North Idaho

Former NIC students sues for failure to protect in rape case

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - A lawsuit filed in federal court alleges North Idaho College failed to protect a woman who says she was gang raped by three of her fellow students.

The lawsuit accuses NIC of "deliberate indifference" and says the school's inaction forced her to "re-encounter her attackers in dorm common areas and suffered serious psychological injuries resulting an increased abuse of drugs and alcohol that subjected her to increased monitoring and disciplinary actions by the school."

The lawsuit cites NIC's failure to comply with Title IX regulations, which require that "once a school has notice of a possible sexual assault by a student by another student - whether carried out on-campus or off-campus - the school must take immediate and appropriate steps" to investigate and protect against harassment.

According to the lawsuit, the young woman was a 17-year-old freshman at NIC in 2013. She was drunk at an off-campus party and fell in and out of consciousness. She says three men who lived in her dorm took turns having sex with her.

After the incident, the woman says she sent text messages to a friend, who was also the dorm's student resident assistant, telling her what happened. The next day, the lawsuit says the student adviser sent the messages to a supervisor, along with details of what happened. That message was forwarded to the VP of student services and a student counseling specialist.

Just under a month later, the resident assistant made note of the young woman coming into the dorm early in the morning "distraught and intoxicated and reporting that 'all she wants to do is forget what happened.'"

In January, two months after the alleged assault, the lawsuit says NIC made the young woman enter into a behavior contract to address her drinking issues. In April, the woman was disciplined for writing graffiti on the dorm windows "expressing her dissatisfaction with how she was being treated within residence life."

The following summer, the student asked the school's Title IX coordinator if her assault "fell under the purview of Title IX and if she 'qualified for a complaint.'" The lawsuit says that adviser said she did qualify and that it was his job to investigate such complaints.

According to the lawsuit, "NIC's refusal to investigate or take corrective action following [her] report of being gang raped by other NIC students amounted to deliberate indifference to the requirements of Title IX."

NIC has not yet responded to the lawsuit.