A former student from Virginia Wesleyan College is filing a lawsuit against the school for allowing her sexual assailant to transfer to another university without having an expulsion on his record after he was found guilty by a Title IX hearing administered by the school.
The student is pressing charges anonymously under the name Jane Doe in the Norfolk Circuit Court regarding her 2012 assault. Virginia Wesleyan College has said it will fight the allegations.
A University student in the midst of a sexual misconduct disciplinary process could potentially leave and enroll at another institution, Associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo said.
“We have no way of preventing that, but we can continue to pursue the case in their absence and prevent their return to U.Va. until there is a finding in their case,” Eramo said in an email.
Eramo said after the University carries out an investigation, a student found responsible for disciplinary charges would have that reflected on his or her official transcript.
“Most institutions ask on a transfer application if a student has ever been subject to discipline by their prior institution,” Eramo said. “If they answer ‘yes,’ the institution is asked for more information about the charges in order to consider the transfer application further.”
According to the Virginia Wesleyan student's charges, the assault occurred after one of her peer advisors invited her to an on-campus party three days into her freshman orientation.
The female student said she did not drink much at the party, and believes someone put drugs in hers and other girls' drinks. According to the lawsuit, she was violently raped while attempting to walk home from the party and left “bruised and bloodied.”
The student said neither the nurse nor the school counselor she met with a few weeks after the assault provided any information on how to report the rape to the school or to the police.
In February 2013, the school held a Title IX hearing and determined that Zachary Kane, a lacrosse team member, had sexually assaulted the student, and the school permanently dismissed him.
Several weeks later, the school — allegedly intimidated by Kane’s legal team — reversed the decision, allowing him to “withdraw” so that he could escape the negative repercussions of an expulsion due to the rape, according to the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, the student is suing the College on three counts: negligence, for the school's failure to protect her from criminal assault; gross negligence, for the physical and sexual harm she underwent as a result; and fraud, because the College presented itself as a safe environment to prospective students and parents.
In a statement from Virginia Wesleyan College, the College defended its decision allowing Kane to withdraw.
"We have carefully reviewed the facts of this unfortunate incident and the allegations in Jane Doe’s Complaint,” the statement read. “While we sympathize with Jane Doe, the College denies any allegation of improper conduct and will vigorously defend this lawsuit.”