An 18-year old freshman woman at Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk was
pursuing a degree in psychology when she was sexually assaulted and raped
in the fall of 2012. Under the pseudonym Jane Doe, the woman accused a
fellow male student whom she met at a party of raping her after she was
dosed with a drug at an on-campus party sponsored by a Peer Advisor.
On behalf of his client, Attorney Halperin has filed a $10 million suit
against the school. The school has fought back by naming her accused attacker
in the case as a party so he would be forced to pay damages in the event
that the lawsuit against the school is successful. VWC has further attempted
to cast doubt on the claims made by Doe regarding the physical trauma
she endured and requested her full sexual history in early August.
Doe was shocked to see her attacker show up, unannounced, at her deposition
on August 20th. Court documents reveal that upon seeing the man, Doe experienced a “full-blown
panic attack.” Attorney Halperin argued that neither he nor Doe
were informed that the attacker would personally arrive that day and noted
that his client is already suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
He added “We sued the school,” as opposed to the assailant.
“This is just more on top of what’s already been meted out
The episode is one more case sexual assault victims’ advocates can
point to in showing that the legal process can be the cause of further
trauma and is the reason many victims avoid the legal system in the first
place. They perceive the events of Doe’s case, the demands for her
sexual history to be made visible to the court, and more recently, the
appearance of her attacker at her deposition, as evidence of the emotional
risks involved in litigation.
Bucknell University psychology professor Bill Flack summed up the situation
in saying, “Our legal system is just not set up to deal with these
kinds of issues in ways that are truly even-handed,” adding that
the legal system, “can’t take into consideration the point
of view of a traumatized victim—so it’s really difficult to
keep from re-traumatizing a survivor in a context where the situation
is set up deliberately to be an adversarial.”
The Huffington Post's Tyler Kingkade recently reported on this issue,
including the Doe vs. Virginia Wesleyan College case.
Click here to read the August 20, 2015 article.
If you or a loved one was abused or assaulted in any way, the Halperin
Law Center can advise you on your rights and file a claim for the financial
damages you deserve.