Northern Kentucky University settles sex assault case

August 23, 2017

Northern Kentucky University settled a contentious sexual assault lawsuit with a female student Wednesday, more than a year and a half after she sued her school.

The woman, identified only as Jane Doe, charged the school mishandled her case and accused NKU officials of allowing her attacker to continue to harass her even after the university found him “responsible” for a sexual assault in 2014. The assault occurred in fall 2013, during her freshman year. The student graduated in May.

The university will pay $900,000, according to Doe’s lawyer, Kevin Murphy.

NKU is confident in its legal position, but it was clear that no good would come from continuing to drag out (the case), the university said in a statement.

“It would consume more time, attention and resources – both financial and emotional –for everyone involved,” the statement said. “As the university moves forward, we will keep challenging our campus community to help us strengthen our commitmentto a violence-free campus.”

This settlement comes on the heels of a claim by Murphy that NKU officials lied about the existence of possible evidence and withheld it from Doe.

Murphy said Wednesday the two sides had held settlement talks previously, but never were able to finalize a deal.

The final agreement came after U.S. District Court Judge William O. Bertelsman urged the two sides to settle during a pretrial hearing Wednesday.

That was after he ruled that NKU could not exempt any evidence or discussion of issues with the men’s basketball team in 2015, previously documented by The Enquirer.

More: ‘Team time:’ NKU team faced sexual behavior concerns in 2015

“My client and I are pleased that this lawsuit has been resolved,” Murphy said in a statement to The Enquirer. “Her courage to file a lawsuit resulted in many positive changes at Northern in the area of sexual violence and Title IX policies and procedures.”

Bertelsman was also considering a request for sanctions against the school after Murphy’s accusations over withholding evidence.

In a filing with the U.S. District Court in Covington late Tuesday, Murphy wrote that NKU lawyers “answered falsely” when asked for any reports to federal agencies. Murphy also accused the school of withholding the reports as part of the discovery process. These reports were made periodically to the U.S. Justice Department as part of a federal grant program.

The filing was the latest twist in the case that has featured NKU asking Bertelsman to recuse himself over possible conflicts of interest – a request that was rejected – as well as previous sanctions against NKU lawyers. NKU also argued unsuccessfully for a gag order in the case.

Murphy wrote in the filing that the reports NKU delayed sharing highlight ongoing issues with how the school handles sexual assault cases. He pointed out a passage from one such report in which the school appears to acknowledge there aren’t a lot of resources for an assault victim when their attacker reappears on campus after a suspension.

Murphy also highlighted another report that mentioned ongoing issues with sexual violence and misconduct within the athletics program.

Earlier this year. The Enquirer reported on sexual improprieties by former members of the men’s basketball team that eventually resulted in a sexual assault complaint in 2015.

Source: http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/local/northern-ky/2017/08/23/lawyer-nku-lied-and-withheld-evidence-sex-assault-lawsuit/592932001/