Articles Posted in Campus Crimes

David Sweatt, a top neuroscientist at Vanderbilt University, has been accused of drugging and raping a student last year. Despite the allegations against him, Sweatt remained in his position at the university until recently, 11 months after his accuser reported the abuse to school officials.

Sweatt was officially placed on leave in August, shortly after a tweet by another scientist. Following a blog post in which Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, praised the neuroscientist, a University of Washington climate scientist by the name of Sara Myhre tweeted something notably less endearing about Sweatt.

“Hello NIH Director,” she wrote. “Do you know that Dr. David Sweatt, the ‘gifted painter’ you are lauding here, has been accused of drugging and raping a student?”

The next day, Myhre tweeted that “Sweatt is a serial rapist. There are multiple women victims.”

Incident Reported to Vanderbilt in 2017

In 2017, an anonymous Oregon Health & Scent University (OHSU) student alleged that she was assaulted by Sweatt at a 2015 scientific conference. Although Vanderbilt was alerted to the incident, the school’s Title IX office says the anonymous student “did not wish to be identified to Vanderbilt’s Equal Opportunity Affirmative Action and Disability Services (EAD) office or to make a report.” Further, the office claims that after exhausting all options, Vanderbilt simply “did not have sufficient basis for conducting an investigation.”

But Myhre’s tweet changed everything.

In addition to her public comments on twitter, Myhre reported having been contacted by two other women who were both able to confirm, separately, the “extent and nature of the allegations” against Sweatt. Shortly after Myhre’s tweets, an official investigation was launched by the university’s EAD.

“Vanderbilt takes reports of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, very seriously,” wrote the university in a recent statement. “We have a robust process for investigating sexual misconduct reports and do not tolerate any sexual misconduct on our campus. Our process protects the well-being and safety of our community members and respects the rights of everyone involved.”

“Potential Safety Threat”

When Sweatt’s alleged victim alerted officials at her school last year, OHSU warned Vanderbilt of the “potential safety threat” posed by Sweatt. Yet the chair of Vanderbilt’s Department of Pharmacology remained on campus for another 11 months.A MA injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been the victim of sexual abuse or harassment.

When Sweatt was finally placed on leave in early August, Larry Marnett, Vanderbilt’s medical school dean of basic sciences, released an email to inform colleagues.

“I want to make you aware that as of today David Sweatt, Chair of Pharmacology, is on leave,” Marnett wrote,

“Providing a safe and welcoming environment is a priority, and we take seriously any complaints of misconduct,” wrote another Vanderbilt spokesperson. A Boston injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been the victim of sexual abuse or harassment.

Sweatt’s bio was removed from the school’s website last week.

Sweatt has denied any wrongdoing.

“Beginning in August, and set in motion by people with a destructive, political agenda that is not tethered to reality, Dr. Sweatt has been targeted by anonymous, irresponsible and unfounded allegations,” wrote the neuroscientist’s attorney, Andrew Miltenberg. “He has always conducted himself, both professionally and in his private life, in a respectful, thoughtful and consensual manner.” Continue reading

Moments after being reprimanded by one of his professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 25-year old Han Nguyen committed suicide. Nguyen had been struggling with depression, according to his attorney, but the prestigious university failed to get him the treatment he required. Could MIT be liable for a student’s suicide?

Universities across the nation are watching this legal battle unfold, with baited breath. A decision against MIT would likely cause alarm in institutions of higher education. Critics believe that such a decision would put an unfair burden on employees who are not trained to detect potentially-suicidal students. But Nguyen’s family claims that officials at the university knew of his suicide risk and did nothing to help. According to court records, a professor told colleagues to pass Han or they might end up with “blood on their hands,” and he was “read the riot act” moments before committing suicide for an allegedly-inappropriate email he had sent.

According to MIT, the school was unaware of the severity of Nguyen’s condition because he was receiving treatment by outside professionals. In fact, he had refused on-campus treatment.

“Mr. Nguyen’s suicide was a tragedy. That does not warrant a legal conclusion that MIT or any individual associated with MIT had a legal duty to prevent it”

We will continue to monitor this case and have blog updates once the court rule on this important issue.

Could a Decision Against MIT Have Unintended Consequences?

