOE had done, and (2) to intimidate DOE, in an effort to cause her to leave MARQUETTE, protect MARQUETTE against legal action, and discredit DOE as a complainant.
This retaliation took multiple forms. First, despite knowing that DOE was a witness in the ongoing criminal proceedings against [the accused], requiring frequent interviews and meetings with police and prosecutors, which were stressful and difficult for DOE, MARQUETTE failed to support DOE’s participation in those proceedings and failed to provide reasonable academic accommodations.
When [the accused] accused DOE of assaulting him, in late 2014, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office informed DOE that she would be interviewed, either by MARQUETTE’s Department of Public Safety (because [the accused] had made the complaint directly to MARQUETTE) or by the Milwaukee Police Department. A representative for DOE contacted MARQUETTE’s Associate General Counsel and informed him about [the accused’s] accusation and the circumstances.
Throughout this time, DOE did not know who would be reaching out to her or when the request would occur. This hung over DOE’s head.
In or about January 2015, the Milwaukee police called DOE to come in to the police department that day to be interviewed about [the accused’s] complaint. DOE was scheduled to take a critical test in her Pathophysiology 1 class just a couple of hours after the call from police. The test was important. DOE had completed Pathophysiology 1 the previous semester, but DOE’s instructor had given DOE the option to take this particular test in January, after the semester’s end.
Nervous, but not wanting to rock the boat, DOE took the test. She got a C/D (meaning: under 78%), which – in the MARQUETTE nursing school’s grading scheme – constituted a failing grade.
The Pathophysiology 1 class was a prerequisite for the other classes DOE was taking during the spring semester. DOE’s Academic Advisor told DOE that because of her C/D grade, she would not be permitted to proceed with her spring classes and needed to leave MARQUETTE immediately. The Advisor said that DOE could no longer attend the classes she had already started and that she could not remain in the dorms.
DOE’s mother contacted the Advisor, explained that DOE had been contacted by police right before the test to be interviewed about [the accused’s] accusation against DOE, and asked that DOE be given an opportunity to retake the test. The Advisor said no. The Advisor said that DOE would be required to take a full withdrawal on medical leave, or MARQUETTE would not refund the tuition that DOE had already paid for the semester.
DOE’s mother engaged the Advisor in discussions about alternatives. DOE’s parents were willing to do anything to keep DOE in school, as much on schedule and with as much normalcy as possible. The Advisor shot down every suggestion. Despite the fact that MARQUETTE routinely allowed other nursing students who did not pass a prerequisite class to remain at school and take electives or other classes, MARQUETTE repeatedly told DOE’s parents that they would not accommodate DOE.
Only after DOE’s mother specifically called out MARQUETTE for trying to get rid of DOE the month before [the accused’s] criminal trial did MARQUETTE relent in part, allowing DOE to stay in the dorms and take just one class for spring of her sophomore year. MARQUETTE also – after initially refusing, repeatedly, to do so – refunded a portion of tuition for the classes that DOE was not being permitted to take. Although this arrangement allowed DOE to remain enrolled at MARQUETTE and maintain the regularity of living on campus, it still constituted a significant setback for DOE, who wanted to be and should have been a full-time student taking a full course load.
A representative of the Milwaukee County Office of the District Attorney reached out to MARQUETTE on DOE’s behalf, describing in detail the many demands on DOE as part of the investigation. The letter stated in part, “It is very common for victims of sexual assault to struggle with concentration, sleep disturbances, anxiety, and hypervigilance in the wake of this type of incident. Not only does [DOE] bear the weight of those types of challenges, she is experiencing additional pressures related to the Criminal Justice System.” The District Attorney’s Office urged MARQUETTE to support DOE and her efforts to continue her education.
