Eli faces suit for assault

Although she no longer faces criminal charges, Kyli Hanson ’09 is now facing a civil suit for assaulting a Yale Police Department officer.

On May 1, 2007, Hanson was arrested for striking a YPD detective at the annual Spring Fling concert. Now, with the two year statute of limitations on filing a civil suit approaching, the detective — Susan Dercole — has filed a civil lawsuit against Hanson. Following an atypically protracted effort to serve Hanson her summons, Dercole’s attorney resorted to an unorthodox option: acquiring a court order to purchase legal notices to appear in the News and the New Haven Register.

According to the suit, Hanson “willfully and maliciously assaulted” Dercole. As a result of her injuries, the suit says, Dercole had two operations and continues to suffer “great pain” and “mental anguish.”

Deputy University Secretary Martha Highsmith said Wednesday that Dercole still has not been able to resume her duties as a police officer as a result of her injuries. The University has already paid Dercole over $100,000 in indemnity and medical expenses, the suit says. Dercole did not reply to a phone message left at her office.

The New Haven Register reported in June 2007 that the criminal charges were dismissed after Hanson completed 10 hours of community service and wrote a letter of apology. Although Hanson’s attorney, William Dow III ’63, vehemently refuted the claim in an interview Wednesday, Yale’s police union asserted at the time that Hanson got special treatment because she was a Yale student.

“We dare say that the outcome of this case would have been different had the defendant been a poor, inner-city resident, rather than a rich, privileged Yale student who just happens to be the star athlete on the Yale softball team,” union President Carlos Perez said in a letter to the Register at the time.

But even though the criminal case was dismissed, Hanson’s legal troubles are not over.

When State Marshal Peter Criscuolo tried to serve Hanson with papers at her Silliman College room on Feb. 5, he was told by an attorney for the University that he was not allowed on campus, Criscuolo said in an interview Wednesday.

“My marshal was told if he entered he would be arrested for trespassing,” Patricia Confrancesco, Dercole’s attorney, said in a phone interview.

To avoid trespassing, the marshal decided not to enter the college without a Yale Police Department escort, Confrancesco said, something the University would not provide.

But Associate General Counsel Harold Rose said in an e-mail message that the marshal could enter Silliman, or any other college, “on the same terms as any other person who does not live or work there.” When asked to clarify those terms, Rose said state marshals enter Yale property “all the time.”

Rose said the University tried to arrange a meeting with Hanson in her dean’s office. Hanson did not reply to the meeting requests, Rose said.

But in an e-mail message Wednesday, Hanson denied that she refused to meet at her dean’s office.

Ultimately, the marshal left Hanson’s summons with the University. But the summons have yet to make their way to Hanson. Rose said the University only accepts summons to which it is party; it is the plaintiff’s responsibility — not the University’s — to serve students.

Traditionally, if the summons cannot be served to the defendant directly, it can be served through her attorney.

According to court documents submitted by Confrancesco, however, Hanson instructed her attorney not to accept service on her behalf. Dow denied this.

“We never had an opportunity to consult with her about the civil lawsuit,” Dow said, “so whether we should or should not accept civil service never came up.”

Confrancesco said these problems serving a defendant are “highly unusual.” As a result, Confrancesco said she had to get a court order to run a legal notice directed at Hanson in the News and the New Haven Register at her client’s expense.

Rose said the University will not take sides on the lawsuit, which simultaneously involves a Yale employee and an enrolled student. If Hanson does not reply to the summons, a default judgment ruling in favor of Dercole would be entered, Confrancesco said.

Paul Needham contributed reporting.

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