Dartmouth College requests 3 Jane Does be named in sexual assault lawsuit

By April Siese

/ CBS News

Dartmouth accused of ignoring misconduct

Dartmouth College has requested that three students who've remained anonymous in a sexual assault lawsuit against the New Hampshire university be identified. On Wednesday, the college filed a motion in federal court seeking to name the three "Jane Does" listed as plaintiffs in the case Rapuano, et al vs. Trustees of Dartmouth College.

Nine women sued the school for $70 million over allegations that Dartmouth failed to act when presented with accusations of sexual harassment and assault over the course of 16 years. The suit was first filed November 2018 and concerns three former teachers: Todd Heatherton, William Kelley and Paul Whalen.

All three teachers were investigated by the school and chose to either resign or retire.

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The law firm representing the plaintiffs, Sanford Heisler Sharp, said they have no comment at this time and their response "will be set forth in the reply brief we submit in court."

In a statement to CBS News, Dartmouth College spokesperson Diana Lawrence commended "the bravery of the individuals who have stepped forward to expose misconduct by three former faculty members in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences" but reaffirmed Dartmouth's stance against the plaintiffs using pseudonyms.

"Allowing the new plaintiffs to proceed under pseudonyms limits Dartmouth's ability to defend itself," Lawrence said. "It hinders Dartmouth's investigation of the claims and prevents proper evaluation of whether the new plaintiffs can serve as representatives of a class."

The decision to seek to have plaintiffs' names revealed appears not to have been inspired by proposed changes to Title IX regarding how campuses investigate and handle accusations of sexual misconduct.

Twenty-seven-year-old Vassiki Chauhan and 30-year-old Kristina Rapuano, both plaintiffs, spoke with CBS "This Morning" last year about the allegations. Both said they were raped by former Dartmouth professors. It's something that's still difficult for them to process.

While attending a conference in California in 2015, Rapuano alleges she was raped by Kelley, a professor who had taken her under his wing. "Essentially, I have no memory of this night," Rapuano said. "I didn't even remember waking up… I had thought that I had just been drinking heavily. Now I'm unsure."

Chauhan said she was raped last April at the home of Whalen, another star professor.

"I tried to get out of the situation as soon as possible. It was only when he started reaching for more intimate parts of my body that I was unambiguous about the fact that this is not something I wanted," Chauhan said.

CBS News has reached out to Rapuano, Chauhan, and others named as plaintiffs in the suit and is awaiting a response. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire declined to comment on the case.

First published on May 15, 2019 / 4:43 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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