Despite this advocacy by DOE’s parents and law enforcement, MARQUETTE continued to refuse to provide reasonable academic accommodations to DOE. For instance, in spring semester 2016, DOE was enrolled in Nursing 2002. Twenty percent of her course grade was based on an online quiz that students were permitted to take throughout the semester. Students were permitted to retake the quiz as many times as needed to earn 100% on the quiz. DOE timely took what she believed was the correct quiz and earned 100%. DOE noticed, though, that the teacher had not posted her quiz grade in the online gradebook. This was not out of the ordinary, because the teacher was routinely slow in posting grades. Toward the end of the semester, when the quiz grade still had not been posted, DOE met with the teacher to inquire.
During the meeting, the teacher informed DOE that DOE had taken the wrong online quiz. The teacher refused to allow DOE to take the correct quiz, stating that it was too late. DOE told the teacher, who knew about DOE’s sexual assault, that she was willing to do any extra assignments necessary to make up for the quiz, but the teacher refused. Instead, the teacher asked what DOE was doing this summer to help herself. DOE told the teacher about her internship. The teacher said words to the effect of, “No, what are you doing about therapy?” DOE explained that she continued to attend therapy. The teacher then stated, in substance, that she did not think DOE was mentally stable enough to be at MARQUETTE because of the sexual assault, and that she was worried about DOE’s current and future performance in the clinical program.
Any suggestion that DOE was struggling in the clinical program was false. DOE was succeeding in clinicals, and her clinical teacher had even praised DOE as a standout student. But more to the point – even though DOE had already experienced clear retaliation as a result of reporting and pursuing the sexual-assault charge against [the accused] – the comment made DOE more aware that teachers in the nursing school were holding the sexual assault, and DOE’s pursuit of accountability for her attacker, against her.
DOE followed up with the Dean of the nursing school to address her Nursing 2002 grade and the teacher’s refusal to allow her to take the online quiz. The Dean agreed to provide DOE the opportunity to take the quiz, stating that there was no hurry, DOE’s grade would be marked as incomplete, and that DOE had until October to take the quiz and complete the course.
Despite the Dean’s giving her until October, DOE did the quiz right away in May and earned 100%. Because it was an online quiz, DOE’s grade was immediately posted to her teacher. With the inclusion of the online quiz, DOE was set to earn an A in the class.
But just hours after she completed the quiz – and within weeks of [the accused’s] scheduled trial (which had been postponed) – MARQUETTE notified DOE that she was being placed on academic probation. With the Nursing 2002 course marked incomplete – and, therefore, without the benefit of the A that would ultimately be posted as DOE’s grade – DOE’s grade point average was 2.62. Under MARQUETTE’s usual policy, academic probation was imposed for students with a grade point average below 2.5.
This did not make sense, both because DOE’s grade point average exceeded 2.5 and also because the Dean had specifically told DOE that she would be able to have her quiz counted as part of her Nursing 2002 grade. When DOE pointed out this out, the only explanation DOE was given was words to the effect of, “We sometimes do that.”
While suffering under the stress of the imminent [the accused] trial, DOE filed a formal appeal, protesting her academic probation. MARQUETTE demanded access to DOE’s medical records, including records concerning mental-health treatment. This was an unreasonable and invasive request, part of MARQUETTE’s continuing effort to damage and intimidate DOE. Ultimately, DOE’s treating physician provided a letter stating, in substance, that DOE should be in school and certainly was stable enough to be at MARQUETTE.
Only after DOE pushed back on MARQUETTE’s unfair and unreasonable treatment did MARQUETTE agree, in or about June 2016, to lift the academic probation and allow DOE to return for the fall semester.
Over the summer, DOE was determined to return to MARQUETTE and put the past behind her. When she returned for the fall semester, though, she encountered resistance from MARQUETTE. In or about October 2016, MARQUETTE administrators informed DOE that she could not attend clinicals – required courses for the nursing program – because DOE’s mandatory drug test had not been properly uploaded. DOE was informed about this snafu at around 4:30 pm on a Wednesday, when the clinicals were scheduled for Thursday and Friday. Although DOE offered to provide the results from a drug test administered by her doctor, MARQUETTE refused to accept the test. As a result, DOE missed the Thursday and Friday clinicals, taking her otherwise-A grade down to a C.
