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The Blue & Gray Press | October 16, 2018

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Rape Victim Sues UMW for $10 Million

Rape Victim Sues UMW for $10 Million

Click here for a full version of the lawsuit

By: HEATHER BRADY and JESSICA MASULLI

A former UMW student, who was sexually assaulted in 2008, is suing the university for $10 million, alleging negligence in providing a secure environment for students.

On Oct. 3, 2008 at 2 a.m., the former student, who was then a sophomore, was threatened, abducted, falsely imprisoned, raped, sodomized, sexually assaulted and battered while walking to her car in the UMW parking deck, according to the lawsuit.

It is the Bullet’s policy not to name victims of sexual assault.

The victim, who is represented by Attorney Lewis Lowery, is suing the University of Mary Washington, but the defendant is listed as the Commonwealth of Virginia since UMW is a state school.

The lawsuit has been in the works for around two years, according to Lowery. UMW received a notice of claim at that time, a formal written notification of the lawsuit, which was dated Sept. 28, 2009.

Lowery said that he had been in contact with the state attorney general’s office before that date, however.

“There isn’t anybody in the attorney general’s office that can say they were surprised to get this,” he said, adding that the victim’s first choice of action wasn’t to file a lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleged that UMW is liable for the harm the victim suffered as a result of UMW’s failure to use “reasonable care” in fulfilling its duties to offer a secure environment.

According to the lawsuit, UMW did not provide an escort service at the UMW parking deck, and in the early morning hours security personnel did not patrol the UMW parking deck.

Lowery said that patrols stop when the UMW parking deck closes.

“There isn’t anything closed about it,” he said. “There’s no gate that comes down. There wasn’t even any monitoring of it. When they say that it’s closed, it’s the same time they could have a police patrol there.”
The assailant entered the UMW parking deck through unsecured entrances, and was able to attack the victim and then leave without being detained, examined, interrogated, stopped, observed, filmed, photographed or identified, the lawsuit stated.

“They can get very accurate pictures of the people who are at the parking garage,” Lowery said, pointing to the video of Hample’s Safety Walk blue light test in September 2009 as an example. “They don’t have the videotape of the guy who did this, but [they] could have.”

The passageways inside the UMW parking deck are dangerous, invite opportunities for assaults and are unguarded, according to the lawsuit. It said the passageways, which are accessible by pedestrians and motor vehicles, are not effective security devices, and UMW knows this.

The lawsuit alleged that unauthorized people have free access to those areas, and that the assailant was able to detain the victim, attack her, and then flee as a direct result of the unsecured UMW parking deck entrance.

“They could and should have done a better job of making the parking deck secure,” Lowery said.

Former President Judy Hample’s description of her fictitious situation and attacker during the September 2009 UMW Safety Walk is strikingly similar to that of the victim, the lawsuit stated. Hample’s actions have interfered with the investigation, arrest and prosecution of the assailant, and have served to humiliate the victim, it said.

“That is an assertion based on our view of what she’s done,” Lowery said.

Lowery said that Hample, as well as other people for whom the state are responsible, “have done things that have made it more difficult to catch the person who did this.”

According to George Farrar, the associate vice president of University Relations and director of communications, Hample’s blue light call did not interfere or relate to the victim’s investigation.

The Bullet attempted to reach Hample, but she was unavailable for comment.

The lawsuit blamed the university for:

  • negligent security measures employed, the negligent installation and maintenance of security devices, and the negligent hiring and training of security personnel
  • failure to properly monitor, inspect and maintain a location that UMW should have known to be dangerous
  • failure to warn and protect authorized UMW parking deck users of the dangers of the area that UMW should have known about

When asked about safety procedures since the incident, Farrar said, “Safety procedures throughout the campus are continually being reviewed and updated.”

After the assault, the student immediately drove to Stafford County, where she said she felt “very comfortable,” according to the original Bullet article about the incident.