Harvard and Boston College, along with 16 other colleges and universities, have voiced concerns that a decision in favor of Nguyen’s family could have harmful consequences. Fearing liability, untrained professors and other staff might overreact to situations concerning students’ safety, resulting in a reluctance among students to report their problems. Dr. Paul Appelbaum, a psychiatrist at Columbia University, thinks their concerns are valid.

“To the extent that you heighten every resident assistant’s sensitivity to the risk of suicidality, with the threat of liability hanging over them, they are far more likely to over predict, over intervene, see it where it’s not,” said Appelbaum.

Did MIT Fulfill its Duty to Provide Reasonable Care?

But supporters of Nguyen’s family think these concerns are invalid. According to the family’s attorney, they only wish to affirm that the duty to provide a reasonable level of care ““extends to the ivory tower as it does every other civilized corner of the Commonwealth.”

In 2005, a MA judge ruled that an MIT dean and housemaster were not responsible for the death of a student who set fire to herself on campus. However, Elizabeth Shin’s case was eventually settled for an undisclosed amount. A Boston injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

MIT has refused to respond to questions about the Nguyen case, but said in a statement that it “remains committed to the well-being of its students, offering a robust network of support resources, including comprehensive mental health services.” Continue reading

According to police, at some point between 2:00 and 2:50 am, a man entered a female Boston University student’s dorm room and sexually assaulted her. The unknown man appeared to be of college age, had brown hair and a medium build, and was between 5’8” and 5’10” tall.

The unknown man, who the victim described as wearing a dark-colored button down shirt with a down vest, fled the StuVi 2 dorm immediately following the alleged assault. Police have not said whether they have identified a suspect. However, according to BU Sergeant Larry Cuzzi, the incident is currently under investigation. In the meantime, they are suggesting that students keep their residences locked and secure, and requesting that any suspicious activity be reported to police. Contact Boston Injury Lawyers.

Nearly 25% of Female Students Report Sexual Assault on Campus

The incident, which occurred in a dorm at 33 Harry Agganis Way, is a surprisingly common occurrence at Boston University. According to a university survey conducted last spring and published this fall, nearly one-quarter of female students – 23 percent – reported being sexually assaulted while on campus. Even more disturbing is the fact that these statistics are not unique to BU. In fact, nationwide reports of anonymous surveys across thousands of college campuses show statistics that are almost identical. In the United States alone, one out of every four female college students report being raped or otherwise sexually assaulted on a college campus.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), of all sexual assaults on women in the US, 51.5% of perpetrators were reported to be intimate partners of the victim, 40.8% were reported to be acquaintances, 13.8% were reported to be strangers, and 12.5% were reported to be family members. Continue reading

A study conducted by the Association of American Universities released on Monday has produced staggering results in regards to the number of sexual assaults taking place on college campuses across the country. According to their report entitled “Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault” approximately 23.1 % of female undergraduate students have been victims of unwanted sexual contact by physical force or threat of physical force. The study included information amassed from 150,000 students at 28 different universities across the U.S.

The Association of American Universities, AAU for short, administered their Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault to 60 different member universities but only 27 universities chose to take part in the survey. One non-member university also participated in the survey administered by the AAU. Of the 60 member campuses, three from Massachusetts declined to take part. Boston University, Brandeis University, and MIT all opted out of the sexual assault survey. Harvard University, however, chose to take part in the survey and found their results to be alarming. Approximately 31% of their 60% senior female student body responded that they had experienced nonconsensual sexual contact since they began taking classes at Harvard University. Many of the 31% indicated that the sexual could be classified as rape and not just sexual harassment. Continue reading

The parents of Anthony Barksdale II are suing the Boston University chapter of the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity for Massachusetts wrongful death. Their son, a college freshman, died after getting drunk at a pledge party in 2013. He was looking to become a fraternity member.

At the time of his death Barksdale was 18, which is below the legal drinking age. He was a given a 1.5 liter bottle of vodka to drink at the fraternity and reportedly became very intoxicated before collapsing. His family, in their Boston wrongful death case, contend that no one called for help until later in the evening when Barksdale started throwing up.

Paramedics who arrived at the scene were unable to revive him. Barksdale was pronounced dead at a Brighton, MA hospital.

