Worcester Polytechnic Institute Student Rape Survivor Agrees to Mediation with School
Thursday, August, 11, 2016
A rape survivor and her former school, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, will attempt to settle a civil lawsuit filed by the student against the school regarding her 2012 rape. According to the student, the attack occurred while she was completing a research project for the school in Puerto Rico by a security guard at the university-leased condominium building in San Juan. The guard was convicted of the crime and is current in prison for a sentence of 20 years.
Both the school and former student filed a joint stipulation expressing a desire to pursue a food faith resolution in an effort to avoid protracted litigation. The mediation will begin in September and the details will be confidential. In an effort to improve the odds of resolving the dispute through mediation, the school and several school officials waived a controversial defense that was a comparative negligence on the part of the student. This means the school would have argued at trial that the student put herself at risk by drinking alcohol and agreeing to be on the roof with the security guard at the time of the attack. The defense would have reduced damages awarded to the plaintiff.
The plaintiff’s lawyers said the defense amounted to victim blaming and an attempt to intimidate and re-victimize her. The former student is accusing the school of negligence and breach of contract for failing to provide a safe environment for students. Her suit seeks unspecific damages and contains loss of consortium claims by her parents. A previous gross negligence claim was thrown out earlier by a judge.