By Neetu Chandak
Seven women sued Dartmouth College Thursday over allegations that three professors fostered drunken environments that encouraged sexual assault.
A lawsuit filed in New Hampshire claims professors William Kelley, Paul Whalen and Todd Heatherton harassed and touched the seven women inappropriately. The incidents allegedly happened during parties at bars or at one of the school employee’s home where hot tub parties were hosted, The Associated Press reported.
The women were allegedly forced to engage in the professors’ parties or go bar hopping, according to the AP. Refusing to take part in the outings allegedly led to the women being disparaged or ignored.
“The seven plaintiffs, each an exemplary female scientist at the start of her career, came to Dartmouth to contribute to a crucial and burgeoning field of academy study,” according to the lawsuit. “Plaintiffs were instead sexually harassed and sexually assaulted by the Department’s tenured professors and expected to tolerate increasing levels of sexual predation.”
Dartmouth began investigating the professors for sexual misconduct in October 2017. Heatherton retired while Whalen and Kelley resigned, according to the AP. Dartmouth was prepared to fire all three professors.
The state attorney general’s office also announced an investigation into the issue in an October 2017 press statement.
Dartmouth student Vassiki Chauhan claimed everybody in the Department of Psychological and Brain Science (PBS) knew about the professors’ behaviors but did not do anything about it. Chauhan sought medical attention after allegedly getting raped by Whalen at his home, the AP reported.
Kristina Rapuano, another plaintiff, said Whalen allegedly put his hands down her pants in his office in March 2014. Rapuano also attended a conference with professor Kelley the next year, where he allegedly got her drunk and raped her, the AP reported. When she refused to do any more sexual favors after the assault, Kelley allegedly stopped giving her academic guidance and shared her research with others to undermine it.
The lawsuit did not say whether Rapuano or Chauhan reported their situations to the police, according to the AP. Heatherton denied socializing or having sexual relations with students, though he apologized for acting inappropriately at conferences.
“We applaud the courage displayed by members of our community within PBS who brought the misconduct allegations to Dartmouth’s attention last year,” Philip Hanlon, the college’s president, said in an email to the college community Thursday, the AP reported. “And we remain open to a fair resolution of the students’ claims through an alternative to the court process.”
The college denied accusations of ignoring complaints that allegedly go as far back as 2002, according to the AP.
Dartmouth did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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