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A woman is suing the New England Institute of Art in Brookline for Massachusetts personal injury. The woman said that because of inadequate security at the New England Institute of Art, an intruder was able to go into her dorm and sexually assault her. Also a defendant is Anwar Faisal, the owner of the building where the crime happened.

The plaintiff said that a male who wasn’t a student at the institute sexually assaulted her after a security guard let the nonresident into the building. She said that the man tried to forcibly rape her in her dorm room. The man has since been arrested and charged with indecent assault and battery.

In her Brookline, MA college student crimes complaint, the woman says she sustained serious psychological and physical injuries, which has hurt her ability to work. She is seeking compensation for her injuries and suffering.

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A graduate of Boston College is suing the university, claiming that the school violated its own polices and federal anti-discrimination laws because of the way it handled the sex assault allegations against him. It was in 2012 that college officials charged John Doe with the sexual assault of a female student during a student boat cruise.

The school, based on its probe, found the plaintiff responsible for indecent assault and battery and he was suspended for three semesters. The student also was charged with the crime in Suffolk County District Court, but that case was thrown out last year because of video and physical evidence exonerated him.

Now, John Doe’s family wants $3 million in damages, expungement of his record, and a permanent injunction against Boston College, mandating that it must comply with Title IX, which requires gender equity on campus.

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Timothy Turley is suing the Western Massachusetts Regional Police Academy. The 47-year-old West Roxbury resident, who enrolled as a student in 2013, said that not only was he subjected to numerous indignities, but also he was the target of age-related jokes and racially charged edicts by instructors. Some of these teachers are accused of directing anti-gay slurs at students. In addition to the academy, Turley is suing Municipal Police Training Committee director Daniel Zikovich, academy director Curtis McKenzie, the Municipal Police Training Commission, Delilah Yee, and Robert Powers.

In his Massachusetts hazing case, Turley claims that because he complained, he was expelled one month before finishing the program. He appealed the dismissal, but his request was denied. Prior to enrolling in the program, he worked as a law enforcement officer with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department for twenty years.

Among the behaviors Turley was forced to endure: being made to put socks on a colleague’s bare feet, writing the “Use of Force” rule daily on a white board, and punishment for misspelling the word “volatile” in an assignment—he claims that his younger classmates who made common mistakes didn’t endure such treatment.One trainer that Turley identifies in his complaint is Sean Shattuck, a Holyoke cop who was involved in a brawl at a bar while off-duty in 2007. The plaintiff accuses him of simulating a sex act on another student while training was taking place. Shattuck has been removed from the academy as an instructor and is under investigation.

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Johnny Powell II, who recently graduated from Stevenson University, is suing the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity for $4 million. The 22-year-old claims that the members of the historically black fraternity house beat him so brutally that he needed hospital care for several days. He also is claiming false imprisonment and hazing, which allegedly occurred in early 2013.

Even though there are typically rituals that are considered traditional aspects of pledging activities in most fraternities, Powell said that the beating he was given was extremely severe and he was struck, “caned, and paddled” on numerous occasions. He also contends that he was forced to drink alcohol with garlic powder and perform push-ups while there were beer bottle caps under his hands, among other acts. Even though he eventually became a fraternity member at Coppin State University-Powell joined the chapter there because his initial intention was to start one at Stevenson University-he claims that other members alienated him.

He is seeking damages from the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, current and ex-officers with the Coppin chapter, as well as the alumni chapter in the Baltimore area.

Another student has come forward accusing Emerson College of mishandling her Boston sexual assault case. The plaintiff, identified in the Massachusetts personal injury lawsuit as Jane Doe, claims that the school and six administrators did not “promptly and appropriately” respond to her assault and that her Title IX rights were violated. The woman is seeking damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.

The plaintiff says that she reported the alleged assault, which she says was committed by an Emerson student and an MIT student, in 2012. The Emerson College Police Department, the Cambridge Police Department, and the Boston Police Department conducted investigations. She says she chose not to press charges because a resident director at Emerson suggested that she not.

Now, she is accusing the college of inappropriately handling her case, including breaching her confidentiality by telling her mom and suitemate about the assault without her consent, discouraging her from reporting the fellow Emerson student’s alleged involvement, not making any attempts to transfer that student off her dorm floor, as well as other mishandlings.

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