Queens settles lawsuit over dormitory assault

Queens University of Charlotte has settled a federal lawsuit filed by a former student who says the school treated her poorly after she was raped in her dorm room.

According to new documents in the case, lawyers for both sides have agreed to terms that they will present within 20 days.

The two attorneys – Geraldine Sumter of Charlotte for the plaintiff and Sara Ford of Raleigh for Queens – could not be reached Tuesday.

The suit, which was filed in April, alleges that the former Queens student was sexually assaulted by a male friend and fellow student in 2012. He later confessed to campus police and sent an email to his victim apologizing, the lawsuit says.

The dean of students, who had counseled the offending student in the past, said at the time that the attacker took responsibility for his actions “and felt terrible about what happened,” the lawsuit says.

He was charged with second-degree rape and second-degree sex offense, the lawsuit says. Instead of expelling the accused attacker, Queens suspended him for four semesters, and he was allowed to return to campus in fall 2014, the lawsuit says. In November 2012, he was found guilty of misdemeanor assault on a female and fined $500, records show.

The plaintiff says she was not adequately informed of the school’s handling of the situation, her complaint says. When she went to the chairperson of her department to ask what would happen if she did not complete her coursework before her attacker returned to campus, the school official replied, “We can’t deal with ‘what ifs.’ 

The school’s human resources director advised her not to raise concerns with other faculty members “because they would be offended,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit accuses the school of failing to meet federal requirements to accommodate victims of sexual assault and of negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Queens, asked for comment on the lawsuit, did not provide an immediate response.

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095, @MikeGordonOBS