By contrast, at least one other student who was missing a critical requirement – proof of a current flu shot – was assisted by the nursing department and did not have to miss clinicals. DOE was not given such accommodation.
In or about December 2016, DOE was notified that she was slated to receive a C/D (by .038%) in her maternity class. Although DOE knew she did not have an A going in to the final exam, she had not known that she was in jeopardy of finishing without a passing grade. DOE believed that she had completed assignments correctly and performed well in the class. After seeing the C/D final grade, DOE tried to discuss the grade with her professor, but the professor refused, stating only that DOE’s group paper – on the topic of sexual assault – did not meet standards. It did meet standards, however.
Around this time, one of DOE’s clinical instructors in the nursing program informed DOE that the instructor was resigning from MARQUETTE because of the way the school treated students.
Harassed by the Nursing College?There is no reason to doubt that Doe was psychologically distressed, and it’s possible that a Nursing instructor or two might be a jerk. But the idea of a coordinated campaign begins to look like tin foil hat theorizing.
We don’t know the details of each of these situations, and the present and two immediate past Deans of the College of Nursing failed to respond to our multiple requests for comment.
But a knowledgeable source close to the College of Nursing told us “I have a hard time believing that the college of nursing would mistreat a student after reporting a rape. Just the opposite. The College of Nursing administration and the faculty have a track record of supporting students in difficult situations.”
Harm to DOE
Ultimately, DOE could no longer endure MARQUETTE’s conduct toward her. In 2017, DOE left MARQUETTE and transferred to a community college where she could get back on her feet and prepare to transition to a different nursing program. DOE has been earning straight As since leaving MARQUETTE.
MARQUETTE’s actions caused DOE significant harm. First, DOE has suffered trauma and emotional distress as a result of being raped by [the accused] and a result of the way MARQUETTE treated her. Since the attack, DOE has needed regular therapy and psychiatric treatment. Her physicians prescribed and DOE now takes medication for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder-related anxiety and depression, as well as sleep medication to block recurring nightmares about the rape. Had MARQUETTE followed through with its expulsion of [the accused] and exercised due care for its students, [the accused] would not have been permitted to return to campus, would not have been there to rape DOE, and DOE would not now be suffering these harms. MARQUETTE’s treatment of DOE in the aftermath of the attack further exacerbated these problems.
Second, although DOE earned some school credits while at MARQUETTE, she now has to start over, almost entirely. Credits in nursing classes from MARQUETTE will not transfer to a new nursing program; DOE has to repeat those classes. DOE must now pay tuition for three more years of nursing school – despite having already paid well over $75,000 in connection with DOE’s schooling at MARQUETTE. These three additional years of nursing school are expected to cost at least $90,000, and as much as $150,000.
Third, but for the events described in this Complaint, DOE would have graduated with her class in spring 2017. She then would have entered the workforce as a nurse, earning approximately $65,000 per year. Now, DOE’s work as a nurse will be delayed for three years while she repeats the nursing program and earns her degree.
In addition to the direct harm to DOE, MARQUETTE’s actions have harmed others. DOE is aware of at least one other MARQUETTE student who was sexually assaulted by another MARQUETTE student. The student victim told DOE that she decided not to report the rape because she saw how MARQUETTE retaliated against DOE for making a report and standing by the charge.
ConclusionSo what does one make of all this? As we have shown, some of the claims in the Complaint are pretty implausible. But not all of them are, and until and unless we get depositions and other sworn testimony from several of the principals, some of these issues will be hard to judge.
The Plaintiff is demanding a jury trial. Will it come to that, or will Marquette simply pay some money in a settlement to make the problem go away? Lawyers from Michael Best & Friedrich are representing Marquette, and they don’t come cheap.