Dartmouth College seeks to settle sexual misconduct lawsuit through mediation

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/29/2019 10:25:13 PM
Modified: 7/29/2019 10:25:07 PM

HANOVER — Dartmouth College began mediation last week with the nine plaintiffs in a $70 million class-action lawsuit alleging that college administrators turned a blind eye to sexual misconduct by three professors in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

The suit, first filed last November, alleges that administrators did not act to stop sexual harassment and assault within the department despite knowing about it for more than 16 years. The college, in its filings in the case, has denied its knowledge of the professors’ actions and that the school has a “party culture” that allowed the conduct to continue. It also has launched efforts to improve the school’s social climate.

In May, the U.S. District Court in Concord paused the legal proceedings in the case to allow the parties, at their request, to begin mediation in an effort to settle the matter out of court. That effort began last Wednesday with assistance from retired New Hampshire Superior Court Judge Robert Morrill, according to a court filing last Friday.

In the filing, both parties asked the court to extend the pause in legal filings through Aug. 5 to allow them to continue to focus on mediation.

The judge in the case, Chief Judge Landya McCafferty, granted that extension on Monday.

“We would much prefer to reach a mutually acceptable conclusion to the case outside of the litigation process,” Dartmouth spokesman Justin Anderson said in an email.

“As we focus on mediation and a fair, mutually acceptable resolution, we remain committed to building on the growing momentum of the January launch of the Campus, Climate, and Culture Initiative (C3I), and our efforts to ensure Dartmouth is a truly welcoming, inclusive, and equitable learning environment for all,” Anderson wrote.

A spokesman for the attorneys of the plaintiffs in the case, Jamie Moss, in an email Monday declined to comment at this time.

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office has been conducting a criminal investigation into the actions of the professors. No charges have been filed.

They were ousted from their posts in 2018.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.

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