She reported the incident to the Stafford sheriff’s office and was taken to the hospital.  The case was then referred to the Fredericksburg Police Department, who then notified UMW.

The Fredericksburg police assisted with gathering evidence from the victim’s car, but they were not directly involved in the investigation process, according to Natatia Bledsoe, public information officer for the Fredericksburg Police Department.

The UMW Police Department released a sketch and description of the assailant.  An anonymous donor offered a $10,000 reward for any information that would lead to a successful arrest and conviction of the assailant.

UMW Police Chief Eddie Perry deferred comment to Farrar.  Farrar confirmed that the investigation is still open.

The Office of the Attorney General does not comment regarding ongoing litigations.

Comments

  1. Megan

    Ummm…. “According to the lawsuit, UMW did not provide an escort service at the UMW parking deck”
    What?? UMW has always provided an escort service – all you have to do is call the police and they’ll come and walk/drive you back to your dorm, no matter where. I’ve had their number in my phone since day 1 at the University (over a year before this crime occurred) and used the escort service several times, including before the rape occurred. It’s a little silly to expect there to be escorts available at every parking lot, that would require as much as 10 police officers standing around in the middle of the night, and we need those officers for daytime too. There is a security guard stationed below the deck in that little hut at nights but he isn’t inside the deck itself. But the escort service has always been “provided,” and even if she didn’t have a cell phone the blue lights can always be used to summon someone.

    Though I do agree that there always should have been cameras in the parking deck. To me, that’s common sense. Hit and runs, auto theft, vandalism, and of course personal security. I am rather upset it took such an extreme crime to make the university realize this was a needed safety measure, but I am relieved they did add it to the deck.

    And I’m trying to figure out what they’re saying about Hample. Are they actually (in fancier terms) saying Hample’s bogus “security test” was mocking the victim? Yes, a tall skinny man wearing a hoodie and hiding his face – go look at gas station surveillance, I’ll bet that’s at least 75% of all robbers’ descriptions. Nobody is so insensitive they would mock a rape victim by describing the attacker ad laughing about it. Also, I recall the sketch and info released saying the attacker was around 5’10”, which is not tall at all by male standards, so if what I’m understanding is correct they’re a little out of line accusing Hample of that. (P.S., I got that little nugget of info from here: http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2010/122010/12012010/591443/index_html?page=2 )

  2. M.

    My friend I used the escort service only once at Mary Washington and waited about an hour before walking back toward campus in the rain in the dark. Sitting in our car waiting didn’t really feel that much safer at that point, and we were frustrated that no one had arrived after we were told that it would take only 5 minutes. Only as we walked down the street toward campus did a car from the university pick us up.

    I highly doubt using the blue light to summon an escort would be acceptable since it is designated only for reporting emergencies, not the possibility of an emergency. I feel like there would be heavy scolding if a person used it only because they were scared/didn’t have a working phone to call an escort.

    I used the parking deck as a resident the same year the assault happened. I did not see patrols there. I did not see any safety measures. I was unaware there were no cameras. And in the time frame this assault happened it could just as easily have been me or one of my friends.

    I’m not sure when the garage was built, but I’m under the impression that it is a newer or more modern facility, not a derelict thing that would have been too hard to renovate. Given its placement on the campus out of sight of most everything, it really ought to have been equipped with more protections.

    The cost of cameras or more monitoring might be put off as expensive or ridiculous, but such protections can be highly valuable, and are certainly less costly than this girl’s suffering or the potential damages the university might pay as a result of negligence.

    Also, given that each resident students pays about 200$ to park on campus, I don’t think it’s silly to expect escorts available at each parking area, especially when student parking is so spread out, so far from living quarters, and requires students to take rather deserted paths at night. (Consider Battle Grounds parking too.)

    I love the university and am proud to have graduated from Mary Washington, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to defend inadequate security measures, especially not when I’d rather see a push toward more safety for students on campus, especially when college campuses are already such a high risk environment for sexual assault.

