Dartmouth College has agreed to a $14 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit from female students who accused the school of turning a blind eye to sexual misconduct by professors and allowing a human behavior research department on campus to become a “21st Century Animal House.”

The settlement, subject to court approval, was announced Tuesday in a joint statement from the Ivy League school and nine plaintiffs who are current and former students. The suit had been filed in November, a year after Dartmouth placed three tenured professors on leave amid an investigation into alleged sexual misconduct.

The professors, who were in the department of psychological and brain sciences, left the school in 2018. They have been barred from the Hanover, New Hampshire, campus, according to Dartmouth President Philip Hanlon.

The lawsuit accused them of treating female students as “sex objects” in various ways – including allegations of sexual assault – but did not name them as defendants. Efforts to reach the three men for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful.

There were originally seven plaintiffs in the lawsuit – six who gave their names and one who remained anonymous. Two anonymous plaintiffs later joined. The named plaintiffs include Kristina Rapuano, Vassiki Chauhan, Sasha Brietzke, Annemarie Brown, Andrea Courtney and Marissa Evans.

On Tuesday, the nine plaintiffs said in a joint statement with the university they were “satisfied” with the agreement.

“We remain committed to bringing survivor perspectives and community voices to the forefront of the conversation surrounding campus climate,” the plaintiffs said. “Together with Dartmouth, we plan to continue addressing the systemic roots of power-based personal violence and gender-based discrimination across all levels of severity so that our experiences – and those of the class we represent – are never repeated.”

Hanlon said in the statement he was grateful that the women “courageously came forward alongside other students to bring to my administration’s attention a toxic environment created by three former tenured professors, who will never set foot on this campus again.”

Hanlon added: “Through this process, we have learned lessons that we believe will enable us to root out this behavior immediately if it ever threatens our campus community again.”

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Concord, New Hampshire, had sought $70 million in damages. The school and the plaintiffs reached an agreement through mediation that includes a “monetary component of $14 million,” according to the joint statement. Precise terms have not been publicly disclosed. But beneficiaries of the settlement, the statement said, will include “all students who meet certain criteria and who certify that they endured a hostile environment created by the conduct of the three banished professors.”

The statement said the settlement will include specific initiatives “to identify and rectify current problems and prevent future issues.”

 

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: