Seven current and former psychology students have filed a lawsuit against Dartmouth College for allowing a culture of “sexual assault, harassment and discrimination” by three professors at the school.
According to The New York Times, the suit alleges professors Todd Heatherton, William Kelley and Paul Whalen from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences of promoting a drinking culture among the students, often forcing students to attend the lab meetings at bars, making inappropriate advances towards the women and often threatening them with retaliation if they didn’t comply.
“The seven plaintiffs, each an exemplary female scientist at the start of her career, came to Dartmouth to contribute to a crucial and burgeoning field of academy study,” the lawsuit said. “Plaintiffs were instead sexually harassed and sexually assaulted by the department’s tenured professors and expected to tolerate increasing levels of sexual predation.”
In October 2017, the college launched an internal investigation into the conduct of three tenured professors forcing two professors to resign and one to retire.
Kristina Rapuano, who is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit which is seeking $70 million in damages, has alleged Professor Kelley of rape during the annual conference of Cognitive Neuroscience Society in San Francisco.
“The way that he operated was he pushed the limits on drinking, doing things that were starting to tear down these professional boundaries,” Rapuano told The New York Times. “Once that boundary is taken down, it’s really hard to re-establish, or I would say impossible.”
College president Philip Hanlon, while applauding the women’s courage, said that the school has already investigated the claims last year.
“I would like to reiterate that sexual misconduct and harassment have no place at Dartmouth,” Hanlon wrote in an email to the college community.
“We applaud the courage displayed by members of our community within PBS who brought the misconduct allegations to Dartmouth’s attention last year. And we remain open to a fair resolution of the students’ claims through an alternative to the court process,” he added.