A woman who says she was gang raped at an off-campus party in 2013 has sued North Idaho College, accusing the school of forcing her to re-encounter her attackers in her dormitory and of intentionally misleading her about her rights under federal Title IX standards.
According to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, the assault took place when the victim was a 17-year-old freshman at NIC in November 2013. She became intoxicated at the party, but when she was falling in and out of consciousness, she recalls three men that she knew sexually assaulting her, the lawsuit says.
The following day, the complaint filed in court says that the victim texted her friend — a resident assistant at the time — describing the incident, including how one man was standing by "asking for a turn" during the assault. The 17-year-old also explained to her friend how she felt "disgusted with herself" afterward. The friend notified her supervisor about the incident, and eventually the school's vice president of student services and a campus counselor were both notified.
The lawsuit contends that NIC officials did nothing to investigate the men she says attacked her. Instead, it states, they attempted to convince her to move out of the dorms, and "thereafter punished" her for her actions "in the wake of the emotional and psychological turmoil," the lawsuit says.
About a month after the incident, the resident assistant at the dorm noted that the victim entered the dorm at 1:35 am "distraught and intoxicated," saying "all she wants to do is drink to forget what happened." Soon after that, the school had her sign a "behavior contract" to address her drinking issue. The school then assigned the resident assistant to track when the victim came and went from the dorm, according to the lawsuit.
The victim was disciplined by NIC in April 2014 for writing graffiti on the windows that expressed her dissatisfaction with the way she was being treated by the school, the complaint says.
The lawsuit says the school then intentionally misled her regarding her Title IX rights, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. When the victim asked the Title IX coordinator if the assault "qualified" for a Title IX complaint, the coordinator responded that he did not understand what she meant by "qualify for a complaint," but that it did fall under the purview of Title IX and it was his job to investigate all allegations.
NIC spokesman Tom Greene says the college cannot comment on pending litigation.
Rebecca Rainey, an Idaho attorney representing the young woman in the case, says her client reported the assault to police the spring after the November assault, but no charges were filed. Rainey says the men involved were not named in the lawsuit because she says the lawsuit is about "the school's lack of response and inaction."