Petition Urges Dartmouth To Drop Challenge to Pseudonyms in Sex Abuse Lawsuit
Nearly 300 Dartmouth College alumni, students and professors are demanding the college drop its opposition to the use of pseudonyms by women suing the school for allegedly mishandling sexual abuse complaints.
The statement was also signed by Congresswoman Annie Kuster and state Senator Martha Hennessey, both of whom say they were assaulted when they were undergraduate students at Dartmouth.
Dartmouth filed its opposition after two more women joined a handful of current and former students in suing the college for $70 million. Three of the nine plaintiffs have chosen to remain anonymous, each going under "Jane Doe."
Diana Whitney is the founder of Dartmouth Community Against Gender Harassment and Sexual Violence, an independent advocacy group that co-wrote the statement. She says the college is ignoring the threat of retaliation that makes sexual abuse vastly under-reported.
“It’s a clear message to all survivors that they will risk facing aggressive treatment if they dare come forward,” said Whitney. “They encourage them to come forward and report, and yet legally they are taking this strategy [to oppose pseudonyms.]”
Dartmouth College declined an interview with NHPR. However, the college did issue a statement from Justin Anderson, a spokesman. It reads, in part:
“We have made clear to the new Jane Doe plaintiffs through their counsel that Dartmouth does not object to their proceeding anonymously if they wish to assert individual claims as opposed to as class representatives. Dartmouth believes that the law is clear that individuals wishing to be class representatives in a class action lawsuit, which their case is, cannot be anonymous.”
The nine plaintiffs are representing every female undergraduate and graduate student in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences since April 2015.
This petition comes after Dartmouth and the plaintiff's attorneys decided to enter mediation last week to resolve the case.