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Stonehill College Faces Title IX Complaint Over Alleged Rape

An alleged rape that took place off of the Stonehill College campus in Easton, Massachusetts has left one young woman still seeking justice. According to reports filed by Boston attorney Wendy Murphy, the unnamed victim has decided to file a Title IX complaint against the university in relation to events that took place in February of this year. The victim, a Stonehill student, believes her rights to an equal education were violated following the incident.

Attorney Wendy Murphy is representing the victim in this case, and has called for a federal investigation into the matter following the filing of the Title IX complaint. Her complaint was filed with the Office of Civil Rights within the U.S. Department of Education on July 30th 2015. According to the female victim, she was raped on February 15th at a location off campus by a fellow Stonehill student and athlete. The incident allegedly occurred in the bathroom of a private residence located near the school’s campus. The victim has stated in reports that she did not know the male attacker prior to the sexual assault.

The incident was not reported to campus police until March 29th, according to Martin McGovern, a spokesman for Stonehill. After receiving the initial report, campus police notified Easton police officials about the assault, and they also provided the victim with contact information for a police detective that could further help her with the issue. However, in an email exchange with Easton Police Chief Gary Sullivan, he had stated that his department does not have information regarding an alleged rape on or around the February 15th attack reported by the victim. Martin McGovern declined to provide the campus report received for the incident, and the police presence seems to go no further.

Wendy Murphy is saying that the campus police discouraged her client from contacting Easton police about the incident. Exact circumstances surrounding this exchange were not made immediately available. Murphy insists that the Easton police force should have conducted their own investigation into the attack after receiving reports of it from Stonehill campus police.

When a victim feels as though their school mishandled their sexual assault complaints, a Title IX complaint offers them a platform to stand on. Title IX complaints are typically used as “a broad law that bans gender-based discrimination in federally funded programs, to press institutions for stronger action.” If a university is found to be in violation of Title IX laws, they could face the loss of their federal funding.

Once the Title IX complaint had been filed, Stonehill spokesman Martin McGovern said that they were aware of the complaint filed with the Office of Civil Rights and that they would fully cooperate with any further investigation into the assault.

The Stonehill victim is just one of many who are beginning to file Title IX complaints against their respective universities. In May of this year, it is reported that approximately 113 different schools with 123 sexual assault cases were being investigated after the complaints were filed.

Wendy Murphy has stated that not only did she file this complaint on behalf of her client, but she also filed it on behalf of all students at Stonehill who may have had their rights violated by their university. Murphy, who is a former Middlesex County prosecutor as well as a nationally recognized expert on sex crimes, has said that this complaint is in regards to Stonehill’s “response to sex-based violence”. She believes that if the university was capable of treating this one particular victim in this manner, then additional sexual assault victims could also have been subjected to this treatment. Over an approximate eight year period ranging from 2007-2014 there have allegedly been 28 known reports of sexual violence at Stonehill’s campus. Officials have indicated that none of these reports ended in criminal charges against the accused attackers.

A Title IX investigator has stated that Stonehill later identified the male attacker in this case, and upon questioning the suspect about the incident, the suspect claims that while he did enter the bathroom of that private residence, he did not have any sexual contact with the alleged victim. The Title IX investigator concluded in his report that he believes the victim was “not credible under a preponderance of the evidence standard.” Comments from the victim and the victim’s attorney about this conclusion were not made available at this time.

Following the filing of their complaint, the Stonehill victim has also stated that she is attempting to gain a restraining order against her attacker before she returns to campus for school later this month.

 

Quotes and additional information may be found at the following link: http://www.wcvb.com/news/stonehill-faces-title-ix-complaint-in-wake-of-reported-rape-in-easton/34553730