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Dartmouth College settles sexual harassment lawsuit for $14 million

Aug. 7, 2019
Nine women contended that they were sexually assaulted or harassed by psychology professors at the college.

Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., has settled a federal lawsuit with nine women who sued over allegations that it ignored years of harassment and assault by former psychology department professors.

CBS News reports that the settlement includes $14 million for students who can prove they suffered abuse and can meet other conditions. The college also will carry out several inititatives "to rectify current problems and prevent future issues."

"These current and former students not only brought to light the completely unacceptable behavior of these three individuals in one department, but, through their courage, also led to our launching — and now with their help, expanding — initiatives to address issues of sexual misconduct and power imbalances here, and we hope over time on other campuses as well," Dartmouth Provost Joseph Helble said in a statement.

The settlement is still subject to approval by a U.S. District Court judge in Concord, N.H.

In the lawsuit, the women, who were graduates or undergraduates at the college, asserted that professors William Kelley, Paul Whalen and Todd Heatherton harassed and touched women inappropriately. Kelley and Whalen are each accused of assaulting a student after a night of drinking, attempting to seduce women under their supervision and punishing those who rebuffed their advances in the Department of Psychological and Brain Science.

In a statement, the plaintiffs, three of whom were anonymous, said: "We are satisfied to have reached an agreement with Dartmouth College, and are encouraged by our humble contribution to bringing restorative justice to a body of Dartmouth students beyond the named plaintiffs. We remain committed to bringing survivor perspectives and community voices to the forefront of the conversation surrounding campus climate."

Dartmouth said it was unaware of the allegations until it was alerted by scores of female students. In October 2017, Dartmouth launched an investigation into the three professors.

It never released the findings and was preparing to fire all three. Heatherton retired, and the two other professors resigned.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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