NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — 10 On Your Side has learned of a new legal challenge in the fight between a rape victim and Virginia Wesleyan College.
In previous reports, WAVY.com told you about the claims of a former student: she says she was raped on the VWC campus, and that the school did nothing to help her. She is suing the school for $10 million, saying the administration went out of its way to make sure the man who raped her finished his education in good standing.
But in a court filing last week, VWC said the case should be dismissed. The school argues it isn’t responsible for the alleged attack because it doesn’t have any legal duty to keep students safe: “One does not have a duty to warn or protect another from third-party criminal acts.”
The college completely blames the alleged rapist, who is referred to as “Robert Roe.” But the victim, referred to as “Jane Doe,” blames the school because she says it created the environment for the attack.
Her new legal challenge is about where the blame lies, and it will be filed on Monday.
The motion states the school is trying to get itself out of any and all responsibility, and the school wants the alleged rapist to pay any damages the school may owe the victim. The motion will ask a judge to not allow Virginia Wesleyan to sue the alleged rapist for up to $10 million dollars.
“The bottom line is, we are attempting to prevent the school from trying to blame the rapist in a case where it is not permissible for them to do so,” said Jonathan Halperin, the victim’s attorney.
Halperin will file the motion, claiming both the college and the rapist are equally negligent and equally responsible and one can’t blame the other.
“The law in Virginia does not allow you, if you are negligent, to sue and blame someone else [who is negligent] and absolve yourself from negligence,” Halperin said.
In the motion, Halperin writes, “Robert Roe, cannot be liable in contribution to Defendant VWC … because he is guilty of moral turpitude.”
Virginia Wesleyan asks for indemnity, which is the act of not being held responsible.
Halperin said there is no indemnity because that requires a contract and there was no contract between the rapist and the school.
“What the school is trying to do is shift all the blame to the rapist. The issue in the case is not whether the rapist committed the act, the issue in the lawsuit is whether the school was negligent,” Halperin said.
10 On Your Side emailed Virginia Wesleyan College’s attorney, Mark Nanavati, who had not seen the motion, so he could not comment.
“I am very surprised Mr. Halperin and/or Miss Doe do not want to see Mr. Roe held financially responsible for his alleged acts,” Nanavati wrote to WAVY.com.
Halperin told WAVY.com the suspect is no longer in Virginia, is a student, doesn’t have any money.