The former Chadron State College student who won a lawsuit against the college for not doing enough to protect her after she reported being raped in 2016 is asking the 8th U-S Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider this summer’s decision overturning the verdict.
A 3-judge panel sided with Chadron State on a 2-1 vote and Scottsbluff attorney Maren Chaloupka, who represents the woman identified in documents and during the trial only as Jane Doe, wants either that panel or the full 8th Circuit Court for a rehearing.
No criminal charges were filed after the woman said she was attacked twice by the same male student, but the Chadron State disciplinary process barred the man from having contact with her while allowing them both to continue toward their degrees.
In the lawsuit filed after she graduated in Dec 2016, the woman argued her attacker should have been banned from campus because his presence left her feeling so unsafe she eventually had to complete her degree online.
The state college system contended the way CSC handled the situation was reasonable since the man was also ordered to complete counseling and was placed on behavioral probation until he graduated.
The jury ruled in the woman’s favor in December 2021, but the state appealed – in part on the grounds that the school had not been “deliberately indifferent” after Doe reported the attacks, a finding required for such lawsuits.
The majority opinion on the appeal said “While it is a rare case that reversal is warranted after giving appropriate deference to a jury’s verdict, this is such a case” and that the suit should have been dismissed before going to trial.
The ruling said it was understandable that Doe wanted the man to have more severe consequences, but that for the case she had to show CSC “acted in a clearly unreasonable manner, which is not sustainable on the record.”
The dissenting opinion said that Doe presented sufficient evidence to show the college was lax in enforcing terms set for the male student and that a reasonable jury could find the college’s actions were clearly unreasonable in light of the sexual assaults