    I’m not familiar with all the particulars of the investigation, but it makes me sad to see that no resolution has yet been achieved or justice served.

  3. Lauren

    Many of the blue lights were installed after this particular rape occurred, cameras were installed afterwards, and security guards began monitering the deck afterwards. In short, at the time, the university failed the victim. This garage is completely open to the public, and had little, if any security measures. My heart goes out to the victim, and I can’t believe it took a tragedy like this for UMW to finally start protecting its students.

  4. Julie

    I’m sorry but why in the world would you walk BY YOURSELF to the parking deck at like 3 AM??? Why would you not take someone with you. We usually call this the buddy system. It doesn’t matter how much security you have, that is just plain common sense! It’s unfortunate what happened to this girl but this lawsuit is ridiculous!!!

  5. um

    “…I can’t believe it took a tragedy like this for UMW to finally start protecting its students.”

    I can. I hope they pay the $10 million from the funds of the UMW Foundation…oh wait, no, they need that for another tennis court. Maybe they’ll raise the tuition again. Wait, but then no one will go here. Hmmm….

    Also, blaming the victim for “not using the buddy system” is more ridiculous than any lawsuit. What if she just didn’t have someone available? She’s on UMW property; it’s not unusual for people to get sued for having unsafe conditions on their land, regardless of whether or not people think she should have used the “buddy system.”

  6. Casey

    Friends aren’t always available.. it was 2 AM. Turning this around on the victim is shameful.

  7. Snark

    I agree with um, plus I’m sure the University is happy to have just spent over $16,000 on “school spirit.”

  8. Joe

    I have heard a lot of mixed opinions about the issue, which has already been well represented here. I’ve wondered if she wouldn’t press the law suit if the assailant had actually been caught. Yet, having been here for a number of years, I can’t help but feel that the university does not mask the issue that walking around campus can be dangerous. Is it fair to ask how other universities handle incidents like this? I’m sure this sort of issue has appeared in other schools. As an aside, it’s worth reading the actual suit itself, one of the things she is suing the university for is the “loss of enjoyment in life.” Is that loss worth ten million? And is it something that the university should take responsibility for?

  9. AK

    Julie – “unfortunate”?!

    You bet rape is unfortunate. She’d better get the 10 million. The school can take it out of the whole weird master plan fund.

  10. um

    @Joe, I think part of the idea behind “loss of enjoyment of life” is that in a civil suit you have to be able to establish that you suffered actual damages/loss/pain. So, the more things you lose (e.g., enjoyment of life), the more money you can get from your lawsuit. I’m not a lawyer, but my father is, and I think loss of enjoyment of life is a pretty standard thing to talk about in lawsuits. (Try Googling the phrase.) Your question about how other universities handle issues like this is one I’d like to know the answer to, too.

  11. Jimmy Justice

    Hope she gets every penny. This school has its priorities so ass-backwards.

  12. $10 million, Really

    I agree that this situation is very unfortunate however to sue the university for $10 million is RIDICULOUS!!! Is the money going to erase her memory of the occurrence? Is it going to reverse the occurrence? I think not. It is TOO easy for people to sue people/businesses these days because they assume the defendant will simply pay them the money to avoid negative publicity. It is NOT the university’s responsibility to ensure escorts are available to students who choose to stay out until all hours of the night, go to bars, etc. And October 3, 2008 was a Friday so where was the victim coming from that late??? People who live in apartments pay parking fees as well and people who live in neighborhoods pay HOA fees…does that mean that if you live there you should have escorts available to you 24/7 as well? Like I said, the situation is unfortunate but to blame the school’s security systems for this crime is ridiculous. People are attacked on and off campus environments ALL the time and you would think that people would learn to change their lifestyles, adopt a buddy system, etc. and not depend on that of others to protect you 24/7.

