A federal judge has dismissed some of the charges filed against the University by a former student who claims she was raped, but the students’ claims of defamation and inadequate protection from harassment will go to trial.
The alleged victim’s lawyer, Robert Berke, said his client claims she was raped by a male Yale Divinity School student on Oct. 18, 1999. Following a University hearing, the accused student was banned from campus.
Judge Janet Hall dismissed the charges of breach of contract, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Patrick Noonan ’74, the lawyer representing Yale in the case, said the University could not have been held liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress since it had no involvement with the alleged rape.
“Even if she was raped, that wasn’t Yale’s fault,” Noonan said.
Berke was not the original lawyer on the case and was not involved in the drafting of the complaint. He said Hall made the right decision in dismissing the three charges.
Berke said Hall heard oral arguments Tuesday on a Yale motion for reconsideration. In the motion, Yale tried to get Hall to reconsider her decision and dismiss the remaining two claims as well.
Berke said Yale violated Title IX in its handling of the alleged rape.
“Once an educational establishment is aware of — a potential problem, they have a obligation to protect students from harassment,” Berke said. “The argument we’re giving is that Yale didn’t do that.”
Noonan said the University took action as quickly as possible.
“Basically [Yale] gave the only remedy that was available,” Noonan said. “She never came in contact with [the alleged rapist] again.”
Noonan said the defamation claim comes from a statement made by a Yale administrator, which the alleged victim interpreted as indicating that no rape occurred.
When a judge grants a motion for summary judgment, Noonan said, he or she grants that all of the facts of the case alleged by the plaintiff are true and determines that the plaintiff still cannot win.
“If there’s any possible scenario where the plaintiff might prevail, the judge doesn’t grant summary judgment,” Noonan said.
Yale Divinity School Dean Harold Attridge said he was not dean when the alleged rape occurred and declined to comment on specifics of the case. University spokesman Tom Conroy also declined to discuss the case.
“I wouldn’t have anything to say beyond what the University would say through its court proceedings,” Conroy said.
Berke said he is preparing for trial, which he expects will begin in the next few months. He said he is optimistic about his chances in the case.
Noonan said he expects Yale to win the suit and maintained that the University adequately followed its process for protecting students from rape. He said the procedures demanded that a hearing be held within 60 days of an alleged incident. A hearing was held within 40 days, Noonan said.
“I think ultimately the facts will show that there was no deviation from the procedure,” Noonan said. “My guess is that the judge doesn’t think there’s going to be much there.”