Worth Knowing: Seven women file $70 million lawsuit against Dartmouth College

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Seven women have filed a $70 million federal class action lawsuit against the College alleging that Dartmouth ignored more than 16 years of sexual harassment by  three former professors in the psychological and brain sciences department. The former professors are Todd Heatherton, William Kelley and Paul Whalen. The suit claims that Dartmouth sat by as the professors turned a human behavior research department “into a 21st-century Animal House.”

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According to an article published in The New York Times, the women have alleged in court papers filed today in federal court in New Hampshire that the professors “leered at, groped, sexted, intoxicated and even raped female students.” 

The lawsuit, which seeks $70 million in damages, says this behavior went back as far as 2002, and accuses Dartmouth's administration of looking the other way for more than 16 years.

The New York Times reported that one of the 7 complainants in the lawsuit said in an interview that Professor Kelley first began harassing her by enlisting her as his drinking buddy, and making his academic support conditional on her cooperation. The complainant said that Professor Kelley raped her in March 2015 during the annual conference of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society in San Francisco. She said that after Professor Kelley encouraged her to go out drinking, she woke up in a daze the next morning and did not remember what had happened. He told her that they had had sex, she said. He then began pushing her to have sex and then threatening professional retribution when she resisted, the court papers say.

College president Phil Hanlon addressed the lawsuit in an email sent to the entire Dartmouth College community and alumni on Thursday morning after news of the suit broke in national media. Hanlon rebutted the claims made in the suit, saying the College “took unprecedented steps toward revoking [the professors’] tenure and terminating their employment.” Dartmouth intends to respond to the lawsuit with its own court filings, Hanlon wrote.

Much more to come on this.

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