Seven women are suing Dartmouth College for neglecting to investigate sexual misconduct complaints against three former professors. The lawsuit, which was filed on Nov. 15, stated that the professors sexually assaulted, harassed, and discriminated against the women while they were graduate students.
The $70 million lawsuit named former tenured professors Todd Heatherton, William Kelley, and Paul Whalen, all within the 's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, as the perpetrators. The men allegedly "leered at, groped, sexted, intoxicated, and even raped female students," the lawsuit said.
In 2017, Dartmouth conducted a sexual misconduct investigation of the professors, resulting in Heatherton's retirement and Kelley's and Whalen's resignation. However, the seven women do not believe that Dartmouth took appropriate actions to address the issue sooner. The lawsuit stated that sexual harassment complaints were filed against Heatherton in 2002, but Dartmouth still promoted the former professor.
Kristina Rapuano, a former Ph.D. student under Kelley, said that the professor raped her at a Cognitive Neuroscience Society conference, The New York Times reported. After the incident, Kelley allegedly threatened professional retribution when she resisted his attempts to have sex with her.
Vassiki Chauhan, a current Dartmouth Ph.D. student, reported that Whalen had sexually assaulted her. Former Dartmouth Ph.D. student, Annemarie Brown, said that Whalen groped her at a party at his home, according to The Washington Post. Another current Dartmouth Ph.D. student, Sasha Brietzke, alleged Heatherton pulled her into his lap and asked about her plans for later that night, The New York Times stated.
Heatherton had since denied the behavior, saying that it was taken out of context, The New York Times reported.
In a statement to the New York Times, a Dartmouth spokesperson said he disagreed with how the women characterized the university's actions in the lawsuit and added that Dartmouth is open to settling the complaints outside of court.
One of the accusers, Andrea Courtney, who is also a former Dartmouth Ph.D. student, said she believes that “as graduate students, there’s so much at stake, with their academic careers heavily dependent on their relationship with advisors,” The Washington Post reported.
Last spring, Penn Psychology professor Robert Kurzban allegedly had multiple romantic relationships with students while he was their instructor and advisor. Kurzban resigned from Penn this July.
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