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Rhode Island School of Design Ordered to Pay Female Student $2.5 Million Over Sexual Assault

Rhode Island School of Design Ordered to Pay Female Student $2.5 Million Over Sexual Assault

“direct and proximate result of the negligence of RISD and its officials”

The student was allegedly assaulted by a male classmate during a study abroad program in Ireland. Their housing bedrooms didn’t have locks.

Inside Higher Ed reports:

R.I. School of Design Ordered to Pay Alumna $2.5M

A district court judge ordered that the Rhode Island School of Design pay a former student and survivor of sexual assault $2.5 million for the school’s failure to secure her study abroad living quarters, according to a verdict filed in United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island.

The student, who is unnamed in court documents and later graduated from RISD, was raped by a male RISD student during a three-week program based in Ireland in 2016, said the verdict, which was filed Feb. 2. Both students lived in the same house during the program, and each student had a separate bedroom that did not lock. Students were not provided with keys to the bedrooms, the verdict said. The male student entered the female student’s bedroom while she was sleeping, and she awoke to him sexually assaulting her, according to the court document.

The court document provides a detailed account of the female student’s challenges with post-traumatic stress disorder after she was assaulted, including how she stopped hugging her father and brother and has recurring nightmares about being “trapped or pinned down.”

The rape, and the female student’s subsequent mental health struggles, were a “direct and proximate result of the negligence of RISD and its officials,” John McConnell Jr., chief judge for the district court, wrote in the verdict. The danger was also “foreseeable” for school officials; a different student was raped in 2013 during an RISD program in Rome that housed both male and female students together without bedroom doors that could lock, McConnell wrote.


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I dug a little deeper into this one. The claim by Jane Doe does not appear to have a criminal proceeding attached in Ireland or the US. I could be wrong about that, but I have not found it anywhere.

However, the college did a Kangaroo court and dismissed the student. Then, they got sued by the victim, probably because they gave the plaintiff ammo in validating her claim without any requirement for a criminal proceeding. There may be evidence and it may have happened. If so, that is awful. I just find it ironic that it’s the college’s own knee jerk, virtue signaling, kangaroo court proceedings lacking in due process that doomed them to this payout sum.

FTR, the college did not want to pay this. They filed motion to dismiss, got one claim thrown out, and I can’t see any indication that they attempted to settle out of court. It just goes to show how poorly run these “higher learning” institutions are. Also, it’s a bit of schadenfreude to see the lawfare firefights turned back at their original, arrogant architects.

This reminds me of Oberlin!

Prior to the sexual assault, did the female victim notify the School that there were no locks to the bedrooms? Is the School the owner (or master tenant) of the house in which these students were living? Was the female student precluded from finding more secure housing?

In my semester abroad, the University gave me a list of possible landlords, but I did not have any option of university-provided housing. I don’t see any theory of liability in my case, unless the school had included in the list of landlords someone who the school should have known was not suitable — which still would have been an “iffy” case.

The Friendly Grizzly | February 11, 2021 at 4:00 pm

Another one who made it up, or changed her mind. If she filed no police report at the time of the incident, then, I will assume she is putting on a show.

each student had a separate bedroom that did not lock. Students were not provided with keys to the bedrooms

If the bedrooms didn’t lock in the first place, why are keys relevant? Or was it the case that the doors had locks, but they were inoperable? Or that they were operable, but the student were not provided with the keys?

This is why journalism is a wasteland. I read the actual verdict and it’s pretty damning; the university provided the housing and was responsible for the safety of the students while housed. The doors had locks and keys were present in the house but no one told the students or the TA supervising the trip, and it’s the policy of the housing provider not to provide the keys to the residents.

Major cockup all around.

    Geologist in reply to daniel_ream. | February 12, 2021 at 3:31 pm

    If the doors had locks, but the students were not provided with keys, unless the locks were double cylinder deadbolts, the female presumably could have locked the door against intruders whilst she was in the room. So this doesn’t make much sense.