    It also makes ZERO sense why the victim went to Stafford to report the incident when the Fredericksburg Police Department is right around the corner…very strange. She felt more comfortable, really? What did the Fred Police Dept do to her to make her feel uncomfortable?

  13. Cassandra

    As a female, I always make sure to stay on my guard. If I’m walking around at night, I either make sure someone is with me, or someone knows where I’m going & when I’m leaving; I call when I’ve arrived.

    A college can’t be responsible for common sense. Yes, perhaps more security should have been provided before this incident – but to sue them for $10 million is unfair.

    Is it fair she got raped? No. It’s terrible; no one should go through that.

    But should she have used more common sense? Absolutely.

    Sadly, I’m sure she’ll end up winning this case & end up a millionaire. I’m sure that much money will ease her suffering & return her “enjoyment of life.”

  14. Lauren

    I’m kind of in shock reading this. What is the need for money in this situation? Will it really make her happier and her life easier? No, we all know the answer to that. It isn’t as easy as money when it comes to something like rape.

  15. Casey

    Dear $10 million, Really,
    You should be ashamed of yourself. How dare you make assumptions about the victim. For all you know, she was coming back from work. People like you are the reason why some victims still refuse to come forward at all: they continue to be blamed for their own attacks.

  16. $10 million, Really

    Casey:

    “People like me” really? I am a female, I have “worked” late hours but I also had the common sense to ensure that I was as safe as possible by means of actions such as Cassandra described. I am not at all “ashamed” of myself as I stated I feel bad for this girl but as women it is also our responsibility to take care of ourselves and our safety and not blame anyone other than the person who attacks us if that situation occurs.

    And it’s not “people like me” that make victims decide to not come forward…it’s the people that attack them or threaten them. Again, why would she go ALL THE WAY to Stafford county to report a rape??? You know it’s going to revert back to Fredericksburg anyway since it’s their jurisdiction and it makes no sense she was “more comfortable” going to Stafford.

    Again, the school is NOT responsible for this crime as we all make decisions on a daily basis to do the things we do and do them at the hours we decide to do them. It’s too easy to blame anyone and everyone else that comes along though isn’t it?

    And explain to me what the $10 million is going to do for her other than make her rich so she never has to work another day in her life. Is a million dollar home and a Porsche going to make her pain and memory of this situation go away? I THINK NOT!

    People, including this victim want security systems improved upon at UMW so taking $10 million away from the school will help acheive this goal right???

  17. Sympathetic

    Dear 10 Million,
    I also think your comments are out of line. Victims of rape often blame themselves and comments like yours saying she put herself in that situation perpetuates that mindset.
    By the way, I know her, and she went to Stafford because her family lives there. Wouldn’t you rather be at home with people who care about you than on the campus you were just assaulted at?
    The school IS responsible. We pay for a police force…they should protect us.
    And no, 10 million won’t take the pain away but it will pay for therapy and make up for the lack of income since she never got a college degree from UMW.

  18. Laura

    I completely agree with ‘Sympathetic’. Very well said.

    And to the girl who posted above her,
    You are making it seem like the victim is at fault. Bad things happen to even the most cautious of people. Maybe she lived in Arrington and was parking in the parking garage and thought it would be safe to walk the 20 feet by herself. I don’t know the situation, and neither do you. Casey was also right, making assumptions isn’t fair. I don’t know the victim, but I can’t imagine that anyone would try to make a profit off of a life-changing trauma just out of greed, which is what you are making it seem like.

    My heart goes out to the victim, and I know reliving all of this during a lawsuit must be hard. Insensitive comments implying that she was partying and irresponsible because it was a Friday only make it worse.

  19. Cassandra

    “Victims of rape often blame themselves and comments like yours saying she put herself in that situation perpetuates that mindset.”

    She is obviously blaming the school as well.

    No one is saying the victim deserved it, or brought it upon herself, or that rape isn’t terrible. Disagreeing with the lawsuit doesn’t mean I’m condoning rape.

    As “$10 million, Really” said, women need to be careful. And if I were the victim in this situation, I would be focusing my energy on getting well & regaining my life. I would not be focusing on squeezing millions of dollars out of my school.

  20. $10 million, Really

    Thank You for understanding my point of view Cassandra. I think this lawsuit will ultimately affect the victim more as she is now putting herself in a position to relive the situation over and over to lawyers and judges and a jury TWO YEARS LATER. I would definitely be focusing on moving on with my life and not letting that situation consume the rest of my life therefore affecting my quality of life in a negative manner.

    And “Sympathetic,” what happened to your friend is horrible and I can understand you defending her…although you do not need to because I understand the pain and suffering she is experiencing. However the school is NOT responsible…the sick individual that did this to your friend is responsible. You canNOT expect for UMW to be able to have enough manpower to personally look after, protect and escort Each and Every student at UMW day and night…it’s impossible. Just as it’s impossible for police and sheriff departments to protect every person in their designated communities.

    And your comment of “And no, 10 million won’t take the pain away but it will pay for therapy and make up for the lack of income since she never got a college degree from UMW” is out of line as well because therapy will not cost 10 million and just because she decided not to continue her education at UMW does NOT mean that she can not go to another college or take distance learning courses to still obtain her education. If you seriously want me to believe that she’ll never be able to work another day in her life then that’s not going to happen. Doesn’t your friend just want to move on with her life and put this in the past considering it was TWO years ago??? I can certainly understand wanting reimbursement for medical bills and therapist bills but 10 million is simply not realistic. We could go back and forth for days and you will never see things from another perspective because the victim is your friend…

  21. um

    Not to be rude, but the idea that “if you were the victim, you would do X” isn’t really relevant; each person has the right to choose how to deal with their life how they want to. If there’s a valid why the victim shouldn’t be suing the school over what happened, I haven’t heard it yet. Everyone makes their own choices, and assuming there’s no settlement, this case will be up to the legal system anyway; the case might just be dismissed out of hand.

    Also, lawsuits aren’t all that uncommon, and naming a high dollar amount, in this case $10 mil, isn’t that uncommon either. It doesn’t mean that a judgment for the plaintiff would actually be that high.

    Even if it were, though, it wouldn’t be that bizarre. If you wander onto a construction site, and you slip, fall, and break your face, you can still successfully sue sometimes. This lawsuit isn’t unreasonable at all compared to some.

    The suit will probably be settled anyway. If the dollar amount were lower, would you think that to be more fair? I’m male, not especially attractive, and likely able to defend myself well enough to prevent any (very) hypothetical sexual assaults against me, but I can imagine that if I were to get raped, I would likely drop out of school just as the victim did, and also be bitter about the lack of security that led to the incident. I would feel particularly gypped that, through no fault of my own, I would not have a degree, and probably not much money either.

    If the plaintiff in this suits walks away with, say, $500K, I’d say that’s perfectly reasonable. I can’t imagine why anyone would think it’s out of line for someone to exercise their legal right to a fair trial. If the basis for the case is weak, it will be dismissed. That doesn’t mean the victim doesn’t deserve her day in court.

  22. Observer

    @um: “Not to be rude, but the idea that “if you were the victim, you would do X” isn’t really relevant” but then “if I were to get raped, I would likely drop out of school just as the victim did, and also be bitter about the lack of security that led to the incident” kinda defeats the point…
    I have yet to hear anyone say that she should not exercise her right to a fair trial. However, a valid point was made a while ago and never addressed: How does taking $10 million away from the school help the school get tighter security? It makes no sense.
    I agree that $10 million is way too much for something like this. Even considering loss of earnings (which as $10 million, Really points out is not entirely valid, seeing that she could simply go to another college for an education), how many people actually make $10 million in their lifetime? Especially since she was only at Bachelor level (Masters courses would have placed her in Stafford).
    Yes, it is sad that there is evil enough in the world that something like this would happen. However, trying to take $10 million away from the school is only advocating that evil, making it so that the school cannot afford to be safer. One would think that the victim would want the exact opposite.

  23. um

    @Observer: You’ve won this round. But I’ll be back…

    (By which I mean, good point regarding my logical slip-up.)

    I don’t think UMW would pay the lawsuit for the $10 mil. I think it would be the state of VA that pays up, though our budget might get cut or something.

    I recently read about a hotel where a young woman was abducted and raped…the hotel was successfully sued for not providing better security. It’s not at all unprecedented for this sort of thing to happen.

    This may sound crazy, but maybe the victim doesn’t feel attached to the UMW community any more after what happened, and is more interested in recovering damages than helping out UMW get its security in order. Of course, both of these things will probably happen anyway.

    And again, it may not actually be $10 mil. It could be $50K; it could be $50 million. The jury will decide, if it goes to trial anyway.

    Finally, I thought that everyone on this thread who is suggesting that she not sue was suggesting that she not exercise her right to a trial. Maybe no one has said it in those precise words, but what else are you saying, if not “don’t take UMW to court?”

  24. DearDear

    Three points that have not been raised in this discussion thatdeserve consideration here:

    1) A victim sues not only because he or she needs funds to redress the harm done, but to deter the wrongdoing from recurring and creating another victim. Sadly, suing is often the only effective means we have to motivate change in a negligent policy;

    2) UMW as an institution of higher education appears to be particularly insensitive to the need for security for its students on campus. This is clearly reflected the fact that the parking garage had no surveillance whatsoever, and in its archaic policy of disallowing pepper spray on campus so students could protect themselves in just such a case as this one.

    3) It is imperative that students take responsibility for their own self-defense and learn to carry pepper spray or a taser in the event they are attacked in such a way. A Blue phone at the end of the block does nothing for anyone when you are being attacked several feet away, particularly if noone rsponds immediately. Both the school and the student must take responsibilty to do all they can to guard against attackers. That means the school must properly equip their campus and teach self defense to students and students must take their own defense seriously and get streetsmart. Find out about STREETWINGS classes. They will teach you to kick someone’s a** if they attack you.

  25. Laura

    Well said, and agreed, DearDear.

  26. Nadia

    As students at UMW, we’re paying almost 9 grand a year just for tuition there–this is not including room and board (and don’t even get me starting on the parking fees we have to pay for). For that much money, are we not entitled to be provided with a safe environment? Are we not entitled to peace of mind when we’re walking around on campus? A lawsuit is never pretty, it is always long and tedious and I applaud the victim for taking a stand and fighting for this issue. One does not “move on” from an experience such as this, it leaves an imprint on your life and haunts you forever. She will never be the same again. This victim is going to have to relive this ordeal in court over and over again just to win her case to help ensure that safety protocols at UMW will receive a serious overhaul. She is doing a very heroic act in order to make a change in the school’s poor policies in keeping us safe.

    You guys should be ashamed of yourself blaming the victim. No one asked to be abducted, raped and sodomized. It is NOT unheard of for college students anywhere to be up and about in all hours of the night. We should all be entitled to walk the campus at any hour of the night and be safe.

  27. KW

    She should get money, can’t really say how much, it’s hard to measure money in a crime such as this. Although I would have to say she should get what she wants based on the fact that she was threatened, falsely imprisoned, abducted, raped, sodomized and sexually assaulted!!! That destroys people mentally when something so horrible happens! There is so much that plays into a crime like this one, it’s the aftermath so-to-speak, therapy treatments, continuous medication, etc. You have to analyze the whole situation and think about how this individual is going to live her life. Not only that but the security and safety of the campus and parking deck (of all places) needs to be as safe as possible. Put more money into the safety of the school than unnecessary costs. You can’t always use the buddy system not only that, but I don’t have many friends at all at UMW, I commute, don’t have time for all that. I don’t blame her for not using a buddy system, I wouldn’t ask just any random UMW student.

  28. SB

    I’m going to chime in on this website for the first time ever…

    The point I intend to make is not specifically about this situation but rather is a broader stipulation regarding the general mindset of a large percentage of the UMW community.

    As a graduate of the University who lived both on and off campus, and utilized the facilities, services, and departments of the school thoroughly, I have certainly gained a perspective of where the school succeeds as well as where it falls short. (But that is a topic for another day)

    What I take issue with is the general naivete of a large portion of the students at UMW. As someone pointed out in the article, UMW puts forth a glowing picture of safety and security for its students, that does not really exist. Not to be rude, but DUH!! That happens EVERYwhere. Just because police exist, does not mean crimes don’t happen. Just because you pay money for a parking spot, doesn’t mean some a-hole isn’t going to park in it. WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD.

    To clarify, this is not an attack on the victim of this heinous crime. Certainly she has a right to be upset with the lack of security in the parking deck and what she decides to do as a result is her freedom and choice. However, instead of other students simply blaming the school and whining about how they pay all kinds of money and the school should be their new mommy and fix everything, it is important to look in the mirror. What can be learned from this situation about how to take care of oneself? I can guarantee that if you can answer that question, then indeed you are ready to graduate and move on to better things, as opposed to a lot of UMW students who wish to be coddled through their education, and end up graduating with no actual societal knowledge and skills whatsoever. College is not just for learning in a classroom, it is for learning how to live your life, and that includes remaining safe, regardless of whether you are in Britain with cameras everywhere, or in Africa with an anarchistic society. These are the ways of the “Real World” as college students like to refer to it.

    And as a final note before I get off of my ridiculous soapbox…
    UMW is cheap.
    Complain all you want, but the fact is that you get a top-tier education at a fraction of the cost of the rest of the country. Anybody who does a normal college search can tell you that. They raised tuition when I was a student, and it did not bother me because I knew I would be paying at least twice as much somewhere else to get the same education if not a lesser one.
    By the same token, parking at other schools is in the thousands of dollars, and the same goes for “real world” living situations in cities and such. My parking in DC is 200 dollars a month. Granted, I am not a poor student anymore, but that isn’t cheap.

    I regret that this crime ever occurred, and I have tremendous faith that the University will do what it can to remedy the situation. I wish the best to the victim.

    To all naive UMW students – Welcome to the real deal. If you’re not ready, maybe you should stay in school for a while longer until you figure it out.

  29. $10 million, Really

    Nadia, seriously…..WHO is “blaming the victim???” Not one of these posts has blamed the victim. Whether or not a person has agreed with her lawsuit or the amount of her lawsuit, no one has blamed the victim. Everyone has sympathized with the victim and her situation.

    Many of us, like you pay tuition and other miscellaneous fees to attend this University but that is no different from any other University…they all have high tuitions and miscellaneous fees…UMW is NO different.

    And you’re right, it is not unheard of for college students to be up and about in all hours of the night…thus the reason we hear of so many rape/assault victims just like this one. We can not expect to be out and about at all hours of the night and feel nearly as safe as we would during the day. That should not stop someone from doing things at night but it should make them more aware of their surroundings and more conscious of the decisions they make. I agree one should be able to “walk the campus at any hour of the night and be safe” however one should be able (even non-college students) to walk anywhere at any hour of the night and be safe but how realistic is that???
    I’m all about UMW increasing their security measures as I too am a student and the majority of my classes are afterdark however it is unrealistic to expect to have ZERO incidents on campus whether it be robbery, rape, assault, harrassment, etc. It is unfortunately the world we live in and we will NEVER be 100% safe.

  30. Me too

    I was also sexually assulted five years ago. It was nightmarish and it happen by someone who I trusted, who I was in a relationship with. I never saw it coming and it was difficult to say the least. I was one of those people who didn’t report it because I didn’t know what would happen. I knew the basics, but I wasn’t willing to do anything. I think that the lawsuit is great because it brings attention to the lack of security, however, the lawsuit for $10 million is not going to help fix this problem with the school or within. I have been through and am still going through that journey and I can honestly say that no amount of money is going to fix this. Therapy helps, but it doesn’t solve it. She needs something to grasp onto, someone that she can blame. When you go through a rape, you eventually have to go through the stages of grieving. A part of you is gone forever and now there is this new part that you have to decipher. She has probably already felt guilty and has now moved on to blame. She has no one that she can really blame because she does not have the “luxury” of knowing who raped her. I know who did it to me, so I know who I can blame, but even still you feel guilty about it. This lawsuit is probably just her way of attempting to get some closure, not attempting to increase her bank account.

  31. Cassandra

    I couldn’t agree more with the 2 posts above.

    Nadia, you bolster a mindset that seems to be quite prevalent in America – that when something terrible happens, institutions should throw money at the situation, not because they feel responsible, but because it shows just how “sympathetic” they are, & how much they “care.” All to shine up their reputation; all to look good on paper.

    I’m sorry, but money is not going to change what happened. And giving that poor girl $10 million is not going to make remaining UMW students any safer.

    As SB said, the best lesson learned from this is “What can be learned from this situation about how to take care of oneself?”

    But because some of us are advocating self-help (that is, students should rely upon their common sense & preparation, not the university’s protection) – I’m sure there’s just going to be another round of accusations that we’re “blaming” rape victims.

    But it’s quite the contrary. By feeling nothing more for this girl than blind sympathy, by doing nothing but patting her on the head & shoving money in her hands, you’re reducing her to nothing more THAN a victim. You’ve robbed her of her identity.

    We’re saying she’s more. And we’re saying that money solves nothing, & blind sympathy doesn’t change anything. Rape is awful, no one has contested that. But throwing money at rape is just ignoring the problem. What WILL prevent rape is self-awareness in women; careful planning; common sense. The most powerful weapon one can carry is intelligence.

  32. Anonymous

    Cassandra,
    Women who plan carefully, have common sense, and are intelligent are still raped. Self-aware women are attacked every single day. I am not going to join in and say that you are blaming the victim, but I will say that as someone who has gone through a similar ordeal on this campus, your comments on this entire board are rather insensitive.

  33. Cassandra

    All I’m saying is $10 million is a little steep & that students shouldn’t rely on cameras & escort services to make them feel prepared & safe. If that makes me insensitive, so be it. I’m sorry you feel that way.

  34. Cassandra

    And I’m sorry, but I do not consider walking around alone, at 2 a.m. in the morning, in an empty parking garage, carefully planned or intelligent. Again, I’m not blaming her in any fashion, but it’s something a female shouldn’t do.

  35. Pissed

    This is a joke. UMW didn’t rape you. The parking deck didn’t rape you. Installing cameras won’t take this away and neither will $10 million.

    If you’re suing our University, the papers should have the right to release your name and I’m sure you wouldn’t want that.

    I feel bad about what happened, but I know that no one outside of NOVA would sue ANYONE for that kind of money. Your actions negate any bad feelings I had for you.

  36. Nadia

    I agree UMW is no different when it comes to the fees and tuition they charge their students but I have also attended VCU and Richmond has a higher crime rate than Fredericksburg. All of their parking garages have working cameras and no one can get into the parking garage without swiping their student issued card and they have never had an issue of sexual assault in one of their parking facilities before.I paid the same amount of money when I attended VCU, so I see no reason why UMW wouldn’t have had the same safety protocols when this incident happened. I understand it might be hard for many people to understand if you’ve never been sexually assaulted before but if you ever have the misfortune of going through an experience like that perhaps you might understand more. Most likely she won’t receive the entire 10 million (which I honestly don’t agree is a reasonable amount, it is a little high)and will probably receive a lot less but I do think she deserves some sort of compensation from UMW.